Graham: Congress Won't Abandon the Kurds

'When Turkey goes into Syria, they're not going in to fight ISIS'

October 9, 2019

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said Congress won't abandon the Kurds in Northern Syria, as Turkey launched military operations into the region on Wednesday.

Graham criticized President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, which will occur in advance of a planned invasion of the region by Turkey. The South Carolina Republican said the decision could give ISIS the opportunity to regroup after Kurdish forces played a decisive role in defeating the terrorist group.

"It's a lie that ISIS has been defeated. The caliphate has been destroyed, but it will reemerge. The Kurds can't fight Turkey and control ISIS at the same time," Graham told Fox & Friends on Wednesday. "Congress will push back. We're not giving Turkey a green light in Congress, and we're not going to abandon the Kurds. If the president does so, we won't."

Graham, who is a prominent defender of Trump, characterized his withdrawal strategy as a "pre-9/11 mentality."

"I know every military person told him, 'don't do this,'" Graham said. "This is the pre-9/11 mentality that paved the way for 9/11: 'What is happening in Afghanistan is no concern to us.' If he follows through with this, it would be the biggest mistake of his presidency."

According to Graham, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is "not our friend" and just wants to make war on the Kurds.

"I will say this to the president, it would be hard to protect America without allies over there, and the Kurds have been good allies," Graham said. "When Turkey goes into Syria, they're not going in to fight ISIS. They're going in to kill the Kurds because in their eyes, they are more of a threat to Turkey than ISIS."

Graham also said he would prefer that Trump return to the "status quo" in which the U.S. works with international allies to establish safe zones.

Trump defended the move as necessary to put a stop to "endless wars."

"Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years. USA should never have been in Middle East," Trump said on Twitter. "Moved our 50 soldiers out. Turkey MUST take over captured ISIS fighters that Europe refused to have returned. The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!"

Trump's decision has received bipartisan backlash. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) both released statements rebuking Trump's announcement.