Since the surprise announcement from the White House that said U.S. troops will be withdrawing from areas of Kurdish-held northeast Syria to avoid a planned Turkish assault, an onslaught of U.S. politicians spoke out against the decision. Members of Congress from both parties used the same talking points to argue for a continued U.S. presence in northeast Syria.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) went on a tirade on twitter and appeared on Fox and Friends Monday morning. His main argument against the move is that ISIS would reemerge in areas where they were defeated. “I feel very bad for the Americans and allies who have sacrificed to destroy the ISIS Caliphate because this decision virtually reassures the reemergence of ISIS. So sad. So dangerous,” Graham tweeted. Graham also said that any incursion into Northern Syria by Turkey “will be met with most severe sanctions against Turkey’s military and economy.”
Hilary Clinton also took to Twitter to voice her concern over the announcement and said, “Let us be clear: The president has sided with authoritarian leaders of Turkey and Russia over our loyal allies and America’s own interests. His decision is a sickening betrayal both of the Kurds and his oath of office.”
Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley said, “We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake.”
Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a statement that said, “The President’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Northern Syria is a deeply disturbing development that betrays our Kurdish allies who have been instrumental partners in our mission to eradicate ISIS.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also released a statement that said, “A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said, “Withdrawing US forces from Northern Syria is a catastrophic mistake that puts our gains against ISIS at risk and threatens US security.”
Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) said, “This President’s decision to abandon our Kurdish allies in Northern Syria is ultimately a victory for Assad, Russia, Iran, and ISIS.”
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted, “We degraded ISIS using Kurds as the ground force. Now we have abandoned them & they face annihilation at the hands of the Turkish military.”
Even some progressives in Congress who have supported ending U.S. involvement in Syria came out against the announcement. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said, “Trump’s move will not put an end to endless wars. What it *will* do is reward Russia, Iran, and ISIS.”
Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) tweeted, “I have long believed the U.S. must responsibly end our military interventions in the Middle East. But Trump’s abrupt announcement to withdraw from northern Syria and endorse Turkey’s incursion is extremely irresponsible. It is likely to result in more suffering and instability.”
President Trump defended his decision and said, “I was elected on getting out of these ridiculous endless wars, where our great Military functions as a policing operation to the benefit of people who don’t even like the USA.” But Trump also seemed to agree with Graham about sanctioning Turkey and later tweeted, “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)”
It is still not clear if Trump plans a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria or if they are just going to relocate. A full withdrawal of U.S. troops would allow the Syrian government to step in and help the Kurds. When Trump announced his unfulfilled plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria back in December 2018, the Kurds asked the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for protection from a possible Turkish invasion.