♦ Trump calls Pelosi a ‘third-rate politician’ after ‘meltdown’
♦ UNSC warns of Syria jihadists ‘dispersion’ risk
US President Donald Trump has hailed his surprise decision to withdraw US troops from Syria as “strategically brilliant”, declaring that the Kurds were “not angels”.
Speaking to reporters at the White House on Wednesday, Trump said the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long armed campaign against Ankara, were “probably” a bigger “terrorist threat” than the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) armed group.
“Now the PKK, which is part of the Kurds, as you know, is probably worse at terror, and more of a terrorist threat in many ways than ISIS,” he said referring to the group which has been designated a terrorist group by the US, EU and Turkey.
“I’m not going to get involved in a war between Turkey and Syria, especially when, if you look at the Kurds, and again I say this with great respect, they’re no angels,” he added.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), spearheaded by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), was founded in 2015 and has helped the United States in its fight against ISIL.
Ankara says its military operation is against the YPG, which it considers a “terrorist” group.
Despite his defence of the decision, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly condemned the move in a rare bipartisan rebuke. A total of 129 members of Trump’s Republican Party joined Democrats as the House denounced the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria in a 354-60 vote.
The joint resolution called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to immediately halt military operations against Kurdish militants in Syria.
In a sign of Trump’s deteriorating relationship with Congress, where the House is conducting an impeachment inquiry, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Charles Schumer walked out of what they said was an acrimonious White House meeting with Trump.
Schumer said Trump had called Pelosi a “third-rate politician” while the speaker said the president had experienced a “meltdown.”
Trump then took to Twitter, accusing Pelosi of having her own “meltdown,” while adding that the Democratic leader “needs help fast!”
“There is either something wrong with her ‘upstairs,’ or she just plain doesn’t like our great Country,” the president wrote.
The president denied he gave green light to President Erdogan for the offensive.
Trump emphasized to reporters that US troops were out of harm’s way and that the fallout from the US withdrawal was for Syria, Turkey and Russia to work out among themselves.