Monday, 15 July, 2019

Senate backs McConnell's rebuke of Trump's military drawdown plans in Syria, Afghanistan

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Patty Aguilar | 01 February, 2019, 12:58

Thursday's Senate action marked the second time in two months that the Republican-led Senate has supported a measure going against Trump's foreign policy, although legislation to change his policies has yet to become law. In warning against the withdrawal, the Senate argues with that claim.

President Donald Trump's plans for a timely withdrawal from conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria were opposed in a vote held Thursday by the GOP-controlled Senate. "ISIS and al Qaeda have yet to be defeated and American national security interests require continued commitment to our missions there", McConnell tweeted.

Last month, Trump announced he was withdrawing some 2,000 United States troops from Syria, declaring ISIL had been "defeated".

Trump's public broadsides against the intelligence community ― which follows his denials about the USA intelligence community's assessments regarding the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Russia's intervention in the 2016 presidential election ― irked GOP leadership in the Senate this week.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said after the vote that she believes it's "far past due for the United States to negotiate an appropriate end" to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Sen. Deb Fischer, Nebraska Republican, quickly came out in opposition to the bill, arguing that "calculated ambiguity has always been an element of US nuclear declaratory policy". "If the United States is to avoid endless deployments of ground forces throughout the world, we must continually cultivate reliable partners in the region who are willing - and able - to effectively take the fight to our common enemy on the ground".

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McConnell's amendment specifically names al-Qaida and ISIS as "a global threat, which merits increased worldwide contributions to the counterterrorism, diplomatic and stabilization efforts underway in Syria and Afghanistan".

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a televised address on January 28 that all foreign forces would eventually leave Afghanistan once they were no longer needed.

McConnell poured cold water on House Democrats' proposed H.R. 1 (known as the For The People Act) which contains a slew of reforms, including the Election Day proposal, which was aimed at making it easier for all Americans to be able to vote.

"We've been there for too long and we've got to get out", Sanders said. In recent months, Senate Republicans also have backed bipartisan measures expressing support for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in the face of Trump's criticisms and threats to withdraw from the alliance, and to hold Saudi Arabia's crown prince responsible for the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite Trump having accepted the royal family's denials.

Yet, several leading advocates for a new authorization still supported McConnell's amendment Thursday.

Hayes said everything in the bill would hurt McConnell. The new members of the Senate Armed Services Committee also wrote in a letter to Trump that abandoning allies and doing nothing to prevent their slaughter undermines the global effort to defeat ISIS and jeopardizes the country's honor.

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