McConnell pushes back against Syria, Afghanistan troop withdrawl

Elias Hubbard
Января 30, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced an amendment to a bill on Middle East policy that would keep USA troops in Syria and Afghanistan, going against President Donald Trump's desire to withdraw, CNN reports. Trump also has ordered the military to develop plans to remove up to half of the 14,000 US forces in Afghanistan.

McConnell said he would introduce the amendment to the "Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act", a sweeping package of measures that would impose new sanctions against Syria, boost defense spending in the region and punish activists who call for economic boycotts of Israel to protest its policies in Palestine, among other measures.

Exact timing for the final vote on the bill, which at this point enjoys bipartisan support, has not yet been determined.

"Simply put, while it is tempting to retreat to the comfort and security of our own shores, there is still a great deal of work to be done", McConnell said.

To become law, it would also have to pass the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and be signed by Trump, or overcome a Trump veto if he will not sign.

Trump's administration has announced plans to bring all United States forces home from Syria, saying that Daesh had been defeated.

Dan Coats, Trump's director of national intelligence, testified before the Senate Tuesday that intelligence officials have no evidence to conclude that Iran is close to producing a nuclear weapon - contradicting Trump's claim that Iran is "coming very close to the edge". However, there was no sign the group had accepted key United States demands such as committing to a ceasefire before a withdrawal of U.S. troops.

"We have not agreed to any specific timeline for a possible drawdown of troops", the spokesperson wrote in an email.

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