President Donald Trump shocked the foreign policy community on Monday morning after announcing that U.S. troops had begun withdrawing from Northern Syria, abandoning Kurdish fighters who were instrumental in decimating the ISIS caliphate and currently still hold numerous Islamic State fighters in custody.
Without U.S. presence, the Kurds—and their ability to contain remaining ISIS fighters—are left vulnerable to Turkish aggression.
While Democrats have long called for a responsible withdrawal from the United States' numerous Middle Eastern conflicts, a sudden withdraw of troops from Northern Syria was previously considered out of the question.
Now—after a wave of criticism from even some of his most devoted defenders—Trump took to Twitter again to clarify that his initial announcement was NOT meant as a green light for Turkey to invade Syria, saying:
"if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey"
People saw red flags all over the place, including Trump ally Piers Morgan.
NBC News' foreign policy analyst:
A prominent psychologist:
Trump's 2020 Republican primary challenger:
As well as his own co-author of The Art of the Deal:
And the hits kept coming:
In reality, of course, ISIS hasn't been 100% captured, as Trump has often claimed. If anything, this decision makes Syria and further areas in the Middle East more vulnerable to an ISIS resurgence. The Syrian Democratic Forces responsible for the captivity of ISIS fighters fear a weakened ability to contain imprisoned Islamic State devotees while fending off aggression from Turkey without U.S. assistance.
Even if the false claim that 100% of ISIS is captured were true, they're now more likely to see escape or even release. Trump's own former envoy to the region, Brett McGurk, confirmed this, as did a Kurdish official, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, and Trump-supporting Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
What's more, threatening to eradicate the economy of Turkey is hardly a sign of a clean withdrawal.
Judging from the "great and unmatched" wisdom so poorly demonstrated in his tweet, the Trump administration won't relent on its decision to abandon the Kurds.