Graham demands hearings on Trump plan to withdraw troops from Syria

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhy Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Memo: Toxic 2020 is unavoidable conclusion from Trump tweets GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm MORE (R-S.C.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is calling for hearings on President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE's plans to withdraw troops from Syria and possibly Afghanistan.

“It is imperative Congress hold hearings on withdrawal decision in Syria — and potentially Afghanistan — to understand implications to our national security,” Graham, a foreign policy hawk, said on Twitter. 

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“Especially we must NOW hear from the Pentagon about the likelihood of the rise of ISIS and the fate of our Kurdish allies in Syria,” he added. 

“As to the status of our Kurdish allies, the Administration has yet to tell the American people what happens to the Kurds — who fought so hard for us — when we leave. Is there a plan to protect our allies post withdrawal? Need answers now."

Graham's call comes after the White House on Wednesday said that the U.S. is withdrawing all troops from Syria. The surprise announcement stunned lawmakers and caught Pentagon officials off guard as well. Lawmakers from both parties criticized the decision and the lack of notice given to Congress. 

Graham has been a staunch Trump defender but broke with the president over the Syria decision, saying it would spark “chaos” and likening it to former President Obama’s decision to draw down most U.S. troops in Iraq in 2011. 

“I have no understanding of why we’re doing this. To me it is an ill-conceived idea. The downside is really great and the upside is pretty small,” he said. “This decision, if implemented, I think will be detrimental to our national security interests.”

Trump tweeted that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had been defeated, accomplishing “my only reason for being there.” However, thousands of ISIS fighters reportedly remains active in planning attacks in the desert region straddling Iraq and Syria. 

Graham also criticized the administration after reports Thursday that Trump is considering a troop drawdown from Afghanistan as well. Graham said local forces would be unable to fight back the threat from the Taliban and the ISIS affiliate in the country.

“Like in Syria, troop withdrawal should be based on conditions on the ground. The conditions in Afghanistan — at the present moment — make American troop withdrawals a high risk strategy. If we continue on our present course we are setting in motion the loss of all our gains and paving the way toward a second 9/11,” he said. 

The turmoil over the administration's policies intensified Thursday night when Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Five things to watch for at Defense nominee's confirmation hearing MORE announced his resignation, citing his differing views from the president.

The former four-star Marine Corps general was viewed by many as a stabilizing force in a White House that has staked several unorthodox foreign policy positions.