Mitt Romney rips Trump over Syria pullout, questions cease-fire

Sunday, 20 Oct, 2019

Trump paved the way for the week-long Turkish incursion by withdrawing United States troops but he later imposed sanctions and threatened to destroy the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally's economy as he came under fire at home. Turkey agreed to the five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from a "safe zone" Ankara had sought to capture. "Turkey?" Romney asked. "I believe that it's imperative that public hearings are held to answer these questions, and I hope the Senate is able to conduct those hearings next week".

"If Turkey goes onto Syria, that's between Turkey and Syria, it's not between Turkey and the United States", Trump said.

He added that, under the fresh deal with the USA, this zone would be controlled by Turkish troops.

"I've chosen to try to find out how to make Trump successful", Graham said.

In a Washington Post opinion piece, Republican Mitch McConnell described Trump's troop withdrawal order, together with Turkey's assault in Syria as a "strategic nightmare". "For it would tell us a great deal about how we should deal with Turkey, now and in the future".

Turkey has confirmed reaching an agreement with the U.S. on temporarily halting its military operation against Kurdish-led militias in northern Syria but refused to call it a "ceasefire", adding that it will go on with its plans. Speaking to Ronahi TV, SDF commander Kobani said the agreement is "just the beginning" and will not achieve Turkey's goals.

Trump said Wednesday that Turkey's incursion into northern Syria "has nothing to do with us" and added that former USA allies - the Kurds - are "not angels".

Similarly, the senator, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, showed apprehension over the Turkish cease-fire that was facilitated by Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this week.

"Adding insult to dishonor, the administration speaks cavalierly, even flippantly, even as our ally has suffered death and casualty", Romney said.

Trump did place some sanctions on Turkey for the offensive.

"What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history", he said.

Pence said the sanctions would be lifted once the ceasefire became permanent. Why would we not give them time to also withdraw, or give them time to dig in to defend themselves? The Kurds responded to the U.S. withdrawal by effectively switching allegiances and inviting Syrian government forces, backed by Moscow and Tehran, into towns and cities in areas they control.

Cavusoglu said Turkey will pause the operation for the YPG/PKK's withdrawal within five days while stressing that this is not a ceasefire, as this can only happen between two legitimate sides.