Hawaii Democrat Brian Schatz confronted GOP congressmen after President Donald Trump likened the Turkish military offensive against Kurds in Syria to a schoolyard fight.
“Enough is enough. Republican silence is a historic travesty,” Schatz tweeted in response to Trump’s remarks during a campaign rally in Dallas.
The senator observed the situation following Trump’s appearance at a rally where he praised the cease-fire his administration announced earlier that day, with officials saying Turkey has agreed to pause its incursion into northern Syria for five days.
“Sometimes you have to let them fight,” Trump told supporters, referring to Turkish and Kurdish forces that clashed starting last week after he withdrew U.S. troops from northern Syria, The Hill reported.
“Like two kids in a lot, then you pull them apart,” the President added.
Trump said that the U.S. demanded ceasefire following Ankara’s offensive on Syrian Kurdish forces over multiple days.
Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS at the State Department, blasted Trump’s remarks as “obscene and ignorant.”
“200k innocent people displaced. Hundreds dead. Credible reports of war crimes. ISIS prisoners escaping. U.S. evacuating and bombing its own positions or handing them to Russia. Two kids in a lot?” McGurk tweeted.
The Trump administration announced Thursday that the U.S. would not pursue further economic sanctions on Turkey after Ankara agreed to temporarily halt its incursion in northern Syria.
Vice President Pence said after negotiations between a U.S. delegation and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Turkey would suspend its operations for 120 hours to allow Kurdish YPG fighters to withdraw from a designated “safe zone” along the Turkish and Syrian border.
Trump has faced intense backlash the past two weeks over his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria ahead of Turkey’s military offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces, with lawmakers accusing Trump of abandoning Kurdish allies that were integral in the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS.
During his rally Thursday night, Trump praised Erdoğan as a “gentleman,” saying that “without a little tough love … they would’ve never made this deal.” He also praised both Turkey and the Kurdish YPG fighters as “friends.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) tore into the move Thursday, calling it a “sham ceasefire” and saying that Trump is “flailing” by agreeing not to implement sanctions against Turkey.
“The President’s decision to reverse sanctions against Turkey for brutally attacking our Kurdish partners in exchange for a sham ceasefire seriously undermines the credibility of America’s foreign policy and sends a dangerous message to our allies and adversaries alike that our word cannot be trusted,” the Democratic leaders said in a joint statement.