U.S. Withdrawal from Syria Is a Huge Mistake

By Pete Olson –

Out of the blue, our NATO ally Turkey announced a planned invasion into Syria. President Trump responded by announcing plans to withdraw most of our military in Syria. Since elements of the almost-defeated ISIS in Syria may reemerge and threaten peace with a U.S. pullout, President Trump’s proposal was met with quick, bipartisan opposition in Congress. I joined other military members of Congress to inform the president that this action is ill-advised and threatens to do more harm than good. It is already forcing the Kurds, our most dedicated partners in our fight against ISIS, to approach the Russians to help them survive the Turkish invasion. A new ISIS in Syria threatens Israel and the strategic interests of the United States in ensuring our own national security.

Only five years ago, a weak Obama Administration watched as a resurgent ISIS held major cities throughout Iraq and Syria. Their obliteration and drastic loss of territory in the first two years of Trump’s presidency was no accident – it was made possible by U.S. military might in the region and our strategic partnership with Kurdish soldiers.

Now, it might all be for naught.

Turkish President Erdogan responded to our withdrawal with air strikes and ground movements in Syria, claiming that the military operation was to establish a “safe zone” without Kurdish militias or refugees. Innocent civilians have already been caught and killed in the crossfire, and our Kurdish allies have begged the U.S. to establish a “No-Fly Zone” to stop more people from getting hurt.

This military drawdown would not only impact the Syrian region; it would cause a ripple effect, impacting our relationships with allies across the globe – including our staunch ally Israel. ISIS would like nothing more than seeing America and Israel wiped off the map. Reducing our presence in Syria is critically needed to ensure that ISIS is never given an opportunity to rebuild.

It may seem like Syria is a distant country with no ties to America. Why should we risk the safety of our military in a country half-a-world away? But we do have a vested interest in keeping ISIS and terrorism away from our shores. Syria is a pressure-cooker of terror, a fragile region that breeds terrorist plots seeking to kill Americans both on our soil and abroad. On a global scale, we must also remember the importance of supporting our allies who have stood with us in the fight against ISIS and terrorism. Withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran and the Assad regime.

It is my hope that President Trump will reconsider this withdrawal and maintain American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS. Dedication to freedom, loyalty to our strategic allies and a faithfulness to our commitments are American ideals that have defined our diplomacy around the world since our founding. Now is not the time to stop.

Pete Olson is a former Navy pilot. He represents the 22nd District of Texas in the United States House of Representatives. The views and opinions expressed in Op-Ed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Fort Bend CEO. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of  their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.