On the heels of a so-called ceasefire brokered by Vice President Mike Pence between Turkey and the United States regarding fighting in the area where President Donald Trump pulled out most of the remaining U.S. military forces, the president continues to face increased scrutiny over the decision, which critics claim is leaving Kurdish forces unnecessarily vulnerable to attack.
One of the latest public critics of the president’s unpopular military maneuver is Republican ally and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who on Friday blasted the president for pulling troops out of northern Syria, according to The Hill.
“Withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria is a grave strategic mistake. It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances. Sadly, the recently announced pullout risks repeating the Obama administration’s reckless withdrawal from Iraq,” McConnell wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
The Senate leader also added that Turkey’s invasion of the area of Syria left vulnerable by Trump’s pullout created a “strategic nightmare” for the U.S.
McConnell’s criticism of the president’s decision comes just one day after Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo allegedly brokered a temporary, five-day ceasefire that is supposed to provide enough time for U.S.-friendly Kurdish forces to evacuate the area. Turkey also reportedly agreed to a permanent ceasefire after that period of time, assuming the temporary version holds true on both sides.
Assuming they uphold their part of the bargain, Turkey would also reportedly be rewarded with the lifting of sanctions that Trump imposed earlier this week as punishment for their aggressive military actions in the area, which potentially put U.S. forces at risk.
But like other critics of the president’s decision to yank U.S. troops out of the area, McConnell echoed recent criticism by former Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis, who expressed grave concern that Islamic State terrorists would quickly regain a foothold in the war-torn region without a formidable U.S. military presence.
“Unless halted, our retreat will invite the brutal Assad regime in Syria and its Iranian backers to expand their influence,” McConnell added.
This isn’t the first time McConnell — typically a strong GOP ally for Trump — has publicly criticized the president for pulling the troops. On Wednesday, McConnell called the move a mistake while talking to reporters and implied that many of his colleagues agreed.
“I don’t know how many times I need to say it and I think I’m speaking for most members of my conference that this was a mistake, and I hope it can be repaired,” McConnell stated.