Donald Trump threatens Erdogan in letter 'don't be a fool' as Pompeo and Pence head to Turkey to push for ceasefire

Donald Trump threatens President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the letter, telling him 'don't be a fool'. Credit: PA

We are used to Trump’s bizarre statecraft and strange diplomatic tactics.

But even seasoned Trump-watchers assumed it was a hoax. Surely, we thought, it was some kind of joke.

That was the initial view on Capitol Hill and among the White House press corps. But wait for it... it wasn’t a deep fake.

It is an actual letter written by the President of the United States to the protocol-obsessed Turkish leader during a time of war. Goodness knows what Erdogan makes of it.

"Written by an adolescent,” is one of the kinder remarks being made about the correspondence.

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Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci appears to mock the president in a tweet.

He wrote: "Was this written first in crayon by @realDonaldTrump and then typed out? I am asking for 7.2 BN friends?"

A former CIA spokesman was a little more critical, describing it as a letter that should embarrass all Americans.

The letter was sent on the same day Erdogan launched the major offensive against the Kurds.

Mr Trump threatened the Turkey president, urging him to act only in "the right and humane way" in Syria.

He started on a positive note by suggesting they "work out a good deal," but then talked about crippling economic sanctions and concluded that the world "will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen".

The letter was sent on the same day Erdogan launched an offensive against the Kurds in Syria. Credit: AP

"Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!," Mr Trump wrote.

But the letter has only come to light now, as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are set to arrive in Ankara to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Our mission set is to see if we can get a ceasefire, see if we can get this brokered," Pompeo said in brief remarks before he set off.

However, the president appeared to undercut their negotiating stance as they departed, as he said the US has no business in the region and not to worry about the Kurdish fighters.

"If Turkey goes onto Syria, that's between Turkey and Syria, it's not between Turkey and the United States," Mr Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.