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Lindsey Graham steps up rebellion over Syria and insists he won’t watch Turkey ‘slaughter’ the Kurds

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President Donald Trump faced a Republican rebellion Wednesday over his sudden withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria – as a lopsided House majority condemned the move and ally Sen. Lindsey Graham vowed to become Trump’s ‘worst nightmare’ to protect the Kurds.

Graham, who has been a Trump ally in fending off the Russia probe, blasted the president for abandoning Kurdish allies in Syria in an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network, where evangelical leaders have been voicing concern about the risk to minorities including Christians in the region.   

‘I will do anything I can to help him, but I will also become President Trump’s worst nightmare,’ Graham vowed. ‘I will not sit along the sidelines and watch a good ally, the Kurds, be slaughtered by Turkey.’

'I will do anything I can to help him, but I will also become President Trump's worst nightmare,' South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday

‘I will do anything I can to help him, but I will also become President Trump’s worst nightmare,’ South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday

Graham cautioned: ‘This is a defining moment for President Trump. He needs to up his game.’

 Another forceful rebuke came in the vote tally for a House resolution to oppose ‘the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria.’

After getting fast-tracked to the floor by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the resolution was backed by 354 lawmakers, with 60 voting against. The resolution said the Kurds fought ‘courageously’ against the ‘brutality of ISIS.’

The resolution quotes from the surprise White House statement that announced the coming operation by Turkey and ‘calls on the United States to continue supporting Syrian Kurdish communities through humanitarian support, including to those displaced or otherwise affected by ongoing violence in Syria.’

It also calls on the White House to ‘present a clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat of ISIS,’ amid fears captured fighters will get the chance to renew territorial gains that had been wiped out.

'Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years,' said Trump. He urged Graham to 'focus' on his Judiciary Committee work, where his actions have insulated the president

‘Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years,’ said Trump. He urged Graham to ‘focus’ on his Judiciary Committee work, where his actions have insulated the president

This picture taken on October 15, 2019 shows smoke rising from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa, on the first week of Turkey's military operation against Kurdish forces

This picture taken on October 15, 2019 shows smoke rising from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa, on the first week of Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish forces

UNDER CONTROL: President Donald Trump welcomed Russian intervention along with Syria to push back against Turkey's incursion into Syrian territory. Of the overall conflict, he said: 'It's a very semi-complicated – not too complicated if you're smart – but it's a semi-complicated problem, and I think it's a problem that we have nicely under control'

UNDER CONTROL: President Donald Trump welcomed Russian intervention along with Syria to push back against Turkey’s incursion into Syrian territory. Of the overall conflict, he said: ‘It’s a very semi-complicated – not too complicated if you’re smart – but it’s a semi-complicated problem, and I think it’s a problem that we have nicely under control’

'If Turkey goes into Syria it is between Turkey and Syria. It's not our problem,' Trump said Wednesday. Here a woman covers her face as she stands along the side of a road on the outskirts of the town of Tal Tamr near the Syrian Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain along the border with Turkey in the northeastern Hassakeh province on October 16, 2019, with the smoke plumes of tire fires billowing in the background to decrease visibility for Turkish warplanes that are part of operation "Peace Spring".

‘If Turkey goes into Syria it is between Turkey and Syria. It’s not our problem,’ Trump said Wednesday. Here a woman covers her face as she stands along the side of a road on the outskirts of the town of Tal Tamr near the Syrian Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain along the border with Turkey in the northeastern Hassakeh province on October 16, 2019, with the smoke plumes of tire fires billowing in the background to decrease visibility for Turkish warplanes that are part of operation “Peace Spring”.

The House voted 354 to 60 for a resolution opposing Trump's moves in Syria

The House voted 354 to 60 for a resolution opposing Trump’s moves in Syria

A T-155 Firtina fires at the points being specified as terror targets by the Turkish Armed Forces within Turkey's Operation Peace Spring in Sanliurfa, Turkey on October 15, 2019

A T-155 Firtina fires at the points being specified as terror targets by the Turkish Armed Forces within Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in Sanliurfa, Turkey on October 15, 2019

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Among Republicans, 129 vote for it and 60 against.

The action came on a day when Trump blasted Graham, a frequent golf partner and ally in fending off the Mueller inquiry. Graham chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has said he wants to probe the alleged FBI misconduct as Trump wants him to do. 

‘Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years with thousands of soldiers and fighting other people’s wars,’ Trump snapped. ‘I want to get out of the Middle East. I think Lindsey should focus right now on Judiciary – like the Democrats, the do-nothing Democrats,’ Trump admonished Graham.  

‘And I think Lindsey should focus on Judiciary. He ought to find out about what happened with Comey, what happened with McCabe, Lisa, what happened with Peter Strzok, what happened with President Obama, what happened with Brennan,’ Trump said, firing off names of national security and FBI officials from the Obama era who he blames for the Russia probe.

‘That’s what Lindsey ought to focus on. That’s what the people of South Carolina want him to focus on. The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey – a NATO member – or with Syria. Let them fight their own wars. They’ve been fighting for 1,000 years. Let them fight their own wars. The people of South Carolina want to see those troops come home. And I won an election based on that. And that’s the way it is, whether it’s good or bad. That’s the way it is.’

At a White House press conference Wednesday, Trump welcomed further Russian military intervention in Syria, as Moscow teams with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and U.S. rival Iran to counter Turkey’s attack on Kurds in Syrian territory – a conflagration about which Trump proclaimed ‘Welcome to it.’

The president attacked U.S. allied Kurdish fighters as ‘no angels,’ and described them as a mercenary force, even as critics from both parties lamented a policy shift as leaving them victim to slaughter at the hands of the Turks.

‘Syria has a relationship with the Kurds – who by the way are not angels,’ Trump told reporters alongside Italian President Sergio Mattarella. ‘Who is an Angel? There aren’t too many around. But Syria has a relationship with the Kurds. So they’ll come in for their border. And they’ll fight,’ Trump said.

‘They may bring partners in, they could bring Russia in. And I say welcome to it,’ Trump continued, after earlier in the day comparing the area to ‘a lot of sand’ that various sides can play with. 

 

 

 

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