President Donald Trump told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to be a fool or a tough guy regarding an assault on northeast Syria in a letter so bizarre that many people thought it was a hoax.
In the letter — which opened with the line "Let's work out a good deal!" — Trump warned Erdogan: "Don't be a tough guy."
The note, dated Oct. 9, days after the United States withdrew its troops from the Kurdish-held region, also included the zinger "Don't be a fool!"
First obtained by Trish Regan of Fox Business, the letter was later confirmed to be authentic by the White House.
The letter, which was stripped of the diplomatic tone of most official communication between heads of state, echoed some of the points and language Trump has used with reporters and supporters at political rallies regarding the crisis in Syria.
"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," Trump wrote. "I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don't let the world down. You can make a great deal."
Trump referred to the letter during a press conference on Wednesday, when he rejected the notion that the US had enabled Turkey's military action by removing US troops from the area.
On Oct. 6, Trump spoke with Erdogan and, later that day, announced that the US would withdraw troops from northeast Syria as Turkish forces moved in on an assault against the Kurds.
Although the White House said that it did not support the Turkish operation, the decision to remove US troops was seen by critics as a a grave foreign policy mistake and an abandonment of former Kurdish allies.
"I didn't give him a green light," Trump told reporters Wednesday, referring to Erdogan. "If anybody saw the letter, which can be released very easily if you'd like — I could certainly release it — but I wrote a letter right after that conversation, a very powerful letter."
But after Fox Business obtained the letter, many people online doubted its authenticity because it seemed so odd, even in the year 2019.
In the letter, Trump repeatedly urged Erdogan to "make a great deal."
"History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way," Trump wrote. "It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy."
The president ended the letter by telling the Turkish president, "I will call you later."