Trump letter to Erdogan: 'Don't be a fool'

This image widely distributed on Social Media on Wednesday in Washington shows the letter sent on Oct. 9 by Us President Donald Trump to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning of economic sanctions after the Turkish intervention in Northern Syria. The White House confirmed the authenticity of the letter. — AFP

WASHINGTON — "Don't be a fool," Donald Trump warned his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an extraordinary letter sent the day Turkey launched its incursion into northeastern Syria — warning history risked branding him a "devil."

Three days after appearing to green-light an invasion by pulling US troops from the Kurdish-dominated region, Trump told the Turkish president he would wreck Ankara's economy if the invasion went too far.

In language shorn of diplomatic niceties, Trump began with an outright threat.

"Let's work out a good deal," Trump wrote in the letter dated Oct. 9, whose authenticity was confirmed by the White House.

"You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will."

"History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way," Trump said. "It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen."

The US leader told Erdogan a "great deal" was possible if he negotiated with the head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi, whom Turkey has labelled a "terrorist" for his ties to the Kurdish PKK militants in Turkey.

"Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool," he finished, adding: "I will call you later." — AFP