- Both supporters and opponents of Donald Trump criticized the move.
- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said “a precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime.”
- "We must always have the backs of our allies if we expect them to have our back," said former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
The US risks losing the support and trust of its allies. That’s what a section of the critics opine after President Donald Trump’s announcement Sunday that a smaller group of US forces are being withdrawn from northeastern Syria, allowing Turkey to enter the Kurdish-controlled areas at the border. The White House has, however, maintained that the US operation does not support the Turkish operation.
Still, both Trump’s supporters and opponents have labeled the decision as “irresponsible” and “impulsive.” The major concern is the fact that the US. is now turning its back on its Kurdish allies, who have helped it to defeat the Islamic State (IS). Among the critics are several of Trump’s otherwise loyal political allies, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
McConnell said in a statement that “a precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime,” and it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.” The Majority Leader added, “as we learned the hard way during the Obama administration, American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal.”
Another one of Trump’s close allies and buddies, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), also opposed Trump’s move. “I hope I’m making myself clear how short-sighted and irresponsible this decision is,” Graham said in an interview with Fox News. “I like President Trump. I’ve tried to help him. This, to me, is just unnerving to its core.” In addition, he states that it is now becoming difficult for the United States to expect the support of its allies.
It is an assessment shared by former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and fellow South Carolinian, Nikki Haley. “We must always have the backs of our allies if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake.” The former South Carolina governor added on Twitter, “#TurkeyIsNotOurFriend.”
Trump Had Earlier made the Decision
Back in December, President Trump announced that he was ready to withdraw all US forces from the area, but after criticism from diplomats, intelligence agencies and his own Department of Defense, he canceled the Decision. The issue prompted James Mattis, the former Secretary of Defense to resign. “You’re going to have to get the next Secretary of Defense to lose to ISIS. I’m not going to do it,” Mattis said in his resignation letter.
Just a month ago, a number of security policy specialists, including former US National Security Council and British MI6 officers, warned against making the same mistakes that led to al-Qaeda, Islamic State, and the Taliban. Instead, in an open letter, they advise providing additional resources and expertise to the SDF to address growing threats from, among others, the al-Hol camp, which houses more than 70,000 IS prisoners.