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Westlake Legal Group > United States Defense and Military Forces

In Bracing Terms, Trump Invokes War’s Human Toll to Defend His Policies

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-trumpwar-sub-facebookJumbo In Bracing Terms, Trump Invokes War’s Human Toll to Defend His Policies United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Syria Reed, Walter, National Military Medical Center Obama, Barack Iraq Dover Air Force Base (Del) Bush, George W Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — It is the most solemn of rituals for American presidents: comforting the soldiers wounded under his command or the families of those who have died. For generations, presidents have typically discussed those encounters in the most delicate of tones.

“The hardest thing I have to do, by far, much harder than the witch hunt, is signing letters to parents of soldiers that have been killed,” President Trump said at the White House this month.

But in arguing that there must be an end to “endless wars” in Afghanistan and more recently in Syria, Mr. Trump has given graphic accounts of distraught widows and disfigured soldiers in terms rarely, if ever, heard from a president before. In one recent instance, he said he had seen grieving family members “make sounds, scream and cry like you’ve never seen before.”

Mr. Trump has particularly focused on describing the ceremony of transferring the flag-draped coffins of American soldiers killed overseas from the military cargo planes that have brought their remains home to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

In his telling, it is a gut-wrenching ordeal, a scene of anguish from the families of the fallen that bolsters his determination to bring American soldiers home from overseas conflicts. The public shares that desire, according to one recent survey, which found that 46 percent of Americans believe that military intervention makes the country less safe, while just 27 percent believe the opposite.

All recent presidents have struggled with the cost of war, and how to speak publicly about it, and to many of his supporters, Mr. Trump is talking in authentic and admirably frank terms about a reality many Americans and Washington policymakers never confront.

But Mr. Trump’s comments also offend some veterans and military experts. They say that solemn words about fallen heroes ring hollow from a president who received a Vietnam draft deferment and who has managed a dangerously chaotic foreign policy.

Others wince at the bluntness of Mr. Trump’s accounts.

“I think it’s disrespectful,” said Andrew J. Bacevich, a retired Army colonel turned author and historian whose son was killed while serving in Iraq in 2007. “Those are infinitely private and painful moments. And to have anyone presume to comment on that, I think is beyond reprehensible.”

“He’s politicizing casualties,” he said.

Mr. Trump has paid two visits to Dover Air Force Base, according to a White House spokesman, but it is unclear whether he has actually witnessed such scenes himself, or is repeating accounts he has heard from the military officers he has encountered there.

At a recent rally in Minnesota, the president referred to a widow jumping “on top of the flowers,” adding “I’ve seen this.” But the coffins unloaded at Dover, known as transfer cases, are not adorned with flowers.

Visiting Dover is a “a very tough experience,” he said at the rally, describing grieving families awaiting the return of their deceased sons or daughters with remarkable poise.

On his first visit, the president said, he told an unnamed colonel that the relatives he had met appeared to be “doing great.” The colonel warned that would change: “No sir, they’re not going to do great. You’ll see.”

Then, Mr. Trump said, “this big incredible machine flies in, this tremendous cargo plane,” a door opens and lowers a ramp, down which several soldiers carry a coffin.

“And I see parents make sounds, that were just 20 minutes ago absolutely fine, make sounds, scream and cry like you’ve never seen before,” he said.

“Sometimes they’ll run to the coffin. They’ll break through military barriers,” he said on another occasion, and “run to the coffin and jump on top of the coffin. Crying mothers and wives. Crying desperately.”

Dan Caldwell, a senior adviser to Concerned Veterans for America, a conservative group that supports a noninterventionist American foreign policy, called Mr. Trump’s remarks “some of the most powerful and most eloquent remarks of his presidency.”

“I thought it was very important that he take some time to remind the American people of the human toll of these endless wars,” said Mr. Caldwell, a former Marine who served a tour of duty in Iraq. “Policymakers, especially here in Washington, D.C., need to understand that these wars have a real cost,” he added.

Mr. Trump has also spoken increasingly often about his somber encounters with the wounded at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, which the White House spokesman said he had visited eight times.

He recently recalled meeting a soldier whose nose had been reconstructed from “a thousand fragments,” and recounted his awkward conversation.

“I said, ‘So where were you hurt?’” Mr. Trump asked the soldier, whom he did not name. “He said, ‘My face, sir, was almost obliterated.’”

“I said, ‘You have a better face than I do,’” Mr. Trump disclosed to nervous laughter in the room, before praising the skill of the man’s surgeons.

Scott Corsaut, a Marine veteran and interim president of America’s Gold Star Families, a support group for the families of people killed during active duty, said he sympathized with the emotional nature of Mr. Trump’s interactions.

“It’s got to be tough as a president, whether it’s President Trump or President Obama, to greet the families. I just really feel that as a human being that’s got to be a tough job,” he said.

Others see little introspection on Mr. Trump’s part.

