President Trump is dealing with the aftermath of his major policy shift in northeastern Syria.
What's this about?
On Sunday, the Trump admin said that Turkey would soon move ahead with an operation in Syria and that the US would stay out of it...raising alarm bells about what that means for US-backed Kurds there.
The Kurds – an ethnic group in the region – have been a key US ally in the fight against ISIS. And have gained control of territory in northeastern Syria. But Turkey – a NATO ally – sees them as a terror threat. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has long threatened a military operation in Syria to take them down.
Well that puts the US in a tricky spot.
Yup. But a statement from the White House Sunday seemed to give Turkey's operation the green light. Trump defended the call, saying he was elected on pulling the US out of "ridiculous endless wars" and that it's time to "bring our soldiers home." But there was pushback.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. But especially Republicans. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the move would benefit Russia, Iran, ISIS, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened to intro a resolution in the Senate to oppose the "shortsighted and irresponsible" plan and ask for a reversal. On top of that, former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said leaving Kurds "to die is a big mistake." Overall, many are worried the US is abandoning a key ally and that doing that could bolster the chances of ISIS making a comeback.
Well, Trump has also sent some mixed signals on where he stands. He said that if Turkey does anything that his "great and unmatched wisdom" thinks is too much, the US will destroy Turkey's economy. The Pentagon said that the US doesn't condone a Turkish attack in northeastern Syria. So there's that.
Trump campaigned in part on ending US involvement in conflicts abroad, including in Syria. But his "America First" approach could hurt the US's credibility with key allies and complicate things in the region.
Skimm This: Our latest podcast ep explains who the Kurds are and how history may be repeating itself.
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