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Senate breaks with Trump on Afghanistan withdrawal

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    Posted: 04-Feb-2019 at 5:09pm

The Senate voted Monday to oppose the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, breaking with President Donald Trump as he calls for a military drawdown in those countries.

Senate breaks with Trump on Afghanistan withdrawal

Senators voted 70-26 for the amendment sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The measure says the Islamic State group and al-Qaida militants still pose a serious threat to the United States, and it warns that "a precipitous withdrawal" of U.S. forces from those countries could "allow terrorists to regroup, destabilize critical regions and create vacuums that could be filled by Iran or Russia."

Trump abruptly tweeted plans for a U.S. pullout from Syria in December, arguing that the Islamic State group had been defeated even though his intelligence chiefs have said it remains a threat. Trump also ordered the military to develop plans to remove up to half of the 14,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The strong bipartisan vote comes as Republican senators have increasingly diverged from Trump on foreign policy. When he introduced the amendment last week, McConnell said "ISIS and al-Qaida have yet to be defeated."

McConnell's amendment, which is nonbinding, would encourage cooperation between the White House and Congress to develop long-term strategies in both nations, "including a thorough accounting of the risks of withdrawing too hastily."

Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the amendment was not a rebuke to Trump, though he added, "we can do things over there which will make us safer here."

While the majority of senators voted for the amendment, a handful of Republicans voted against it. McConnell's Kentucky colleague, Republican Sen. Rand Paul said before the vote that "enough is enough" and the money spent on wars should be spent at home.

"I want to compliment President Trump for being bold and brave," Paul said.

Many of the most liberal members of the Senate - including several Democrats who are eyeing presidential runs in 2020 - also voted against the amendment. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and others have agreed with Paul that the United States should withdraw, though they have criticized Trump for his sudden announcement.

McConnell's provision was added to a wide-ranging foreign policy bill that has been pending on the Senate floor for several weeks. The legislation includes measures supporting Israel and Jordan and would slap sanctions on Syrians involved in war crimes. The Senate is expected to vote on the broader measure later this week.

Source: AP


Edited by AfghanistanNews - 04-Feb-2019 at 5:16pm
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