Republicans Furious Over Trump Pulling Troops Out of Syria - Rolling Stone
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Republicans Are Furious Over Trump’s Sudden Syria Move

Even Lindsey Graham, one of the president’s closest allies in the Senate, has blasted the decision, arguing that it’s a “big win for ISIS”

President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on the Federal Commission on School Safety report, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, in WashingtonTrump, Washington, USA - 18 Dec 2018President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on the Federal Commission on School Safety report, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, in WashingtonTrump, Washington, USA - 18 Dec 2018

President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on the Federal Commission on School Safety report, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

Evan Vucci/AP/REX/Shutterstock

President Trump announced on Wednesday that ISIS had been defeated in Syria and that there was no longer any reason for American troops to be stationed there. Trump had spoken before about his desire to bring troops out of Syria, but the tweet announcing the decision came as a shock. Virtually no one was notified ahead of time, including Congress.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) responded by calling it a “big win for ISIS.” Sen Ben Sasse (R-NE) called it “weak.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called it a “grave error.” The president had reportedly been cautioned against withdrawing troops from Syria by everyone from Defense Secretary James Mattis, to National Security Adviser John Bolton, to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. There seems to be no real plan regarding how to proceed. Trump decided he wanted the troops out, so he tweeted that he was removing them.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that even after Trump made the decision, the Pentagon and the State Department urged him to reconsider the move. Trump instead posted a bizarre video proclaiming victory. “Now we’ve won. It’s time to come back,” the president said. “They’re getting ready. You’re going to see them soon. These are great American heroes. These are great heroes of the world, because they’ve fought for us, but they’ve killed ISIS, who hurts the world. And we’re proud to have done it. And I’ll tell you, they’re up there looking down on us, and there is nobody happier or more proud of their families to put them in a position where they’ve done such good for so many people.”

“Our boys, our young women, our men — they’re coming back, and they’re coming back now,” Trump continued with the same tone he might use if he was promoting a redesigned golf course. “We won, and that’s the way we want it, and that’s they way they want it.” (The “they” here are dead service members looking down from heaven.) A few hours later, Trump tweeted a few quotes from Fox News praising the move. “‘Trump gets no credit for what he’s done in the Middle East.’ @IngrahamAngle So true, thank you Laura!” wrote the president.

American troops have been present in Syria since 2015, combating ISIS and working to bring an end to the Syrian Civil War. The United States has allied with Kurdish forces to eradicate ISIS, as well as a coalition of Syrian groups opposing President Bashar al Assad, who has been receiving aid from Russia and Iran. Removing the 2,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Syria would leave the Kurds vulnerable and essentially give control of the region to Assad, Russia and Iran. Though ISIS’ presence in Syria has been dramatically diminished, they have not been “defeated,” and the withdrawal is a boost to their efforts to regain influence.

Many have likened the move to President Obama’s 2011 decision to withdraw troops from Iraq. “Honestly, this makes what Obama did in Iraq… It’s replicating that, but in many ways it’s worse,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told reporters on Wednesday. “We’re in a situation in the Euphrates River Valley where we’re close to finishing clearing out [ISIS]. It’s a terrible thing for our nation. It’s a terrible thing for the allies we’ve been working with. It’s a terrible thing for the [Syrian Democratic Forces]. It’s hard to imagine that any president would wake up and make this kind of decision with this little communication and this little preparation.”

Trump was critical of Obama’s decision at the time. “Iraq in political turmoil one day after we leave—I told you so,” Trump tweeted seven years ago Thursday.

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to the president Wednesday evening imploring him to rethink the decision. “If you decide to follow through with your decision to pull our troops out of Syria, any remnants of ISIS in Syria will surely renew and embolden their efforts in the region,” they wrote. “However, ISIS is not the only threat. The brutal dictatorship of Bashar al Assad continues to weigh heavily upon the Syrian people, and we fear that a withdrawal of our troops may embolden Bashar al Assad to take further actions to solidify his power.”

On Friday morning, Trump explained that the decision was made because of a belief that the United States gets “NOTHING” in return for their presence in Syria.

But most believe the move plays into the hands of Russia, Iran and Assad. “It is not FAKE NEWS that Russia, Iran, and Assad are unhappy about our decision to withdraw from Syria,” tweeted Graham. “They are ECSTATIC!” The boon to Russia’s interests has also reignited speculation about Trump’s relationship with Putin and whether the president may in some way be compromised by the Kremlin. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who is expected to become Speaker of the House next month, alleged the move was “personal or political objectives.” Soon after the decision was made, Russia praised it on Twitter.

Putin, too, was pleased. “Donald’s right, and I agree with him,” the Russian leader said Friday, calling it the “right decision.”

In This Article: Donald Trump


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