Toomey echoes critics of pullout
Fitzpatrick, Casey also object to abandoning Kurds
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.
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.