WASHINGTON — “Don’t be a fool,” US President Donald Trump warned his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an extraordinary letter sent the day Turkey launched its incursion into northeastern Syria — warning history risked branding him a “devil.”
Three days after appearing to greenlight an invasion by pulling US troops from the Kurdish-dominated region, Trump told the Turkish president he would wreck Ankara’s economy if the invasion went too far.
In language shorn of diplomatic niceties, Trump began with an outright threat.
“Let’s work out a good deal,” Trump wrote in the letter dated October 9. “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.”
White House confirms authenticity of Trump letter to Erdogan, dated 10/9: “History… 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! I will call you later.”
First reported by Fox Business. pic.twitter.com/lImxfhb2j1
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) October 16, 2019
“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Trump said. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen.”
The US leader told Erdogan a “great deal” was possible if he negotiated with the head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi, whom Turkey has labelled a “terrorist” for his ties to the Kurdish PKK militants in Turkey.
“Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool,” he finished, adding: “I will call you later.”
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.