Sullivan: Syria withdrawal leaves Kurdish allies vulnerable
Alaska’s junior senator said Wednesday that he remains concerned over President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from northern Syria, leaving the Kurdish allies vulnerable.
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said the Kurds have been vital allies in reducing the presence of terrorist group ISIS and he doesn’t want to see those efforts wasted.
“We undertook with our special forces aggressive action, but with our allies in the region and who played a critical role in the defeated of ISIS? It was the Kurds and lot of the Kurds lost their lives,” Sullivan said during a break at the Alaska Travel Industry Association’s annual convention.
“I always say and I mention this to the President many times, our greatest strategic asset as a country in terms of national security is we are an ally rich nation. Our adversaries – China, Russian, North Korea, Iran – are ally poor," he said.
He continued, "We need to make sure countries want to join and partner with us so I did not agree with the fact that we were leaving the Kurds who really had done so much very recently to help us defeat ISIS.”
Sullivan spoke without a briefing on reports of Turkey attacking northern Syria early Wednesday morning. All three Republican members of Alaska’s congressional delegation have opposed Trump’s withdrawal in social media posts earlier this week.
“I think the president has had concerns about we can’t have troops in Syria forever; I completely agree with that,” Sullivan said. “Nobody wants them there forever. But we also have to do, in my view, look at these issues from the perspective of whether or not it’s going to impact our national security, Americas national security."
He added, "What worries me about this latest issue with the Kurds. The Kurds are holding all these ISIS terrorist and fighters. There is concern they are going to let them go and again I don’t think that’s good for America’s security. There’s no easy answers.”
Sullivan spent a few days in Juneau meeting with tourism leaders just a week after the state’s growing cruise ship season ended. He served as one of Wednesday’s featured convention speakers.
Shortly before reporting for five days of U.S. Marine Corps reserve duty, Sullivan assured the packed house in Centennial Hall he promised to introduce legislation to be called the Visit America Act.
One of its features would be to create an assistant secretary for travel and tourism position.
“A lot of countries have a minister of tourism, a cabinet level official in charge of promoting tourism in that country,” he said. “We don’t have anything remotely like that so this bill essential sets up somebody who would do that, a senior level position in the commerce department.”
Sullivan said he hoped to introduce the legislation within the next few weeks.
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