Trump’s Former ISIS Envoy Blasts Syria Move, Says Trump Lacks ‘Knowledge’
President Donald Trump’s former envoy for the fight against the Islamic State offered scathing criticism of the White House’s decision to remove U.S. forces from northern Syria and effectively hand the region over to Turkey.
Brett McGurk not only chastised this particular decision but also characterized Trump as a president who “makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation,” according to The Washington Post.
“Donald Trump is not a Commander-in-Chief,” McGurk tweeted on Monday. “He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation. He sends military personnel into harm’s way with no backing. He blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff or he confronts a hard phone call.”
The former Trump administration official resigned alongside former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis after Trump announced a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria earlier this year — though the president later abandoned the plan.
McGurk also pointed out that Trump appears to be misinformed about the situation in Syria, with the White House saying in its announcement on Sunday night and the president tweeting Monday morning that U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for holding captured members of ISIS in the northern region of Syria.
“The WH statement tonight on Syria after Trump spoke with Erdogan demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of anything happening on the ground,” he wrote. “The ‘United States’ is not holding any ISIS detainees. They are all being held by the SDF, which Trump just served up to Turkey.”
The SDF, or Syrian Democratic Forces, is the Kurdish-led military force that has assisted the U.S. in fighting ISIS in northern Syria.
The Post reported that McGurk’s characterization of Trump’s decision-making process appears to confirm what the president has presented publicly: he consulted few if any relevant individuals in reaching a decision, opting instead to make a brash determination after speaking with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) has indicated he was unaware of Trump’s plans and called the decision a mistake. Likewise, Pentagon officials were caught off guard by the president’s announcement.
McGurk noted, as others have as well, that the decision to remove U.S. troops and allow Turkey’s incursion into Syria would be devastating for the Kurds.
“The Turkish proposed “safe zone” would effectively extend Turkey’s border 30km into Syria, including areas of Christians, Kurds, and other vulnerable minorities,” McGurk tweeted.
“Our diplomats were working on a plan to forestall such a debacle,” he continued, adding, “Where’s [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo?”
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also criticized Trump’s decision, tweeting: “"We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend."