Washington: House Republicans deserted the United States President to oppose his withdrawal of troops from Syria, a prelude to a rancorous White House meeting with congressional leaders in which the President insulted Democrats before they walked out.
The acrimony came after House Democrats and Republicans voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to oppose Donald Trump’s troop pullout and urge the administration to contain the fallout from Turkey’s incursion into Syria and as top administration officials were set to travel to Turkey for talks on Thursday, according to EFE/Dow Jones. The House measure – which passed by a 354-to-60 vote – was unanimously backed by Democrats. They were joined by 129 Republicans, a rare display of GOP opposition to a stance held by the Republican president on a high-profile matter.
After the vote, congressional leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), met with Trump at the White House. The meeting was brief and contentious, with Trump calling Pelosi a “third-rate politician” and Pelosi later countering that Trump was experiencing a meltdown. The clash came as administration officials headed to Ankara for meetings with Turkish leaders, a mission clouded with uncertainty after President Erdogan rebuffed calls for a cease-fire and Trump said the Turkish assault had “nothing to do with us.” Trump added on Wednesday that the Kurds – longtime US allies in the fight against Islamic State but seen by Turkey as terrorists – “are no angels.” Amid the US and international debate, US forces continued moving away from previously occupied Syrian bases, navigating through areas of rival forces. On Tuesday, troops called in an Apache helicopter and jet fighters to ward off Turkish-backed irregular forces.
The House vote was the first formal step lawmakers have taken to register their criticism of Trump’s decision to withdraw troops, which was followed by a Turkish military assault against areas controlled by Kurdish forces. The sudden absence of US troops in the region, where Turkey-backed forces are now battling Kurdish fighters, rekindled concerns among US lawmakers about the resurgence of Islamic State and Russian influence in the region. The lawmakers also criticized the move as an abandonment of Kurdish forces. McConnell opened his weekly news conference on Wednesday with a pointed message of thanks to the Kurds. “I want to express my gratitude to the Kurds. They were great fighters. And we had a terrific alliance with them,” he said. He added: “I’m sorry that we are where we are.” Still, McConnell didn’t commit to bringing the House resolution to the Senate floor or to holding a vote on sanctions legislation.” (IANS)