GOP lawmaker: Trump administration 'playing checkers' in Syria while others are 'playing chess'

Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats open televised impeachment hearings Here are the key players to watch at impeachment hearing Hillicon Valley: Schumer questions Army over use of TikTok | Federal court rules against random searches of travelers' phones | Groups push for election security funds in stopgap bill | Facebook's new payment feature | Disney+ launch hit by glitches MORE (R-Texas) on Sunday criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE’s handling of the ongoing situation in Syria, saying the administration is “playing checkers” while others in the region are “playing chess.”

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Hurd said Trump’s decision to pull troops from northern Syria and the ensuing cease-fire arrangement with Turkey look "more like terms of surrender than a peace deal."

ADVERTISEMENT

"Unfortunately, our enemies and our adversaries — like Iran, Russia, Turkey — they're playing chess. And unfortunately, this administration is playing checkers," said the outgoing Republican lawmaker.

Hurd’s comments came after Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFive takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony Pompeo: No US response ruled out in Hong Kong Ousted ambassador describes State Department in 'crisis' in dramatic impeachment testimony MORE struck a deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to secure a cease-fire in northern Syria for five days as U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters leave the region.

Trump drew condemnation from both Republicans and Democrats after he announced the U.S. would withdraw troops from the region, effectively giving the green light to Turkey, a NATO ally, to invade areas held by Kurdish YPG forces. The U.S. has worked closely with the YPG in the fight against ISIS, but Ankara considers the group an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, a designated terror group.

Trump has touted the deal as a success for everyone involved, but Hurd cautioned that Trump’s troop removal will open the possibility of ISIS fighters returning to the area.

"ISIS is going to come back," he said. "We know that there is about 30,000 ISIS fighters that are throughout that region."

Hurd, who announced his retirement from the House earlier this year, lamented Congress’s inability to have Trump reverse course on his decisions regarding Syria.

"It's always easier to compel an administration to stop doing something than it is to begin something," Hurd said. "I think what we could be doing now is bringing in some of the heads of the military, the heads of the intelligence service, the heads of our humanitarian organizations to talk about what are we going to do to prevent ISIS from becoming resurgent."