“Having a draft dodger come and lecture us about what service to the country means or hard it is to lose troops in combat is hypocrisy at its worst,” said Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a former Marine who served four tours in Iraq. “It’s disgusting. Fake piety is worse than none at all,” added Mr. Moulton, who was briefly a Democratic candidate for president. “He’s saying what he believes is politically popular.”

Peter D. Feaver, a scholar of civil-military relations at Duke University who served on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, said that Mr. Trump may be haunted by his exemption from Vietnam service after a diagnosis of bone spurs that some evidence suggests was unfounded.

“Some presidents struggle with whether they have the moral authority to cause other people to risk their lives,” Mr. Feaver said.

Mr. Trump’s past two predecessors, Mr. Bush and Barack Obama, each regularly visited Walter Reed to meet with service members wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Bush was a pilot in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, but Mr. Obama, like his successor, did not serve in the military.

But Mr. Bush never visited Dover, despite the thousands of troops killed under his watch, although he met privately with the families of hundreds of lost soldiers in other locations. His White House, determined to maintain support for the Iraq war, resisted pressure to allow cameras to film the return of bodies there.

In late 2009, as he weighed whether to send more troops into Afghanistan, Mr. Obama paid an unannounced midnight visit to Dover to greet a plane returning several Americans who had been killed there. The White House allowed a photographer to capture the scene, prompting conservatives to accuse Mr. Obama of exploiting a sacred ritual.

Mr. Trump has also allowed cameras to photograph him at Dover, but families must also agree to any coverage by the news media.

“The burden that both our troops and our families bear in any wartime situation is going to bear on how I see these conflicts,” Mr. Obama said the next day. “It is something that I think about each and every day.

When Mr. Trump posted a video to his Twitter account defending his first call for a total withdrawal from Syria in December, he suggested that such a disentanglement from a foreign war would comfort those who had died fighting in them.

“I’ll tell you, they’re up there looking down on us,” Mr. Trump said, adding that “there is nobody happier” about his withdrawal plan. “That’s the way they want it,” he continued, pointing his finger toward the sky.

Mr. Bacevich shares Mr. Trump’s skepticism of foreign military action, but he said the president is a flawed and ineffective antiwar messenger, noting that he has overseen Pentagon budget increases and appointed hawkish aides like John R. Bolton, who has since left as national security adviser.

Mr. Trump “doesn’t know how to end endless wars,” he said. “He doesn’t know how to deal with the situations he’s inherited. You can’t just say, ‘Well, we quit.’”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Kurds Reported to Be Pulling Out of Syria ‘Safe Zone’ as Fighting Eases

ISTANBUL — Kurdish forces began pulling out of a 20-mile buffer zone in northern Syria as fighting eased on Friday, Turkish and American officials said, signaling that a cease-fire announced a day before by Vice President Mike Pence between Turkish and Kurdish forces was going into force.

Early Friday, the Kurdish leadership in northern Syria accused the Turkish military and its proxies of violating the terms of the truce, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey denied that any fighting was continuing.

Mr. Erdogan said his military commander had reported everything was going as planned. The onus, he added, remained with the United States to ensure the Kurdish militias withdrew within the agreed five-day period.

“If the United States can keep its promise, in 120 hours the issue of the safe zone will be resolved,” he told Western reporters at a news briefing in Istanbul. “If not the operation will continue where we left off.”

Gunfire and artillery could be heard in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain, the scene of the heaviest fighting for the last few days, by journalists just across the border in Turkey Friday morning and afternoon. But the town stood silent by Friday evening.

Mr. Erdogan hailed the withdrawal as a victory over a “terrorist organization,” and said that Turkey would establish 12 observation points in 20-mile deep buffer zone along a 400 kilometer stretch of the border east of the Euphrates River.

American troops would remain in southeastern Syria and would maintain control of the airspace of the entire northeastern zone, said Ibrahim Kalin, national security adviser to Mr. Erdogan.

Mr. Trump posted on Twitter Friday evening that Mr. Erdogan had told him in a phone call that “there was minor sniper and mortar fire that was quickly eliminated.”

“He very much wants the cease-fire, or pause, to work. Likewise, the Kurds want it,’’ Mr. Trump wrote. “Too bad there wasn’t this thinking years ago.”

“There is good will on both sides & a really good chance for success. The U.S. has secured the Oil, & the ISIS Fighters are double secured by Kurds & Turkey.”

He added, “I have just been notified that some European Nations are now willing, for the first time, to take the ISIS Fighters that came from their nations. This is good news, but should have been done after WE captured them. Anyway, big progress being made!!!!”

Responding to the claims that Turkey had violated the truce, Mr. Erdogan told a reporter after leaving Friday prayers at a mosque in Istanbul: “I do not know where you get your information from. Conflict is out of the question.”

In a speech later on Friday, Mr. Erdogan said Turkish forces had stopped fighting and would begin again only if Kurdish troops had not retreated by Tuesday night from Kurdish-run areas in northern Syria that have been occupied by Turkish forces in the past week.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 18

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed Closing U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Kurds Reported to Be Pulling Out of Syria ‘Safe Zone’ as Fighting Eases United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Ras al-Ain (Syria) Pence, Mike Kurds Defense and Military Forces

Fighting continues between

Turkish-backed militias

and Kurdish-led forces.

