Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was right to help lead other Republicans this week in expressing concern over President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria. The region contains the oldest Christian population in the world and a demographic of our friendliest and most loyal Muslim allies.
“I am deeply concerned that this decision fails to protect allies who gave their lives alongside our troops to accomplish U.S. objectives and fails to facilitate our continued efforts against IS,” Gardner said in a statement Tuesday.
Gardner advocated strong oversight by Congress, which began Wednesday after Turkey invaded Syria after Trump’s ill-advised announcement. Senate Republicans initiated a sanctions bill to impose economic pain on the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The bill announced Wednesday would sanction international military transactions that otherwise benefit Turkey, prohibit U.S. military assistance to the country, restrict Turkish officials from traveling to the United States and more.
While peace-loving Americans have good reason to appreciate Trump’s desire to end their country’s involvement in seemingly endless wars and military actions, this is no time to abandon the Kurds to the whims of a Turkish president who routinely reveals himself as a sympathizer of the Islamic State and radical Islamic militants. The Erdogan government’s abuse of journalists, minorities and political opponents makes Turkey increasingly hostile to America, our allies and western values in general.
“Europe will be Muslim. We will be effective there, Allah willing. I am sure of that,” declared Alparslan Kavaklioglu, head of the Turkish parliament’s Security and Intelligence Commission in March of 2018.
The publication Foreign Policy highlights the Turkish government’s expansionist, anti-western theocratic agenda by highlighting Erdogan’s insistence the borders of Turkey span “from Vienna to the shores of the Adriatic sea, from East Turkistan (China’s autonomous region of Xinjiang) to the Black Sea.”
The government, as Foreign Policy explains, is “promoting views within Muslim communities that are on a collision course with those of European governments.”
Meanwhile, the Kurds in northern Syria have historically and recently committed themselves as loyal, unwavering allies of the United States in our efforts to defeat the IS agenda to kill Christians, Shia Muslims, Jews, Yazidis, the Baha’i, and all other “infidels.” IS would love to wipe Israel off the map, and it is hard to imagine any resistance by Erdogan, Kvaklioglu or the rest of Turkey’s ruling class.
By withdrawing our small presence of special forces, Trump sends a clear signal to other allies willing to risk and give their lives to uphold our shared values. That message: Do not trust the United States. They will accept your friendship and help, then hang you out to dry.
Gardner supports Trump on several key policies — tax cuts, deregulation, and other administration platforms he trusts and believes in. He obviously checks his support at the door when Trump makes decisions that seem out of whack with our country’s best interests. That’s what we expect from a senator who represents Colorado, and not the Trump administration.
President Trump listens to Gardner. That’s because Republicans won’t hold the Senate if Gardner loses reelection in 2020. The president and senator need each other. By speaking quickly and clearly in opposition to withdrawal from Syria, Gardner again revealed a character of reliable leadership guided by deeply held values. Let’s hope Trump pays close attention to Gardner’s concerns, and those expressed by growing numbers of Republicans and Democrats in Congress who agree with the senator. We should not leave our most vulnerable allies, or the vulnerable populations they fought to defend, as prey for the wolves.