Within 72 hours of U.S. withdrawal in northern Syria, Turkish forces moved into the region and attacked U.S Kurdish allies. President Trump said he would tank Turkey’s economy if Erdoğan ordered an attack without U.S. approval. In turn, Erdoğan hit back at Trump with his own threat.
Erdoğan responded to President Trump by threatening to release millions of Syrian refugees into Europe if the West labeled Turkey’s military incursion as an occupation.
“We will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way,” Erdoğan said in a speech yesterday.
Last year, Trump strong-armed Erdoğan into releasing an imprisoned American pastor, holding economic sanctions, and public rebukes over Erdoğan’s head in an attempt to force him to cooperate. It took nearly four months before Erdoğan finally caved, and he only did so after demonizing the United States and making himself out to be the victim.
“[Turkey] will not surrender to those who act like a strategic partner but make us a strategic target,” Erdogan said last year.
Soli Ozel, a professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, told the Washington Post:
Erdoğan’s feud with the Western powers has cost Turkey dearly. But Erdoğan has been able to use the economic turmoil for his own benefit, focusing his country’s anger on the foreign adversaries who want to “break Turkey’s back” and away from his tightening grip on the nation’s government. Erdoğan has convinced his people that they’re not just experiencing an “economic crisis,” but acts of “economic warfare by the United States.”
President Trump seemed to respond to the threat tweeting out: “As long as I am President of the United States, we will enforce our laws and protect our borders.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2019
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