Turkish proxies

are in the western

countryside.

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al-Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-600 Kurds Reported to Be Pulling Out of Syria ‘Safe Zone’ as Fighting Eases United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Ras al-Ain (Syria) Pence, Mike Kurds Defense and Military Forces

Fighting continues between

Turkish-backed militias

and Kurdish-led forces.

Turkish proxies

are in the western

countryside.

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al-Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-335 Kurds Reported to Be Pulling Out of Syria ‘Safe Zone’ as Fighting Eases United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Ras al-Ain (Syria) Pence, Mike Kurds Defense and Military Forces

Fighting continues between

Turkish-backed militias

and Kurdish-led forces.

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al-Ain

KURDISH

Control

Gov’t

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer

zone

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Sources: Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

On Thursday, Mr. Trump described the deal during a speech in Dallas as “an incredible outcome,” and wrote on Twitter that it was “great for everyone!”

But the lapse in the cease-fire represents a further failure for Mr. Trump, who had pressed Mr. Erdogan not to invade Syria in the first place, in a private letter sent to the Turkish president on the day the invasion began.

“Don’t be a tough guy,” Mr. Trump wrote, in a letter characterized by informal language rarely seen in diplomatic communications.

Mr. Erdogan responded publicly to the letter for the first time on Friday, saying that his country “cannot forget” the harshly worded letter since it was “not in harmony with political and diplomatic niceties.”

“We do not consider it as a current issue and a priority,” Mr. Erdogan added, however. “We also want it to be known that, when the time comes, the necessary response will be taken.’’

Responding to the delayed cease-fire, a White House spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told Fox News that such conflicts “take time” to wind down and that the agreement remained a success.

Gunfire continued to be heard in Ras al-Ain midafternoon by members of a civilian convoy attempting to reach the city, according to Robin Fleming, an American researcher traveling with the convoy.

Watching the town from a nearby hilltop shortly before 1 p.m., Ms. Fleming said she could see smoke rising from the town and hear gunshots, but no artillery.

The convoy ultimately turned back before reaching the town because of fears of attack by Turkish-led Arab militias.

Turkish-led forces also prevented a convoy of international aid workers from gaining access to Ras al-Ain to treat people wounded in the fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an independent war monitor based in Britain.

Ras al-Ain has been the site of the fiercest clashes since Turkish troops invaded Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria early last week.

On Friday, Kurdish health officials said they were investigating whether six civilians in the town had been hit by chemical weapons during Turkish airstrikes. Photographs shared by the Kurdish Red Crescent, a medical charity working in the area, showed at least two children with burns on their faces.

Mr. Erdogan denied the claim and said the Turkish Army had no chemical weapons in its inventory. He accused the Kurdish militia, the Y.P.G., of sowing disinformation also about civilian casualties and accusation of war crimes committed by Turkish-backed Syrian forces.

But Amnesty International, a global rights watchdog, accused the Turkish military and Arab militias fighting under its command of carrying out “serious violations and war crimes, including summary killings and unlawful attacks that have killed and injured civilians.”

In a statement, Amnesty’s secretary general, Kumi Naidoo, added: “Turkish military forces and their allies have displayed an utterly callous disregard for civilian lives, launching unlawful deadly attacks in residential areas that have killed and injured civilians.”

At least 218 civilians in northern Syria have died since the invasion began, according to the Kurdish authorities. A further 20 have been killed in Turkey by Kurdish mortar attacks, Mr. Erdogan said.

Turkey wants to force out the Syrian Kurdish militia that has used the chaos of the conflict to establish an autonomous region across roughly a quarter of Syrian territory. The militia is an offshoot of a guerrilla group that has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey. The Turks view the group as a terrorist organization.

Since 2014, the group had operated under the protection of the United States military, which partnered with the Kurdish fighters to help sweep the Islamic State from the region and, in the process, allowed the Kurdish militia to control most of the land lining the Turkish-Syrian border.

But after Mr. Trump abruptly ordered the withdrawal of United States troops from the border this month, ending their protection of the Kurdish fighters, Turkish forces invaded with the aim of establishing a Turkish-friendly zone, roughly 20 miles deep, along the border.

By Friday, the Turkish troops had captured around 850 square miles of Syrian territory, Mr. Erdogan said in his speech.

The deal announced on Thursday by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo effectively gave American assent to Turkish territorial ambitions in part of the area, handing Turkey a huge diplomatic victory and completing the sudden reversal of a central plank of American policy in the Middle East.

It was sealed without the involvement of the Syrian or Russian governments, to whom the Kurdish authorities turned for protection after the American evacuation and the onslaught of Turkish-led forces.

On Friday, Mr. Erdogan said he would discuss the future of the rest of northeastern Syria with Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at a meeting in Sochi on Tuesday.

