“Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade criticized President Donald Trump Monday for withdrawing support for Kurdish fighters and removing troops from northeastern Syria ahead of a Turkish military assault.
“What kind of a message is that to the next ally that wants to side with us?” asked Kilmeade, normally a reliable Trump defender, who explained the Kurds have been loyal American allies. “I hope the president will rethink this.”
Co-host Steve Doocy chimed in to argue that Trump’s move fulfills a campaign promise to end wars in other countries. To that, Kilmeade responded: “Abandon our allies? That’s a campaign promise?”
“All we did is arm them and they did all the work. And now we say, ’Good luck. Good luck surviving,’” said Kilmeade. “Disaster.”
The White House announced on Sunday that Turkey would soon invade northern Syria, putting the Kurdish fighters ― an ethnic group led by the Syrian Democratic Forces who have been longtime allies with the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State group ― on unsure ground.
U.S. troops “will not support or be involved in the operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement after a call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey will take custody of foreign fighters captured in the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State held by American-supported Kurdish forces, Grisham added.
Turkey sees Kurdish forces as a terrorist insurgency, and has long wanted the U.S. to sever ties with the group.
Trump announced in December 2018 that he’d be withdrawing troops from Syria, but relented after fierce criticism. The announcement led Jim Mattis to resign as defense secretary and then-national security adviser John Bolton to take steps attempting to protect the Kurds.
Trump’s new decision to abandon the Kurds has already sparked backlash beyond Fox News. A Syria Kurdish official told NBC that “the Americans are traitors.”
“They have abandoned us to a Turkish massacre. We can no longer fight against ISIS and have to defend ourselves. This could allow ISIS to return to the region,” the official said.
Also on “Fox & Friends,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Trump’s decision compromises America’s promise to allies.
“The thing I believe is if you make a commitment and someone is fighting with you, America should keep its word,” McCarthy said.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) also called into the show to say that Trump’s “impulsive” and “irresponsible” decision to abandon the Kurds has “undone all the gains we’ve made” and “thrown the region into further chaos.”
“If I’m an ISIS fighter, I’ve got a second lease on life,” said Graham, normally one of the president’s most vigorous defenders. “To those who think ISIS has been defeated, you will soon see.”
He added: “I like President Trump. I’ve tried to help him. This to me is just unnerving to its core. To say to the American people, ’ISIS has been destroyed in Syria’ is not true.”
Despite the criticism, Trump doubled down with a series of tweets.
“The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago,” the president wrote. “We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight.”
He went on: “The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. … it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home. WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN.”
He added in another tweet: “We are 7000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!”