McConnell introduces resolution against Trump's Syria withdrawal

Senate Majority Leader, other top Republican senators, warn Trump's withdrawal from Syria benefits Assad, ISIS, Russia and Iran.

Elad Benari,

Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell
Reuters

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other top Republican senators on Tuesday introduced a resolution in opposition to President Donald Trump's withdrawal from Syria, CNN reported.

The senators warned that Trump’s decision has benefited Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, the Islamic State (ISIS), Russia and Iran.

"If not arrested, withdrawing from Syria will invite more of the chaos that breeds terrorism and creates a vacuum our adversaries will certainly fill," McConnell was quoted as having said on the Senate floor.

McConnell said if the President doesn't halt the withdrawal, Russia "will gain more leverage" in the Middle East, Iran-backed forces could gain greater access to a "strategic corridor that runs all the way from Tehran to the very doorstep of Israel" and the Assad regime will be invited to "reassert its oppressive control" over northeastern Syria.

He also urged Trump to rescind his invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House until a "more enduring ceasefire" is struck between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

The measure tries to tie the hands of the commander-in-chief by requiring the President to report to Congress that ISIS and Al-Qaeda have been defeated "before initiating any further significant withdrawal" of US troops from the region.

McConnell did not say when the Senate would take up the resolution.

Turkey two weeks ago launched a military operation in northeastern Syria, in an attempt to push out Kurdish militias which are allies of the US but viewed by Turkey as terrorists.

The operation began three days after Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of US forces in northeastern Syria, with some arguing the move was an authorization for Turkey to invade the region.

The move was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats. Last week, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution rebuking Trump’s decision to pull troops out from Syria.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said on Tuesday Congress "didn't have an opportunity" to work out its disagreements with the administration before the president made his decision.

"Congress has a voice," said Burr, a Republican from North Carolina. "And now is the time ... to exercise it."

While McConnell has strongly condemned Turkey's incursion into Syria, he urged Congress on Tuesday to consider the repercussions of punishing a NATO ally in the same way the US punishes "rogue states."

He cautioned his colleagues to evaluate whether the sanctions would also hurt US companies or its allies, according to CNN.

29 House Republicans two weeks ago announced legislation to impose sanctions against Turkey in the wake of its assault on Kurdish forces in Syria.

The strongest proponents of sanctioning Turkey objected to McConnell's comments.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, said that a ceasefire between Turkey and Kurds will soon end and warned that Erdogan "has said he will resume the slaughter of our allies, the Syrian Kurds, and will engage in ethnic cleansing."

"This is no time for dithering," said Van Hollen. "We need to impose bipartisan sanctions now."




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