Republican senators are publicly urging President Trump to back down from his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.
The move, announced by the White House on Sunday night, has emerged as a flashpoint between Trump and his GOP allies, adding another headache for Republicans amid an unrelated impeachment fight.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who represents a key 2020 battleground state, asked Trump to reverse course, citing concerns that the decision would bolster the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and would have ramifications for other alliances.
“This betrayal of the Kurds will also severely harm our credibility as an ally the world over. President Trump should rethink this decision immediately,” Toomey said in a statement.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) added that unless Trump changes his mind, the “bad decision will likely result in the slaughter of allies.”
“I hope the president will listen to his generals and reconsider,” he said.
The White House announced Sunday night that Turkey 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.
Trump’s decision, which came after a call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, reportedly surprised the Department of Defense (DOD). An administration official told Foreign Policy that “the entire DOD leadership was opposed to the endorsement and the withdrawal.”
The Pentagon said in a statement Monday that it does not support Turkey taking military action in northern Syria.
Trump’s decision has also been panned by several other Republican lawmakers, including traditional allies of the president.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who emerged as a vocal defender of Trump after his White House win, is publicly criticizing the decision and urging the president to back down.
“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 tweeted.
“Unlike President Obama, I hope President Trump will reassess and take sound military advice,” he added.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Trump said he would pull U.S. troops from Syria only to back down. Trump called for a complete withdrawal from Syria in December, but ultimately reversed course amid protest from the Pentagon and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
But Trump appeared to be doubling down on his decision on Monday, saying it was time to yank the United States out of “ridiculous Endless Wars.”
“The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” Trump said in a series of tweets.