Hundreds of US troops will return home as Turkey prepares to invade northern Syria, announced President Trump on Sunday.
Critics worry the pullout will lead to the slaughter of the Kurds, who have played a major role in the fight against ISIS.
“Allowing Turkey to move into northern Syria is one of the most destabilizing moves we can do in the Middle East,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), an Iraq war veteran. “The Kurds will never trust America again.”
“Donald Trump is not a Commander-in-Chief,” wrote Brett McGurk, a former Administration official who resigned last year after the departure of then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation. He sends military personnel into harm’s way with no backing. He blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff or he confronts a hard phone call.”
“We must always have the backs of our allies,” tweeted Nikki Haley, former UN Ambassador. “The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake.”
Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) described the move as “a betrayal.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned the pullout could lead to the return of ISIS and force the Kurds to ally with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In Trump’s opinion, it’s time for Syria to take care of its own problems.
“The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so,” tweeted Trump on Monday. “They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for…almost three years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home.”
In response to criticism, Trump threatened to “destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if the nation does anything he considers “off limits.”
A spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said the group is committed to preserving stability in the region, but will “not hesitate to turn any unprovoked attack by Turkey into an all-out war on the entire border to defend ourselves and our people.”
In a statement released this weekend, the White House confirmed Turkey would be responsible for all ISIS captives. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who spoke with Trump on the phone last week, plans to meet Trump in person later this month.
Author’s Note: Pulling troops from Syria is a campaign promise for Trump. And while supporting the Kurds has been an important policy, I agree with Trump that we have no real interests in Syria.
Previous administrations (especially Obama) were outspoken that Assad was a brutal dictator, and they were right, but we can’t fix everybody all the time. Trump’s decision won’t be popular, but we should pull out of there.
Editor’s note: I’m heartsick for the Kurds, they have supported us bravely in circumstances where others have cowered. But we cannot let them pull us into wars where we have not national interests.