Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Monday denounced President Trump’s decision to withdraw back U.S. troops in northern Syria, joining a growing number of high-profile Republicans breaking with the president over the move.
“The President’s decision to abandon our Kurd allies in the face of an assault by Turkey is a betrayal. It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster,” Romney tweeted.
The President’s decision to abandon our Kurd allies in the face of an assault by Turkey is a betrayal. It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster. https://t.co/Tu8ARa8Pmp
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) October 7, 2019
The White House on Sunday night said Turkey will soon be launching a military operation in northeastern Syria and that U.S. troops will no longer be “in the immediate area” when it happens.
“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
Trump doubled down on the decision on Monday, tweeting that it was time to pull the United States out of “ridiculous Endless War.”
“WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN,” the president added.
Trump’s decision was quickly criticized by several GOP lawmakers, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who serve with Romney on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“ISIS is not defeated, my friend. The biggest lie being told by the administration, that ISIS is defeated,” Graham said on Fox News. “The caliphate is destroyed, but there’s thousands of fighters over there and no, the caliphate would not have been destroyed without the Kurds. And I applaud the president for getting the Kurds and the Arabs to do most of the fighting.”
“The casualties destroying the caliphate was very low. We’ve got less than 1,000 troops in Syria. But this impulsive decision by the president has undone all the gains we’ve made, thrown the region into further chaos, Iran is licking their chops.”
“If I’m an ISIS fighter I have got a second lease on life,” he continued, “So to those who think ISIS has been defeated, you will soon see. And to Turkey, you’ve destroyed the relationship, what little you had, with the U.S. Congress, and I will do everything I can to sanction Turkey’s military and their economy if they step one foot into Syria.”
Graham also slammed the president on Twitter, writing, “I don’t know all the details regarding President Trump’s decision in northern Syria. In process of setting up phone call with Secretary Pompeo. If press reports are accurate this is a disaster in the making, ” before adding, “Also, if this plan goes forward will introduce Senate resolution opposing and asking for reversal of this decision. Expect it will receive strong bipartisan support.”
Trump’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, also ripped his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Northern Syria.
“We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back,” Haley tweeted on Monday.
“The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend,” she added.