October 15, 2019 - 14:27 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Donald Trump spoke directly to the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on Monday to demand an immediate ceasefire in Syria while announcing a series of punishments for Ankara that critics saw as an attempt to save face, The Guardian reports.
The US president’s conversation with Erdoğan was revealed by the vice-president, Mike Pence, who said he would soon be travelling to the Middle East. “The United States of America did not give a green light for Turkey to invade Syria,” Pence insisted to reporters at the White House.
But Trump’s announcement just over a week ago that he was withdrawing US troops, who had served as an effective buffer against Turkish invasion, has been widely viewed as a historic foreign policy blunder and provoked an extraordinary backlash even from Republicans.
As the situation in northern Syria spiralled out of control, and the White House scrambled to catch up, the president said he had issued an executive order to impose sanctions on current and former Turkish officials and was immediately freezing negotiations on a $100bn US-Turkey trade deal.
Trump said he was also reimposing tariffs of 50% on Turkish steel – one of a series of measures taken last year to win the release of the American pastor Andrew Brunson from detention, which triggered a record-breaking 30% slide in the Turkish lira, sending inflation soaring and damaging living standards. In May, Trump scaled tariffs back to 25%.
The Turkish lira slid 0.8% to its weakest position since May on Monday, but many traders and investors said in effect they would believe it when they see it, especially after US threats earlier this year to sanction Turkey over buying Russian S-400 missile defences failed to materialise.
Trump’s statement also confirmed that all 1,000 US troops in north-eastern Syria are pulling out entirely, although they will “redeploy and remain in the region”. It added that a “small footprint” of US forces are staying in At Tanf Garrison in southern Syria “to continue to disrupt remnants” of the Islamic State.