Shortly after President Donald Trump announced U.S. troops would withdraw from northern Syria, Turkey launched an offensive this week into the region. They reportedly have killed at least 24 Kurds — longtime allies of the United States — and more than 60,000 people have been displaced from their homes.
Trump’s decision to appease Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — whose invasion is stoking fears of an ISIS resurgence — has drawn sharp criticism from international allies, as well as Republicans and Democrats in Congress. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is sponsoring bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate calling for Turkish sanctions.
The president on Wednesday bizarrely justified his actions by claiming that the Kurds “didn’t help us in the second World War; they didn’t help us with Normandy, for example.” Trump also dismissed the threat of ISIS fighters escaping from Turkish prisons.
“Well, they’re going to be escaping to Europe; that’s where they want to go,” Trump said.
U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Twp.) is the House’s lone independent who left the GOP after he came out in favor of impeachment proceedings. Know for his libertarian stances and critiques of military actions, Amash wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that “despite President Trump’s bluster about ending endless war, he’s not ending anything.
“Our troops aren’t coming home; a small number were moved so Turkey could escalate the war. And the president has expanded our role in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and kept us in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
On Tuesday, he noted his own family’s experience as being Christian refugees from the Middle East.
Sixty-three years ago today, America welcomed my dad (center) and his family as Palestinian Christian refugees. We are forever grateful to their sponsors, Rev. and Mrs. Ralph Wagoner, for their kindness and sacrifice. This country is a blessing—full of liberty and opportunity. pic.twitter.com/RBW9vSUuz3
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) October 9, 2019
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.), a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote on Twitter on Monday that “ISIS has NOT been eliminated. This is an irresponsible plan that could reverse our progress against ISIS and give terrorists committed to hurting us an opportunity to regroup.”
Peters noted on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday that Trump’s decision will have a huge long-term impact.
“Well, certainly we are all speaking out that this is a huge mistake; I think you’re seeing that in a bipartisan fashion right now. This is something that needs to be reversed. … The broader implication is: What do our allies think about the United States? What do fighters who are fighting to help the United States — what are they thinking when they know the United States may pull out on a dime, without any kind of discussion or implication that they’re going to do it and put them in a very precarious position? This undermines our ability to work with allies all across the globe. This is about the worst kind of foreign policy you can imagine.”
U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly), a former CIA analyst and assistant Defense secretary, said on CNN Wednesday that the short-term issue of ISIS fighters being released is very concerning. She also brought up what this means for foreign policy going forward.
“The American handshake has to mean something, right?” she said. “We went in there, four-star generals, colonels — we went into northern Syria; we talked to these Syrian Democratic forces, Kurds and Arabs, and said, ‘Hey, we have a common enemy. It’s ISIS. And we want to work with you to root them out, particularly of the capital of their caliphate. We’re going to give you military support and advice and counsel, but we’re going to need you on the front lines.’ And we shook their hands and they accepted and they went and they fought.”
Slotkin said that in the future when the United States reaches out to allies, our actions in Syria will mean “they’re thinking twice” about trusting us.
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint), chief deputy whip of the House Democratic caucus on Wednesday called Trump’s actions “a betrayal to the Kurdish people — one of the U.S.’s staunchest and most reliable allies during the war on ISIS.
“President Trump’s decision has paved the way for the Turkish autocratic regime to begin attacking American allies in northern Syria today. Once again, President Trump has proven he will put his own self-interest and political fortunes above the national security of the United States and our allies.”
Many Michigan Republicans haven’t commented about Trump’s decision. Before Turkey launched its offensive, U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) on Monday wrote on Twitter that the United States must support the Kurds, but he made no mention of Trump.
“America cannot lead from behind on #Syria. A withdrawal here abandons our Kurdish allies and emboldens those who seek a much different outcome than the United States,” Huizenga wrote.