National Security & Defense

Trump Promises to ‘Obliterate’ Turkey’s Economy if It Does Anything ‘Off Limits’

President Donald Trump speaks about the shootings in El Paso and Dayton in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., August 5, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

President Trump on Monday vowed to punish Turkey if the country takes any action the U.S. considers “off limits” amid concerns that Turkey would take advantage of the administration’s decision to pull U.S. troops away from northern Syria.

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” Trump wrote in a pair of tweets. “They must, with Europe and others, watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory.”

The White House announced Sunday evening that the U.S. will withdraw troops from the northern border of Syria ahead of an expected Turkish invasion of the region, drawing criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike. Turkey will “soon be moving forward” with a “long-planned operation” to resettle Syrian refugees in northern Syria, and the U.S. will not be involved, the White House said Monday in response to suggestions that the withdrawal indicated U.S. approval of the expected Turkish encroachment.

The move caused consternation among the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who have been supported by U.S troops in fighting the Islamic State. The SDF called the White House’s decision “shocking and unexpected” and predicted that “all the sacrifices we made to defeat ISIS will all be destroyed with the latest American decision.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, usually a close Trump ally, called the decision a “disaster in the making” that “ensures ISIS comeback,” and “forces Kurds to align with Assad and Iran.”

“The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so,” Trump said of his decision. “I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home.”

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