At rally, Trump compares Turks and Kurds to 'two kids' fighting, hits out at Democrats

"Sometimes you have to let them fight a little while. Sometimes you have to let them fight like two kids," said President Donald Trump.
"Sometimes you have to let them fight a little while. Sometimes you have to let them fight like two kids," said President Donald Trump.PHOTO: AFP

DALLAS (NYTIMES) - United States President Donald Trump insisted on Thursday (Oct 17) night that he was smart to let Turkey attack America's Kurdish allies in northern Syria, comparing the two warring sides to children on a playground who needed to slug it out before settling their differences.

Speaking at a campaign rally hours after Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brokered a ceasefire, Mr Trump defended his decision to withdraw US forces from Syria, effectively clearing the way for a brutal Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters who had fought for years alongside the US against the Islamic State.

The President's decision to pull out drew rebukes from both Democrats and Republicans, who accused him of abandoning America's friends.

But Mr Trump said the violence of the past week was useful.

"It was unconventional what I did," he acknowledged. "Sometimes you have to let them fight a little while. Sometimes you have to let them fight like two kids... Then you pull them apart."

While he has previously denied giving Turkey the green light to attack the Kurds, Mr Trump implied on Thursday night that actually he had done so in order to persuade the two sides to come to terms. "Without a little tough love, they would never have made this deal," he said.

The President arrived in Dallas after days of roiling events and damaging developments.

Republicans had blistered him for his Syria decision while current and former government officials provided House investigators evidence for Democrats seeking to impeach him for abuse of power. His own acting chief of staff earlier on Thursday confirmed that there was a quid pro quo in Mr Trump's effort to pressure Ukraine for dirt on Democrats before then trying to take it back.

The rally gave the President a chance to vent his frustrations and pique with more than 20,000 cheering supporters packed in American Airlines Centre in Dallas.

In his third campaign rally in just more than a week, Mr Trump again complained that Democrats were seeking to impeach him out of partisan animus and political ambition.

"They are destroying this country, but we will never let it happen," he told the crowd. "These radical Democrats have been trying to overthrow the results of a great, great election - maybe, maybe the greatest election in the history of our country. They want to impose their extreme agenda."

He added: "You know, I really don't believe any more that they love our country."

A day after a sharp blow-up with Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the White House resulted in Democrats' walking out of a meeting, he singled her out for criticism. "Crazy Nancy," he called her. "She is crazy."

And he lashed out again at the unidentified CIA officer who filed the whistle-blower complaint revealing that Mr Trump pressed Ukraine to investigate Democrats, including former vice-president Joe Biden, while withholding US$391 million (S$533 million) in congressionally approved assistance.

"Who's the whistle-blower?" Mr Trump demanded. "Who's the whistle-blower? Who is the whistle-blower? Is the whistle-blower a spy?"


Former representative Beto O'Rourke, who represented El Paso, Texas, in Congress and is now running for the Democratic presidential nomination next year, staged a counter-programming rally at a concert hall in Grand Prairie about 20km to the west.

Mr O'Rourke condemned "the fabricated fear of the president, who wants us to be afraid of one another", and blamed Mr Trump's language for the August mass shooting in El Paso and for a slew of other hate crimes.

"That fear that Donald Trump, the man in the White House, who holds the highest position of public trust in the land - that fear that he's trying to use against us, that fear that he directed and drove down to El Paso, Texas, that fear that claimed the lives of 22 Americans - we, those of us here together, standing to be counted, are the answer to that fear," he said.

Mr Trump hit back at Mr O'Rourke at his own rally, calling the Democrat "a very dumb presidential candidate" and attacking him for proposing a mandatory buyback of assault rifles and the revocation of tax exemptions for contributions to churches that oppose same-sex marriage.

"Got rid of guns and got rid of religion," Mr Trump said mockingly. "I will never allow the federal government to punish Americans for their religious beliefs."