Emily Thornberry, Shadow Foreign Secretary, has condemned President Trump’s plans to withdraw American forces from Northern Syria, calling the US President’s decision an “utter disgrace”.
In a sudden foreign policy shift, the White House confirmed today that the President has given the green light to a Turkish military operation that will see American forces withdraw from positions in Northern Syria, effectively abandoning the Kurds.
Commenting on Trump’s support for the Turkish plans, Thornberry said: “While we want to see the negotiated withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria, it is an utter disgrace for the Trump administration to stitch up a deal with Turkey over Northern Syria, which leaves the Kurdish community at their mercy and risks opening up a dangerous new front in this war.
“The Kurdish people have fought harder than anyone else in Syria to end the territorial grip that ISIS had established in Northern Syria, and they have paid a heavy price. Today’s announcement from the White House is not just an abandonment of their allies, but a betrayal of their sacrifice.”
The Turkish government considers the American-backed Kurdish forces to be a terrorist insurgency and have long called on the US to withdraw their support. The Kurds have been a key ally for the United States in its campaign against the Islamic State militant group in Syria.
Trump’s decision was announced after a phone call on Sunday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and was apparently made without the consultation of key advisors. Lindsey Graham, Republican senator for South Carolina and a close Trump ally, called the move a “disaster in the making”.
The Shadow Foreign Secretary called on the government to take urgent action in response to Trump’s decision. Thorberry said: ”The UK government must demand first, that Kurdish representatives are brought into the newly-constituted Syrian Constitutional Reform Committee so they can speak up for their own rights.
“Second, that Turkey must not increase its military presence in Northern Syria or its support for Syrian militias operating on its behalf; and third, that there must be no attempt by Turkey to use this announcement as a green light to return non-Kurdish Syrian refugees into Northern Syria in an effort to change the region’s ethnic composition.”