Amash, Dems bash Trump for emboldening Turkey, abandoning Kurdish allies

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, as seen from the Turkish border town on October 09, 2019 in Ceylanpinar, Turkey. The military action is part of a campaign to extend Turkish control of more of northern Syria, a large swath of which is currently held by Syrian Kurds, whom Turkey regards as a threat. U.S. President Donald Trump granted tacit American approval to this campaign, withdrawing his country's troops from several Syrian outposts near the Turkish border. | Burak Kara/Getty Images

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.

President Donald J. Trump talks with President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the leaders lounge at the G20 Japan Summit Friday, June 28, 2019, in Osaka, Japan. | Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead, Flickr

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 | Gage Skidmore, Flickr

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.

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.

Gary Peters at the national NAACP convention in Detroit | Andrew Roth

“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.”

Rep. Elissa Slotkin at a town hall in East Lansing, Oct. 2, 2019 | Anna Liz Nichols

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.

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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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