Toomey echoes crit­ics of pull­out

Fitz­patrick, Casey also ob­ject to aban­don­ing Kurds

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Laura Ol­son

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion to pull back U.S. troops from north­ern Syria drew crit­i­cism Mon­day from mem­bers of Congress in both par­ties, in­clud­ing two Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­cans: Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Brian Fitz­patrick.

In a state­ment, Toomey urged the pres­i­dent to “re­think this de­ci­sion im­me­di­ately,” say­ing the de­ci­sion to step away from the tense sit­u­a­tion be­tween Turkey and U.S.-al­lied Kur­dish fight­ers “poses a sig­nif­i­cant threat to our na­tional se­cu­rity and risks re­vers­ing the progress made in the re­gion to de­stroy ISIS.”

“It could also lead to war be­tween Turkey and Syr­ian Kurds, a re­sult that will boost en­emy regimes in Syria, Iran, and Rus­sia,” Toomey said. “This be­trayal of the Kurds will also se­verely harm our cred­i­bil­ity as an ally the world over.”

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan has threat­ened for months to launch a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion across the Syr­ian bor­der. He views the Kur­dish forces as a threat to his coun­try. Both Repub­li­cans and Democrats in the U.S. have warned that al­low­ing the Turk­ish at­tack could lead to a mas­sacre of the Kurds and send a trou­bling mes­sage to Amer­i­can al­lies across the globe.

U.S. troops “will not sup­port or be in­volved in the op­er­a­tion” and “will no longer be in the im­me­di­ate area,” in north­ern Syria, White House press sec­re­tary Stephanie Gr­isham said in an un­usual late-Sun­day state­ment that was silent on the fate of the Kurds.

Trump de­fended his de­ci­sion, ac­knowl­edg­ing in tweets that “the Kurds fought with us” but adding that they “were paid mas­sive amounts of money and equip­ment to do so.”

Fitz­patrick, a Repub­li­can rep­re­sent­ing Bucks County in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, also was crit­i­cal of the with­drawal an­nounce­ment.

“This is a ter­ri­ble de­ci­sion and it sends a ter­ri­ble mes­sage,” Fitz­patrick posted on Twit­ter.

Other con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans also urged the pres­i­dent the re­assess the with­drawal de­ci­sion. Repub­li­can Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina, a Trump ally, called the move “a dis­as­ter in the mak­ing.”

Nikki Ha­ley, Trump’s for­mer am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, tweeted that the U.S. must al­ways have the backs of our al­lies, prais­ing the Kurds and us­ing the hash­tag, “#TurkeyIsNo­tOurFriend.”

Among Democrats, Penn­syl­va­nia Sen. Bob Casey also said it was wrong to no longer show sup­port for the Kurds, and he ques­tioned whether per­sonal in­ter­ests mo­ti­vated the pol­icy change.

“Since Pres­i­dent Trump has not fully di­vested from his pri­vate busi­ness, our na­tion is left to won­der whether the fact that the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion has deal­ings in Turkey im­pacted his de­ci­sion,” Casey said in a state­ment, re­fer­ring to an Is­tan­bul real es­tate prop­erty branded with the Trump Tow­ers name.

ALEX WONG/GETTY IM­AGES

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, cen­ter, R-Pa., speaks as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump lis­tens dur­ing a meet­ing with mem­bers of Congress in the Cab­i­net Room of the White House last year in Wash­ing­ton. Toomey on Mon­day crit­i­cized Trump’s de­ci­sion to pull back troops from north­ern Syria. Repub­li­can U.S. Rep. Brian Fitz­patrick joined in.

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