Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Wednesday said President Trump “would deserve blame” if ISIS returned as a result of Turkey’s military offensive in northeastern Syria against Kurdish groups in the area.
“He will have American blood on his hands if he abandons Kurds because ISIS will come back. And if any American is killed anywhere because of a resurgent ISIS, it will fall on [the] Trump administration like it did Obama,” Graham said, referring to President Obama’s exit from Iraq.
“I blame the terrorists, I blame [Turkish President] Erdoğan for the violence, but I do look to President Trump to fix it,” Graham added.
Graham, who has been a staunch Trump ally and defense hawk, said the president’s decision is a “disaster in the making” that “ensures [an] ISIS comeback” and “will be a stain on America’s honor for abandoning the Kurds.”
“He would deserve blame if he allows ISIS to come back and the Kurds to be slaughtered by Turkey. He absolutely deserves blame,” Graham said. “Obama deserved blame for leaving Iraq too soon and creating ISIS, Trump would deserve blame for allowing ISIS to come back, and to me that would be worse than what Obama did because we know the consequences.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham: "To President Trump, it's now time for you to act like Ronald Reagan, not Obama. You need to up your game." pic.twitter.com/Ey1s7QTjpA
— The Hill (@thehill) October 16, 2019
Trump fired back at Graham hours later, arguing the GOP senator should focus on investigating the 2016 election instead of the Middle East.
“Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years with thousands of soldiers and fighting other people’s wars. I want to get out of the Middle East,” Trump said at a joint press conference with the Italian president.
Trump said Graham should focus on his role as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating unfounded allegations of corruption during the 2016 election involving Obama administration officials.
“That’s what Lindsey ought to focus on,” Trump said. “That’s what the people of South Carolina want him to focus on.”
“The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, over Syria,” Trump added. “Let them fight their own wars.”
Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next 1,000 years if he could, says Donald Trump of the Senator's criticism of his Turkey-Syria policy https://t.co/paLWLsGwG4 pic.twitter.com/gAsm4sWr0h
— Bloomberg (@business) October 16, 2019
“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Graham wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “However, I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”
“I worry we will not have allies in the future against radical Islam, ISIS will reemerge, & Iran’s rise in Syria will become a nightmare for Israel,” he wrote. “The statements by President Trump about Turkey’s invasion being of no concern to us also completely undercut Vice President Pence and Sec. Pompeo’s ability to end the conflict.”
The statements by President Trump about Turkey’s invasion being of no concern to us also completely undercut Vice President Pence and Sec. Pompeo’s ability to end the conflict.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 16, 2019