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European leaders join congressman in rare international rebuke of Trump’s Syria withdrawal

The joint letter called Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish allies in northern Syria ‘wrong.’

By Dan Desai Martin - October 21, 2019
Eliot Engel

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joined his counterparts in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the European Parliament this week in condemning Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria and rebuking Donald Trump’s role in the fighting.

“We consider the intrusion as a military aggression and a violation of international law,” the letter, dated Monday Oct. 21, stated. “The Turkish offensive is causing suffering for the local people who are forced to flee and a further instability in Syria and the neighboring region.”

In addition to condemning Turkey, the group of lawmakers took aim at Trump.

“We deeply regret the decision of the President of United States to withdraw American troops from northeastern Syria which marks another landmark in the change of American foreign policy in the Near and Middle East,” the letter continued. “We consider the abandonment of the Syrian Kurds to be wrong. The Syrian Democratic Forces, our partner in the Global Coalition, massively contributed to the successful yet unfinished fight against Da’esh in Syria and incurred heavy losses by doing so.”

Da’esh is another name for ISIS.

NBC News called the joint statement by Engel and his European counterparts “extraordinary.”

Trump decided to withdraw American troops from Syria following an Oct. 6 phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during which Trump appeared to acknowledge a planned Turkish military operation in the region. After the call, the White House released a statement apparently greenlighting that operation against the Kurds, who were allies of the United States in the fight against ISIS.

On Oct. 9, Turkey launched its military offensive, killing hundreds of Kurdish civilians and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces fighters.

Trump’s decision has since attracted widespread condemnation. The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution condemning him for abandoning the Kurds, and even Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a staunch Trump ally, spoke out against the troop withdrawal in harsh terms.

Eliot spent the past weekend in Jordan and Afghanistan with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a high-level bipartisan congressional delegation. The group met with leaders in the region about the situation in Syria, as well as how ISIS may be gaining power since the withdrawal of U.S. troops, according to Vox.

The letter from Engel and his counterparts on Monday ended with a call for cooperation in the region in order to bring about peace and stability.

“This horrible war touches and affects the peoples of our countries in such an enormous way,” the letter stated. “For that reason, we, as members of our parliaments, feel compelled to making our common position clear. We unite across parties and nationalities to demonstrate our commitment to our common values, responsibility and interests.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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