President Trump wrote a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning him not to be “a tough guy” on October 9, the same day Turkish forces began their invasion of northern Syria. The brief note, typed on White House letterhead and provided by a White House official on Wednesday, was written three days after Mr. Trump told Erdogan he was pulling U.S. forces from northern Syria, opening the door for a Turkish offensive against the U.S’ Kurdish allies.
“Dear Mr. President,” the letter began. “Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy—and I will.”
The president claimed he has “worked hard to solve some of your problems” and urged Erdogan: “Don’t let the world down. You can make a great deal.” Mr. Trump told him that General Mazloum Abdi, the Syrian Kurdish commander, “is willing to negotiate with you, and he is willing to make concessions that they would never have made in the past.”
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The president wrote that history would look “favorably” upon Erdogan “if you get this done the right and humane way,” and warned, “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen.”
“Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool,” Mr. Trump wrote. Here is the letter, which was first reported by Trish Regan of Fox Business:
A senior Democratic aide said Mr. Trump bragged he had written a “nasty” letter to Erdogan in a White House meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday.
In their phone call on October 6, Mr. Trump said that U.S. forces would move aside and clear the path for an expected Turkish incursion, a move that has been seen as a betrayal of the Kurdish fighters who fought with the U.S. against ISIS. The president has denied that this constituted a “green light” to Turkey to invade northern Syria, but Turkish forces nonetheless began their invasion within hours of U.S. troops leaving two outposts.
The administration has imposed sanctions against several Turkish government officials, and Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo are being dispatched to Ankara to try to help broker a ceasefire, but even some allies of the president harbor doubts that the damage can be reversed.