The president of the United States, Donald Trump, again threatened his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with “more than sanctions” if his offensive in northeastern Syria has an “inhuman” effect on the Kurds, and said he will “annihilate the economy ”of Turkey if it exterminates that group. However, he relativized the US alliance with Kurdish militias in northern Syria, saying that “they did not help us in World War II. They didn't help us in Normandy. ”
“I have told President Erdogan that I will do much more than sanctions … I agree with the sanctions, but I will do something much harder ”if he acts“ inhumanly ”with the Kurds, Trump said in statements to reporters at the White House, while tens of thousands of Kurds fled on Thursday before the Turkish advance In the Syrian north.
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Asked what he will do if the Turkish offensive "exterminates" the Kurds in northern Syria, Trump replied: "I will annihilate your economy if that happens, I already did it once with the pastor (American Andrew) Brunson", whose arrest led to Washington to impose sanctions on Ankara that were lifted after his release.
"We will see how he does it (Erdogan). He can do it smoothly, he can do it very hard, but if he does it unfairly, he will pay a very large economic price," Trump warned. The president thus answered the question If he agrees with the initiative of Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, who announced that he will push for a package of sanctions that would affect any assets in the United States of Turkish leaders, including Erdogan, in addition to banning military assistance and sales to Turkey.
Graham, one of Trump's main allies in the Senate, has been very critical of the president's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria in the face of the Turkish military offensive against Kurdish militias, but the president vehemently defended his position.
"I think we are doing the right thing, and I think the country also believes it, beyond the small circle of Washington," Trump said in reference to the bipartisan criticism he has received in Congress. His own Republican allies left him alone in his decision on Sunday to withdraw US troops from the hot border between Syria and Turkey, giving Erdogan a green light to crush the Kurds (considered terrorists by Ankara) in the region.
These Kurdish forces have been allies of Washington in the fight against ISIS in the area. Leave them now to their fate for the USA. It is seen by many as a "betrayal" and the door to disaster.
In this regard, Trump said he "likes" the Kurds of Syria, but argued that he has no obligation to protect them because they did not fight alongside the United States against Nazi Germany. “They didn't help us with World War II. They didn't help us with Normandy, ”said the president.
He also stressed that Turkey has been "fighting" against the Kurds for centuries and wants to "return them to where they came from," and that the United States has been involved in that battle for too long. "This is like Israel and the Palestinians, but perhaps the hate is even greater," Trump said.
Asked about what will happen if the offensive gives ISIS inmates in the area the opportunity to escape from detention camps, Trump replied: "They would escape to Europe, that's where they want to go."
Turkey officially announced on Wednesday the start of its military operation in northern Syria against Kurdish militias, which it considers "terrorists" for its ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the active Kurdish-Turkish guerrillas in Turkey.
Its objective is to take a strip at the border of about 30 km and establish there a buffer zone between Syria and Turkey.
Source: EFE via La Vanguardia