Even one of Trump's closest political allies says leaving the Kurds will 'lead to ISIS reemergence.'
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Monday that Donald Trump's decision to abandon the Kurds and leave them vulnerable to a Turkish assault is "going to lead to ISIS reemergence." Graham also said that Trump's premature declaration of ISIS's defeat is "the biggest lie being told."
On Sunday night, the Trump administration announced that it would move American forces from northeast Syria ahead of an expected military assault on the region by the Turkish military.
The move would be "essentially abandoning Kurdish fighters who fought alongside American forces in the yearslong battle to defeat Islamic State militants," the Associated Press reported.
"Republicans and Democrats have warned that allowing the Turkish attack could lead to a massacre of the Kurds and send a troubling message to American allies across the globe," the news service noted.
Trump confirmed the course of action in a series of tweets.
Graham has been a close Trump ally and has repeatedly defended him on a host of issues, including impeachment. But the likely bloody outcome of abandoning the Kurds led the South Carolina senator to speak out publicly against Trump's chosen course in an interview on "Fox & Friends."
"This is going to lead to ISIS reemergence," he told the hosts. "Nothing better for ISIS than to create a conflict between the Kurds and Turkey. The Kurds will now align with Assad because they have nobody to count on, because we abandoned them. So this is a big win for Iran, a big win for ISIS."
Graham said he believes most of the Senate thinks Trump is making the wrong call in abandoning an ally.
"The Kurds stepped up when nobody else would to fight ISIS. If we abandon them, good luck getting anybody to help America in the future with radical Islam, al-Qaeda, and ISIS," he added.
Later in the interview, Graham said, "To all those fighters, American soldiers who died in the fight against ISIS, I feel terrible for you because they're going to come back."
Noting the important role the Kurds have played in fighting ISIS, Graham pointedly departed from the Trump administration's line that ISIS has been "100%" defeated.
"The biggest lie that's being told by the administration is that ISIS is defeated," he explained, reflecting assessments from some of the most senior military leaders in the United States.
Other Republicans who have otherwise been in lockstep with Trump expressed public concern over the impending abandonment.
"We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake," Nikki Haley, Trump's former U.N. ambassador, said.
"If reports about US retreat in #Syria are accurate, the Trump administration has made a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said.
On the other hand, Trump's foreign policy actions in Syria have seen praise from figures like Vladimir Putin.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.