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Trump's GOP Allies Further Slam Him After Turkey Begins Attack on Kurds

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Trump's GOP Allies Further Slam Him After Turkey Begins Attack on Kurds

2019-10-10 12:38:10

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Lindsey Graham (Image source: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

Donald Trump's allies will back him through many things, the Mueller investigation, the impeachment inquiry, his constant immigration laws and rule changes, but they will not back him   and his move to pull troops out of Syria, abandoning the Kurds. 

Trump thought it was "time for us to get out" of Syria, but he did it to help Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was planning a military operation against the U.S.'s Kurdish allies. He launched that on Wednesday, much to the dismay of some of his GOP allies, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).

Wednesday afternoon Graham and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) put out a sanctions bill that would go after the U.S. assets of Erdogan and other Turkish officials, sanction international military transactions to Turkey, restrict the U.S. visas of Turkish officials, and not allow most U.S. military assistance to Turkey. 

According to the bill's draft, the only way the sanctions would not be in place would be if the Trump administration certifies to Congress that Turkey isn't "unilaterally without U.S. support" operating in Syria.

"While the administration refuses to act against Turkey, I expect strong bipartisan support," said Graham. "Most members of Congress believe it would be wrong to abandon the Kurds, who have been strong allies against ISIS. 

"President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria is having sickening and predictable consequences," said Cheney, insisting that Congress "must and will act to limit the catastrophic impact of this decision."

There has been much support on both sides of the political aisle for continuing the mission in Syria this year, but it's unknown if Congress will be able to help the situation. 

Another Republican calling for sanctions on Turkey is Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), if the middle eastern country continues to invade Syria. Republican leaders are leery of quick action and hope instead to publicly convince Trump to change his mind.

"The Kurds have been a great partner. ... Turkey under Erdogan has not been. I'm concerned about what can happen next," Blunt said. "A lot can happen in a hurry, and we'll just have to see what happens when we get back. I wish the president would reconsider." 

That doesn't seem to be happening though. "We are getting out of the endless wars. We have to do it," Trump said late Wednesday, while also criticizing the Kurds, as "they didn't help us in the Second World War, they didn't help us with Normandy, as an example."

Another voice against Trump's actions was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who ran against Trump on the Republican presidential ticket in 2016, said Tuesday that the Kurds "actually fought on the ground. They had people dying. To just abandon them like that so the Turks can come in and slaughter them is not just immoral, it taints our reputation all over the world." 

"It's a terrible mistake. We'll have to think of what options there are. I'm sure the Senate will, potentially, take some vote to disagree with that decision."

 Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is often in trouble for failing to take a position but minced no words over this issue. President Trump's decision to abandon the Kurds, our major ally in the fight against ISIS, was terribly unwise. Today we are seeing the consequences of that terrible decision." 

Trump has defended his decision to leave Syria by saying it was much needed. Though feeling the burn of so many Republicans coming out against him, Trump began to back down, saying in a statement Wednesday, "The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea."

He added that Turkey is "committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place — and we will hold them to this commitment." 

Two Kentucky lawmakers that lean toward the libertarian side, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) were lone voices for pulling out of Syria.

Paul tweeted that Trump is "the first president in my lifetime to understand what is our national interest and what is not. He is stopping the endless wars, and we will be stronger as a result. The Cheney/Graham Neocon War Caucus has cost us too much fighting endless wars." 

Trump even retweeted Paul's aide, Sergio Gor, who asked why Democrats weren't supporting Trump's pullout. Trump commented, calling U.S. intervention in the Middle East the "worst decision ever made in the history of our country."

Sure enough, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) suggested Trump "left our allies at risk of being slaughtered and spurred massive additional instability," while Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) said, "There are many Democrats that are for a responsible withdrawal from Syria," noting Trump made this move without any assurances the Kurdish people would be okay. 

"What we should have done is get Erdogan to commit not to invade the Kurds. And we have extraordinary leverage. They are a NATO ally, we can say, "You won't be part of NATO if you do this.' We sell them weapons; we provide them economic aid."

With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also being critical of Trump's move, Congress could respond to the situation on a spending bill or defense policy bills. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Tuesday night he expects "Congress will take some form of action."

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