Republican Congressman Will Hurd (R-Texas) on Sunday slammed President Trump’s handling of the ongoing situation in Syria, saying the president “surrendered” and that his administration is “playing checkers” while others in the region are “playing chess.”
Hurd said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Trump’s decision to pull troops from northern Syria, as well as an ensuing cease-fire arrangement with Turkey, “looks more like terms of surrender than a peace deal.”
“And unfortunately, our enemies and our adversaries — like Iran, Russia, Turkey — they’re playing chess and unfortunately, this administration is playing checkers,” said the outgoing Republican lawmaker.
Hurd’s comments come after Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo struck a deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to secure a ceasefire in Northern Syria for five days as U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters leave the region.
Trump drew condemnation from both Republicans and Democrats after he announced the U.S. would withdraw troops from the region, effectively giving the green light to Turkey, a NATO ally, to invade areas held by Kurdish YPG forces. The U.S. has worked closely with the YPG in the fight against ISIS, but Ankara considers the group an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a designated terror group.
Trump has touted the deal as a success for everyone involved, but Hurd cautioned Trump’s troop removal will open the possibility of ISIS fighters returning to the area.
“ISIS is going to come back,” he said. “We know that there is about 30,000 ISIS fighters that are throughout that region.”
Hurd, who announced his retirement from the House earlier this year, lamented Congress’ inability to have Trump reverse course on his decisions regarding Syria.
“It’s always easier to compel an administration to stop doing something than it is to begin something,” Hurd said. “I think what we could be doing now is bringing in some of the heads of the military, the heads of the intelligence service, the heads of our humanitarian organizations to talk about what are we going to do to prevent ISIS from becoming resurgent.”
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