Trump threatens to 'destroy and obliterate' Turkey's economy

7 October 2019, 19:36

Donald Trump suggested he had destroyed Turkey's economy at least once before
Donald Trump suggested he had destroyed Turkey's economy at least once before. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

US President Donald Trump threatened the Turkish economy if the country uses "off-limits" actions in a forthcoming military offensive in Syria.

Mr Trump previously gave Turkey an effective green light to commence a military operation against US-allied Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

Following a call between the US President and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House said its forces would not “support or be involved" in any military offensive initiated by Ankara.

Turkey has repeatedly threatened to launch strikes against US-backed Kurdish militias in the de facto autonomous region of north-east Syria.

It sees them as a terrorist insurgency that threatens its borders.

US troops began their withdrawal from the region with the president saying it was "time to get out of these ridiculous endless wars" that are "7,000 miles away".

The US leader said his country would not stand in the way of Turkish forces moving into the war-torn country.

However, he later appeared to backtrack on Twitter by threatening Ankara with economic "obliteration" if Mr Erdogan's military steps out of line during any offensive.

"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!)," he wrote on Twitter.

"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 per cent 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!"

Turkey is a member of Nato which makes the US President's warnings of economic war all the more unusual.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican and close Trump ally who often stands together with his leader on foreign policy issues, was critical of the president on Twitter saying it was a "disaster in the making".

He warned it could lead to the revival if Isis, hamper US-Turkish relations and act as "a stain" on America's honour.

However, in a follow up Tweet he said he would "introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey" if it invades Syria and will suspend it from Nato if it attacks Kurdish forces.

The Kurds played an important role in the campaign against Islamic State in the region, with the US paying them "massive amounts of money and equipment,"according to Mr Trump.

Following the threats, Turkey's currency, the lira, fell to its lowest level against the dollar in more than a month.

A diplomatic row between the two countries in 2018 helped create a currency crisis in Turkey along with inflation and uncertainty over the economy which is currently in the middle of a year-long recession.