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World
14 Jan 2019

Trump threatens to devastate Turkey if it hits Kurdish forces

United States President Donald Trump has threatened to "devastate" Turkey economically if the NATO-allied nation attacks US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria following a pullout of American troops from the war-torn country, and also urged the Kurds not to "provoke" Ankara.

Last month, President Trump surprised the world by announcing that he is withdrawing 2000 American troops from Syria.

The pullout began last week.

In context

Trump urges the Kurds not to 'provoke' Ankara

Ankara views Kurdish forces as terrorists aligned with Turkey insurgents

The US troop withdrawal has left America's Kurdish allies vulnerable to an attack from Turkey. Ankara views the Kurdish forces as terrorists aligned with insurgents inside Turkey. Trump also warned ISIS that America would hit them hard from nearby military bases if it regains momentum.

'Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds'

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Threatening friendship?

In the fight against ISIS, Turkey is US' ally

Trump's tweet is a stark threat toward an ally in the region that has partnered with the US in the fight against ISIS.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit out at US National Security Adviser John Bolton for saying the US withdrawal was contingent upon Turkey's pledge not to attack US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria once troops leave.

'If Bolton thinks that way, he's in a big mistake'

"Bolton made a serious mistake. If he thinks that way, he is in a big mistake. We will not compromise," Erdogan said. The Pentagon has said that there is no timeline for US troop withdrawal and it would be based on ground realities.

Stop the ENDLESS WARS, Trump thunders

Decision

Trump's announcement comes following Bolton, Pompeo's visit to region

Trump's announcement has come following a visit to the region by Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"The roughly 2,000 uniformed soldiers that're in Syria are going to be withdrawn. We're going to do so in an orderly, deliberate way, a way that protects America's national security, a way that allows us to continue the important mission that they were on," said Pompeo.

Pompeo says US withdrawal of troops is a 'tactical change'

Comment

Pompeo says US withdrawal of troops is a 'tactical change'

"The counterterrorism mission, the effort to make sure that the destruction of ISIS is not only complete but that their resurgence is not possible, our efforts to counter the threat from terrorism stemming from the Islamic Republic of Iran those are all real missions.

"The tactical change we've made in the withdrawal of those 2,000 troops is just that, a tactical change," Pompeo said.

Details

'Want to make sure terrorists aren't attacking Turkey from Syria'

Noting that mission remains the same, Pompeo said Turkish leadership has made it clear that it understands there are people down in Syria that have their rights.

"We also want to make sure that those in Syria aren't attacking, terrorists aren't attacking Turkey from Syria. We're fully engaged," he said, responding to a question if Turkey has promised US not to attack Kurdish allies.

Notes

No danger to American interest even after troop-withdrawal, argues Pompeo

Pompeo argued that there was no danger to American interest even after its withdrawal from Syria.

"The United States of America can project military power from lots of places in the world. The absence of a couple thousand soldiers on the ground in Syria in no way materially diminishes the capacity of the United States of America and our amazing Armed Forces," he commented.

'Very confident in our military capabilities in the Middle East'

"That certainly includes in Syria. It certainly includes into Iran, if need be. We still have those tools. American diplomats still have that leverage and that power standing behind them. I am very confident in our military capabilities here in the Middle East," Pompeo said.

Fact

The start: Obama had sent a small troop in 2015

Ground troops first arrived in Syria in autumn 2015 when the then-President Barack Obama sent in a small number of special forces to train and advise YPG fighters.

A peaceful uprising against the president of Syria President Bashar al-Assad seven years ago turned into a full-scale civil war.

The conflict has left more than 350,000 people dead, devastated cities and drawn in other countries.

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