- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2019

President Trump said Tuesday he is not abandoning American-allied Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria who could be exposed to Turkish wrath by the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

He also combined flattery with economic threats toward Ankara, as U.S. Republican leaders warn that Turkish President Tayyip Recip Erdogan may see Mr. Trump’s decision to bring troops home as an invitation to purge their Kurdish rivals.

Mr. Trump said the U.S. is still providing weaponry and financial assistance to the Kurds.

“We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter.

“Likewise, our relationship with Turkey, a NATO and Trading partner, has been very good,” he added. “Turkey already has a large Kurdish population and fully understands that while we only had 50 soldiers remaining in that section of Syria, and they have been removed, any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency.”

Even as he threatened Turkey with ruin, the president said he’s fostered a financial and diplomatic relationship with Mr. Erdogan, who is scheduled to visit the White House on Nov. 13.

Mr. Trump highlighted the return of Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American pastor held by Turkish authorities in the wake of a 2016 coup d’etat attempt.

“So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States, in fact they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 Fighter Jet,” he said. “They have also been good to deal with, helping me to save many lives at Idlib Province, and returning, in very good health, at my request, Pastor Brunson, who had many years of a long prison term remaining.”

Members of Congress have questioned Turkey’s commitment to the NATO partnership, recommending sanctions in response to Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 missiles.

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