Just days after releasing a statement saying that American troops would allow the Turkish military to invade northern Syria where it had long planned to attack America’s Kurdish allies, Donald Trump seems to have gone back on that statement and now says that Turkey’s attack is a “bad idea.”
On Sunday, the White House released a statement saying that after a phone call between Trump and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the United States would be moving troops out of the area and allowing Turkey to move forward with its military operation in northern Syria.
“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area,” the statement read.
Despite warnings that this would leave America’s Kurdish allies vulnerable to attack, Trump said earlier this week that he would not allow Turkey to attack the Kurds, a group that Turkey considers to be terrorists. As the Turkish bombing of Kurdish positions started on Wednesday and reports of civilian deaths came in, Trump appeared to go back on the statement made just a few days before and now condemned Turkey for its military operation.
“This morning, Turkey, a NATO member, invaded Syria. The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” Donald Trump said in a statement released by the White House, via The Hill.
As the attacks from Turkey ramped up on Wednesday, so too did the criticism from both sides of the aisle for Donald Trump. Lindsey Graham, who had become one of Trump’s most fervent defenders, slammed the Trump administration for abandoning the Kurdish allies, who had done the bulk of on-the-ground fighting against ISIS. Graham called the removal of troops from northern Syria a “disaster in the making” and predicted that it would allow ISIS to regroup in the region.
“Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration. This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS,” Graham said, via Politico. The South Carolina senator also vowed to work with Congress “to make Erdogan pay a heavy price. I urge President Trump to change course while there is still time.”
The report noted that while support is building among members of Congress for placing sanctions on Turkey for its invasion of Syria, there are some Republicans who hope that they can convince Donald Trump to change his mind.