Senate breaks with Trump on Syria

Republican-led Senate approves symbolic legislation opposing abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

Ben Ariel,

Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell
Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell
Reuters

The Republican-led US Senate on Monday backed largely symbolic legislation that broke with President Donald Trump by opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

The Senate voted 70-26 in favor of a non-binding amendment, drafted by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying it was the sense of the Senate that Islamist militant groups in both countries still pose a “serious threat” to the United States.

The amendment acknowledged progress against Islamic State (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda in Syria and Afghanistan but warned that “a precipitous withdrawal” could destabilize the region and create a vacuum that could be filled by Iran or Russia.

It called on the Trump administration to certify conditions had been met for the groups’ “enduring defeat” before any significant withdrawal from Syria or Afghanistan.

Before the vote, McConnell said he introduced the bill so the Senate could “speak clearly and directly about the importance of the” missions in Afghanistan and Syria.

Passage was expected, after the Senate voted to advance it in a procedural vote last week. After concerns from some Democrats, the Senate approved a change to the bill making it clear the amendment was not intended to be a declaration of war or authorization to use military force, according to Reuters.

The vote added the amendment to a broader Middle East security bill making its way through Congress. The Senate voted 72-24 to advance the broader bill in a procedural vote on Monday after the amendment vote.

To become law, however, the bill would need to pass the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, where it is unlikely to move without significant changes because of concerns about a provision addressing the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In December, Trump unexpectedly announced that he would pull US troops out of Syria.

Trump had initially called for a 30-day timeframe to complete the pullout, but after meeting with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Trump agreed to delay completion of the withdrawal.

Several of Trump’s fellow Republicans strongly disagreed with his plans to withdraw the 2,000 US troops from Syria on the grounds that ISIS no longer poses a threat.




top