- Trump said he’ll “wipe out” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s economy if the Turkish Armed Forces cause Kurdish casualties.
- The president added that Sen. Lindsey Graham, who disagreed with his decision to pull the remaining U.S. troops from northern Syria, probably “would like” American soldiers to stay in the region “for the next 200 years.”
- Trump’s comments came the same day Erdogan announced Turkey was launching a military offensive in the region against U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters.
President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would “wipe out” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s economy if the Turkish Armed Forces cause Kurdish casualties.
The president was expanding on his administration’s Sunday decision to pull the remaining U.S. troops out of northern Syria during a Wednesday White House press conference.
“We have no soldiers in the area. We’ve been talking to Turkey for three years. They’ve been wanting to do this for many years, as you know,” the president said in regard to Erdogan’s plan to create a “safe zone” in northern Syria.
Trump received harsh criticism from some Republicans Monday for the move with most critics citing concerns for Kurdish soldiers, who have helped the U.S. fight the Islamic State, as well as threats from Turkish allies Russia, China and Iran.
Trump said Turkey and Syria have “been fighting each other for centuries” and the U.S. was “put into this battle — interjected. It was supposed to be a 30-day period, and we’ve been there for many, many years. We’re speaking to both sides. We’ve told President Erdogan how we feel. We’re getting out of the endless wars.”
Trump said that despite backlash, some people “even in Washington” are praising the move.
“Frankly, we’re getting a lot of praise from that decision. People are saying, ‘Can [we] sometime bring our people back come?’ We’re really serving, and we were serving, as a police force. We have defeated ISIS. We defeated the caliphate 100%,” Trump explained.
“I campaigned on ending the endless wars. We’re all over the world fighting wars. Half the places — nobody even knows what they’re doing over there. And I feel that we are doing the right thing, and I think the country feels that, too. We had tremendous support outside of the little Washington area, and even in Washington, people saying, ‘You’re doing the right thing,’” he added.
Trump then said he would “wipe out” Erdogan’s economy if his forces wipe out the Kurdish population. (RELATED: Moving Troops Out Of Syria Was The Right Call, And Trump Should Go Further)
“I will wipe out his economy if that happens. I’ve already done it once with Pastor [Andrew] Brunson. I hope that he will act rationally,” the president said in reference to Brunson, an American evangelical reverend who Turkish authorities detained for nearly two years and released to the U.S. in October 2018.
“It was time for the Americans. We did a great job. We took care of ISIS. We captured 100% — remember, I was thinking of leaving at 97% and 96%, and that last 3% or 4% was the hardest part. And they told me would take a year to two years to do it, and I did it in a month,” he continued. “The Kurds will do a job and, if not the Kurds, we think Turkey will do a job.”
The president added that he believes “the worst mistake that the United States has ever made,” in his opinion, “was going into the Middle East.”
“We’re close to $8 trillion. … Our military’s never been stronger, but we’re now acting as police. … We’re doing jobs that … frankly, that Europe should be doing. We’re doing Jobs that Russia should be doing. That Iran should be doing. That Iraq should be doing,” he said.
Trump concluded his comments by saying Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who regularly sides with Trump but disagreed Monday with his decision to pull the remaining U.S. soldiers from Syria, probably “would like to stay” in northern Syria “for the next 200 years.”
“I disagree with Lindsey … but I will tell you that I do agree and sanctions, but actually think much tougher than sanctions,” the president concluded in reference to Graham’s Wednesday announcement that he is calling for “severe sanctions against Turkey for their invasion of Syria.”
I am pleased to have reached a bipartisan agreement with Senator @ChrisVanHollen on severe sanctions against Turkey for their invasion of Syria.
While the Administration refuses to act against Turkey, I expect strong bipartisan support. pic.twitter.com/Ph5fIVt7k3
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 9, 2019
Erdogan announced Wednesday that the Turkish Armed Forces will lead a military offensive in northern Syria against U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters.
“The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, just launched #OperationPeaceSpring against [the Kurdistan Workers’ Party/People’s Protection Unit] and Daesh terrorists in northern Syria,” Erdogan wrote in a Wednesday Twitter post. “Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area.”
“With Operation Peace Spring, we will eliminate the threat of terrorism toward our country. Thanks to the SAFE ZONE we will establish, we will ensure that Syrian refugees return to their countries. We will protect the territorial integrity of Syria and free the people of the region from the clutches of terror,” he continued.
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