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US, Turkey Launch War of Words Over Kurdish Safety, Turkish Lira Falls 

01-15-2019
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On Monday, a war of words erupted between President Donald Trump and Turkish officials after Trump threatened economic sanctions against Turkey if they attack the Kurds. 

It is the latest development following Trump's announcement that US troops will be getting out of Syria. 

President Trump fired a salvo on Twitter to Turkey.  He warned the US would "devastate Turkey economically if they hit the Kurds." 

Turkey's foreign minister fired back. 

"We have said many times that we are not afraid of any threat and we won't be deterred by any threat. We have said it in the past. Therefore, you cannot achieve anything by threatening Turkey economically," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

After Trump's threat, the Turkish Lira fell 1.6 percent in value. It's not the first time Trump has affected the Turkish economy. 

Last year he imposed sanctions on Turkey after it failed to release imprisoned pastor Andrew Brunson.  That helped push the Turkish Lira to a record low last August. 

The Kurds have been allies of the US in the fight against ISIS but Turkey sees these same Kurdish fighters as terrorists and allies with a Kurdish group inside Turkey called the PKK, a designated Turkish terror group that has been fighting Turkey for decades.

Late Monday, Trump spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about cooperating with Turkey during the pullout of US troops.  Last week US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CBN News the US will try and meet the needs of the Turks and Kurds. 

"Our message is straightforward.  The work that the Kurdish forces did with us alongside in Syria has been important.  It took down a caliphate …we'll work with the Turks to make sure how there is security for them as well and that the Kurdish people inside Syria are indeed protected," said Pompeo    

Trump also warned the Kurds not to provoke Turkey and raised the idea of a twenty-mile safe zone along the Turkish-Syrian border. 

If Turkey monitored that zone, many Kurds and Christians in the region say it would put them in danger. That raises another danger: the Kurds might rather align with Syria and Russia and therefore also with Iran if the US doesn't protect them. 

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