Washington, D.C. — Today, Turkey launched a military offensive in Syria following the U.S. withdrawal that President Donald Trump announced late last week. In response, Kelly Magsamen, vice president for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
Turkey’s invasion of Syria is a direct result of President Trump’s reckless and impetuous decision to withdraw U.S. troops following a phone call last week with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. President Trump has set into motion a series of consequences for U.S. national security and human life for which he has no plan. This decision has surprised and alienated key U.S. allies in the region and in Europe.
Turkey is now launching airstrikes and artillery aimed at crushing Kurdish and Arab fighters, who have long been friends of the United States. President Trump has not only callously abandoned our Kurdish and Arab allies who have fought ISIS alongside U.S. troops, but he has also sowed the seeds of an ISIS resurgence. Since Turkey has no plan to hold the thousands of captured ISIS fighters that have until now been in the custody of mostly Kurdish forces, we now face the very real prospect of 10,000 ISIS prisoners rejoining the battlefield, further destabilizing the region and our national security.
Trump has created conditions for an even worse humanitarian disaster. And once again, he is playing right into Russia’s hands and giving fuel to Iran’s regional ambitions. Congress must step in to demand accountability from the Trump administration for the consequences of this rash decision. Congress must also lead where President Trump will not—by holding Turkey accountable through the withholding of arms sales and dual-use items; expanding visa bans on Turkish officials and individuals engaged in any ethnic cleansing or human rights abuses in northern Syria; and possible further sanctions.
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