Sanctions introduced against Turkey, Trump defends Syrian withdrawal

‘Going into the Middle East is the worst decision ever made in the history of our country,’ says Trump

October 9, 2019 21:32
3 minute read.
U.S. President Donald Trump attends Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House in Washington,

U.S. President Donald Trump attends Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/YURI GRIPAS)

 Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham plans to introduce a package of “devastating” sanctions to hit Turkey over its military operation in northeast Syria, expressing concerns over the fate of Kurds in the area after US President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw troops on Sunday.

The Turkish military and Syrian rebel allies launched an operation in Syria on Wednesday with air strikes. It will be supported by artillery and howitzer fire.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the operation aimed to eliminate a “terror corridor” along the Turkish border and threats from the Kurdish YPG and ISIS militants, as well as pave the way for Syrian refugees in Turkey to return after the formation of a “safe zone” in the area.

Usually a vocal Trump ally, Graham called the Turkish invasion “a disaster in the making,” and tweeted that he is praying for the Kurdish allies, “who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration. This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS.”

“Erdogan is not our friend and Congress will push back,” Graham told Fox News in an interview on Wednesday. “We’re not giving Turkey a green light in Congress, and we’re not going to abandon the Kurds. If the president does so, we won’t.”

Graham said that the sanctions would strike the Turkish economy and military in an interview with Axios published Wednesday. He predicted the Senate could marshal the votes to override any potential presidential veto.

“Who the hell supports Erdogan over the Kurds?” Graham told Axios.

Graham warned that Trump’s decision to withdraw the troops opened the way for a Turkish strike on Kurdish-led forces long allied with Washington.

“The president’s doing this completely against everybody else’s advice,” Graham said. “He will get 100% of the credit if he knows something the rest of us don’t. And he’s going to get 100% of the blame. There’ll be no middle ground.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Trump defended his decision to withdraw American forces from Turkey-Syria border on Twitter, tweeting on Wednesday that the US should focus “on the big picture.”

“The United States has spent 8 trillion dollars fighting and policing in the Middle East,” Trump tweeted. “Thousands of our Great Soldiers have died or been badly wounded. Millions of people have died on the other side.”

He added that “going into the Middle East is the worst decision ever made in the history of our country,” and then referred to the American decision to invade Iraq, saying that “We went to war under a false and now disproven premise, weapons of mass destruction. There were none! Now we are slowly and carefully bringing our great soldiers and military home.”

Congresspeople from both sides of the aisle continued to call Trump to change his decision, warning from the outcome of the American retreat.

“Turkey must pay a heavy price for attacking our Syrian Kurdish partners,” Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen tweeted.
He added that senators on both sides of the aisle won’t support “abandoning the one regional group most responsible for putting ISIS on its heels. Our bipartisan sanctions bill is being finalized now.”

“Trump likes to claim he defeated ISIS. Wrong,” Van Hollen continued. “Our forces in partnership with the Syrian Kurds have made great progress, but more to do. ISIS is celebrating Trump’s betrayal.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said in a press release that Congress must act “to limit the catastrophic impact of this decision,” which she said is causing “sickening and predictable consequences” for the Kurds.

“The US is abandoning our ally the Kurds, who fought ISIS on the ground and helped protect the US homeland,” she said. “This decision aids America’s adversaries, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, and paves the way for a resurgence of ISIS. This action imperils American security and that of our allies.”

Related Content

October 18, 2019
How Congress is fighting the U.S. Government's white supremacy problem

By Ezra Taylor

Cookie Settings