South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a key ally and vocal defender of President Trump, slammed the Trump administration’s move to withdraw United States forces from northern Syria ahead of a Turkish invasion.
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.
The announcement comes hours after President Trump held a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in which the two reportedly discussed the conflict and agreed to a meeting in Washington in November.
Graham reacted angrily to the announcement, saying that this decision will benefit ISIS and Iran.
“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.”
Lindsey Graham calls in to Fox & Friends & calls Trump's decision to abandon the Kurds "impulsive."
"I hope I'm making myself clear how shortsighted & irresponsible this decision is in my view," he says. "This to me is just unnerving to its core." pic.twitter.com/URH0DVA1bo
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 7, 2019
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.”
* Ensures ISIS comeback.
* Forces Kurds to align with Assad and Iran.
* Destroys Turkey’s relationship with U.S. Congress.
* Will be a stain on America’s honor for abandoning the Kurds.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019
President 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.