The Wall Street Journal: Trump threatens to ‘devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds’

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump vowed on Sunday to devastate Turkey’s economy if it targets Kurdish populations in northern Syria as the U.S. withdraws its forces, and called for a 20-mile safe zone between the Turkish border and U.S.-allied fighters.

The president on Twitter also called upon America’s Kurdish allies not to provoke Turkey, and said U.S. forces were continuing to fight Islamic State militants in Syria.

“Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms,” he said. “Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone…Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.”

Last week, Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said the U.S. withdrawal from Syria is contingent on whether Turkey can guarantee the safety of the Kurdish forces across its border. His statement enraged the government in Ankara just as he was set to arrive there, prompting Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to refuse to meet with Bolton. Later that day, Erdogan delivered a speech to parliament saying that Bolton had made a “serious mistake.”

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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