“Our aim is to reach a reconciliation with Russia about those matters that are reasonable and acceptable to everyone,” Mr. Erdogan said.

Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon and Lara Jakes from Jerusalem.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

In ‘Cave-In,’ Trump Cease-Fire Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria

WASHINGTON — The cease-fire agreement reached with Turkey by Vice President Mike Pence amounts to a near-total victory for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who gains territory, pays little in penalties and appears to have outmaneuvered President Trump.

The best that can be said for the agreement is that it may stop the killing in the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria. But the cost for Kurds, longtime American allies in the fight against the Islamic State, is severe: Even Pentagon officials were mystified about where tens of thousands of displaced Kurds would go, as they moved south from the Turkey-Syria border as required by the deal — if they agree to go at all.

And the cost to American influence, while hard to quantify, could be frightfully high.

Video

Westlake Legal Group Syria-refugee-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 In ‘Cave-In,’ Trump Cease-Fire Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Syria State Department Putin, Vladimir V Pompeo, Mike Assad, Bashar al- ANKARA, Turkey

Since Turkish forces attacked Kurdish-controlled territory in northeast Syria, almost two thousand refugees have fled the country. We spoke with some of them in Bardarash refugee camp, across the border in Iraq.CreditCreditYousur Al-Hlou/The New York Times

In the 11 days between Mr. Trump’s fateful phone call with Mr. Erdogan and the trip to Ankara by Mr. Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday, the United States has ceded ground in Syria — including American bases — to the Russian-backed Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad. And it has shaken the faith of American allies that, in a time of stress, Washington will have their back.

“This just looks like a complete cave-in by the United States to everything the Turks demanded,” said Eric S. Edelman, a former ambassador to Turkey and a senior Defense Department official in the George W. Bush administration. “I don’t see what the Turks gave up.”

In fact, if the sanctions imposed against Turkey by the Trump administration are lifted, as Mr. Pence said they now would be, the Turkish leader would pay a far lower price than Russia did for its annexation of Crimea in 2014. The sanctions imposed on Moscow then are still in place.

But there are other winners in addition to Mr. Erdogan, who has routed the Kurdish groups he views as terrorists who were living in an American protectorate.

Chief among them is President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who gains vast influence in a strategic corner of the Middle East where, until 2015, he had almost none. Now, he is a player, and already is filling the territorial and political vacuum that Mr. Trump left after he agreed to get out of the way of the Turkish invasion of Syria, which a small contingent of American Special Operations forces were there to prevent by their very presence.

Iran was also a winner. It has long used Syria as a route to send missiles to Hezbollah and flex its muscles across the region. That, in many ways, is the most perplexing part of the president’s decision to withdraw, because it runs so counter to his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran’s clerical leaders and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

And Mr. Assad, who was barely clinging to power after the Arab Spring in 2011, and whose military facilities Mr. Trump bombed in the opening months of his presidency in 2017, has a new lease on life. The Americans are gone from the one corner of his country they once occupied.

Mr. Trump has a different view — no surprise, given the bipartisan critique of his failure to stop Mr. Erdogan during their phone conversation, or threaten sanctions before the invasion, rather than after the facts had changed on the ground.

“I’m happy to report tremendous success with respect to Turkey,” Mr. Trump told reporters after his vice president and secretary of state announced the deal. “This is an amazing outcome. This is an outcome, regardless of how the press would like to damp it down, this was something they were trying to get for 10 years.”

Mr. Trump’s joy may reflect a very different worldview than that of his military, his diplomats or the Republican leaders who say he has damaged America’s reputation and influence. While his party, and Democrats, accused him of betraying allies and aiding Russia, Mr. Trump insisted he was simply making good on a campaign promise to bring troops home from “endless wars.”

On Wednesday, as Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo were flying to Ankara, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was challenging the president on whether there was any strategic logic to his withdrawal from Syria — especially if it resulted in freeing detained ISIS fighters who might now attack in the region or on the United States.

On Thursday, recounting her heated discussion with the president at the White House the previous day, she said she asked him how his strategy fit with his announcement last Friday that nearly 3,000 more troops were being deployed to Saudi Arabia. The president responded that the Saudis were paying the cost of that deployment — suggesting that Mr. Trump was happy to commit troops to the highest bidder among American allies, rather than make an independent judgment about their strategic importance.

Republicans also challenged the agreement reached in Ankara.

“The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said on the Senate floor Thursday. “Given the initial details of the cease-fire agreement, the administration must also explain what America’s future role will be in the region, what happens now to the Kurds and why Turkey will face no apparent consequences.”

And Mr. Romney noted, “The cease-fire does not change the fact that America has abandoned an ally.”

At the Pentagon on Thursday afternoon, senior officials scrambled to understand how they were supposed to carry out the agreement Mr. Pence and Mr. Erdogan had negotiated.

Several civilian and military officials complained that the broadly worded deal left large policy and logistical gaps to fill, with many questions about how to carry out commitments by the two sides that appeared to contradict the fast-moving situation on the ground.

