Mitch McConnell resolution prods Trump to keep troops in Syria | TribLIVE.com
Politics Election

Mitch McConnell resolution prods Trump to keep troops in Syria

Associated Press
1841135_web1_1841135-616c7294d3c14afd811233dbc0088467
AP
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks after the Senate Policy Luncheon in Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019.

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation Tuesday denouncing Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria and gently prodding President Donald Trump to halt his withdrawal of U.S. troops from the embattled country.

But McConnell, R-Ky., said lawmakers should refrain from imposing sanctions on Turkey for now, saying, “We don’t want to further drive a NATO ally into the arms of the Russians.”

That puts him into conflict with the Democratic-led House, where a vote on a sanctions measure is planned for next week.

Senate Democrats also said they wanted to plunge ahead with sanctions legislation. A bipartisan package by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., would bar arms sales to Turkey and place sanctions on the assets of top officials in Ankara.

“The United States should not be dithering,” Van Hollen said of McConnell’s desire to hold off on sanctions. “We shouldn’t be twiddling our thumbs while our allies are being massacred and while ISIS is coming back.”

Turkey moved its forces in northern Syria this month after President Donald Trump abruptly decided to pull American forces out of northeastern Syria.

Trump’s move effectively abandoned Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have been a leading U.S. partner in battling forces of the Islamic State, a group also known by the acronyms IS or ISIS. His decision has been widely condemned by both parties in Congress, who have been searching for ways to press him to reverse the U.S. withdrawal.

McConnell’s resolution says the withdrawal of American troops should be halted “where practical,” and says the U.S. should continue using air power to attack IS fighters in Syria.

It also says Trump should rescind his invitation to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a White House visit until a solid ceasefire between Turkish and Kurdish forces has been reached. Many lawmakers have opposed that invitation as an unwarranted prize to an anti-democratic strongman.

Trump is said to be considering keeping a small U.S. force in Syria to secure oilfields.

McConnell’s statement came hours before the expiration of a five-day pause in fighting that was negotiated by Vice President Mike Pence and Erdogan.

The Democratic-led House last week overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan resolution opposing the U.S. troop withdrawal.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said the chamber will vote next week on a separate measure imposing sanctions on Turkey. That was confirmed by a Democratic leadership aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.

Engel said the sanctions are still needed, despite the cease fire and Trump’s consideration of retaining some troops in Syria.

“The president is unpredictable. You never know what he’s going to do from time to time,” he said.

Categories: News | Politics Election
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.