Oct 14, 2019

Trump defends abandoning Kurds: "I hope they all do great"

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria in a series of tweets Monday, saying he would much rather focus on the U.S. southern border and "let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land."

Why it matters: Trump's decision has provoked strong criticism from Republicans in Washington and prominent religious conservatives. Although the president expressed approval at the idea of sanctioning Turkey amid their military offensive into the region, he has stood by the decision to withdraw.

  • "Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte." read one of the president's tweets. "I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!"

The big picture: The primarily Kurdish Syrian Democratic forces, which had allied with the U.S. to fight ISIS, struck a deal with the Syrian government to help protect the border with Turkey, according to a Washington Post report Sunday.

  • On Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) discussed a bipartisan effort to overturn the president's withdrawal and potential sanctions against Turkey.

What they're saying:

  • Graham appeared to criticize the president's tweets without directly mentioning him, "To those who believe radical Islam is not a threat to our homeland after 9/11 and the rise of ISIS: you are sadly mistaken and ignoring all military advice."
  • Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also did not name Trump directly in a statement he put out on Twitter more than 30 minutes after Trump began tweeting, but said withdrawing American forces in the region "would only make a troubling situation much worse" for the U.S. and its allies in the region.

Go deeper: Behind the scenes of the Trump bluff that kicked off Turkey's invasion

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Pelosi and Graham team up to oppose Trump's Syria decision

Photos: Zach Gibson/Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) spoke Monday to discuss bipartisan efforts to overturn President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria and sanction Turkey for its military offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces.

Why it matters: Trump's decision has sparked bipartisan backlash and accusations that he is abandoning the Kurdish allies who helped the U.S. in the fight against ISIS. Trump has voiced approval for the idea of sanctioning Turkey for its invasion, but he has stood by his decision to move U.S. troops out of the way despite the overwhelming criticism he's received from even his most loyal allies.

Go deeperArrowOct 14, 2019

Trump on Syria's Kurds: "They're not angels"

President Trump addressed Turkey's invasion of Syria in the Oval Office on Wednesday, telling reporters that the Syrian Kurds — who allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS — are "not angels," and that the Syrian government and Russia will protect them.

Go deeperArrowOct 16, 2019

Pentagon chief says U.S. troops to leave Syria for Iraq

A soldier stands guard during a joint patrol with Turkish troops in September in the Syrian village of al-Hashisha, near the border with Turkey. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Saturday night that all of the nearly 1,000 U.S. troops leaving Syria will continue the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS, from western Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: President Trump has faced scathing criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike for his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, which paved the way for Turkey to lead a military offensive against Kurdish forces who allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS.

Go deeperArrowOct 20, 2019