President Donald Trump warned the Turkish president against attacking U.S. allies in Syria and told him not to “be a fool” in an eyebrow-raising letter that quickly went viral on social media.
As one critic quipped on Twitter, “Honestly this letter … would make more sense if it were written in crayon on lined practice paper rather than on White House letterhead.”
The letter, which was first reported by Fox Business reporter Trish Regan before being confirmed by other news outlets, was written to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and dated Oct. 9, days after Trump announced his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria — a move which has been met with condemnation from Congress.
“Let’s work out a good deal!” Trump’s letter begins, using his signature real estate language. “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.”
“I have worked hard to solve some of your problems,” the president, 73, continued. “Don’t let the world down. You can make a great deal.”
“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen,” the president wrote, adding, “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”
He signed off, “I will call you later.”
EXCLUSIVE: I have obtained a copy of @realDonaldTrump’s letter to #Erdogan. @POTUS warns him to not “be a tough guy! Don’t be a fool!” Says he could destroy Turkey’s economy if #Syria is not resolved in a humane way. Details tonight at 8pm #TrishRegan #FoxBusiness pic.twitter.com/9BoSGlbRyt— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) October 16, 2019
On Thursday, the the BBC reported that Erdoğan, 65, threw Trump’s letter “in the bin” after receiving it.
Despite this, Turkey’s government agreed to a five-day ceasefire in Syria to allow Kurdish forces that had been allied with the U.S. to leave the area, according to The New York Times. Turkey’s decision was made to avoid sanctions from the American government, the Times reported.
“This is a great day for civilization,” Trump, ever boastful, wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon. “I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path. … Congratulations to ALL!”
Almost immediately, however, the exact details of this agreement and its legitimacy were in dispute.
The Trump letter’s simple, direct appeal — the latest example of his preference for one-on-one diplomacy even between governments on the international stage — was widely mocked online.
“Thought this letter from Donald Trump was a joke, but it’s actually real,” another Twitter user wrote. “The Onion could not have done better.”
Other users compared it to letters written by their young children.
“Trump’s letter to Erdogan bears uncanny resemblance to this letter my daughter wrote to my son (when she was six),” one person tweeted.
Felt the need to ask WH if this is actually real and it is. pic.twitter.com/bHyIFw6cvO— Katie Rogers (@katierogers) October 16, 2019
Thought this letter from Donald Trump was a joke, but it's actually real. The Onion could not have done better. pic.twitter.com/VjnWP6ATtT— Pierre de Vos (@pierredevos) October 17, 2019
One Twitter user even staged a “dramatic reading” of the letter to his cat.
The New Yorker also got in on the jokes, tweeting out a cartoon of their imagined idea of what Trump’s letter to Santa might look like.
“History will look upon you favorably if you bring me a Playstation 4,” the cartoon letter read.
Honestly this letter from Trump to Erdogan would make more sense if it were written in crayon on lined practice paper rather than on White House letterhead pic.twitter.com/YN97BuXgqk— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) October 16, 2019
Trump’s letter to Erdogan bears uncanny resemblance to this letter my daughter wrote to my son (when she was six). pic.twitter.com/J2G741UzVQ— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) October 17, 2019
Donald Trump's "perfect" letter to Santa. pic.twitter.com/1tvc3jeoDr— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) October 17, 2019
Trump has faced criticism from both parties for his decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria and essentially assent to Turkey’s invasion there to attack the Kurds, who had helped the U.S. fight ISIS. (Turkey regards Kurdish forces as terrorists.)
Defending his decision last week, Trump tweeted tweeted, “[The Kurds] fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. … I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home.”
“Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS fighters in their ‘neighborhood,’ ” he wrote.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives formally denounced the decision in an overwhelming vote of both Democrats and Republicans, according to The New York Times.
The backlash comes amid the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry into Trump. The investigation began several weeks ago, after it was revealed that he had lobbied Ukraine’s government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s family. (Biden, 76, is one of the frontrunners to challenge Trump for re-election.)
The president has faced widespread criticism, including from some Republicans, for appealing to foreign governments to look into the Bidens for what he has called “corruption,” with no further evidence.
Trump, in turn, has decried the “presidential harassment” and “witch hunt” of the House’s investigation.