Oct 15 2019

Statement from U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on Turkey after meeting with President Trump at the White House. 

“I strongly support President Trump’s decision to initiate executive order sanctions against Turkish officials and economy for Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria. Turkey is attacking the Kurdish forces that supported us the most in destroying the ISIS Caliphate. 

“At the President’s invitation today, I joined him and his team for phone calls with key leaders in this conflict.

  • “President Trump made it clear to President Erdogan this incursion is widely unpopular in the United States, greatly destabilizing to the region, is putting in jeopardy our successes against ISIS, and will eventually benefit Iran.

“The President made it clear to Turkish officials that any attack on Kobani, a Kurdish enclave near the Turkish border, would be an international outrage that could not stand. 

“President Trump is trying to end the bloodshed through a negotiations deal addressing Turkey’s concerns about certain Kurdish elements near their border.  At the same time, he wants to make sure our Kurdish allies are not abandoned.  

“President Trump gave Turkey the ability to undo the strategic damage they have already caused in a win-win fashion.  I hope they will accept his outreach. Until there is a ceasefire and an end to the bloodshed, sanctions must continue and increase over time.

  • “Equally important, President Trump reached out to General Mazloum, the leader of Kurdish forces that led the main assaults against the ISIS Caliphate in Syria.  

“President Trump assured General Mazloum that he would do everything possible to stop the Turkish incursion and seek a negotiated settlement beneficial to all parties. 

“President Trump was very firm in highlighting the need that thousands of ISIS prisoners in the custody of Kurdish forces cannot and should not be released. 

“President Trump has also put great pressure on our European allies to deal with the ISIS prison population, a step I completely support.

“Finally, I would urge my Republican and Democratic colleagues to continue to speak out against Turkey’s incursion into Syria and support President Trump’s efforts to impose crippling sanctions against Turkey. 

“In the meantime, I think it would be wise to allow the Administration an opportunity to meet with Turkey and other interested parties to see if we can find an end to the bloodshed with a sustainable solution regarding ISIS and other U.S. national security concerns. 

“The President’s team has a plan and I intend to support them as strongly as possible, and to give them reasonable time and space to achieve our mutual goals.”