Amid a growing backlash from the media and from both sides of the political aisle, President Trump is defending his decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria.
“We want to bring our troops back home,” the president said. “It’s been many, many years. It’s been decades, in many cases. We want to bring our troops back home, and I got elected on that. If you go back and look at our speeches, I would say I want to bring our troops back home from these endless wars. We are a police force over there. We’re not fighting, we’re policing. We are not a police force. We’re the greatest military force ever assembled because of what I’ve done over the last three years.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, Nikki Haley, Mitch McConnell, and others have criticized the pullback as an abandonment of Kurdish fighters who have been U.S. allies in the region.
To be clear, the United States opposes a Turkish operation in northern Syria. DoD spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said: ‘The Department of Defense made clear to Turkey – as did the President – that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria. The U.S. Armed Forces will not support, or be involved in any such operation.”
Senate Majority Leader McConnell disparaged the pullback decision as a “retreat” that “would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”
Calling the move “a stain on America’s honor” and “a disaster in the making,” Haley joined the Republicans who were breaking with Trump on the issue.
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. #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) October 7, 2019
“The biggest lie being told by the administration [is] that ISIS is defeated,'” Graham told “Fox & Friends.” “The caliphate is destroyed but there are thousands of fighters over there. And no, the caliphate would not have been destroyed without the Kurds.”
Graham continued: “We have less than 1000 troops now in Syria, but this impulsive decision by the President has undone all the gains we’ve made, thrown the region into further chaos. Iran is licking their chops. If I’m an ISIS fighter, I have got a second lease on life. So to those who think ISIS has been defeated, you will soon see. And to Turkey, you have destroyed the relationship, what little you had, with the U.S. Congress. I will do everything I can to sanction Turkey’s military and their economy if they step one foot into Syria.”
Others who have spoken out against the president’s decision to safeguard U.S troops include Hillary Clinton, Sen. Mitt Romney, Sen. Ted Cruz, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
The President reiterated in a tweet that Turkey must ensure the captured ISIS fighters do not escape …
….the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019
The number of troops actually being pulled out of northern Syria along the Turkish border is a point that appears to have been overlooked by critics. President Trump said the withdrawal from the area in question involves 50 U.S. military members. The Times of Israel reported the number was even smaller: “The pullback only concerns ‘two very small detachments’ — meaning less than 25 people in total — that have been moved a ‘very short distance,’ the official says. … beyond the small pullback of troops, ‘there’s no change to our military posture in the northeast.’
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) October 7, 2019
“We’ve been in Syria for many years. Syria was supposed to be a short-term hit. Just a very short-term hit,” the president told reporters in the White House on Monday. “We were supposed to be in and out. That was many, many years ago. We only have 50 people in that area, that’s a small sector. And I don’t want those 50 people hurt or killed or anything. I don’t want anything bad to happen to our people. And I told that to President Erdogan, I said don’t hurt any of our people, big trouble.”
“Now, a couple of things,” he continued. “I think there’s a lot of pressure on Turkey. They have been fighting with the PKK for many years, they’re natural enemies. If you read today, a couple of reports saying that when President Obama started this whole thing, as you know, it was started by President Obama, he created a natural war with Turkey and their long-time enemy, PKK, and they’re still there, they are still hating each other beyond anybody’s belief. But I have told Turkey that if they do anything outside of what we would think is humane, to use the word a second time, we talk about Hong Kong, we talk about this — they could suffer the wrath of an extremely decimated economy.”
Watch a segment of the Monday Q&As with reporters …
Video by C-SPAN
In spite of the opposition from military complex supporters, pulling U.S. servicemen back and out of harm’s way has plenty of support, including from Sen. Rand Paul.
GOP KY Sen Paul on on Fox on new Syria policy: President Trump so right about regime change..(it) hasn’t worked. It’s led to more chaos and the rise of ISIS came in the chaos of Hussein being toppled but also the chaos of Assad’s regime being made marginal and made fragile.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) October 7, 2019
The bottom line for the president is that he is following through on his promises to extricate the U.S. from endless wars overseas.
….down, watching over a quagmire, & spending big dollars to do so. When I took over, our Military was totally depleted. Now it is stronger than ever before. The endless and ridiculous wars are ENDING! We will be focused on the big picture, knowing we can always go back & BLAST!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019
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