At a campaign rally in Dallas Thursday night, President Trump compared the attack by the Turkish military on Syrian Kurds, former American allies vital in the fight against ISIS, to a schoolyard fight after praising the “cease-fire” that Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reached with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the same day.
“Sometimes you have to let them fight a little while,” Trump told supporters at the American Airlines Center, referring to Turkish and Kurdish forces.
“Sometimes you have to let them fight,” he said. “It’s like two kids in a lot, you got to let them fight and then you pull them apart.”
Trump continued, saying that after Turkish and Kurdish forces “fought for a few days,” that “we went there and we said, ‘we want a pause.’”
“President Erdoğan was a gentleman, he understood,” Trump noted. “But without a little tough love … they would’ve never made this deal.”
“Turkey’s going to be happy, the Kurds are going to be happy, ISIS is going to be unhappy,” he added.
During his rally tonight, Trump compared the Turkish invasion of Syria and the mass slaughter of Kurds to a playground fight.
"Sometimes you have to let them fight. It's like two kids in a lot. You’ve got to let them fight and then you pull them apart." pic.twitter.com/5YW80Wdk9I
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) October 18, 2019
The president’s speech came hours after he appeared to endorse Turkey’s “ethnic cleansing” of the Kurds.
“This is an incredible outcome,” Trump said while announcing a temporary ceasefire. “So you have a 22-mile strip, and for many, many years, Turkey, in all fairness, have had a legitimate problem with it. They had terrorists. They had a lot of people in there they couldn’t have. They’ve suffered a lot of loss of lives also. They had to have it cleaned out. But once you start that it gets to be to a point where a tremendous amount of bad things can happen. So a process started, and we started to negotiate. And I think that, obviously, the sanctions were going to be very biting.”
“The President of the United States is using the language of ethnic cleansing,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Thursday, along with a video of Trump’s remark. “If we allow him to continue, who would he use it on next?”
NBC News Chief Global Correspondent Bill Neely tweeted: “If this isn’t an endorsement of ethnic cleansing, what is? “They had to have it cleaned out” says President Trump of the Turks desire to get rid of Kurds from their Southern border.”
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power tweeted: “The President of the United States has endorsed ethnic cleansing.”