After freeing Syria from ISIS occupation, the US should not allow Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies enjoy the effects of America’s war there, which may occur if
America pulls out, as Trump suggested earlier in the month.
Bloomberg’s Eli Lake notes that a US declaration of a no-fly zone — and at least implicit guarantees of other action if needed — would simply be a repeat of the first President George Bush’s action after the first Gulf War, when he declared similar protection for Iraqi Kurdistan. That move allowed the Iraqi Kurds build a free society outside Saddam Hussein’s grasp, and positioned them to help the United States in the Second Gulf War. Lake warns that by completely pulling out, Trump “will be leaving the people who were liberated from ISIS to be slaughtered and displaced. He will be helping Iran complete its land bridge to the Mediterranean Sea. He will have committed American blood and treasure to advance the strategic aims of America’s enemies.”
Republican senator Lindsey Graham said on ABC’s “This Week” that the chemical weapons attack that killed dozens in Syria is a “defining moment” for President Trump to show his resolve in standing up against Bashar al-Assad. “Well, it’s a defining moment in his presidency, because he has challenged Assad in the past not to use chemical weapons,” Graham said. “We had a one-and-done missile attack. So Assad is at it again. They see us, our resolve, breaking. They see our determination to stay in Syria waning. And it’s no accident they used chemical weapons.”
On Sunday, Trump, blamed Russia, Iran and former President Barack Obama for not stopping “Animal Assad” in a tweet. Last week, Trump suddenly announced that he intends to pull US troops out of Syria “very soon.”
According to Graham, “If it becomes a tweet without meaning, then he’s hurt himself with North Korea, and if he doesn’t follow through, he’s going to look weak in the eyes of Russia and Iran.” He added, “You need to follow through with that tweet.”
The South Carolina lawmaker said withdrawing now would be an “utter disaster.” He said, “Have we learned nothing when what happens when you leave too soon? We pulled our troops out of Iraq. ISIS came back.”
On CNN’s “State of the Union” GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine said, “I think the president is going to have to reconsider his plan for an early withdrawal in light of what has happened.” She said the attack also gives Trump reason to put pressure on Moscow. “Last time this happened, the president did a targeted attack to take out some of the facilities that may be an option that we should consider now, but it is further reason why it is so important that the president ramp up the pressure and the sanctions on the Russian government because, without the support of Russia, I do not believe that Assad would still be in office,” Collins said.
Calling the chemical attack an “unacceptable practice” White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said on ABC’s “This Week” that Trump could punish Syria. “I wouldn’t take anything off the table. These are horrible photos, we’re looking into the attack at this point. ” However, he added that the international community is going to have to step in to help the United States police dangerous places like Syria. “American troops aren’t going to fix the six or seven different ongoing conflicts and wars going on in the Middle East or in Syria at this stage,” he said. “We need regional partnership increased and we need US presence decreased.”