During a Wisconsin rally on Tuesday night, Donald Trump addressed his decision to keep U.S. troops in eastern Syria, which conflicted with statements that he was bringing them home, as Newsweek reported.
“People said to me, ‘Why are you staying in Syria,'” Trump said.
“Because I kept the oil, which frankly we should have done in Iraq,”
Despite some warning the president at the time that such a move could violate international law, the Wisconsin rally cheered his comments.
“So they say, ‘Trump’s in Syria,’ I didn’t pull out — I did pull out. We have the oil, really secure. We’ll see what happens with it.”
Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from northeastern Syria led to the advancement of Turkey, which invaded the Western Asian country and attacked the Kurdish fighters in the region. Despite some suggesting that the withdrawal marked the end of U.S. troops in the area, Trump retained a force in the east to guard the oil wells, and troops remain deployed in the northern region of the country alongside joint Russian and Turkish patrols.
Although the official reason U.S. soldiers are guarding the oil fields is purportedly to protect them from Islamic State forces, Trump has said he wants to extract the oil. Most recently, he told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that such an extraction is on his radar.
TRUMP: "We don't have to defend the borders between Turkey and Syria. They've been fighting for 1,000 years. But we did keep the oil if you don't mind. We kept the oil. And we will distribute that oil." pic.twitter.com/o4qU3Czrm5
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 2, 2019
According to Russia’s state-sponsored TASS news agency, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov pointed out in October that the United States is engaging in an illegal oil smuggling scheme. Konashenkov reportedly said that private military companies are smuggling oil from the fields in Eastern Syria and other countries, using U.S. combat aviation and special forces as protection.
Trump’s erratic Middle Eastern foreign policy has not gone unnoticed by his critics. Per The Hill, Independent Justin Amash — who left the GOP after receiving pushback for his criticism of Trump — noted the discrepancy between the real estate mogul’s calls to bring the troops home and actions in the Middle East.
“Trump’s words: Bring them home. Trump’s action: Send them to Iraq,” Amash tweeted.
During an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press back in October, the Michigan Rep. said it was “pretty clear” the president isn’t planning to bring the troops home
“He’s moving troops back into Iraq. He’s moving other troops into Saudi Arabia,” Amash said, referring to the Pentagon’s deployment of additional troops and military equipment to the Desert Kingdom.
“He’s using our forces as paid mercenaries. What happened to the American people having their voices heard through their representatives in Congress?”