On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump made the startling announcement (over Twitter, of course) that ISIS has been defeated in Syria. The flurry of tweets also stated that the administration would be pulling all of the U.S. troops out of the country following the defeat of the Islamic militant group.
The news has shocked and concerned many, even leading to the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. As a result, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has since called for U.S. Senate hearings on Trump’s decision to withdraw the troops, Reuters reported. Graham, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, reportedly wants to hear directly from Mattis at the hearing.
Mattis’ resignation was announced on Thursday, and he laid bare the rift that had been growing between himself and the president in a candid letter explaining his decision to leave the post.
On top of his plans to withdraw the troops from Syria, Trump also announced on Thursday that he has plans to pull approximately 5,000 troops out of Afghanistan as well. While Graham is usually Trump’s biggest supporter in the Senate, on this occasion he has broken that streak.
Heading to a meeting with Republican senators, Graham said he would be asking during lunch for hearings over Trump’s announcement.
“The ISIS threat in Afghanistan is far greater than I thought it was,” Sen. Lindsey Graham says.
Afghanistan "would fall apart,” Graham says if US troops withdraw from the region. “One of the most likely outcomes would be a second 9/11 coming our way” https://t.co/5tgsgDmoDf pic.twitter.com/o3aMap6a95
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 21, 2018
Graham is worried about withdrawing troops from both Syria and Afghanistan, and believes that the region is not stable enough to warrant such an action. American troops have been stationed in Afghanistan for 17 years already, in the longest war America has been involved in. Approximately 14,000 troops are currently deployed there.
The war there started shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in an attempt to oust the Taliban militants harboring Saudi-raised militant Osama bin Laden, who was the ring-leader of the terrible attacks that cost thousands of lives. It would take nearly a decade before Bin Laden was found and killed.
“I dare anybody to say that ISIS-K is defeated in Afghanistan,” Graham said. The group “is a bigger threat this year than they were last year. It is clear to me that ISIS-K is plotting to hit America,” he added.
The South Carolina senator has argued that removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan would leave “too few to accomplish the mission of holding Afghanistan together and protecting America from another attack and it’s too many to be hostages and sitting ducks” there.