With the withdrawal of about 1,000 Americans already underway, the officials asked, how would those departing forces conduct counterterrorism operations with the Turkish military, as Mr. Pence insisted they would? Would the Syrian Kurds fully comply with a pullback agreement they had little say in drafting, and in which they were the clear losers?

Their questions did not stop there. How large and how deep is the buffer area inside Syria that was supposed to give Turkey a safe zone between its border and the Kurdish fighters? The original safe zone that the United States and Turkey envisioned was 75 miles long and roughly 20 miles deep. But it was upended by Mr. Trump’s acquiescence to the invasion, and now Turkish forces have pushed beyond that.

And what about Mr. Assad’s forces and their Russian allies — to whom the abandoned Syrian Kurds reached out to after the American abandoned them?

It also remains unknown whether Turkey will be required to withdraw all or some of its forces sent across a sovereign border into Syria. (One official said a reason Turkey agreed to the deal on Thursday is because the Kurds have put up more resistance, and Turkish forces could not advance south any farther as a result.)

Several Pentagon and State Department officials and military officers who have worked on Syria policy or deployed to the country’s northwest expressed shock, outrage and disbelief at the administration’s second major capitulation to Mr. Erdogan in less than two weeks.

These officials said Mr. Erdogan was the big winner, and appeared to have gotten everything he wanted.

Military officials said they were stunned that the agreement essentially allowed Turkey to annex a portion of Syria, displace tens of thousands of Kurdish residents and wipe away years of counterterrorism gains against the Islamic State.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

In ‘Cave-In,’ Trump Cease-Fire Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria

WASHINGTON — The cease-fire agreement reached with Turkey by Vice President Mike Pence amounts to a near-total victory for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who gains territory, pays little in penalties and appears to have outmaneuvered President Trump.

The best that can be said for the agreement is that it may stop the killing in the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria. But the cost for Kurds, longtime American allies in the fight against the Islamic State, is severe: Even Pentagon officials were mystified about where tens of thousands of displaced Kurds would go, as they moved south from the Turkey-Syria border as required by the deal — if they agree to go at all.

And the cost to American influence, while hard to quantify, could be frightfully high.

Video

Westlake Legal Group Syria-refugee-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 In ‘Cave-In,’ Trump Cease-Fire Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Syria State Department Putin, Vladimir V Pompeo, Mike Assad, Bashar al- ANKARA, Turkey

Since Turkish forces attacked Kurdish-controlled territory in northeast Syria, almost two thousand refugees have fled the country. We spoke with some of them in Bardarash refugee camp, across the border in Iraq.CreditCreditYousur Al-Hlou/The New York Times

In the 11 days between Mr. Trump’s fateful phone call with Mr. Erdogan and the trip to Ankara by Mr. Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday, the United States has ceded ground in Syria — including American bases — to the Russian-backed Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad. And it has shaken the faith of American allies that, in a time of stress, Washington will have their back.

“This just looks like a complete cave-in by the United States to everything the Turks demanded,” said Eric S. Edelman, a former ambassador to Turkey and a senior Defense Department official in the George W. Bush administration. “I don’t see what the Turks gave up.”

In fact, if the sanctions imposed against Turkey by the Trump administration are lifted, as Mr. Pence said they now would be, the Turkish leader would pay a far lower price than Russia did for its annexation of Crimea in 2014. The sanctions imposed on Moscow then are still in place.

But there are other winners in addition to Mr. Erdogan, who has routed the Kurdish groups he views as terrorists who were living in an American protectorate.

Chief among them is President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who gains vast influence in a strategic corner of the Middle East where, until 2015, he had almost none. Now, he is a player, and already is filling the territorial and political vacuum that Mr. Trump left after he agreed to get out of the way of the Turkish invasion of Syria, which a small contingent of American Special Operations forces were there to prevent by their very presence.

Iran was also a winner. It has long used Syria as a route to send missiles to Hezbollah and flex its muscles across the region. That, in many ways, is the most perplexing part of the president’s decision to withdraw, because it runs so counter to his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran’s clerical leaders and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

And Mr. Assad, who was barely clinging to power after the Arab Spring in 2011, and whose military facilities Mr. Trump bombed in the opening months of his presidency in 2017, has a new lease on life. The Americans are gone from the one corner of his country they once occupied.

Mr. Trump has a different view — no surprise, given the bipartisan critique of his failure to stop Mr. Erdogan during their phone conversation, or threaten sanctions before the invasion, rather than after the facts had changed on the ground.

“I’m happy to report tremendous success with respect to Turkey,” Mr. Trump told reporters after his vice president and secretary of state announced the deal. “This is an amazing outcome. This is an outcome, regardless of how the press would like to damp it down, this was something they were trying to get for 10 years.”

Mr. Trump’s joy may reflect a very different worldview than that of his military, his diplomats or the Republican leaders who say he has damaged America’s reputation and influence. While his party, and Democrats, accused him of betraying allies and aiding Russia, Mr. Trump insisted he was simply making good on a campaign promise to bring troops home from “endless wars.”

