The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is urging all of its members in the House of Representatives to vote “yes” on a Syria War Powers Resolution introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) scheduled to be voted on Wednesday. The resolution would direct President Biden to withdraw all US troops from Syria within 180 days.
According to The Intercept, the CPC circulated a message to its 100 members in the House. The message said that the effort is “largely consistent with previous bipartisan efforts led by CPC Members to terminate such unauthorized military presence within one year, for which 130 House Democrats voted yes last year.”
In July 2022, Rep. Jamal Bowman (D-NY) introduced an amendment to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act to cut funding for the presence in Syria if not authorized within one year. The amendment failed but was supported by 60% of House Democrats, while only 25 Republicans voted in favor.
Robert Ford, who served as the ambassador to Syria during the Obama administration, supports Gaetz’s resolution and is urging representatives to vote yes. “We owe our soldiers serving there in harm’s way a serious debate about whether their mission is, in fact, achievable,” Ford said in a letter to Congress.
According to The Intercept, Ford argued that the withdrawal would force negotiations that could bring stability to the region, including the US-backed Kurdish forces negotiating a power-sharing deal with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Americans can contact their representatives and urge them to support Gaetz’s resolution (H.Con.Res.21). Click here to find your representative, or call the House switchboard operator at (202) 224-3121. The vote is scheduled for 5:30 PM EST on Wednesday.
The US has about 900 troops stationed in eastern Syria. Nominally, the presence is about fighting ISIS, but it serves as part of the economic campaign against government-controlled territories of Syria, as the area under US control is where most of the country’s oil resources are located.
The US also has crippling economic sanctions imposed on Syria, which the House just overwhelmingly voted to maintain after Syria and Turkey were hit by a devastating earthquake. Ford, who favored heavy US intervention in Syria during the Obama administration, said sanctions were a separate issue from the US troop presence but acknowledged it was time to start rethinking the strategy.
“I would just say two things. First, the sanctions are not delivering political concessions from Bashar al-Assad. And then the second thing I would say is, it’s disingenuous for those who justify the sanctions to say that they don’t harm ordinary Syrians living in government-controlled territories. They obviously do,” Ford told The Intercept. “All I can say is we’re inflicting pain without getting much for it.”