Sending Office: Honorable Jason Crow
Current signers: Panetta, Gallego Andy Kim, Jim Costa, Craig, Mucarsel-Powell, Malinowski, Cisneros, Scanlon, Porter, and Allred
Please join me in requesting clarification from the White House about how and why the President made the decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the Syrian Turkish border – effectively abandoning our Kurdish partners – and demanding answers on what the administration’s
plans are going forward.
On Monday October 7, 2019, President Trump announced his decision to withdraw U.S. military forces from the Syrian border with Turkey. This decision followed a phone call on October 6 between President Trump and Turkish President Erdogan in which President
Erdogan suggested he intended to conduct unilateral operations in northern Syria.
President Trump’s decision contradicts years of U.S. foreign policy and will leave the Syrian Kurds, who have been essential U.S. allies in the fight against the ISIS Caliphate, incredibly vulnerable to hostile action by the Turkish military.
The President’s decision has drawn broad bipartisan condemnation, contradicts the advice of senior military officers, and follows a troubling pattern of behavior that resulted in top-level administration resignations, including Defense Secretary James Mattis
in December 2018.
President Trump’s decision will have numerous national security implications including:
1. Painting the U.S. as an irresolute partner and making it extremely difficult to gain allies in future conflicts.
2. Risking the security of 11,000 ISIS fighters currently in the custody of our Syrian Democratic Force partners.
3. Potentially precipitating a human rights disaster by opening Kurdish civilians to unchecked military operations and encouraging Turkey to forcefully repatriate as many as two million refugees into Syria – in gross violation of international law on
the treatment of refugees.
4. Significantly degrading the U.S. ability to respond to any eventual resurgence of ISIS forces and future strategic and regional threats in the region.
The United States has both a national security and moral responsibility to maintain a presence in northern Syria and to support our long-time Kurdish SDF allies. This decision represents an abrogation of that responsibility.
I hope you will join me in signing this letter demanding answers from the President. If you would like to sign onto this letter or for more information, please contact Jon Green (firstname.lastname@example.org) or
Justin Meuse (email@example.com) or click
here to add your boss.
October 9, 2019
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Dear President Trump:
We write with great concern over your decision to withdraw U.S. troops in northern Syria in advance of a Turkish operation into area controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
We believe your decision to withdraw U.S. personnel from the area will have far-reaching diplomatic and national security implications: it will dramatically alter our partnership with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), allow unilateral Turkish incursions
into Syria, and jeopardize counter-ISIS efforts. Furthermore, it introduces uncertainty into U.S. foreign policy that will cause current and future allies to question the reliability of the U.S. as a partner.
On Monday October 7, in response to bipartisan criticism, you posted a statement on your Twitter account that read: “…[i]f Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the
Economy of Turkey[…]” This chain of events, including the announcement and the subsequent clarification, has had a chaotic and destabilizing effect on an already fragile situation. It has thrown our troops, and our partners on the ground, into disarray.
We cannot invite further instability in this region. For one, the SDF maintains custody of over 11,000 ISIS fighters in detention facilities across northeast Syria. Moreover, the decision leaves U.S. assets and personnel in Syria — principally, at al-Tanf
— embroiled in uncertainty.
In order to assess the decision making process that underpins your announcement, and the national security implications, we request answers to the following questions:
1. Where are the U.S. personnel in northern Syria being repositioned and how will that withdrawal affect the overall force level of U.S. personnel in Syria?
2. What additional troop withdrawals or other changes to the disposition of U.S. forces in Syria are planned within the next six months?
3. How will the U.S. ensure the protection of Kurdish civilians and our SDF allies?
4. Consistent with your tweet on October 7, what standards are you using to determine actions that are “off limits”? What authorities and means would you use to “destroy and obliterate” the economy of Turkey, a NATO ally?
5. How will the more than 11,000 ISIS prisoners held by the SDF be secured if the SDF are forced to reposition their resources for defensive purposes? If their care is to be transferred to another entity, how will the U.S. ensure an orderly transfer of custody?
6. How does the movement of U.S. personnel affect the operational security assessment of the al-Tanf garrison? How will the U.S. ensure the continued protection of the al-Tanf garrison?
7. On October 4, U.S. and Turkish forces conducted the first joint patrol of a buffer zone in northeast Syria. What information led to the decision to abandon this effort after only one patrol?
8. What assessments have been done to analyze the effect of this decision on the ongoing counter-ISIS mission?
9. What preparations has your administration made with our allies in the counter-ISIS mission in advance of this decision?
10. What assessments have been done to determine the effects of a U.S. withdrawal in northern Syria on Syrian government, Iranian, and Russian military forces operating in the region?
One of our country’s greatest strengths is the diversity of our allies and partners that are willing to fight alongside us in times of conflict. Our allies commit their lives and livelihoods to our common cause and place immense trust in our unwavering dedication
as a reliable partner. This decision jeopardizes decades of trust in American solidarity and will only serve to undermine current and future alliances.
Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter. We look forward to your prompt response.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0