(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, issued the following statement after returning from a bipartisan congressional delegation with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to Turkey, Iraq and Syria.
“This trip was an opportunity to discuss a number of critical national security priorities, and to understand the needs of our service members, diplomats and foreign partners on the ground. I appreciate the outstanding support we received from the State Department in Turkey and Iraq and the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria,” said Shaheen. “Each of our engagements highlighted the continued importance of U.S. leadership in this region. This trip underscored a bipartisan commitment to continue efforts on issues that include securing the freedom of imprisoned Americans in Turkey, working with our coalition partners in Iraq, finding a proper and legal way to bring foreign fighters to justice for their crimes in Syria and ensuring the timely release of stabilization funds to this region. I look forward to furthering these priorities and our relationships with our closest security partners next week at the NATO Summit, which I will attend in my capacity as the co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group. These critical issues will only be resolved through the strength of our alliances and the steadfastness of U.S. leadership.”
During her visit to Turkey, Shaheen met with President Erdogan, as well as Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American who has been held in Turkey on unsubstantiated charges. Shaheen has led bipartisan efforts in Congress to secure Pastor Brunson’s freedom, and personally advocated for Brunson’s release as well as the release of other Americans and U.S. Embassy staff. In addition, she also addressed a number of other critical issues related to the strategic US-Turkey relationship. In Iraq, Shaheen met with American troops and coalition partners, and discussed the progress US forces have made on security and stabilization post-ISIS. In Syria, Shaheen met with military personnel to discuss security in and around Manbij, and the need for a comprehensive strategy to end the violence in the region and provide humanitarian support.
In the defense bill that recently passed the Senate, Shaheen successfully added an amendment that would establish a comprehensive strategic review of American policy in Syria. She previously urged the leadership of the Senate State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee, as well as the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to move forward and establish a Syria Study Group.