McConnell Introduces Resolution Urging Trump to Keep Troops in Syria

October 22, 2019 Updated: October 22, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced a resolution on Oct. 22 urging Republican President Donald Trump not to follow through on his planned withdrawal of all American troops from Syria.

McConnell said on the Senate floor that the resolution is backed by other Republicans, naming Armed Services Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho).

“Withdrawing from Syria will invite more of the chaos that breeds terrorism and creates a vacuum our adversaries will certainly fill,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.

“The Senate needs to speak up. We cannot effectively support our partners on the ground without a military presence.”

The resolution “acknowledges hard truths and focuses on our strategic interests in the Middle East. Our resolution acknowledges the vital role that our Kurdish and Arab Syrian partners have played in rooting out and destroying the ISIS caliphate. It condemns Turkey’s decision to escalate hostilities in Syria, warns against the abandonment against our allies and partners in Syria, and urges President Trump to rethink his invitation for President Erdogan to visit the White House,” McConnell said.

“It also acknowledges Turkey’s legitimate national security concerns emanating from the conflict in Syria, and the significant risk to the United States if such a strategically consequential ally were to fall further into Moscow’s orbit. It recognizes the grave consequences of U.S. withdrawal, the rising influence of Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime, and the escape of more than 100 ISIS-affiliated fighters detained in the region.”

President Donald Trump speaks
President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, on Oct. 21, 2019. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)

McConnell said that President Barack Obama’s retreat from Iraq let al-Qaeda thrive, adding that he was “encouraged by press reports” that the Trump administration “is considering retaining a military presence” in Syria “to keep the pressure on ISIS.”

McConnell said he was introducing “a stronger resolution” than the one that passed the House last week.

The House passed a resolution on Oct. 16 “opposing the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria.”

Trump said on Monday in Washington that he doesn’t think it’s necessary to leave American troops in Syria. Responding to critics who say the United States should protect the Kurds, Trump said: “We’re working with the Kurds. Good relationship with the Kurds, but we never agreed to protect the Kurds. We supported them for three-and-a-half, four years. We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in Afghanistan the same day that a limited number of troops may remain in the country to secure oil.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
RECOMMENDED