House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria pullout | TheHill


The House on Wednesday approved a resolution formally rebuking President Trump over his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.

The measure passed in a 354-60 vote, with four lawmakers voting present. All 60 votes against the resolution came from Republicans, with the present votes coming from three GOP lawmakers and Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.). The top three House Republicans supported the motion in a rare split from the president.

The resolution — which was sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and the panel’s top Republican, Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas) — “opposes the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria.”

The measure also calls on Turkey to end its military action, calls on the United States to protect the Kurds and calls on the White House “to present a clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat of ISIS.”

“The measure we’re considering today will send an unambiguous bipartisan, hopefully bicameral rejection of Trump’s policy in Syria,” Engel said ahead of the vote.

Trump has ordered all U.S. troops in northern Syria to pull back, paving the way for Turkey to launch an offensive against Kurdish forces that were instrumental in the U.S.-led fight against the ISIS.

The decision was swiftly condemned by lawmakers in both parties as abandoning the Kurds, signaling to future partners the United States is untrustworthy and enabling ISIS to resurge in the chaos.

The House’s resolution came to the floor under suspension of the rules, meaning it needed two-thirds approval to pass. The measure garnered support from all Democrats and 129 Republicans.

While the resolution breaks with Trump’s decision, Trump is named just once in the measure when it notes he spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 6.

 

Source: House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria pullout | TheHill

Trump’s Betrayal of the Kurds Is as Incoherent as It Is Dangerous – VICE


The Syrian Kurds always knew they would be betrayed by the United States, but no one could have expected that their abandonment would be so sudden or so brutal.

In a shock reversal of American Syria policy, President Trump declared on Twitter, to the horror of his Kurdish-led SDF allies and his own administration, that he would not stand in the way of Turkey’s long-threatened invasion of the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of Northeast Syria (AANES).

In doing so, Trump overturned America’s Syria policy, demolishing assurances to both local allies and international partners alike that the SDF’s sacrifice of 11,000 fighters in the bloody war against the Islamic State would be repaid with some form of negotiated settlement with Turkey, or at least protection from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vengeance.

That this move comes immediately after US troops oversaw the destruction of the SDF’s carefully-prepared defensive positions, constructed to slow the progress of a Turkish assault, has only emphasized the sense of betrayal amongst to the SDF.

“The sacrifices we made to defeat the Islamic State were not just a service to our people but also a service to the United States, Europe, and the entire International community, who faced a real and present threat from terrorism,” wrote Ilham Ahmed, co-chair of the AANES’ Syrian Democratic Council governing body in an op-ed in the Washington Post. “We expected our sacrifice and commitment to be repaid in kind. Instead, now we have been betrayed.”

Now, SDF forces are not only fighting desperately to preserve their hard-won autonomy along the entire 300-km stretch of the border, they may very well be fighting for their survival.

 

Source: Trump’s Betrayal of the Kurds Is as Incoherent as It Is Dangerous – VICE

No, Trump is not like Obama on Middle East policy : The Conversation


On Jan. 6, National Security Advisor John Bolton walked back President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would quickly withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, saying that such a withdrawal might actually take months or years.

Trump’s announcement came more than two weeks earlier. Soon after, Trump also directed the Pentagon to halve the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Whatever the fate of either order, pundits and politicians are having a field day comparing Trump’s Middle East policy to that of Barack Obama.

“On this issue…there is more continuity between Trump and Obama than would make either administration comfortable,” Richard N. Haas, president of The Council on Foreign Relations, told The New York Times in an article headlined “A Strategy of Retreat in Syria, with Echoes of Obama.”

The next day, The Hill repeated the sentiment in an article whose headline holds nothing back: “Trump’s Middle East Policy Looks a lot Like Obama’s – That’s not a Good Thing.”

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), whose support for Trump is matched only by his disdain for Obama’s Middle East policy, called Trump’s plan “an Obama-like mistake.”

As someone who has studied and written about the Middle East for more than 30 years, this comparison immediately struck me as wrong.

While both presidents have advocated decreasing America’s footprint in the region, I believe their policies are comparable only on the most superficial level. Understanding why enables us to see the fundamental flaw underlying the current policy.

Trump vs. Obama: Afghanistan

Obama and Trump have taken contrasting approaches to the Afghanistan war, America’s longest. Both favored troop withdrawal – but with different intentions.

