McConnell presses Trump on troop drawdown in Syria, disinviting Erdogan

“Our resolution acknowledges the vital role that our Kurdish and Arab Syrian partners have played in rooting out and destroying ISIS’s caliphate,” McConnell said on the floor.
Image: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after a Senate Policy luncheon at the Capitol on July 9, 2019.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, after a Senate policy luncheon at the Capitol on July 9, 2019.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call file

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By Rebecca Shabad and Frank Thorp V

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that he plans to introduce a resolution urging President Donald Trump to end the drawdown of U.S. troops from Syria and reconsider his invitation to host Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House next month.

“It condemns Turkey’s decision to escalate hostilities in Syria, warns against the abandonment of our allies and partners in Syria, and urges President Trump to rethink his invitation for President Erdogan to visit the White House,” McConnell said about the measure on the Senate floor.

The resolution, which McConnell is introducing along with Republican co-sponsors James Inhofe of Oklahoma, James Risch of Idaho, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, “acknowledges hard truths and focuses on our strategic interests in the Middle East,” McConnell said.

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“Our resolution acknowledges the vital role that our Kurdish and Arab Syrian partners have played in rooting out and destroying ISIS’s caliphate,” McConnell added. “It recognizes the grave consequences of U.S. withdrawal: the rising influence of Russia, Iran and the Assad regime, and the escape of more than a hundred ISIS-affiliated fighters detained in the region.

"We specifically urge the president to end the drawdown, something that fortunately appears to be underway. We urge a re-engagement with our partners in this region.”

Trump suggested Monday that he would leave some U.S. troops in Syria to protect oil resources, but said he saw no need for U.S. forces to defend America's Kurdish partners.

"We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives," Trump told reporters at a Cabinet meeting at the White House. "Where is the agreement we have to stay in the Middle East for the rest of humanity?"

Erdogan is expected to visit Trump at the White House in mid-November, though Erdogan said in Istanbul last week that he is also rethinking the trip because “arguments, debates, conversations being held in Congress regarding my person, my family and my minister friends are a very big disrespect” to the Turkish government, Reuters reported.

Several senators have said in recent days that the invitation to Erdogan should be rescinded.

“Erdogan’s attack on our Kurdish partners has served to liberate ISIS prisoners, bolster the Assad regime and strengthen Russia," Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., a member of the Armed Services Committee, tweeted last week. "His invitation to the White House should be revoked."