'Disaster in making': Top Republicans outraged over Trump pullback in Syria
Graham, chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee and one of Trump's most outspoken supporters, described the move as 'a disaster in the making.'
Influential Republicans including staunch allies of Donald Trump in Congress angrily criticised the president Monday for pulling back US troops from key areas of northern Syria, warning the move abandons battlefield allies the Kurds.
Senator Lindsey Graham said he will call on Congress to reverse the sudden decision to withdraw American forces from positions along or near Turkey's border with Syria, essentially greenlighting Ankara's long-threatened move against the Kurds and raising fears of a jihadist comeback.
Graham, chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee and one of Trump's most outspoken supporters, described the move as "a disaster in the making."
I don’t know all the details regarding President Trump’s decision in northern Syria. In process of setting up phone call with Secretary Pompeo.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019
If press reports are accurate this is a disaster in the making.
He said it would be "a stain on America's honour for abandoning the Kurds," who were Washington's main ally in the years-old battle against the so-called Islamic State group.
"Also, if this plan goes forward will introduce Senate resolution opposing and asking for a reversal of this decision. Expect it will receive strong bipartisan support," the senator tweeted.
Also, if this plan goes forward will introduce Senate resolution opposing and asking for reversal of this decision. Expect it will receive strong bipartisan support.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019
No matter what President Trump is saying about his decision, it is EXACTLY what President Obama did in Iraq with even more disastrous consequences for our national security.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019
Unlike President Obama, I hope President Trump will reassess and take sound military advice.
Democrats also hammered the president. Senator Bernie Sanders, who seeks the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination, tweeted that while he supports ending US military intervention in the Middle East, Trump's "extremely irresponsible" announcement is "likely to result in more suffering and instability."
I have long believed the U.S. must responsibly end our military interventions in the Middle East. But Trump’s abrupt announcement to withdraw from northern Syria and endorse Turkey’s incursion is extremely irresponsible. It is likely to result in more suffering and instability. https://t.co/a4Wi5RYFuC— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 7, 2019
Watch: United States to withdraw troops from Syria
Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state Trump defeated in 2016, accused the president of committing "a sickening betrayal both of the Kurds and his oath of office."
Let us be clear: The president has sided with authoritarian leaders of Turkey and Russia over our loyal allies and America’s own interests. His decision is a sickening betrayal both of the Kurds and his oath of office.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 7, 2019
After a call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House said Ankara would "soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria" -- and that US forces would "no longer be in the immediate area."
The announcement stunned and angered several Republicans.
"Withdrawing US forces from Northern Syria is a catastrophic mistake that puts our gains against ISIS at risk and threatens US security," tweeted Liz Cheney, the number three House Republican.
Withdrawing US forces from Northern Syria is a catastrophic mistake that puts our gains against ISIS at risk and threatens US security.— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) October 7, 2019
This decision ignores lesson of 9/11. Terrorists thousands of miles away can and will use their safe-havens to launch attacks against America.
Senator Mitt Romney called the withdrawal "a betrayal" that facilitates a jihadist resurgence.
The President’s decision to abandon our Kurd allies in the face of an assault by Turkey is a betrayal. It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster. https://t.co/Tu8ARa8Pmp— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) October 7, 2019
Trump took to Twitter to defend the withdrawal, saying the region would have to "figure the situation out."
"The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so," he said.
"They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for almost 3 years but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home."
...figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS fighters in their “neighborhood.” They all hate ISIS, have been enemies for years. We are 7000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019
The strident objections included a slap by Trump's former UN envoy Nikki Haley, a Republican seen by some as a potential post-Trump presidential candidate.
"We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back," Haley said, calling the Kurds "instrumental" in the US fight against ISIS.
"Leaving them to die is a big mistake."
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
Trump even received push-back from a host of "Fox & Friends," a show followed closely by the president.
With Washington opening the door for Turkish action against the Kurds, "what kind of message is that to the next ally that wants to side with us?" Brian Kilmeade said on the show Monday.
"I hope the president will rethink this."
Meanwhile, later on Sunday, Trump threatened to "totally destroy and obliterate" Turkey's economy if it took any action he considered "off-limits" following his decision to withdraw American forces from northeastern Syria.
"As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off-limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!)" Trump tweeted.
As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019