 

Source: No, Trump is not like Obama on Middle East policy : The Conversation

No Syria withdrawal without Turkish pledge not to attack Kurds, Bolton says NBC News


JERUSALEM — President Donald Trump will not withdraw American troops from northern Syria until the Turkish government guarantees it won’t then attack Syrian Kurdish forces that have been critical allies in the fight against ISIS, national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday.

Bolton said a commitment from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that protects the Kurds after American forces exit is something Trump is demanding, and that it’s just one of several conditions that have to be met before U.S. troops leave.

“There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal,” Bolton said.

 

Source: No Syria withdrawal without Turkish pledge not to attack Kurds, Bolton says : NBC News

Turkish president says murder of Jamal Khashoggi was ‘planned,’ calls for extradition of Saudi suspects | Duluth News Tribune


ISTANBUL – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a “planned” and “brutal” murder and called on Saudi Arabia to extradite 18 suspects to Turkey to face justice for the crime.

Erdogan’s highly anticipated comments, during a speech to his ruling party in Ankara, the Turkish capital, contradicted Saudi accounts that Khashoggi was killed when an argument inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul escalated into a fistfight. The Turkish leader did not directly accuse the Saudi leadership of involvement in the killing but strongly indicated that the Saudi investigation, which has resulted in the arrests of 18 people so far, has not yet reached high enough into the kingdom’s ruling circles.

“It will not satisfy the public by just pinning this kind of matter on a few security and intelligence officers,” he said. “Covering up this kind of savagery will hurt the conscience of all humanity.”

“Saudi Arabia took an important step by accepting the murder. After this, we expect them to reveal those responsible for this matter. We have information that the murder is not instant, but planned,” he said.

While Erdogan did not address the most explosive allegations that have surfaced during the investigation – notably that Khashoggi was dismembered after he was killed — the president provided the most detailed timeline yet of the days and hours leading up the murder on Oct. 2. He said a team of Saudi agents who were dispatched to Istanbul had carefully prepared for Khashoggi’s death.

The Saudi team that plotted the murder was first alerted, Erdogan said, after Khashoggi visited the consulate on Friday, Sept. 28.

“Planning and the work of a road map starts here,” the president said. Beginning three days later, on Oct. 1, teams of Saudi agents begin arriving in Istanbul, with one team visiting wooded areas in and around Istanbul “for reconnaissance,” Erdogan said, referring to areas that Turkish police later focused on as they searched for Khashoggi’s body.

After another team arrives at the Istanbul consulate, “the hard disk on the consulate camera is removed,” he added. The Saudi team consisted of “intelligence, security and forensic workers,” Erdogan said.

Khashoggi entered the mission at around 1:14 p.m. on Oct. 2. When he had not emerged a few hours later, his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting for him outside, alerted authorities, and an investigation was started, Erdogan said. Camera footage showed that Khashoggi had never left, he added.

Erdogan highlighted attempts by the Saudis to obstruct or cover up the killing, including a ruse involving a Saudi agent who was dressed like Khashoggi and captured on camera exiting the consulate.

“Why did 15 people gather in Istanbul the day of the murder? Who did these people receive orders from?” he asked. “Why was the consulate opened not immediately but days later for investigation? When the murder was obvious, why were inconsistent explanations given?”

“Why is the corpse still not found?”

 

Source: Turkish president says murder of Jamal Khashoggi was ‘planned,’ calls for extradition of Saudi suspects | Duluth News Tribune

Protests, arrests rock G-20 summit as police clash with activists


‘Around 1,000 members of that march were black-clad anarchists, though the demands and politics of the protesters in Hamburg range wildly. Many said they were demonstrating against globalization and capitalism. Others protested the policies of certain leaders, like Trump, who has targeted immigrants and Muslims, in addition to withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement, and authoritarian leaders like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Others expressed dissatisfaction with the outsized importance of the summit, which brings together the world’s 20 most powerful economies and attracts wide-scale protests virtually every year.’

‘The protests also kept some summit attendees indoors. Spouses of world leaders typically attend a host of events during the summit, but U.S. First Lady Melania Trump was unable to leave her accommodations as protesters gathered outside her guest house. “The Hamburg police could not give us clearance to leave,” Stephanie Grisham, a spokesperson for the First Lady, said. “She was prevented from participating in today’s spousal program, which she was looking forward to.”

Trump herself tweeted her concern for those injured in the clashes, while making no connection between the demonstrations and her husband’s policies:’

Source: Protests, arrests rock G-20 summit as police clash with activists