Washington, Oct. 16, 2019—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of H.J.Res 77, his bipartisan joint measure denouncing President Trump’s policy in Northern Syria:
“Since the beginning of this Congress, when I became chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I’ve tried to work across the aisle to advance a bipartisan vision of what American foreign policy should be—what it can be, when we’re at our best. And that’s a foreign policy rooted in our values—values like support for human rights and human dignity, a foreign policy that projects American leadership as a force for good in the world, a foreign policy that thrives on the power of partnerships and alliances.
“I’ve worked with my friend from Texas, the Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. McCaul, to make sure that this vision is enshrined in the committee’s work and that we do all we can to push the Administration toward this approach.
“So Mr. Speaker, for me the last week has been just devastating.
“A week ago, President Trump had a phone call with Turkey’s thuggish leader, President Erdogan. Against the advice of national security experts and military advisors, the President gave Erdogan the green light to charge into Northern Syria—unleashing what has become a brutal campaign of violence against the Syrian Kurds, our partners the Syrian Kurds, who courageously stood alongside us for many, many months and years, in the fight against ISIS.
“Mr. Speaker, that reckless and impulsive decision was a betrayal of our partners. It was a gift to Russia, a gift to Iran, a gift to ISIS, and a gift to Assad. And it was a blow to our national security.
“Now, a week later, the same Kurdish soldiers who fought with American Special Forces to combat ISIS are now fighting tooth and nail to survive Turkey’s slaughter. Russian and Syrian regime forces have quickly filled the vacuum left by the United States. President Trump’s decision has allowed ISIS fighters in northern Syria to escape from prison, paving the way for a resurgence of the terrorist group. It’s a get out of jail free card, if you remember Monopoly from the old days.
“And the humanitarian crisis is staggering. Already, tens of thousands have been displaced—families, women, and children. There are stories of gruesome beheadings, torture, and abuse. All set into motion unfortunately by the President of the United States.
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“What kind of message does this send to the world? How can America be trusted when we betray one of our close partners? Loyal and faithful partners, just throw them out like an old shoe. How can America be trusted to keep its word when we make impulsive decisions that have such an immediate, catastrophic impact on so many thousands of people?
“Congress must speak out against this disgrace. The measure we’re considering today will send an unambiguous, bipartisan, hopefully bicameral rejection of Trump’s policy in Syria.
“This measure calls on the White House to develop a strong, clear strategy on how to defeat ISIS now that President Trump has sparked its resurgence. It expresses strong support for Syrian Kurdish forces, recognizing their commitment and sacrifices in the fight against ISIS. And it calls on Turkey to immediately stop its military action in Syria.
“At President Trump’s hands, American leadership has been laid low and American foreign policy has become nothing more than a tool to advance his own interests.
“Today we make clear that the Congress is a coequal branch of government, and we want nothing to do with this disastrous policy.
“So Mr. Speaker, I say to our colleagues—it is on us. It is on us to uphold our country’s values, to strengthen our national security, to defend America’s standing in the world. I call on all members on both sides of the aisle to support this resolution and make it clear where we stand.”