Romney: Syria Withdrawal ‘a Bloodstain in the Annals of American History’

'Decision to abandon the Kurds violates one of our most sacred duties'

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney / Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah) offered a stinging rebuke of the Trump administration's decision to withdraw American forces from Syria, telling his colleagues on the Senate floor that the move is "a bloodstain in the annals of American history."

Romney has emerged as one of President Donald Trump's fiercest Republican critics in the Senate. His speech on the Senate floor Thursday came just after Vice President Mike Pence and a team of U.S. diplomats announced that they had negotiated a temporary ceasefire in northeast Syria, where Turkish forces have been waging a bloody offensive against America's Kurdish allies and civilians.

Romney, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the administration's efforts to negotiate a ceasefire, but said "it is far from a victory" for the president.

"The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory," he said. "It is far from a victory. Serious questions remain about how the decision was reached to precipitously withdraw from Syria, and why that decision was reached. Given the initial details of the ceasefire agreement, the administration must also explain what America's future role will be in the region, what happens now to the Kurds, and why Turkey will face no apparent consequences."

"Further, the ceasefire does not change the fact that America has abandoned an ally," Romney said. "Adding insult to dishonor, the administration speaks cavalierly, even flippantly—even as our ally has suffered death and casualty, their homes have been burned, and their families have been torn apart."

Romney reminded his colleagues in the Senate that thousands of Kurds sacrificed their lives to help the American offensive to wipe out ISIS.

"We know the truth about our Kurd allies," he said. "They lost 11,000 combatants in our joint effort to defeat ISIS. We dropped bombs from the air and provided intelligence and logistics behind the lines. The Kurds lost thousands of lives. Eighty-six brave Americans also lost their lives so tragically."

The Trump administration, Romney said, has tarnished America's reputation by abandoning its Kurdish allies.

"The decision to abandon the Kurds violates one of our most sacred duties. It strikes at American honor," Romney said. "What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history."

Romney went on to demand that the Trump administration explain to lawmakers why it went ahead with the troop withdrawal knowing Turkey would view it as a green light to move in military forces.

"We once abandoned a red line. Now, we abandoned an ally," Romney said. "Mr. President, we need answers. What has happened in Syria should not happen again and we, the Senate, must take action to make sure that it does not."