Cheney: Syria Withdrawal Enables ISIS; Turkey Needs Consequences
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney is voicing her dissatisfaction with the latest arrangement in Syria, following President Donald Trump's announcement that a "permanent ceasefire" is in effect between Turkey and Kurdish-led fighters.
Cheney also said Turkey must face consequences for invading northern Syria, hours after the President ordered the removal of U.S. sanctions which were imposed Oct. 14.
"So the sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we're not happy with," Trump said Wednesday morning in a statement from the White House. Cheney did not name Trump in her statement Wednesday, but responded by calling out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"Erdogan continues to refuse to behave like a NATO ally. Turkey must face consequences over their invasion of northern Syria, attacks on the Kurds, and threats against U.S. forces," Cheney said.
Following years of civil war in Syria and the fight against the Islamic State group, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces controlled northern Syria. Turkey considers the SDF an associate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a rebel group fighting in Turkey.
An Oct. 9 offensive by the Turkish military aimed to establish a 20-mile buffer zone along the border with Syria, Erdogan said, to prevent attacks by what Turkey calls Kurdish terror groups. ISIS fighters are also a concern for Turkey.
The SDF played a considerable role in the campaign against ISIS in Syria, cooperating with U.S. forces. Many Kurds saw the U.S. withdrawal from the area as a betrayal after years of fighting alongside American troops.
"Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria," the White House said in announcing the withdrawal. "The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial 'Caliphate,' will no longer be in the immediate area."
Despite the recent ceasefire, continued fighting has been reported on the border between Syria and Turkey. War crimes have allegedly been committed by Turkish forces and Syrian militias, backed by Turkey, against the Kurds.
Following the President's decision to remove the vast majority of U.S. personnel from the area, Cheney called the move a "catastrophic mistake."
This week, Erdogan reached a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin which will see Turkish forces remain in one area of the border, while Russian and Syrian troops would take control of the rest. Cheney says the lack of U.S. involvement in that arrangement is problematic.
"America's withdrawal from northern Syria enables the resurgence of ISIS. ISIS is a threat to the American homeland," Cheney said.
"Retreating and putting our security in the hands of Assad, Putin and Erdogan strengthens our enemies, weakens America, and makes us less safe," Cheney added.