On Wednesday, as Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo were flying to Ankara, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was challenging the president on whether there was any strategic logic to his withdrawal from Syria — especially if it resulted in freeing detained ISIS fighters who might now attack in the region or on the United States.

On Thursday, recounting her heated discussion with the president at the White House the previous day, she said she asked him how his strategy fit with his announcement last Friday that nearly 3,000 more troops were being deployed to Saudi Arabia. The president responded that the Saudis were paying the cost of that deployment — suggesting that Mr. Trump was happy to commit troops to the highest bidder among American allies, rather than make an independent judgment about their strategic importance.

Republicans also challenged the agreement reached in Ankara.

“The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said on the Senate floor Thursday. “Given the initial details of the cease-fire agreement, the administration must also explain what America’s future role will be in the region, what happens now to the Kurds and why Turkey will face no apparent consequences.”

And Mr. Romney noted, “The cease-fire does not change the fact that America has abandoned an ally.”

At the Pentagon on Thursday afternoon, senior officials scrambled to understand how they were supposed to carry out the agreement Mr. Pence and Mr. Erdogan had negotiated.

Several civilian and military officials complained that the broadly worded deal left large policy and logistical gaps to fill, with many questions about how to carry out commitments by the two sides that appeared to contradict the fast-moving situation on the ground.

With the withdrawal of about 1,000 Americans already underway, the officials asked, how would those departing forces conduct counterterrorism operations with the Turkish military, as Mr. Pence insisted they would? Would the Syrian Kurds fully comply with a pullback agreement they had little say in drafting, and in which they were the clear losers?

Their questions did not stop there. How large and how deep is the buffer area inside Syria that was supposed to give Turkey a safe zone between its border and the Kurdish fighters? The original safe zone that the United States and Turkey envisioned was 75 miles long and roughly 20 miles deep. But it was upended by Mr. Trump’s acquiescence to the invasion, and now Turkish forces have pushed beyond that.

And what about Mr. Assad’s forces and their Russian allies — to whom the abandoned Syrian Kurds reached out to after the American abandoned them?

It also remains unknown whether Turkey will be required to withdraw all or some of its forces sent across a sovereign border into Syria. (One official said a reason Turkey agreed to the deal on Thursday is because the Kurds have put up more resistance, and Turkish forces could not advance south any farther as a result.)

Several Pentagon and State Department officials and military officers who have worked on Syria policy or deployed to the country’s northwest expressed shock, outrage and disbelief at the administration’s second major capitulation to Mr. Erdogan in less than two weeks.

These officials said Mr. Erdogan was the big winner, and appeared to have gotten everything he wanted.

Military officials said they were stunned that the agreement essentially allowed Turkey to annex a portion of Syria, displace tens of thousands of Kurdish residents and wipe away years of counterterrorism gains against the Islamic State.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

In Bipartisan Rebuke, House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal

WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday dealt a stinging bipartisan rebuke to President Trump for his decision to withdraw American forces just inside Syria’s border, registering overwhelming opposition in Congress to a move that has thrown the region into bloody chaos and unraveled Middle East policy.

In a rare break with a president they are normally unwilling to criticize, two-thirds of House Republicans, including all of the party’s elected leaders, joined Democrats in approving a resolution that opposed Mr. Trump’s acquiescence to the Turkish assault against the Kurds, who have been crucial American allies in the fight against the Islamic State. The measure passed, 354 to 60, in the most significant bipartisan repudiation of Mr. Trump since he took office.

It enraged the president, who lashed out at Democratic congressional leaders at the White House shortly afterward at a meeting called to discuss the incursion, which devolved into a bitter confrontation in which he hurled insults at Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she pointedly mentioned the devastating vote tally.

“He was shaken up by it,” Ms. Pelosi said of the resounding support, including by Republicans, for the resolution.

The vote unfolded only hours before Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were to travel to Ankara, Turkey, to call for a cease-fire in a battle the president appears to have greenlit.

“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,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who introduced the measure. “Today we make clear that the Congress is a coequal branch of government and we want nothing to do with this disastrous policy.”

The measure, which was largely symbolic, upbraided the withdrawal as “beneficial to adversaries of the United States government” including Russia, Syria and Iran, and called on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to immediately end unilateral military action in northern Syria. A companion measure in the Senate, sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, was introduced on Tuesday.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge In Bipartisan Rebuke, House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal Van Hollen, Christopher Jr United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Paul, Rand Kurds Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Cheney, Liz

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Even as Mr. Trump defended his decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria, telling reporters at the White House that the battle there had “nothing to do with us,” Republicans and Democrats lined up on the House floor to denounce his action.

“Because of this decision and inaction that led up to this decision, we have let our friends down, we have hurt our national security and we have ceded leadership in the region to Russia and Iran,” said Representative Will Hurd, Republican of Texas and a former C.I.A. officer who is retiring. “I hope we can change our course, but I fear it may be too late.”

