Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday, Oct. 20, said he is more optimistic about President Trump ‘s decision to remove U.S. troops from Syria.
In the interview with Fox News moderator Maria Bartiromo, Graham said, he is now “increasingly optimistic that we can have some historic solutions” there.
He shared that his recent talk with the president made him believe that the small appearance of U.S. troops in the region could still help to secure both U.S. forces and U.S. national security interests.
He was among those Republicans and Democrats that were strongly critical of the White House’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria before the planned incursion of Turkey.
Speaking to Fox News, Graham praised Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for negotiating the cease-fire deal between Turkey and the Kurds. The deal is expected to give Kurdish-led forces 120 hours to recede from the approximately 20-mile-wide safe zone on the Turkish-Syrian border, and Turkish troops to permanently cease military action in northern Syria.
He explained further the objectives for the region set by the president:
“To make sure we have a demilitarized zone between Turkey and the Kurds. The Kurds were the allies who helped us defeat ISIS. They lost 10,000 soldiers, we’ve lost eight in four years, God bless the eight, but it was the Kurds who did most of the fighting.”
Graham said that President Trump plans to provide airpower to stabilize the demilitarized zone occupied by international forces, upon pulling out U.S. troops, to make sure that ISIS terrorists who had been held in the area did not “break out.”
When asked why his stance toward the issue had suddenly changed, Graham responded that his concern stays the same, saying, “If we abandon the Kurds, nobody helps you in the future.” He now holds on to the conviction, “A small contingent of Americans providing air power and capability will keep ISIS at bay and keep the jails locked up, and the ISIS fighters won’t break out.”
He also said that the new move by President Trump could bring about historic security to the region.
Graham said that the strategy of securing oil put forward by the president, is “thinking out of the box.”
““Not only are we going to deny the oil fields falling into Iranian hands, I believe we are on the verge of a joint venture between us and the Syrian democratic forces that helped destroy ISIS and keep them destroyed to modernize the oil fields and make sure they get the revenue, not the Iranians, not Assad, and it can help pay for our small commitment in the future,” Graham said.
“And, protecting Israel is the number one objective. We can do all of that with a very small force. I’m increasingly optimistic. This can turn out very well,” he said.
Despite the widespread bipartisan objection, President Trump has remained steadfast and defended his move, stating, “We have to bring our great heroes, our great soldiers, we have to bring them home. It’s time. It’s time.”