Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican in the House, blasted President Trump‘s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria ahead of Turkey’s planned incursion, calling the White House move “a catastrophic mistake.”
“Withdrawing U.S. forces from northern Syria is a catastrophic mistake that puts our gains against ISIS at risk and threatens America’s national security,” Cheney, a defense hawk who has become one of the leading voices on foreign policy in the Republican Party, said in a statement. “Terrorists thousands of miles away can and will launch attacks against America, as the United States learned on September 11, 2001.”
“Pulling out of northern Syria ignores that painful lesson, represents an abandonment of our Kurdish allies despite their vital contributions to the fight against ISIS, emboldens Iran, and serves as an undeserved gift to the Erdogan regime, which has only continued its steady march toward Moscow,” she said, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Cheney, who is weighing a Senate bid, was one of several GOP lawmakers who criticized Trump’s unexpected decision.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s most vocal allies on Capitol Hill, also broke with the president, arguing on “Fox and Friends” that the move was “shortsighted.”
He later tweeted: “I don’t know all the details regarding President Trump’s decision in northern Syria. In process of setting up phone call with Secretary Pompeo. If press reports are accurate this is a disaster in the making.”
Trump defend his decision, threatening on Twitter to “obliterate the Economy of Turkey” if the country’s forces attack Kurdish allies.
“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” he tweeted.
The White House announced late Sunday that Ankara was moving forward with a long-threatened offensive in northeastern Syria and that U.S. troops would not be in the “immediate area” when it happens.