The resolution drew support from 129 Republicans including all three of the party’s House leaders, while 60 opposed it and three — Representatives Chip Roy of Texas, Jody B. Hice of Georgia and Bob Gibbs of Ohio — voted present. Representative Justin Amash, independent of Michigan, also voted present.

The resolution was not the first bipartisan rebuke by Congress of Mr. Trump’s mercurial approach to foreign policy. The president’s allies on Capitol Hill have shown they are most comfortable criticizing him on matters of international affairs, and have previously joined Democrats to denounce his administration’s unflagging support of Saudi Arabia after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist. And they declared their disapproval this year of attempts to withdraw American forces from Syria in a bipartisan effort led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.

But Mr. Trump’s decision last week to essentially clear the way for a Turkish military operation against America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria has provoked the strongest response yet from Republicans, including many of the president’s most reliable allies.

Mr. McConnell opened his weekly news conference on Wednesday by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” and added, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

After Mr. Trump said Wednesday that Turkey’s invasion into Syria had nothing to do with us” and that the Kurds “are no angels,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, called it “an astonishing statement which I completely and totally reject.”

Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, wrote on Twitter that it is “Impossible to understand why @realDonaldTrump is leaving America’s allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS.”

Hawkish lawmakers like Ms. Cheney and Mr. Graham, as well as Democratic leaders in the House, are preparing additional legislative action to punish the Turks’ incursion. Mr. Graham introduced a sanctions package with Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, last week, that would impose harsher sanctions on Turkey than the White House has enacted, including the prohibition of American military assistance and the freezing of the American assets of Mr. Erdogan and other Turkish leaders.

Westlake Legal Group syria-turkey-promo-1571094797315-articleLarge-v3 In Bipartisan Rebuke, House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal Van Hollen, Christopher Jr United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Paul, Rand Kurds Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Cheney, Liz

4 Big Questions About Syria’s Future

The surprise American withdrawal from parts of northern Syria reshuffled old alliances and touched off a new stage of the eight-year war.

A small handful of libertarian-minded Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, have defended Mr. Trump’s decision as being consistent with the president’s campaign promise to end America’s intractable military conflicts.

“If we can save one American soldier from losing their life or limbs in another senseless middle eastern war, it is worthwhile,” Mr. Paul wrote on Twitter. “@realDonaldTrump knows this.”

It is unclear exactly how far congressional Republicans will go in their objections to Mr. Trump’s latest decision. Some of the president’s defenders who immediately vented their ire at the Syria withdrawal, including Mr. Graham, have since cooled their tone.

Mr. Graham, for example, released a long statement on Monday after meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House and joining a call with Mr. Erdogan.

“The president’s team has a plan and I intend to support them as strongly as possible, and to give them reasonable time and space to achieve our mutual goals,” Mr. Graham said.

Representative Michael Waltz, Republican of Florida, who had sharply criticized the withdrawal, emerged from a meeting with the White House on Tuesday sounding reassured.

“It was useful to see a lot of the promises that Erdogan made the president and to understand how forcefully the president, Secretary Esper, told the Turks across the board not to do this,” Mr. Waltz said in a brief interview, referring to Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper. Mr. Waltz added that the White House was “livid” with Mr. Erdogan.

Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo are to meet on Thursday with the Turkish president to relay Mr. Trump’s demand that Mr. Erdogan negotiate a cease-fire, and to reiterate the president’s threat to impose economic sanctions if he does not.

Mr. Trump is also set to meet with Mr. Erdogan in November at the White House. But lawmakers on Wednesday called for the president to cancel the talks.

“Erdogan’s attack on our Kurdish partners has served to liberate ISIS prisoners, bolster the Assad regime, and strengthen Russia,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee. “His invitation to the White House should be revoked.”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

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Turkish army AND

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Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

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opposition

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Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-600 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

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Russian troops are

positioned outside

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KURDISH

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Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

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opposition

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Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-335 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

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Sources: Times reporting; Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-600 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-335 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

KURDISH

Control

Gov’t

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer

zone

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-600 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-335 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

KURDISH

Control

Gov’t

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer

zone

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-600 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-335 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

KURDISH

Control

Gov’t

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer

zone

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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Bipartisan House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal

WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday dealt a stinging bipartisan rebuke to President Trump for his decision to withdraw American forces just inside Syria’s border, registering overwhelming opposition in Congress to a move that has thrown the region into bloody chaos and unraveled Middle East policy.

In a rare break with a president they are normally unwilling to criticize, two-thirds of House Republicans, including all of the party’s elected leaders, joined Democrats in approving a resolution that opposed Mr. Trump’s acquiescence to the Turkish assault against the Kurds, who have been crucial American allies in the fight against the Islamic State. The measure passed, 354 to 60, in the most significant bipartisan repudiation of Mr. Trump since he took office.

It enraged the president, who lashed out at Democratic congressional leaders at the White House shortly afterward at a meeting called to discuss the incursion, which devolved into a bitter confrontation in which he hurled insults at Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she pointedly mentioned the devastating vote tally.

