ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Congressman John Shimkus, the state’s longest tenured Republican member of Congress, told KMOX radio on Thursday that he no longer supports President Trump in the wake of a military decision that could have geopolitical and national security consequences.
President Trump withdrew American military forces from northern Syria on Sunday and gave Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a green light to invade the area. The Ankara government has clashed with Kurdish soldiers and militia in recent years, blocking many Kurdish migrants from entering Turkey’s southern border and labeling some Kurdish groups as “terrorists.”
Since President Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria, Turkish warplanes have bombarded the region with deadly airstrikes.
Shimkus characterized the President’s reversal as a betrayal to America’s long-standing Kurdish allies that “shocked, embarrassed and angered me.”
“I’m heartbroken,” he said. “In fact, I called my chief of staff in D.C. and said, ‘pull my name off the ‘I support Donald Trump’ list.’ I mean, this is just… we have just stabbed our allies in the back.”
“The Kurds go back all the way to the first Gulf War. We protected their airspace in the no-fly zone,” he said.
The U.S. forces who evacuated the region had been advising and training Kurdish military forces. CBS News reports Kurdish forces had been maintaining prisons in northern Syria that hold 10,000 ISIS fighters, but that a pivot to defend themselves from a Turkish attack could diminish their focus on ISIS.
The public denouncement from Congressman Shimkus won praise from Democrat Betsy Dirksen-Londrigan, who is campaigning against incumbent Congressman Rodney Davis in the neighboring 13th District.
“Glad to see more members of Congress putting country over party and opposing the President’s abandonment of our allies,” she tweeted. “The President’s action emboldens ISIS and makes us less safe. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue-it’s an American issue.”
A spokesperson for Congressman Davis said the president’s foreign policy decisions have not caused him to withdraw his support for the 2020 campaign.
“Congressman Davis disagrees with President Trump on Syria because he’s concerned about the lasting impact it could have on the Middle East, but of course he supports his re-election,” Ashley Phelps said in an emailed statement. “He’s never going to agree with anyone a hundred percent of the time but under this president, unemployment has been at historic lows, wages are rising, American manufacturing is coming back, working Americans are keeping more of their hard earned money because of tax reform, and opioid overdoses are on the decline. These are issues that are very important to his constituents and this president has a record of success on.”
In a follow up statement, Rep. Shimkus clarified that he did not intend to oppose other items of President Trump’s legislative agenda on Capitol Hill.
“While my votes will continue to support the president’s domestic policy agenda, because of this terrible foreign policy decision I asked that my name be removed from his campaign’s official list of supporters,” he said.
The Kurdish people are the world’s largest ethnic group without statehood.