Prominent Republicans criticized US President Donald Trump on Monday for adopting a policy that effectively abandons America’s Kurdish allies in Syria in the face of an imminent Turkish military onslaught.
Leading the charge against the president’s announcement was the former US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who highlighted the decisive role played by Kurdish military forces in the initial defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq more than two years ago.
“We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back,” Haley tweeted. “The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake.”
Haley — who was appointed by Trump as US Ambassador to the UN in Jan. 2017, and resigned from the post in Oct. 2018 — included the hashtag #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend in her tweet. Her criticisms of her former boss came just three days after she effusively praised Trump, in an interview with Fox News, for having “a record every American should be proud of.”
Added Haley in that interview: “America is strong again, and it’s because of President Trump’s decisions.”
But Haley was not the only prominent Republican to express dismay over Trump’s decision to accede to Turkish demands in northern Syria, during a telephone call on Sunday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A statement from the White House after the call emphasized that responsibility for captured ISIS terrorists now lay exclusively with Turkey — despite evidence that Turkey has on several occasions backed the Islamist group.
“The United States will not hold them [ISIS captives] for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer,” the White House statement said. “Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years in the wake of the defeat of the territorial ‘Caliphate’ by the United States.”
The statement made no mention of the thousands of Kurdish fighters killed in the effort to destroy ISIS in both Syria and Iraq.
Other Republicans opposing Trump on Monday included Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, normally a backer of the president.
“This decision to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran, & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids,” Graham tweeted acerbically. “Shot in the arm to the bad guys. Devastating for the good guys.”
Graham said that he and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) would “introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.”
Later in the day, Graham stepped up his criticism of Trump with a further series of tweets.
“No matter what President Trump is saying about his decision, it is EXACTLY what President Obama did in Iraq with even more disastrous consequences for our national security,” Graham posted. “Unlike President Obama, I hope President Trump will reassess and take sound military advice.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that Trump’s decision was a “grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria.”
Rubio added, “It would confirm Iran’s view of this administration & embolden then to escalate hostile attacks which in turn could trigger much broader & more dangerous regional war.”
The Algemeiner (c) 2019 .