Former national security adviser Susan Rice on Monday panned President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria ahead of a planned Turkish invasion as “batshit crazy.”
“It seems like six days a week I just put my head in my hands,” Rice said on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” stressing the significance of the president’s abrupt move and how it will impact Kurdish-led forces working closely with the U.S. military.
The White House announced late Sunday that Turkey would soon launch an offensive in northern Syria and that U.S. troops would not be in the “immediate area” when it happens. More than 1,000 U.S. forces are currently deployed in Syria, where they work closely with the Kurdish YPG, which leads the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Turkey considers the Kurdish-led forces, which have proved to be the U.S.’s most effective allies in its fight against ISIS, to be a terrorist insurgency.
“These are the people who for the last four years have been fighting on our behalf, with our equipment to defeat ISIS, and they have done it with enormous efficacy, and they’ve sacrificed immensely, and we basically just said to them, ‘See ya,'” the former Obama administration official said. “And let the Turks, who are like the hungry wolf trying to kill the lamb, go for it.”
“It’s just appalling because we promised the Kurds our partnership, and we promised them that if they worked with us to defeat our common enemy, then we would stand with them,” she added. “And Trump woke up on the wrong side of the bed it appears and decided never mind, which is why suddenly Republicans in Congress have gotten a pulse today.”
The move from Trump showcased a clear split between the White House and some of the president’s most outspoken supporters in the GOP. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the decision a “disaster in the making.”
“I urge the President to exercise American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counter-terrorism partners,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement.
Trump repeatedly defended his decision on Monday, saying that it is time to remove the United States from “ridiculous endless wars.”
“We’ve been there for many, many, many years beyond what we were supposed to be. Not fighting. Just there. Just there. And it’s time to come back home,” Trump said while speaking to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
Trump also threatened to “obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it acts in a way he believes is inappropriate.
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) October 8, 2019