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Counting the Cost of Potential U.S. Action Against Turkey

Feb 4, 2019 | 12:00 GMT
Turkish Central Bank Gov. Murat Cetinkaya delivers a speech in front of inflation graphs in Ankara on Jan. 30, 2019.

Turkish Central Bank Gov. Murat Cetinkaya delivers a speech in front of inflation graphs in Ankara on Jan. 30, 2019. Washington could hit Ankara hard if the latter attacks the Syrian Kurds, although it might not want to do so too forcefully.

(ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S.-Turkey relations have rarely been anything but combustible. In the middle of January, however, U.S. President Donald Trump poured fuel on the fire when he took to Twitter to vow that his country would "devastate Turkey economically" if it attacked the Syrian Kurds after the United States withdraws from northern Syria. Trump's threat prompted harsh but measured responses from Ankara; President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed sadness at the comment. The next day his sentiment switched to encouragement after a phone call between the leaders. The back-and-forth was nothing new, reflecting instead the two countries' volatile but multilayered relationship. The pair might frequently frustrate each other, yet both value and need the other to pursue their respective goals at home and in the wider Middle East....

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