By David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor For Dailymail.com
Published: 21:19 BST, 14 October 2019 | Updated: 21:19 BST, 14 October 2019
Donald Trump said Monday that as U.S. troops withdraw from Syria, he has put the fate of America's former Kurdish allies in the hands of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, whose regime he called 'our enemy' in the same breath.
And he announced that his administration aims to punish Turkey's incursion into Syria by canceling a $100 billion trade agreement, hiking import tariffs on Turkish steel, and readying economic sanctions against anyone in Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government who threatens 'peace, security, or stability' in Syria.
The policy announcements, made in five tweets, complete the stunning reversal of eight days ago that has already seen Syrian and Turkish forces squaring off for full-blown armed conflict across a border hundreds of miles long.
Caught in the middle as Turkey invades are a Kurdish minority, whom the U.S. trained and protected since 2014, shortly after Syria's Russia-backed army abandoned the vast region where they live at the height of a civil war.
Now, Kurdish military units who once fought alongside American soldiers against the ISIS terror army are aligned with Assad against Turkey, which considers them terrorists.
Sanctions threat: Donald Trump announced the threat of sanctions against Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a Monday afternoon statement
The new alliance has quickly replaced the fragile one Trump crumbled in his fingers by announcing a troop pullout that drew near-universal condemnation.
'Some people want the United States to protect the 7,000 mile away Border of Syria, presided over by Bashar al-Assad, our enemy,' he tweeted. 'At the same time, Syria and whoever they chose to help, wants naturally to protect the Kurds. I would much rather focus on our Southern Border.'
Trump may not have had practical choices other than a withdrawal or the sort of long-term military heel-digging that he has publicly railed again.
'Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me,' he tweeted, 'whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!'
Instead of focusing on the Kurds' long-term survival, which is itself bound up with that of other Kurdish populations in Iran and Iraq, the president chose Monday to rattle sabers in Erdogan's direction.
'Turkey's military offensive is endangering civilians and threatening peace, security, and stability in the region. I have been perfectly clear with President Erdoğan: Turkey's action is precipitating a humanitarian crisis and setting conditions for possible war crimes,' he warned in a lengthy written statement.
'Turkey must ensure the safety of civilians, including religious and ethnic minorities, and is now, or may be in the future, responsible for the ongoing detention of ISIS terrorists in the region.'
Threatening economic sanctions, Trump said he is 'fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey's economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path.'
The president's tweets in the hour that preceded that statement, written in his own disjointed voice, criticized European nations for their unwillingness to hold