‘Don’t be a fool’ Trump tells Erdogan in letter: World reacts

An Oct. 9 letter from Donald Trump to Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan warning Erdogan about Turkish military policy. (Reuters)
Updated 18 October 2019

‘Don’t be a fool’ Trump tells Erdogan in letter: World reacts

  • Turkey's President Erdogan threw the letter in the bin while Russia described it as 'highly unusual'
  • Trump's rivals at home said they were astonished by the tone of the communication

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems to have bowed to the US pressure to halt his offensive against Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria. 

Erdogan, who had initially refused to meet with US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, held talks with both leaders on Thursday and then agreed to a five-day cease-fire in the attacks on Kurdish fighters to allow the Kurds to withdraw to roughly 20 miles away from the Turkish border. 

After more than four hours of negotiations with Erdogan, Pence said the purpose of his high-level mission was to end the bloodshed caused by Turkey’s invasion of Syria.

“The Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow for the withdrawal of YPG forces from the safe zone for 120 hours,” Pence told a news conference. “All military operations under Operation Peace Spring will be paused, and Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal.”




Welcoming it, President Donald Trump tweeted: This deal could NEVER have been made 3 days ago. There needed to be some “tough” love in order to get it done. Great for everybody. Proud of all!

It followed an extraordinary letter from Trump in which he warned Erdogan: “Don’t be a fool!” Sent the day Turkey launched its incursion, Trump said history risked branding him a “devil.”

“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,” he wrote.

Earlier, Saudi political analyst and international relations expert Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News: “Trump’s letter stated clearly that Erdogan’s acts are savage and meant to kill the Kurds. The letter also blamed Erdogan for attempting to invade Syria.”

He added: “Erdogan’s racial tendency against the Kurds is behind all that. He does not care about Syrians at all. He wants to force the displaced back to Syria where they will be between the hammer of the regime and the anvil of Daesh.” 

Saudi Prince Abdulrahman bin Musa’ad tweeted: “Couldn’t find an authentic translation for the letter. Anyways, the ‘Don’t be a fool’ part is enough.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who had criticized Trump for the withdrawal, said it was a “good letter” and had urged him to release it.

Earlier, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte urged Erdogan to freeze the offensive. “I reiterated Italy’s firm call to suspend this military initiative. I have asked (Erdogan) to withdraw troops to Turkish territory,” Conte said.

“This initiative risks further destabilizing a territory and a community that have already been hugely affected (by the war).”

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that even though Turkey was a formal candidate to join the EU and was hosting some 3.6 million Syrian refugees on its soil, he could not back the military action.

“We have supported them in everything else, because we are partners in NATO, we are neighbors and they protect us from migrant inflows. But for the war, they cannot expect our support,” he told reporters gathered for the summit.

David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament, called for the EU agreement on suspending arms sales to Turkey to go further and include the cancellation of existing contracts.


(With AP)

Palestinians, Arabs ‘must learn lessons of Naksa’

A Palestinian man facing Israeli soldiers waves a national flag during a protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, near the town of Tulkarm on June 5, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 06 June 2020

Palestinians, Arabs ‘must learn lessons of Naksa’

  • Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin said that the biggest mistake Arab countries made was to trust that the occupying state would make peace and reach a lasting solution to the Palestinian cause

AMMAN: Leading Palestinian and Arab figures have used the 53rd anniversary of Naksa — the displacement and occupation of Arab territories that followed Israel’s victory in the 1967 war against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan — to highlight political mistakes made during and after the conflict.

Adnan Abu-Odeh, political adviser to Jordan's King Hussein and King Abdullah II, told Arab News that Arab countries and the Palestinian leadership had failed to understand the goals of Zionism.

“Governments that participated in the war were naive, expecting a repeat of the 1956 Sinai invasion when the US ordered an Israeli withdrawal. This was followed by the mistaken belief that we could liberate the land using guerrilla warfare," he said.

Anees Sweidan, director-general of foreign relations in the PLO, told Arab News that the Palestinian cause is undergoing a complicated phase where political opportunities are limited.

“The US bias towards Israel and absence of unity has put the Palestinian movement in a difficult situation. It is harder to generate external support and the financial crunch is causing much suffering despite the fact that we have made important accomplishments in the UN and Europe.”

Abdalqader Husseini, chairperson of the Faisal Husseini Foundation, said that the opportunities the anniversary offers should not be ignored.

“We need to realize that this is an illegal occupation that continues to dig deeper and escalate every day to the degree that the international community has lost interest and world conscience has become numb to Israeli practices. We in Jerusalem have not normalized with the occupiers and we have not accepted the new situation as an inescapable reality that we must accept.”

Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin said that the biggest mistake Arab countries made was to trust that the occupying state would make peace and reach a lasting solution to the Palestinian cause.

“We went to Madrid with hope, the Palestinian leadership went to Oslo with optimism that they could reach a phased solution that would lead to statehood. As we remember this Naksa, we must revisit the path that has allowed the occupying entity to steal our land and cause havoc to our people without any deterrence from the international community," he said.

They (Palestinian youth) personify the meaning of steadfastness for dignity, and they have the will to protect our heritage, our identity, and our holy places.”

Mahdi Abdulhadi, head of PASSIA thinktank

Nibal Thawabteh, director of the Bir Zeit University’s Media Development Center, said the biggest mistake since 1967 was focusing on politics and avoiding community development.

"We don’t have a strong sense of citizenship, some have become accustomed to religious Islam. We need to work more on the citizenship.”

Ahmad Awad, director of the Amman-based Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, said there is a lack of acknowledgment of the reasons behind the Arab loss.

“Political, economic and cultural factors caused our loss, and we feel that most Arab countries have not learned this lesson. Instead of learning, we are going backwards, failing to defend their existential rights, shifting to isolationism as well as cultural and economic regression in our region."

Instead of looking backward, some Palestinians wanted to look forward.

Mahdi Abdulhadi, head of the PASSIA thinktank in Jerusalem, said that Palestinian youth who never felt the shock of the 1967 defeat but have seen the exposure of Arab regimes in the face of the "deal of the century" will prevail.

“They personify the meaning of steadfastness for dignity, and they have the will to protect our heritage, our identity, and our holy places.”

Lily Habash, a Exeter University political science graduate, told Arab News that things look different on the ground.

“The world is changing and Israel uses geopolitical and regional changes to its advantage,” she said.

Dangers today encourage despair but Palestinians will be steadfast in the long term, she added.

“Some say we need a savior to get us out of this dilemma but I believe we need to trust in ourselves and work on all fronts.”