Recep Tayyip Erdogan – President of the Republic of Turkey
President Trump made the right call to withdraw from Syria. The United States withdrawal, however, must be planned carefully and performed in cooperation with the right partners to protect the interests of the United States, the international community and the Syrian people. Turkey, which has NATO’s second largest standing army, is the only country with the power and commitment to perform that task.
In 2016, Turkey became the first country to deploy ground combat troops to fight the so-called Islamic State in Syria. Our military incursion severed the group’s access to NATO’s borders and impeded their ability to carry out terror attacks in Turkey and Europe.
Unlike coalition operations in Raqqa and Mosul, which relied heavily on airstrikes that were carried out with little or no regard for civilian casualties, Turkish troops and fighters of the Free Syrian Army went door to door to root out insurgents in Al Bab, a former stronghold of the so-called Islamic State.
Our approach left the city’s core infrastructure largely intact and made it possible for life to return to normal within days. Today, children are back at school, a Turkish-funded hospital treats the sick, and new business projects create jobs and bolster the local economy. This stable environment is the only cure for terrorism.
Turkey is committed to defeating the so-called Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Syria, because the Turkish people are all too familiar with the threat of violent extremism. In 2003, when I became prime minister, coordinated attacks by Al Qaeda claimed dozens of lives in Turkey.
More recently, the so-called Islamic State terrorists targeted our citizens, our way of life and the inclusive, moderate worldview that our civilization represents. A few years back, the terrorist group called me “treacherous Satan.” We saw the horror in the faces of thousands of Christians and Yazidis, who sought refuge in Turkey when these terrorists came for them in Syria and Iraq.
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