October 24, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement denouncing U.S. lack of support for the Kurds in Northeastern Syria.
“What happened to the Kurds in Northeastern Syria is an abomination. The United States’ failure to do everything that we reasonably could to prevent the current fate of the Kurds is a betrayal of a key partner and a major foreign policy blunder.
“Literally adding insult to injury, it is also totally unacceptable that the President has been relentless in hurling a barrage of insults at the Kurds over the course of the last two weeks. This is a difficult set of circumstances, and it would be naïve to blame only the President for this tragic situation. A series of factors contributed to how this played out. But for the President to disparage the Kurds as ‘worse terrorists than ISIS’ and remarking, ‘what do we care, they never really helped us anyway,’ is unbelievably offensive and unnecessary. The Kurds have fought alongside us, and if nothing else, they deserve our gratitude and respect.
“The President has stated that he ‘defeated ISIS in a month.’ That is simply untrue. The effort to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria began in 2015, with our agreement with the Kurds and other free democratic forces in Syria who agreed fight ISIS in support of our common goal.
“The Kurds have been shoved off their land, the strength of the Syrian Democratic Forces is severely weakened, and an obvious question remains: Who is going to help us fight ISIS in the region now? The President has given a range of answers, but the one he seems to have settled on is Russia. That is not reassuring. I urge the White House to work on a plan for how we’re going to confront ISIS in the region, and which partners and allies we’re going to work with. Our own national security depends on it.
“Finally, the President declaring victory in Syria is a gross misunderstanding of the situation. Once the Kurds realized they had no ability to fight Turkey and no one to help them, they surrendered instead of fighting. There is no victory here. Turkey invaded a foreign country and forced the Kurds off their land. This is a loss for U.S. interests in the region. Now, Russia and the Assad regime are stronger in the region. Most problematic, Iran is stronger in the region. The President has repeatedly talked about how bad Iran is and how we need to contain them. Now Iran finds a Syria that is completely amenable to their interests, which are contrary to U.S. interests. These recent developments highlight the necessity for a new comprehensive strategy for containing Iran. It is critical that we work with partners and allies in our continued fight against terror. Not doing so sends the wrong signal to our partners and allies everywhere.
“I personally thank the Kurdish people for all they have done and sacrificed for us in the fight against terrorism. I respect and honor our alliance with them and will do everything I can to try and help them rebuild.”