Oct 16, 2019

Trump in letter to Erdoğan: "Don't be a tough guy"

Trump welcomes Erdoğan to the White House in 2017. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump attempted to convince Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 9 to make a deal with the U.S. to end Turkey's military offensive into northern Syria, according to a letter first reported by Fox Business' Trish Regan.

The big picture: The letter, dated the same day as Erdoğan's formal announcement of Turkey's military operation, appears to be one of Trump's first diplomatic responses to a situation that has left U.S.-allied Kurdish forces vulnerable to attack and stoked fears that ISIS militants could escape Kurdish-run prisons. It came three days after the White House announced that the U.S. would withdraw troops from the area, a move that many have condemned as Trump giving Erdoğan a "green light" to launch an attack.

Dear Mr. President:
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. I've already given you a little sample with respect to Pastor Brunson.
I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don't let the world down. You can make a great deal. General Mazloum is willing to negotiate with you, and he is willing to make concessions that they would never have made in the past. I am confidentially enclosing a copy of his letter to me, just received.
History will look upon you favorable if you get this done the right and humane way. 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!
I will call you later.

Where it stands: Trump confirmed that nearly all U.S. troops in Syria will be leaving the country on Monday — while warning Turkey of repercussions for its offensive against Kurdish forces —  and authorized sanctions on current and former Turkish officials.

Background: Trump slapped sanctions on Turkey prior to American pastor Andrew Brunson's 2018 release from Turkish custody after being held on terrorism charges. Trump insisted there was "no deal" made for Brunson's release, and that the economic pressure was sufficient to force Turkey's hand.

Go deeper: Behind the scenes of the Trump bluff that kicked off Turkey's invasion

Go deeper

Trump praises Turkey's Erdoğan as "great ally" despite Syria tensions

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Trump. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump lauded Turkey as a “great NATO ally” during a press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday in which tensions between the countries simmered beneath the surface.

The big picture: Erdoğan's invasion of northern Syria last month sparked bipartisan outrage in Washington and came with the countries already locked in a dispute over Turkey’s purchase of a Russian s-400 missile system. Erdoğan was defiant on those points, and he lashed out over votes in the House of Representatives to back sanctions on Turkey and recognize the Armenian genocide.

Go deeperArrowNov 13, 2019

Trump confirms Turkey's Erdoğan will visit White House next week

Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Wednesday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodğan has accepted his invitation to visit the White House on Nov. 13.

"Just had a very good call with President Erdogan of Turkey. He informed me that they have captured numerous ISIS fighters that were reported to have escaped during the conflict – including a wife and sister of terrorist killer al Baghdadi. Also talked about their Border with Syria, the eradication of terrorism, the ending of hostilities with the Kurds, and many other topics. Look forward to seeing President Erdogan next Wednesday, November 13th at the White House!"
Go deeperArrowNov 6, 2019

Pence announces Turkey has agreed to temporary ceasefire in Syria

Photo: Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Turkish Presidency via Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence announced from Ankara on Thursday that Turkey has agreed to cease its military operation in northern Syria for 120 hours so that Kurdish forces can withdraw from the area.

The big picture: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously said that he would "never" agree to a ceasefire, after the U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria paved the way for Turkey to begin a military assault on U.S-allied Kurdish forces that they view as terrorists.

Go deeperArrowOct 17, 2019