Senate GOP Rebukes Trump Over Syria, Afghanistan Withdrawals

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Rubio then warned the troop withdrawal will come back to haunt the US.

The Republican-led U.S. Senate approved a mainly symbolic bill opposing plans to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan in a rare rebuke of President Donald Trump.

The move was a rare showing of opposition from Republican senators who consistently side with the president, revealing a possible breaking point for Senate Republicans who view some of the president's foreign policy approaches as unsafe.

To express the sense of the Senate that the United States faces continuing threats from terrorist groups operating in Syria and Afghanistan and that the precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from either country could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security. The resolution was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is often in the president's corner. On this measure, McConnell is acting out of a seeming, genuine conviction to keep the United States in Syria and Afghanistan.

"I think the president is slowing down in Syria and he is taking the opportunity to see if we can get a new structure in Afghanistan, if we can get a peace agreement", Senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, told Al Jazeera.

The potential impact of Thursday's vote was similarly uncertain, since the amendment McConnell offered was non-binding and there has been no indication of when, if ever, the broader Middle East security bill would come up for a House vote.

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The amendment asks the administration to show lawmakers that "conditions have been met for the enduring defeat of al-Qaida and ISIS" before starting any troop withdrawals - a definition that struck about half the Democratic caucus as too nebulous and far-reaching to support.

"I guess some Senate Democrats don't want to vote on these important subjects, ' said McConnell of Kentucky".

A growing number of Republicans are openly scoffing at President Donald Trump's handling of national security issues, with the Senate's number two Republican bashing Trump's criticism on Wednesday of the heads of the United States intelligence community ahead of a vote on a measure disapproving Trump's Middle East policy.

Just because Trump is bungling Syria policy doesn't mean Democrats should endorse endless war, nor this amendment which asserts American forces are in Syria to fight Iran.

"We are on a deliberate, coordinated, disciplined withdrawal", Shanahan said Tuesday in his first formal engagement with media as acting defense secretary.

On Friday morning, the president doubled down on his position, tweeting, "It is now time to start coming home and, after many years, spending our money wisely". "The way in which the president announced his Syria withdrawal, with no plan, without consultation with Congress or our allies or consideration of the implications for our partners is not in our interests". "This amendment in no way authorizes US forces to remain in Syria or Afghanistan permanently, nor does it alter the existing authorizations in place since 2001". McConnell also used his floor comments Thursday to reaffirm the USA commitment to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which Trump has also threatened to abandon.

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