The Lead

Pa.’s Casey, Toomey condemn U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria

By: - October 7, 2019 3:27 pm

U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) of Pennsylvania (Capital-Star file)

Pennsylvania’s two United States senators sharply criticized the Trump administration’s decision Monday to withdraw American forces from northern Syria, joining a rare bipartisan chorus of criticism on Capitol Hill.

The announcement, according to the Washington Post, came in a series of Twitter messages from Trump, in which the president “suggested that the United States was shouldering too much of the burden — and the cost — of fighting the Islamic State.”

Trump “rebuked European nations for not repatriating citizens who had joined the extremist group, claiming that the United States was being played for a ‘sucker.’ And he chided his own Kurdish allies, who he said were ‘paid massive amounts of money and equipment’ to fight the militants,” the newspaper reported, noting that American forces were withdrawn from border observation posts early Monday morning.

Trump’s announcement “poses a significant threat to our national security and risks reversing the progress made in the region to destroy ISIS,” Toomey said in a statement released by his office.

The Lehigh Valley Republican said the power vacuum left by an American departure could “also lead to war between Turkey and Syrian Kurds, a result that will boost enemy regimes in Syria, Iran, and Russia. This betrayal of the Kurds will also severely harm our credibility as an ally the world over. President Trump should rethink this decision immediately.”

Speaking to the Capital-Star on Monday, Casey, of Scranton, echoed the sentiment, saying it was wrong for the United States to “abandon those who are allied with us in the battles we’ve been engaged in for a lot of years now.”

When “the president makes a decision like this, he needs a lot of help. Right? Every president needs help. He needs help from, engagement with advisors,” Casey said. “But he’ll also want the views of, and the experience, of members of Congress in both parties. That doesn’t mean he’ll agree with us, but … a decision like this ought to be the result of some kind of deliberation.”

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.