Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House, May 16, 2017. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump defended his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria on Twitter Monday, warning that he will "totally destroy and obliterate" Turkey's economy if the country does anything he considers "off limits" — presumably referring to a military offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in the region.

"As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!"

Why it matters: The president has faced intense backlash from Republicans who believe he has abandoned a key ally in the fight against the Islamic State. Turkey, however, is a member of NATO, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday accepted an invitation from Trump to visit the White House next month.

Flashback: In August 2018, Trump raised tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum after the lira slid dramatically amid a currency crisis, causing even more damage to the economy, per the Washington Post.

  • He also slapped sanctions on Turkey over its detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, causing a crisis in bilateral relations and further deterioration of the Turkish economy. Brunson was later released in October 2018 and allowed to return to the U.S.

Go deeper: Turkey faces an economic crossroads after Istanbul elections

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Updated 28 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus — COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations.
  2. Health: Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear them — America was sick well before it ever got COVID-19.
  3. World: Polish President Andrzej Duda tests positive for COVID-19.
What Matters 2020

The missed opportunities for 2020 and beyond

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Jason Armond (Los Angeles Times), Noam Galai, Jabin Botsford (The Washington Post), Alex Wong/Getty Images

As the 2020 presidential campaign draws to a close, President Trump and Joe Biden have focused little on some of the most sweeping trends that will outlive the fights of the moment.

Why it matters: Both have engaged on some issues, like climate change and China, on their own terms, and Biden has addressed themes like economic inequality that work to his advantage. But others have gone largely unmentioned — a missed opportunity to address big shifts that are changing the country.

Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.