WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – A withering, bipartisan firestorm of criticism erupted in Washington on Monday, following a White House announcement that it would not prevent a Turkish cross-border attack into northeastern Syria and would withdraw US forces from that area.
As a Turkish assault loomed, Trump sought on Tuesday to placate his critics, straddling two contradictory positions. His awkward posture, however, did little to resolve the problem.
On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted words of friendship toward both Turkey and Syria’s Kurds—although the two parties are likely to be exchanging lethal fire within 24 hours of that tweet.
Trump’s tweet began with an overture toward Ankara on the grounds that good relations with Turkey are good for the US economy. “Many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States,” he wrote.
Trump then announced that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be visiting Washington on November 13 (the fourth anniversary of the Islamic State’s devastating attack on Paris, which killed 131 people—the deadliest assault in France since World War II.)
Trump followed his warm words for Turkey with warm words for the Kurds in a second tweet: “We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters.”
“Any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency,” Trump continued.
However, Paul Davis, a former Pentagon analyst and currently an instructor at The Institute of World Politics, responded, “Why wait?”
“The coming attack itself fits Trump’s definition of ‘unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey,’ and Trump could stop it, by threatening the Turkish economy now,” Davis told Kurdistan 24. “Right now!”
“But I think that Trump believes he can get Erdogan to take care of the ISIS problem,” Davis said.
“Trump wants to be able to tell his supporters that he defeated the ISIS caliphate and brought the troops home before the 2020 elections,” Davis continued. “That, at least, is my view, as to why Trump hasn’t moved to stop Erdogan.”
“I think he is making a huge mistake,” Davis, a US Army veteran, continued. “War is the realm of the unpredictable, and once the bullets start flying, you can easily lose control.”
“Just ask those who thought Operation Iraqi Freedom,” the 2003 war to oust Saddam Hussein, “would be a ‘cakewalk,’” he said.
On Monday, Rep. Liz Cheney, (R, Wyoming), the daughter of Dick Cheney, George W. Bush’s Vice President, warned, “Withdrawing US forces from Northern Syria is a catastrophic mistake,” as she disputed Trump’s claim that the US had no interest there, because “we are 7,000 miles away.”
Withdrawing US forces from Northern Syria is a catastrophic mistake that puts our gains against ISIS at risk and threatens US security.— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) October 7, 2019
This decision ignores lesson of 9/11. Terrorists thousands of miles away can and will use their safe-havens to launch attacks against America.
“This decision ignores lesson of 9/11,” her tweet affirmed.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R, Florida) reiterated his earlier criticism of Trump’s decision, tweeting on Tuesday that abandoning the Kurds was “morally repugnant,” while warning about the resurgence of the Islamic State.
Perhaps, most significant, however, were the remarks of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, South Carolina), who has been one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress. Like Rubio, Graham repeated his criticism on Tuesday of Trump’s decision on Syria—and in a way that strongly contravened Trump’s claim that it will bring economic benefits through good relations with Ankara.
If Turkey moves into northern Syria, sanctions from hell – by Congress – will follow.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 8, 2019
Wide, deep, and devastating sanctions.
“If Turkey moves into northern Syria, sanctions from hell–by Congress–will follow,” Graham tweeted. “Wide, deep, and devastating sanctions.”
Yet Turkey was not dissuaded. Early Wednesday morning, Erdogan’s communications director announced that Turkish forces, along with their proxy, the Free Syrian Army, would cross the Syrian border “shortly,” as Reuters reported.