On Senate Floor, Shaheen Rebukes President Trump’s Decision to Withdraw Troops from Northeast Syria

October 17, 2019

Shaheen delivering remarks on Senate floor

Shaheen highlighting the dangers of the President’s decision during her Senate floor remarks

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the floor of the Senate and expressed her strong opposition to President Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Northeast Syria. The President’s action has resulted in severe ramifications, including the loss of the region’s hard-fought peace and stability, the potential reemergence of ISIS and the ceding of American influence to the Assad regime, Russia and Iran. 

Shaheen’s floor remarks can be viewed in full here.

Shaheen began her remarks by highlighting the grave consequences of the President’s decision to withdraw from the area, “In just one week, President Trump has managed to undo five years of hard-fought stability in northeastern Syria… several ISIS prisons are unmanned as a result of Turkey’s incursion, it’s estimated that hundreds of ISIS prisoners have been released. We don’t know what will happen in those other detention facilities which have housed ISIS prisoners.” Shaheen noted that Russian and Syrian regime troops have now moved into the abandoned U.S. military bases, and that over 160,000 Syrian civilians have been forced to flee their homes.

Shaheen recalled her visit to the region last year with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and noted how communities, such as Manbij, had steadily rebuilt and recovered after three years of brutal ISIS occupation.  “What’s taking place in Manbij and so many cities across northeast Syria is an insult to the thousands of American service members who risked their lives to help stabilize that region to support the fight against ISIS—and it could have all been avoided.”

Shaheen proceeded by noting how the President’s decision flew in the face of not only the recommendations reached by the bipartisan Syria Study Group that she helped to create, but also the advice given by his advisors. “President Trump’s ill-informed and hasty decision will not only breathe new life into the terrorist groups, into ISIS… this decision will erode US credibility in the long-term. It will cede America’s hard-fought gains in the region. I wish there were alternatives we could pursue. But sadly, I don’t think we can put the genie back into the bottle.”

Shaheen concluded by referencing the bipartisan sanctions bill she and her colleagues are working on to hold Erdogan accountable for his actions, and urged the President to revoke his invitation to President Erdogan to visit the United States. “President Erdogan needs to hear an unequivocal message of opposition to this incursion from the United States, and it makes no sense to extend hospitality and niceties during this moment of crisis. Republicans and Democrats must now come together and ensure that President Trump understands the consequences of his own actions. We have to do more to ensure that such mistakes never happen again.”

In 2018, Senator Shaheen travelled with Senator Lindsey Graham to Turkey to meet with President Erdogan, and Northeastern Syria where she met with Kurdish leadership holding thousands of ISIS prisoners. Senators Shaheen and Graham discussed their trip with 60 Minutes.

Shaheen established the Syria Study Group which was signed into law in 2018. The Syria Study Group released its final report with recommendations for U.S. policy on September 26th.