JUPITER, Fla. – President Donald Trump on Friday denounced the deadly mosque attack in Egypt and reached out to its president, asserting the world must crush terrorists by military means — and the U.S. needs the travel ban that’s tied up in courts.
“Need the WALL, need the BAN!” Trump tweeted before his planned call to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. “God bless the people of Egypt.”
At his Florida resort for a long Thanksgiving weekend, Trump spoke by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East,” he said in a tweet. A Turkish official said Trump agreed the U.S. would no longer arm Syrian Kurdish fighters — a claim not verified by the White House.
Attention then turned to the attack in Egypt, where at least 235 people were killed when Islamic militants attacked a crowded mosque during prayers in the Sinai Peninsula, setting off explosives and spraying worshippers with gunfire.
“The world cannot tolerate terrorism,” Trump tweeted in response. He added, “We must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!”
That attack took place as Trump mixed work and play in sunny Florida, golfing — quickly, he claimed — with pros Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson, speaking with the foreign leaders and tweeting briskly.
During the call between U.S. and Turkish leaders, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed, Trump said the United States would no longer supply arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters. Cavusoglu was in Erdogan’s office during the call.
Turkey considers the Kurdish Syrian fighters, known by the initials YPG, to be terrorists because of their affiliation with outlawed Kurdish rebels in Turkey. A U.S. decision to arm the fighters soured relations between the two NATO allies.
“Mr. Trump clearly stated that he had given clear instructions and that the YPG won’t be given arms and that this nonsense should have ended a long time ago,” Cavusoglu said.
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about Cavusoglu’s claims and did not immediately release its own take on the call.
Erdogan’s office said in its summary that the two leaders had discussed the Syrian crisis and other regional issues during their phone call Friday, and that they also discussed ties between Turkey and the United States.
Their talk came days after Erdogan attended a trilateral meeting with the Russian and Iranian leaders in Sochi, Russia, to promote a peaceful settlement in Syria. Relations between NATO allies Turkey and the United States have soured over a number of issues, including U.S. support to Syrian Kurdish fighters which Ankara considers to be terrorists because of their links to outlawed Kurdish rebels in Turkey.
The leaders also called on other countries to provide humanitarian aid, clear Syrian territory of mines and restore vital infrastructure destroyed by the war.
In a series of morning tweets from Florida, Trump said he’d be calling Erdogan to discuss the situation in the Middle East. “I will get it all done, but what a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!” he wrote.
Trump and his aides often appear concerned about the perception that he is vacationing during his trips away from the White House, insisting that he is partaking in high level meetings and making calls while staying in Bedminister, New Jersey, or at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Despite plenty of photos posted on social media by club members, media traveling with the president were not permitted to observe or photograph the president and his companions on the greens.
In a break from the practice of past administrations, the Trump White House rarely discloses when the president is golfing, let alone whom he golfs with during frequent trips to courses he owns in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia.
Trump also complained again Friday about football players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality. “Can you believe that the disrespect for our Country, our Flag, our Anthem continues without penalty to the players,” Trump said in one of several tweets Friday morning, accusing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell of having “lost control” of what he called a “hemorrhaging league” where “Players are the boss!”
Trump’s tweet was in response to one from his social media chief, Dan Scavino. Scavino had shared a Breitbart News story about New York Giants player Olivier Vernon taking the knee during the anthem on Thanksgiving ahead of a game against the Redskins.
The website is run by Trump’s former chief strategist.