Turkish minister downplays US economic threats amid dispute over Syria withdrawal
Turkey on Monday dismissed US President Donald Trump's threat to "devastate" its economy if it attacks Kurdish militias in Syria following a planned pullout of American troops. "You cannot get anywhere by threatening Turkey economically," Turkish Foreign Minister Nevlut Cavusoglu said, adding that "strategic alliances should not be discussed over Twitter or social media", the BBC reported.
Cavusoglu was referring to Trump's Sunday tweets about Ankara's role in the Syrian conflict. The US leader had said that he will "devastate Turkey economically if they hit the Kurds". US forces have fought alongside a Kurdish militia in northern Syria against the Islamic State (IS) terror group. Turkey, however, regards the People's Protection Units (YPG) as terrorists. Trump had also said any remaining IS fighters could be attacked from the air and that a 32-km "safe zone" could be established. But he didn't give any details on how the US could hurt Turkey's economy.
The Turkish official said that his country kept in place its plans to launch an offensive in Syria, with the aim of expelling YPG. "We have said multiple times that we will not fear or be deterred by any threat. You can get nowhere by threatening Turkey economically," Cavusoglu added. He downplayed Trump's tweets as an internal political message, related to the controversy sparked by his decision to pull out the US troops from Syria.
Despite the Turkish Foreign Minister's claim, the US sanctions have had an impact on Turkey's economy before. The Trump administration imposed sanctions and trade tariffs in August amid a row over detained US pastor Andrew Brunson -- contributing to a sharp drop in the value of the Turkish lira. He was released in October. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said they expected the US to "honour our strategic partnership". "Terrorists can't be your partners and allies," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)