WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) - Following the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s (HFAC) hearing on Syria on Wednesday, Kurdistan 24 spoke with the Committee Chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel.
Engel assumed that post in January, following the Democrats’ victory in the Congressional elections last November, when they won a majority in the House of Representatives and took over the leadership positions.
“I think that the United States needs to stand by our friends and allies, which are the Kurds,” Eliot told Kurdistan 24. And I think that a “precipitous” departure of US troops from Syria “would put many of them in jeopardy,” he continued.
“In my opinion,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “won’t hesitate to move against them, once the United States is gone.”
“That’s why I’m speaking out” about this and “why I feel so strongly about it,” Engel explained. “I don’t like what I’m hearing from Erdogan vis-a-vis the Kurds. He’d like to lump everybody together and say that everybody is a terrorist, but that’s not true.”
“We need to have a reputation of helping those who helped us when we needed help,” Engel concluded.
There is an unusually high degree of bipartisan dissatisfaction in Congress with the Trump administration’s policy toward Syria.
The US Congress consists of 435 representatives and 100 senators: 535 Congressmen in total. Nearly 400 of them signed a letter, sponsored by Engel, along with Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), the leading Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as their Senate counterparts, calling on President Donald Trump “to demonstrate American leadership” in Syria, by confronting Iran and Russia there while protecting US allies and partners.
Amb. James Jeffrey, US Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, was the sole witness at Wednesday’s HFAC hearing, and the Congressmen questioned him at length on US policy toward Syria, including the future of northeast Syria, which the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in partnership with US and other coalition troops, have liberated from Islamic State control.
Jeffrey could provide no satisfactory answer to their repeated questions as to how the administration, as it withdrew the bulk of US troops from Syria, intended to protect its Kurdish allies against a Turkish assault.
Rep. Jim Costa (D, California) shares that view, as he explained to Kurdistan 24. “I’m very concerned about what US policy is, as it relates to Kurdistan and the Kurdish people.”
“I’m very concerned that our president’s conversations with Erdogan overlooks the importance of our partnership with the Kurdish people,” he continued.
“So as a member of Congress, I’m going to continue to remind this administration and this president that we should not forget our friends, and the Kurds have been our friends,” Costa concluded.
Editing by Nadia Riva