Republican Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) condemned President Trump’s decision last week to abruptly withdrawal U.S. troops from Syria, allowing Turkey to advance into the area and began attacking our Kurdish allies. The U.S. military relied on the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is led by the Kurds, as the local ground force fighting ISIS.
“Why these terms and assurances were not negotiated before the president consented to withdraw our troops,” Romney asked from the floor of the Senate on Thursday. ”The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory.”
He continued: “The decision to abandon the Kurds violates one of our most sacred duties. It strikes at American honor. What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a blood stain in the annals of American history. There are broad strategic implications of our decision as well. Iranian and Russian interests in the Middle East have been advanced by our decision at a time when we’re applying maximum pressure on Iran. By giving them a stronger hand in Syria, we’ve actually weakened that pressure. Russia’s objective to play a greater role in the Middle East has also been greatly enhanced. The Kurds, out of desperation, have now aligned with Assad.”
Romney then called on the Senate to hold “public hearings” next week into Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria so precipitously: “It is imperative that public hearings are held.”
“Mr. President, we need answers,” he declared.
WATCH: Sen. Romney: "What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a blood stain in the annals of American history." pic.twitter.com/LCKtx6WsKX
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 17, 2019
Romney’s condemnation came minutes after President Trump showered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with praise after the two sides announced a temporary ceasefire in northern Syria, with Turkey temporarily halting its military offensive.
Trump hailed the strong-arm president as a “hell of a leader.”
“I just want to thank and congratulate President Erdoğan. He’s a friend of mine, and I’m glad we didn’t have a problem because frankly he’s a hell of a leader, and he’s a tough man,” Trump told reporters while traveling in Texas.
“He’s a strong man, and he did the right thing and I really appreciate it, and I will appreciate it in the future.”
“What he did was very smart, and it was great for the people of the Turkey,” Trump said. “And they’re lucky that it was him that was making the decision.”
Axios notes that the ceasefire “agreement — which Turkey insists is not actually a ceasefire — will force U.S.-allied Kurdish forces to evacuate the area that Turkey is conducting its military operation within 120 hours. Romney and many experts have argued that this gives Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exactly what he wanted, but Trump has nonetheless touted it as a great success for all players involved.”