Graham demands hearings on Trump plan to withdraw troops from Syria

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPence on border wall: Trump won't be ‘deterred’ by Dem ‘obstruction’ AG pick Barr emphasizes independence from Trump Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight MORE (R-S.C.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is calling for hearings on President TrumpDonald John TrumpVeterans groups demand end to shutdown: 'Get your act together' Brown launches tour in four early nominating states amid 2020 consideration Pence on border wall: Trump won't be ‘deterred’ by Dem ‘obstruction’ 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 MattisGOP reasserts NATO support after report on Trump’s wavering Overnight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions Trump suggested withdrawing US from NATO: report 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.