January 30, 2019

Van Hollen, Toomey Pursue Administration Report on Syria Strategy

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) want the Trump administration to provide to Congress a strategy in Syria that ensures American security interests are not compromised by a troop withdrawal.

“President Trump’s abrupt decision for an immediate withdrawal from Syria puts at risk our mission to defeat ISIS and endangers the future of our Syrian Kurdish allies, who have been the tip of the spear in that fight,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This bipartisan amendment makes clear that the United States must protect the Syrian Democratic Forces from attacks by Turkey, which has made clear it is more focused on destroying the Syrian Kurds than defeating ISIS. The administration must also develop a clear strategy for the long-term defeat of ISIS in Syria and stability in the region.”

“A hasty withdrawal of American troops from Syria is dangerous to American interests and could create a power vacuum in the region that bolsters terrorist groups and rouge nations,” said Senator Toomey. “If the administration intends to go through with this withdrawal, Congress must see a plan that ensures the destruction of ISIS, reiterates our commitment to our Syrian Kurdish allies, checks Iranian interests in Syria, and prevents further threats against Israel. This bipartisan amendment underscores all of these objectives while requiring the administration to share how this will be accomplished for the American people.”

Senators Van Hollen and Toomey introduced an amendment to the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act (S.1) that:

  • Imposes a reporting requirement on the administration to provide Congress with an unclassified update on its policy in Syria (report may include classified annex)
  • Expresses the sense of Congress that the administration’s withdrawal from Syria be guided by three principles:
    • Ensuring the destruction of ISIS;
    • Accounting for the security interests of our Kurdish allies; and
    • Aiming to prevent Iranian-commanded forces in Syria from benefitting from U.S. withdrawal

The text of the amendment can be found here.