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Washington wary of Trump’s Syria withdrawal

by Harvest Prude
Posted 10/08/19, 12:24 pm

WASHINGTON—Lawmakers from both parties warned Monday that the Turkish military could attack Kurds in Syria once U.S. troops leave the area. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from northeastern Syria, saying, “I urge the president to exercise American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS”—a coalition in which the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces played an important role.

Who else spoke out? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the move a “disturbing development that betrays our Kurdish allies who have been instrumental partners in our mission to eradicate ISIS.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned he will introduce sanctions against Turkey and call for its removal from NATO should the Turkish military move against the Kurds. Trump told reporters Monday that he was “not siding” with Kurdish forces in the area or the Turkish government. He threatened Turkey with sanctions if it does “anything outside of what we think is humane.”

Dig deeper: Read Mindy Belz’s analysis of the effect of the U.S. turnabout in Syria.

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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a political reporter for WORLD's Washington Bureau. She is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate. Harvest resides in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter @HarvestPrude.

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  • OldMike
    Posted: Tue, 10/08/2019 09:24 pm

    We have fewer friends, and much less influence, in the region east of the Mediterranean than we once did. 

    Turkey is going anti-western. Iran is controlled by fanatics who regard the US as the Great Satan. Iraq is a mashup of rival self-dealing petty chieftains, who all become such loyal allies when requesting another handout.  Syria might be regarded as a non-nation now, appearing to be under the control of Iran and Russia. Saudi Arabia, happy because we removed the danger of Saddam Hussein from their neighborhood, has given little back. And every one of these, with a partial exception for pre-civil war Syria, has been cruelly oppressive towards non-Muslims in their midst—the Christians, Jews, but also rival Muslim sects. 

    One might think the US would have learned lessons over the past 100 years, how supporting oppressive dictatorships because they seem to be “on our side” in global conflicts, can come back to bite us. But it seems no offense by one of our Mideastern “allies” is enough to make us turn our backs.  Because, (gasp) Russia or China would step in to fill the vacancy.

    Our truest ally in the region, Israel, knows better than to put a lot of trust in us.  Sadly, the Kurds have also learned that. Despite the Kurds willingness to give sanctuary to refugees fleeing oppression and danger; despite the Kurds demonstrating they can carry more than their weight in the battles against ISIS et al, we won’t support them in what they really want.

    The Kurds hope to establish an independent Kurdish homeland.  However, Turkey in particular, an “important” US ally, is extremely opposed to any sort of accommodation of the Kurds. But maybe it’s time to get behind the Kurds, and let the Turks and others rant and fume. Tell them, “Russia wants to be your buddy, maybe you should try extorting Putin for a while and see how that works out for you.”  

    The friends we really should want are those who don’t act like enemies except on Uncle Sam payday. 

  • Big Jim
    Posted: Tue, 10/08/2019 09:29 pm

    Nice synopsis, OldMike.