Senate rebukes Trump, advances measure on Syria troops

Arturo Kim
February 2, 2019

For the second straight day, McConnell blasted unnamed Democrats for filibustering his amendment, and suggested Democrats - particularly those making a presidential run in 2020 - were reluctant to vote for a measure that opposed bringing troops back home, something that's a priority for many Democratic voters. Kirsten Gillibrand had endorsed Trump's plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Syria, reported The New York Times. It could also damage our credibility with our allies fighting with us in the coalition, like the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, and raise the possibility ISIS could regain territory.

Mr. Trump late previous year declared the USA had won its battle against the Islamic State in Syria, and said he would bring troops back.

The Senate was to weigh the amendment, which is attached to a broader Middle East Policy bill, in a preliminary procedural vote later Thursday.

"This is not other people's wars". The vote was in part also a condemnation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is suspected of playing a role in the murder of Washington Postjournalist Jamal Khashoggi.

This type of measure is not legally binding because it is not presented to the president for his signature.

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The popular democratic socialist politician has also sought to push forward a bill calling for an end to US military support for the Saudi-led war against a Zaidi Shiite Muslim rebel group known as Ansar Allah or the Houthis in Yemen, but the measure has split Republicans, with McConnell and Rubio among those opposed.

Trump has also ordered the military to develop plans to remove up to half of the 14,000 US forces in Afghanistan. Today's vote was on whether to add an amendment to a broader Middle East legislative package that includes a bill clamping down on the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The amendment was proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Thursday that "ISIS and Al-Qaeda have yet to be defeated and American national security interests require continued commitment to our missions" in Afghanistan and Syria, as CNN reported. They don't want to withdraw troops from countries where threats from terrorists remain strong, despite ongoing efforts that have diminished their power. "They stood with us following September 11th", he said. "ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria", Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the panel.

"Their bill would make election day a new paid holiday for government workers, and create an additional, brand-new, paid leave benefit for up to six days for any federal bureaucrat who decides they'd like to hang out at the polls during an election", said McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor. She voted in favour of the measure. "It's going to take a mass movement of people, not just electorally here in the United States... but really putting up a very legitimate and credible alternative to U.S. imperialism".

Israel boycotts: McConnell is using the same bill to highlight divisions among Democrats on Israel. On the other hand, while Trump is talking about getting us out, he's doing it - as usual - in an abrupt way, without consulting with our allies, without developing a mechanism for a sensible withdrawal.

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