Senate passes amendment rebuking Trump's Syria withdrawal plan

02 February, 2019, 06:27 | Author: Donnie King
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While US public opinion is largely sympathetic to extricating the military from a war in Afghanistan that has dragged on for 17 years - the longest armed conflict in American history - and pulling troops out of involvement in Syria, the president was met with widespread criticism for the abrupt policy announcement.

The Senate voted Thursday to advance an amendment highly critical of President Donald Trump's push to remove troops from Syria and Afghanistan, a rare public admonishment by the Republican-led chamber and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who authored the amendment and forced a vote on it.

The move was a rare showing of opposition from Republican senators who consistently side with the president, revealing a possible breaking point for Senate Republicans who view some of the president's foreign policy approaches as risky.

"Withdrawal of the United States forces from the ongoing fight against these groups. could allow terrorists to regroup, destabilize critical regions, and create vacuums that could be filled by Iran or Russian Federation, to the detriment of United States interests and those of our allies", it states.

That, however, doesn't seem to be enough for Republican lawmakers.

The popular democratic socialist politician has also sought to push forward a bill calling for an end to USA military support for the Saudi-led war against a Zaidi Shiite Muslim rebel group known as Ansar Allah or the Houthis in Yemen, but the measure has split Republicans, with McConnell and Rubio among those opposed.

McConnell said this week that the Senate amendment "would acknowledge the plain fact that Al-Qaeda, [Islamic State], and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to our nation".

Still, Sanders argued that the manner of Trump's pullout was "reckless" and the Vermont senator called for a "troop withdrawal plan that is coordinated with our allies, that continues to provide humanitarian aid and that supports political settlements in these countries".

"Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues are advertising it as a package of urgent measures to save American democracy", McConnell said on the Senate floor.

"I've been clear about my own views on these subjects", McConnell said during a floor speech.

Yet, Sen. John Kennedy, one of the Republicans who voted against the language, said he wasn't sure who's right and who's wrong in the withdrawal debate - and he wasn't going to back a stay-the-course approach.

In the midst of that discussion, McConnell turned tack to denigrate H.R. 1, accusing House Democrats of trying to "rewrite the rules of American politics for the exclusive benefit of the Democratic party".

The measure is part of a broader Mideast policy bill that's expected to pass next week.

"Syria was loaded with ISIS until I came along", he added. "And now it's time for our troops to come back home".

Earlier Thursday, Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a combat pilot veteran, and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., implored Trump not to abandon the Kurds in Syria. "Certain people must get smart!" he said.

"Congress doesn't have to have to cosign Trump foreign policy trial balloons, but they ought to articulate their own responsible withdrawal plan that replaces US troops and airstrikes with smart diplomacy and targeted humanitarian aid", Rainwater told Common Dreams. Trump began drawing down troops in the country in late December.

The U.S. -led war in Afghanistan began in October 2001, weeks after the 9/11 attacks were conducted by the then-dominant Taliban's Al-Qaeda ally.


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