In an unusual move, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has joined his counterparts from the U.K., E.U., Germany, and France in condemning Turkey for invading Syria and saying they “deeply regret” President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops, which paved the way for that invasion. The chairs of these committees crafted a joint statement, released today, in which they described Turkey, a NATO ally, as violating international law with their invasion in northern Syria against the Kurds. Many view President Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region both as a caving in to Turkey’s wishes, as well as an abandonment of our allies, the Kurds, who had helped the U.S. in its fight against ISIS for the last three years.
Turkey’s offensive has caused many Kurdish deaths and tens of thousands of Kurdish refugees, given imprisoned ISIS fighters the opportunity to escape, and further destabilized the region. President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops abruptly has led many to feel that U.S. allies can no longer count on the U.S. to keep its word or to be reliable. Having this joint statement with some of the closest allies of the U.S., including the U.K., E.U., Germany, and France, appears to drive home that point, that the U.S. is acting outside of our common interests. According to The Hill:
“We, the Chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committees of the Parliaments of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the European Parliament and the House of Representatives of the United States of America, jointly condemn in the strongest terms the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria. We consider the intrusion as a military aggression and a violation of international law,” House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in the joint statement with his counterparts in the legislative branch of the European Union, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. “We deeply regret the decision of the president of United States to withdraw American troops from northeastern Syria which marks another landmark in the change of American foreign policy in the Near and Middle East,” the statement added. “The turmoil caused by the Turkish offensive may contribute to a resurgence of Islamic terrorism and undermines years of effort and investment to bring stability and peace in this part of the world. Therefore, we hope the United States will take up its responsibility in Syria again.”
In addition to House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), the joint statement was signed by David McAllister, chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs; Norbert Rottgen, chairman of the German Bundestag Committee on Foreign Affairs; Marielle de Sarnez, chairwoman of the French National Assembly Committee on Foreign Affairs; and Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the U.K. House of Commons Committee on Foreign Affairs.
With the decision to withdraw troops from Syria, the Trump administration is yet again not only running against the will of Congress, which has shown bipartisan disapproval of Trump’s decision, but is also running against the common stance of some of our most prominent allies. Trump, in advocating sanctions against Turkey, acts as if he was surprised by the consequences of Turkey’s invasion, as if he expected some other outcome besides Kurdish deaths and a Kurdish refugee crisis as the result of Turkey’s invasion, but those deaths and the refugee crisis were easily predictable. That damage cannot be undone, the dead stay dead, and Trump bears some responsibility for enabling Turkey’s invasion.