Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw United States troops from northern Syria has led to praise from those that believe he is making good on his non-interventionist promises and criticism from both Democrats and Republicans who believe he will make things worse in Western Asia. Although Trump claims that the ISIS fighters being held in Syria will be transferred to Turkey, some Middle East experts suggest that this process is likely to provide the fighters a chance to escape and cause more harm.
According to a tweet by NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, the former U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS, Brett McGurk, said that Trump’s decision is causing chaos at the White House.
“This is very serious. No one knows what to do. I see the administration scrambling to make sense of what is happening. The president is all over the place. His tweets indicate he has no real idea or conception of what is happening on the ground.”
The decision also received criticism from independent Justin Amash, who tweeted that Trump isn’t actually ending the U.S. military war in Syria but simply moving a “small number of troops” out of Turkey’s way. In a separate tweet, he suggested that there shouldn’t be any U.S. troops in Syria unless the decision received congressional approval, and said that the U.S. should not approve of a potential Turkish invasion of Syria.
The WH statement tonight on Syria after Trump spoke with Erdogan demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of anything happening on the ground. The “United States” is not holding any ISIS detainees. They are all being held by the SDF, which Trump just served up to Turkey. pic.twitter.com/vYr7j0q6mR— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) October 7, 2019
McGurk believes that the White House’s statement on the withdrawal from Syria shows a “complete lack of understanding of anything happening on the ground.”
He responded to Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham’s comment that the U.S. would not hold ISIS prisoners, given the cost she claims would be levied upon U.S. taxpayers by such detention.
“The ‘United States’ is not holding any ISIS detainees. They are all being held by the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces], which Trump just served up to Turkey,” he said.
According to Middle East expert Shiraz Maher, Trump is creating what could be a national security crisis unrivaled in modern politics. He pointed to the imprisoning of insurgent fighters at Camp Bucca in Iraq, a move which reportedly ended with the prisoners escaping invigorated, later forming ISIS in a more committed and brazen manner.
Trump’s ally, Lindsey Graham, also criticized Trump’s decision. Per CNN, he called the move “shortsighted and irresponsible” and suggested that it will plunge the area into “further chaos.” Graham has become one of Trump’s most ardent supporters, although he has publicly split with him on decisions before.