President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw support for Kurdish allies in northern Syria ahead of Turkey’s planned invasion of the region drew forceful backlash from both Republicans and Democrats, as well as foreign policy experts.
The Kurds lead the Syrian Democratic Forces, the main ally to the U.S. in fighting the self-described Islamic State in Syria. Turkey has long wanted the U.S. to end its support for the Kurds, an ethnic group the Turkish government views as terrorists.
The White House’s announcement Sunday to allow Turkey to invade northern Syria startled some members of Congress, who warned such a move could lead to a genocide of the Kurds and allow ISIS to creep back into the region.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a frequent cheerleader of the president, split with Trump on his Syria decision, calling it “shortsighted” and “irresponsible” during a phone interview with “Fox & Friends” on Monday.
Graham, who helped to convince Trump to reverse his decision last December to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, tweeted Monday that abandoning our Kurdish allies would be “a stain on America’s honor.”
He said he plans to introduce a Senate resolution opposing and asking for a reversal of Trump’s decision if he moves forward with it.
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah echoed his fellow Republican’s concern.
Several other Republicans also spoke out about the sudden shift in U.S. foreign policy. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urged the U.S. to “keep its word” with its foreign allies during an appearance Monday on “Fox & Friends.”
“This is a terribly unwise decision by the President to abandon our Kurdish allies, who have been our major partner in the fight against the Islamic State,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called Trump’s decision a “grave mistake.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the move “positively sinister.”
Brett McGurk, the former U.S. envoy to the global coalition fighting ISIS, blasted Trump for demonstrating “a complete lack of understanding of anything happening on the ground.”
“Trump made a similarly impulsive decision when I was managing the policy,” tweeted McGurk, who resigned last year when Trump announced plans to abruptly withdraw American troops from Syria. “Trump tonight after one call with a foreign leader provided a gift to Russia, Iran, and ISIS.”
Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University, accused Trump of “screwing over a local ally that has done pretty much everything the U.S. has asked.”
Trump appeared to address some of the concerns over his decision to withdraw support in northern Syria, tweeting Monday that he would “totally destroy” Turkey’s economy if its leaders did anything he considers to be “off limits.”
“The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected,” he wrote. “It is now time for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.