Fri, 18 Oct 2019

US Lawmakers Decry Trump's Syria Withdrawal

Voice of America
10 Oct 2019, 07:05 GMT+10

U.S. lawmakers of both political parties on Wednesday continued to savage President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from northeastern Syria, where U.S.-allied Kurds are under attack from Turkey.

"Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump administration," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted. "This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS," an acronym for the Islamic State.

He also tweeted he would "lead effort in Congress to make (Turkish President) Erdogan pay a heavy price" for launching a military offensive against the Kurds.

"I urge President Trump to change course while there is still time," added Graham, who is usually one of the president's most loyal defenders.

'Abandoning' Kurdish allies

In a statement, Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons accused the Trump administration of "abandoning our Syrian Kurdish allies," adding that the offensive "is a direct result of President Trump's failure to stand up for our partners and interests in the region - a move that calls into question the credibility and reliability of the United States."

For his part, Trump sought to distance himself from Turkey's action.

"The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea," the president said in a statement.

Trump added that no U.S. soldiers are participating in the attack area and that "Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place - and we will hold them to this commitment."

Applauding the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria was Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who praised Trump for "stopping the endless wars" and predicted "we [the United States] will be stronger as a result."

Paul's praise stood in stark contrast to the condemnation of many other lawmakers.

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, tweeted Trump "completely ignored the calls from Congress, from human rights advocates, from the realities on the ground, and from the Kurds themselves."

Menendez projected that "only chaos & havoc will follow" and that "this is the second chance ISIS has been waiting for."

Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine also took to Twitter, accusing Trump of leaving "our allies at risk of being slaughtered."

By "putting our troops and diplomats in the region at risk," Kaine said, Trump is "playing right into the hands of our adversaries."

Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen declared that "Turkey must pay a heavy price for attacking our Syrian Kurdish partners."

Van Hollen predicted that Democratic or Republican senators "won't support abandoning the one regional group most responsible for putting ISIS on its heels."

Threatens fight against IS

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy warned on Twitter the attack "threatens to halt momentum against ISIS, directly assaults our SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) partners, and could give the likes of al-Qaeda and Iran new footholds in the region."

McCarthy also called on Turkey to "stop immediately and continue to work with the US to secure the region."

The International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian relief organization, expressed deep concern "about the lives and livelihoods of the two million people in northeast Syria who have already survived ISIS brutality and multiple displacements."

The IRC also cautioned the offensive "could displace 300,000 people and disrupt life-saving humanitarian services, including the IRC's."

American minister Franklin Graham, an evangelist who appeals to Trump's most fervent supporters, also weighed in. He tweeted: "The Turks have a dismal record on human rights & they can't be trusted. Pray for the Kurds, Christians, & other minorities in the region."

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