“He was shaken up by it,” Ms. Pelosi said of the resounding support, including by Republicans, for the resolution.

The vote unfolded only hours before Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were to travel to Ankara, Turkey, to call for a cease-fire in a battle the president appears to have greenlit.

“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,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who introduced the measure. “Today we make clear that the Congress is a coequal branch of government and we want nothing to do with this disastrous policy.”

The measure, which was largely symbolic, upbraided the withdrawal as “beneficial to adversaries of the United States government” including Russia, Syria and Iran, and called on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to immediately end unilateral military action in northern Syria. A companion measure in the Senate, sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, was introduced on Tuesday.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Bipartisan House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal Van Hollen, Christopher Jr United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Paul, Rand Kurds Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Cheney, Liz

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Even as Mr. Trump defended his decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria, telling reporters at the White House that the battle there had “nothing to do with us,” Republicans and Democrats lined up on the House floor to denounce his action.

“Because of this decision and inaction that led up to this decision, we have let our friends down, we have hurt our national security and we have ceded leadership in the region to Russia and Iran,” said Representative Will Hurd, Republican of Texas and a former C.I.A. officer who is retiring. “I hope we can change our course, but I fear it may be too late.”

The resolution drew support from 129 Republicans including all three of the party’s House leaders, while 60 opposed it and three — Representatives Chip Roy of Texas, Jody B. Hice of Georgia and Bob Gibbs of Ohio — voted present. Representative Justin Amash, independent of Michigan, also voted present.

The resolution was not the first bipartisan rebuke by Congress of Mr. Trump’s mercurial approach to foreign policy. The president’s allies on Capitol Hill have shown they are most comfortable criticizing him on matters of international affairs, and have previously joined Democrats to denounce his administration’s unflagging support of Saudi Arabia after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist. And they declared their disapproval this year of attempts to withdraw American forces from Syria in a bipartisan effort led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.

But Mr. Trump’s decision last week to essentially clear the way for a Turkish military operation against America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria has provoked the strongest response yet from Republicans, including many of the president’s most reliable allies.

Mr. McConnell opened his weekly news conference on Wednesday by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” and added, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

After Mr. Trump said Wednesday that Turkey’s invasion into Syria had nothing to do with us” and that the Kurds “are no angels,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, called it “an astonishing statement which I completely and totally reject.”

Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, wrote on Twitter that it is “Impossible to understand why @realDonaldTrump is leaving America’s allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS.”

Hawkish lawmakers like Ms. Cheney and Mr. Graham, as well as Democratic leaders in the House, are preparing additional legislative action to punish the Turks’ incursion. Mr. Graham introduced a sanctions package with Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, last week, that would impose harsher sanctions on Turkey than the White House has enacted, including the prohibition of American military assistance and the freezing of the American assets of Mr. Erdogan and other Turkish leaders.

Westlake Legal Group syria-turkey-promo-1571094797315-articleLarge-v3 Bipartisan House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal Van Hollen, Christopher Jr United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Paul, Rand Kurds Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Cheney, Liz

4 Big Questions About Syria’s Future

The surprise American withdrawal from parts of northern Syria reshuffled old alliances and touched off a new stage of the eight-year war.

A small handful of libertarian-minded Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, have defended Mr. Trump’s decision as being consistent with the president’s campaign promise to end America’s intractable military conflicts.

“If we can save one American soldier from losing their life or limbs in another senseless middle eastern war, it is worthwhile,” Mr. Paul wrote on Twitter. “@realDonaldTrump knows this.”

It is unclear exactly how far congressional Republicans will go in their objections to Mr. Trump’s latest decision. Some of the president’s defenders who immediately vented their ire at the Syria withdrawal, including Mr. Graham, have since cooled their tone.

Mr. Graham, for example, released a long statement on Monday after meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House and joining a call with Mr. Erdogan.

“The president’s team has a plan and I intend to support them as strongly as possible, and to give them reasonable time and space to achieve our mutual goals,” Mr. Graham said.

Representative Michael Waltz, Republican of Florida, who had sharply criticized the withdrawal, emerged from a meeting with the White House on Tuesday sounding reassured.

“It was useful to see a lot of the promises that Erdogan made the president and to understand how forcefully the president, Secretary Esper, told the Turks across the board not to do this,” Mr. Waltz said in a brief interview, referring to Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper. Mr. Waltz added that the White House was “livid” with Mr. Erdogan.

Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo are to meet on Thursday with the Turkish president to relay Mr. Trump’s demand that Mr. Erdogan negotiate a cease-fire, and to reiterate the president’s threat to impose economic sanctions if he does not.

Mr. Trump is also set to meet with Mr. Erdogan in November at the White House. But lawmakers on Wednesday called for the president to cancel the talks.

“Erdogan’s attack on our Kurdish partners has served to liberate ISIS prisoners, bolster the Assad regime, and strengthen Russia,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee. “His invitation to the White House should be revoked.”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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