Recap Of Chairman Lynch Hearing On Trump Administration’s Syria Policy

Oct 30, 2019 Issues: Committee on Oversight and Reform, National Security

Washington, D.C. — Last week, Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, held a hearing entitled, “The Trump Administration’s Syria Policy: Perspectives from the Field”, which focused on President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. military forces from Syria.

TAKEAWAYS

  • Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) Co-President Ilham Ahmed testified that although the Syrian Kurds never expected the United States to fight on their behalf, they trusted the United States to prevent Turkish attacks against them in northern Syria.  They were further “shocked” and “puzzled” when President Trump told them that the U.S. would not close the airspace above northern Syria, following his October 6th call with Turkish President Erdogan.
  • Former Special Forces Officer Marty Palmer testified about the trust and mutual respect that he developed with his Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) counterparts on the battlefield to defeat ISIS: “The SDF stood shoulder to shoulder with us and fought courageously and effectively time and time again; their loyalty and dedication to the cause was pervasive in every operation.  I will always value the relationship my team had with the SDF and will never forget the sacrifice they made for the cause of defeating the Islamic State.” 
  • Bernice Romero, Senior Director for International Humanitarian Response, testified about the massive humanitarian displacements caused by Turkey’s incursion into northeast Syria explaining that “children have been killed and injured  … health facilities and schools have been attacked and other services have been shut down.”  She also spoke about the urgent need to repatriate the foreign children of ISIS fighters from the al-Hol internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in northeast Syria.
  • Emerita Torres, Director of Research and Programs at the Soufan Center, testified that President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria was a “gift to ISIS.”  ISIS is now mocking the SDF on social media, calling them an “abandoned American ally.” She further described President Trump’s “policy reversal in Syria” as a “foreign policy disaster,” and that “Russia has carefully inserted itself overtime into the Syria conflict and is now in the position to serve as the powerbroker among Syria, Turkey, the Kurds and Iran.”  
  • According to Minority witness John Glaser, Director of Foreign Policy Studies at the CATO Institute, “the manner at [sic] which the Administration initiated this withdrawal was clumsy and injected unnecessary risk and instability.” He continued, “the President ordered this change in policy completely outside of the interagency process and that makes for a messy implementation.”

WITNESSES

Bernice RomeroSenior Director, International Humanitarian Response - Save the Children

Ilham Ahmed, Accompanied by TranslatorCo-President - Syrian Democratic Council

Martin PalmerFormer Special Forces Officer - 5th Special Forces Group

Emerita TorresDirector of Programs and Research - Soufan Center

John GlaserDirector of Foreign Policy Studies - The Cato Institute