A GOP congressman and Air Force veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan said Friday President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria puts the US in a “far weaker” position in the region.
“We ceded, effectively, Syria over to Russia and Turkey. They are the major players there now, and Iran. So when they get together, are they going to basically carve out Syria for themselves? That’s a question, and that’s a concern I have. So ceasefire in and of itself, good, but a ceasefire that says now, basically, the Kurds have to evacuate, they have to get out, de facto gives Turkey what they wanted through military objectives, and we still have abandoned our allies,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said in an interview on CNN’s “Newsroom” with Jim Sciutto. “We had to bomb our own military base for God’s sakes. It reminds me of Somalia and South Vietnam. It’s disheartening, and I think the impact isn’t even being felt yet.”
“I think over the next decade especially, but even the next few years, the impact to when we need allies now and in the future, is going to be felt,” Kinzinger continued. “Leaving is one thing, but leaving in the way we did, in a hurry … unbelievable.”
Trump’s decision to abruptly pull US troops out of Syria, thus exposing Kurdish allies to attacks by Turkey, was fiercely opposed on Capitol Hill by members of both parties. Vice President Mike Pence announced in Turkey Thursday that he and Turkish President Erdogan agreed to a ceasefire halting Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, though eyewitnesses and Kurdish fighters say clashes have continued on the border between Turkey and Syria.
When asked Friday whether he felt the US was seen as strong or weak in the Middle East, Kinzinger – who has previously criticized Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria – claimed the US is now “weaker in the Middle East.”
“I don’t want to say weak. We’re still America. We are the biggest power in the world,” Kinzinger said. “But our policy in the Middle East – and we have to be fair here – I do think the weakness started with the failure to enforce the ‘red line’ on Syria. And it followed with the Obama administration allowing Russia into Syria, Russia’s expansion – and then this administration initially started out good, enforcing the red line when chemical weapons were used – and then last December when the President said we’re out. He paused and this put us in a far weaker position.”