President Donald Trump received harsh bipartisan criticism following his decision to move a small number of U.S. military personnel out of an area in northeastern Syria ahead of an imminent invasion by NATO ally Turkey against that nation’s longtime Kurdish rivals, who are also American allies due to their assistance in the fight against the Islamic State “caliphate.”
The opposition was more than just hyperbole, however. A massive bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives — including a majority of Republicans — just voted in favor of a resolution condemning the president’s shifting of U.S. troop positions in northern Syria, according to Newsweek.
House condemns Trump’s actions
Newsweek reported that 129 House Republicans broke ranks and crossed party lines to vote alongside every single House Democrat for the official rebuke of the troop withdrawal from the area targeted by Turkey.
The resolution, known as H.J. Res. 77, essentially spelled out congressional opposition to the manner in which the Trump administration handled the ongoing events in northeastern Syria as the two sides considered to be U.S. allies waged war against each other — something the Turks and Kurds have done for hundreds of years.
The biggest complaint from Congress appeared to be that President Trump had allegedly abandoned the Kurdish allies to be decimated by Turkey, which could result in a resurgence of the Islamic State in the restive region.
Ultimately passing with a vote of 345–60, the measure’s 60 “No” votes all came from Republicans. That left 129 Republicans voting “Yes” on the condemnation, a number that included most members of the House Republican leadership.
White House meeting on Syria unravels
That vote was held just a short time prior to a meeting in the White House Wednesday afternoon involving President Trump, administration officials and congressional leaders to discuss the ongoing situation in northern Syria.
That meeting reportedly devolved into chaos fairly quickly, however, as insults were traded back-and-forth and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, got up and stormed out of the room before the meeting had concluded.
Pelosi and Trump accused each other of having a “meltdown” during the meeting, and it is unclear if any substantive progress was made in the attempt to get everyone on the same page with regard to what was happening and how the nation could best respond.
Trump had already authorized a package of severe economic sanctions against Turkey in response to the invasion and alleged atrocities committed against the Syrian Kurds, and Congress was discussing the possible imposition of a separate, arguably even stronger package of sanctions to be imposed on top of those previously announced by the White House.
Senate could soon follow suit
Newsweek noted that the Republican-controlled Senate was considering a similar resolution expressing opposition to the situation in Syria, though it was unclear if or when such a resolution would be voted on or whether it would stand a good chance of being passed.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Turkey to meet directly with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and reports indicate that Turkey has now agreed to a five-day ceasefire meant to facilitate the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from the contested area.