U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday defended a decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, saying it was too costly to keep supporting U.S-allied, Kurdish-led forces in the region fighting Islamic State militants. Trump's decision was met with immediate and largely bipartisan condemnation.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a top Republican ally of President Donald Trump, is threatening legislation to impose economic sanctions on Turkey if it invades Syria. Graham has Democratic allies and warned that any congressional vote would be overwhelming.
Graham said Monday that Trump's moves are a "disaster in the making" that would empower ISIS and Syria. He said he's already spoken to Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen about drafting the sanctions legislation. Graham said on Twitter that "sanctions against Turkey - if necessary - would be veto-proof." Graham added that the U.S. Senate "will call for their suspension from NATO."
Trump tweeted soon after a similar warning, saying, "Anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)"
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Trump's decision clears the way for an expected Turkish assault and essentially abandoning Kurdish fighters who fought alongside American forces to defeat the Islamic State.
Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney also weighed in, saying Trump's "decision to abandon our Kurd allies in the face of an assault by Turkey is a betrayal
"The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades," Trump said in a series of tweets.
"Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out," Trump said.
The Trump administration's move, which opens the way for a Turkish strike on Kurdish fighters long aligned with Washington, runs counter to the positions of even some of Trump's top allies in his own party.
Graham, also wrote in a series of Twitter posts that he was trying to set up a call with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and would introduce a Senate resolution opposing the withdrawal decision and calling for it to be reversed.
"It's never in our national security interest to abandon an ally who's helped us fight ISIS," Graham said in an interview with Fox News Channel, using an acronym for Islamic State.
"This impulsive decision by the president has undone all the gains we've made, thrown the region into further chaos."