National Security & Defense

Graham on Syria: ‘This Is a Complete and Utter National Security Disaster in the Making’

Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, January 19, 2019. (Stringer/Reuters)

Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) has voiced his displeasure on Twitter at comments made by President Trump to reporters Wednesday morning on Turkey’s invasion of Northern Syria, in which the president said the conflict “has nothing to do with us” and the Kurds are “not angels.”

During a joint press conference with Italian president Sergio Mattarella later in the day, Trump doubled down on those remarks, saying that “the PKK . . . is probably worse at terror and more of a terrorist threat in many ways than ISIS.”

“I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq,” Graham tweeted, before calling the situation “a complete and utter national security disaster in the making.”

Graham has long been an outspoken critic of Trump’s desire to reduce the presence of U.S. forces in Syria. In December 2018 he said it would be an “Obama-like mistake,” before warning in January that it would “set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we’re fighting.”

Earlier this month, in the wake of Trump’s decision to pull U.S. forces out of Northern Syria, clearing the way for the Turkish invasion, Graham vehemently criticized Trump’s “disaster in the making.”

“This impulsive decision by the president has undone all the gains we’ve made, thrown the region into further chaos, Iran is licking their chops, and if I’m an ISIS fighter, I’ve got a second lease on life,” Graham told Fox & Friends last week. “To those who think ISIS has been defeated, you will soon see [that it hasn’t]. And to Turkey, you have destroyed the relationship, what little you had with the U.S. Congress, and I will do everything I can to sanction Turkey’s military and their economy if they step one foot into Syria.”

Graham also said that Trump’s comments “completely undercut” the U.S. peace delegation led by Vice President Mike Pence that was slated to leave Wednesday to meet with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in hopes of negotiating a ceasefire. Erdogan said earlier Wednesday that Turkey will “never declare a ceasefire” in Syria, but confirmed that he would meet with Pence after initially refusing to do so.

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