Donald Trump’s decision to remove United States troops from Syria has drawn criticism from both Democrats and Republicans who believe it is putting the U.S.-backed Kurds in the region in danger of attacks from neighboring Turkey. These fears are seemingly accurate as, since Trump’s decision, Turkish troops have dropped bombs on U.S. special forces as part of a military operation against Kurdish troops in the region, although the Turkish government later said the action was a mistake.
On Saturday, Trump spoke to reporters about his decision and suggested it was a financial benefit to the United States. He also addressed how he would deal with Turkey’s actions following the removal.
“If Turkey does something that they shouldn’t be doing, we will put on sanctions the likes of which very few countries have ever seen before,” he said during the questioning, which can be viewed on Twitter.
CNN reports that lawmakers are not impressed with Trump’s potential sanctions. Although the president signed an executive order Friday giving the Treasury Department new sanction powers, Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said Friday that the U.S. doesn’t have any plans to use them anytime soon.
“We are not activating the sanctions,” Mnuchin said.”These are very powerful sanctions. We hope we don’t have to use them, but we could shut down the Turkish economy if we need to.”
Some lawmakers have criticized the sanctions as insufficient, while others have attacked it as an attempt to hold up Congress.
The situation in Syria has been described as chaotic as residents flee from Turkey’s assault. Amid the chaos, U.S. officials worry that the attack could push Kurdish forces to abandon their prisons that are holding captured ISIS militants. If they do, the militants could escape, and ISIS could reform with a new sense of desperation and invigoration.
“I don’t know the tactical rationale for this,” said a former Pentagon official. “We’ve just exposed our partners. It’s a struggle for people of a ‘globalist,’ institutionalist [bent] – people who fought and bled with our partners – to understand.”
NEW: Mitch McConnell weighs in on Syria:
`A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime,' he says. pic.twitter.com/YTmoA1A4dz
— Laura Litvan (@LauraLitvan) October 7, 2019
As The Daily Beast reported, Trump did not wholly remove U.S. troops from northern Syria — he only reduced the military presence in the region. Regardless, the move has been controversial and has drawn criticism from some of Trump’s most ardent defenders, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Others, such as Illinois Republican Rep. John Shimkus, have publicly withdrawn their support from Trump over the decision.
“I’m heartbroken,” he said, calling the decision “despicable” and “terrible” and suggesting that Trump betrayed the U.S.’s Kurdish allies.