Politics

Mitch McConnell blasts Trump's Syria withdrawal as 'a strategic nightmare'

Key Points
  • Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blasts President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.
  • McConnell calls the move "a grave strategic mistake" in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
  • "The recently announced pullout risks repeating the Obama administration's reckless withdrawal from Iraq, which facilitated the rise of the Islamic State in the first place," McConnell writes in the op-ed.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks as Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) looks on during a news briefing after the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon September 10, 2019 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday blasted President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, calling the move "a grave strategic mistake" in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

"The recently announced pullout risks repeating the Obama administration's reckless withdrawal from Iraq, which facilitated the rise of the Islamic State in the first place," McConnell wrote in the op-ed.

While his piece does not explicitly lay blame at Trump's feet — or even mention his name — it warns that the Trump administration's sudden foreign policy shift "will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances."

The White House had announced earlier in October — following a call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — that Turkey would be moving forward with its long-planned incursion into northern Syria, where U.S.-backed Kurdish forces had been fighting ISIS.

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The small number of U.S. forces there were ordered to be pulled back, and Turkish forces began military operations in northern Syria shortly thereafter.

"The combination of a U.S. pullback and the escalating Turkish-Kurdish hostilities is creating a strategic nightmare for our country," McConnell wrote.

The majority leader has supported Trump's agenda for much of his presidency. But following indications in January that Trump wanted to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, McConnell sponsored an amendment that "reemphasized the need for sustained U.S. leadership to fight terrorists, and urged that we continue working alongside allies and local forces."

McConnell also wrote: "While the political will to continue this hard work may wax and wane, the threats to our nation aren't going anywhere."

Read the majority leader's entire op-ed for The Washington Post.