As U.S. lawmakers from both parties have criticized President Trump’s troop withdrawal from Syria, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D.-Calif, is reportedly working with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to overturn the Trump’s decision in an effort to protect Kurds from the current Turkish offensive.
“Pleased to have a conversation with Senator @LindseyGrahamSC this morning,” Pelosi tweeted Monday. “Our first order of business was to agree that we must have a bipartisan, bicameral joint resolution to overturn the President’s dangerous decision in Syria immediately.”
Graham, often a staunch backer of Trump, has criticized the White House for its Syria pullout. Last week, he asked for prayers on Twitter for “our Kurdish allies that have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump administration.” He has said that the move would cause “the reemergence of ISIS.”
Graham has called for sanctions against Turkey due to the offensive. “I will be working across party lines in a bicameral fashion to draft sanctions and move quickly, appreciating President Trump’s willingness to work with the Congress,” Graham said.
Pelosi has added that “we must have a stronger sanctions package than what the White House is suggesting.”
Pelosi may have an unlikely ally in Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The Senate Majority leader has typically acted as an obstructionist to Democrat efforts but has said that Turkey’s offensive against ISIS “is jeopardizing years of hard-won progress” and warned that the pullout would help Russia and Iran at the expense of the U.S., which he described would be a “catastrophic outcome.”
Trump has vowed “big sanctions” on Turkey. After hearing reports that 950 ISIS members fled a Kurdish-run detention camp, Trump suggested that the Kurds were releasing ISIS in order to draw U.S. forces back in Syria.
The U.S. has previously partnered with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab groups that are fighting ISIS in Syria. One of the prominent groups in the SDF is the mainly-Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG.
Turkey is conducting the offensive, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, to clear Kurdish groups out of northern Syria. Turkey views the YPG as linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an organization that Turkey has been fighting against since the 1980s.
The PKK was formed in 1978 in a response to what they believed was the oppression of the Kurds in Turkey and have advocated for an independent Kurdish state. Turkey sees the PKK as a militant terrorist organization that seeks to undermine the country’s security.