“I think it’s a very smart decision by the president,” the senator told Fox News on Friday. “He listened to sound military advice, he adjusted his policies. The goal is to make sure ISIS doesn’t come back.”
Graham had vehemently opposed the commander in chief’s initial plan to engage in a total pullout, reportedly calling it “the dumbest fucking idea I’ve ever heard.”
Like other lawmakers and military officials, he said he was concerned that the drastic move could enable the resurgence of terrorism in the region. Trump’s December decision was opposed by his own defense secretary, James Mattis, who submitted his resignation soon afterward.
On Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that the “small peacekeeping group” of troops would “remain in Syria for a period of time,” Reuters reported.
According to the outlet, Sanders’ statement followed a phone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during which the two discussed the potential creation of a safe zone, agreeing to work together, though there are no further details at present.
Questions remain as to whether the Kurdish forces that have been combating ISIS will remain safe once U.S. troops leave, as they could fall under threat from Turkey.
Graham gave Trump props for what he heralded as the defeat of the caliphate, though a Friday Agence France-Presse report described it as “dying” and nearing its end, indicating the battle was not yet over.
“Now the burden falls on Europe ... we’re flipping the responsibilities,” the senator said, predicting that European troops would now be tasked with the fight. “Great decision by the president.”