- President Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw its military presence from Syria on Wednesday.
- The move infuriated Republicans, who called the decision a mistake that could lead to further chaos in the region.
- Sen. Rand Paul was one of the only Republicans to vocally praise Trump’s announcement, earning kudos from the commander-in-chief.
Republican members of Congress became irate on Wednesday after President Donald Trump announced the United States would begin withdrawing its military presence from Syria.
Citing the lack of warning before making such a crucial policy decision coupled with the danger that could follow such a rapid drawdown in the war-torn country, Republicans called Trump’s move a “sign of weakness” that would embolden adversaries and potentially allow the brutal terrorist group ISIS to repopulate in the region.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who often criticises Trump, told reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday, “I’ve never seen a decision like this since I’ve been here in 12 years, where nothing is communicated in advance, and all of a sudden, this type of massive decision takes place.”
“Honestly, this makes what Obama did in Iraq – it’s replicating that, but in many ways, it’s even worse,” he added. “Because you’re in a situation where we’re very close in the Euphrates River Valley to finishing clearing out, and it’s literally, it would be like – I don’t know what analogy would be appropriate. But it’s a terrible thing for our nation.”
Corker’s disdain for the decision was felt all around Senate Republicans, who made their voices heard in opposition to Trump’s move.
“Eight days ago the Administration called a hypothetical pullout ‘reckless.’ Today, we’re leaving,” Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said in a statement. “The President’s generals have no idea where this weak decision came from: They believe the high-fiving winners today are Iran, ISIS, and Hezbollah. The losers are Israel, humanitarian victims, and U.S. intelligence gathering. A lot of American allies will be slaughtered if this retreat is implemented.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called the decision “a big mistake” that would prompt Syrian Democratic Forces and the Kurdish militias to abandon their fight against ISIS.
“And our adversaries will use this as evidence that America is an unreliable partner,” Rubio added. “Today’s decision will lead to grave consequences in the months and years to come.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close confidant of Trump and hawkish conservative, blasted the decision.
Graham took to the Senate floor to call Trump’s decision “dishonorable” and “a stain on the honour of the United States.”
“I’m not saying we need to be in Syria forever,” he added. “I’m saying now’s not time to leave.”
Graham also authored a letter with several of his Republican colleagues and two Senate Democrats, urging the president to reconsider.
“If you decide to follow through with your decision to pull our troops out of Syria, any remnants of ISIS in Syria will surely renew and embolden their efforts in the region,” the senators wrote. “However, ISIS is not the only threat. The brutal dictatorship of Bashar al Assad continues to weigh heavily upon the Syrian people, and we fear that a withdrawal of our troops may embolden Bashar al Assad to take further actions to solidify his power.”
“Any sign of weakness perceived by Iran or Russia will only result in their increased presence in the region and a decrease in the trust of our partners and allies,” they added. “Your administration must not repeat the same mistakes that previous administrations have made and concede to these bad actors.”
Rand Paul praises Trump for the withdrawal
Graham, who once said, “You could put the number of Republicans who will follow Rand Paul’s advice on national security in a very small car,” seemed at opposite ends of his libertarian-leaning foe in the Senate.
Paul on the other hand, praised the decision, noting his long disdain for US military engagement in Syria.
“I’m proud of the president today to hear that he is declaring victory in Syria,” Paul said. “Most of the voices around here like to stay everywhere for all time, and they believe that it doesn’t work unless you go somewhere and stay forever.”
“The president has the courage to say, ‘We won in Syria, and we’re coming home,'” he added. “First president in my lifetime really to do that.”
Trump responded in regular fashion to when someone showers him with praise, taking to Twitter to offer his thanks.
“Getting out of Syria was no surprise. I’ve been campaigning on it for years, and six months ago, when I very publicly wanted to do it, I agreed to stay longer,” Trump wrote on Twitter early Thursday morning. “Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS. We were doing there work. Time to come home & rebuild. #MAGA.”
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