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Trump Pullout from Syria Would be 'Disaster in the Making' from 'Obama Playbook,' Argues Graham

A U.S. mine detector armored vehicle leads a convoy of U.S. troops on a road to the tense front line with Turkish-backed fighters in Manbij, northern Syria, on March 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said President Trump’s proposal to pull U.S. troops out of Syria would be “a disaster in the making” and a move from “the Obama playbook: one foot in, one foot out.”

At a campaign-rally-style speech in Ohio last week, Trump said, “And, by the way, we’re knocking the hell out of ISIS. We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon. Very soon, we’re coming out. We’re going to have 100 percent of the caliphate, as they call it — sometimes referred to as ‘land.’ We’re taking it all back quickly. Quickly. But we’re going to be coming out of there real soon. We’re going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be.”

The fight against ISIS has stalled against the remainder of the group mostly in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, giving jihadists an opportunity to regroup as Turkey’s incursions on Kurdish areas have drawn the Syrian Democratic Forces who defeated ISIS in Raqqa up to defend Kurdish territory.

“All of his military advisors have said we need to leave troops in Syria to work with the Kurds, calm down the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish fighters who have helped, make sure that Raqqa does not fall back into the hands of ISIL There are over 3,000 ISIS fighters still roaming around Syria. We’ve got troops there to protect us and to protect the region,” Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Fox News Sunday.

“If we withdrew our troops anytime soon, ISIS would come back, the war between Turkey and the Kurds would get out of hand, and you’d be giving Damascus to the Iranians without an American presence, and Russia and Iran would dominate Syria,” he added. “It’d be the single worst decision the president could make. I’ve seen this movie before when Obama did the same thing in Iraq and quite frankly gave Assad a pass in Syria when he had them on the ropes.”

Graham added that ISIS is now “on the ropes; if you want to let them off the ropes, remove American soldiers.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told CNN on Sunday that agreeing with Trump on getting out of Syria is “not a yes or a no.”

“I think we absolutely do not want to get involved in this terrible civil war in Syria, which is so destructive, so destabilizing for the entire region. But I don’t know that you can pull out tomorrow,” Sanders said. “Our job now is to work with our allies in the entire region. And that is to do everything that we can to bring peace to Syria, make sure that Russia is part of that process. But, absolutely, I do not want to see American troops get stuck in a never-ending civil war, a brutal civil war, in Syria.”

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) told CNN that the Trump administration needs to “look at this in a comprehensive way, put together a comprehensive policy recognizing that Assad was not defeated in the Syria civil war and that Russia is re-establishing itself as a major player as is Iran, both of whom are not friends of America.”

“Russia has in Syria men who are perhaps disassociated or not directly associated with the Russian army but they are little green men operating and they did, more than 200 of them, attack an American-Kurdish position. Fortunately, we were able to strike back and stop that attack and to the detriment of many of those soldiers,” Garamendi noted.