syria

Lopsided cease-fire ‘deal’ emboldens Turkey, harms U.S. allies
Temporary, nonbinding, requiring nothing: ‘We got what we wanted,’ foreign minister says

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 10. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that Vice President Mike Pence had reached an agreement with Turkey’s president for a halt to hostilities in northern Syria.

“This is a great day for civilization,” Trump wrote. “People have been trying to make this “Deal” for many years.”

Pence says Turkey has agreed to cease fire in northern Syria
Trump has faced a bipartisan backlash over pulling U.S. troops from buffer zone along Turkey-Syria border

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on Thursday as Turkish forces try to extend their control of more of northern Syria, which is currently held by Syrian Kurds. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced later Thursday that Turkey had agreed to a cease fire in the area. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)

Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday that a ceasefire agreement had been reached with the Turkish government that would allow for a cessation of fighting in northeast Syria where Syrian Kurds have been getting hammered for the last week.

Specifics of the ceasefire, which was to last for 120 hours, were initially scarce but Pence at a news conference in Ankara alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was already being implemented.

Graham abruptly leaves hearing during official's testimony

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., questions a witness at a hearing in May. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., abruptly left a Senate Foreign Relations hearing Wednesday during the testimony of a senior administration official.

The moment came after nearly three hours of testimony by Brian Hook, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran. Most of Hook's statements defended the Trump administration's recent troop withdrawal from northern Syria.

Will Trump abandoning the Kurds hurt him politically with former comrades in arms?
Military members and veterans have been among the commander in chief’s staunchest supporters

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., who served with Kurdish forces during the war in Iraq, said they were “the one group you could have behind you and not worry about your back. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With President Donald Trump in essence abandoning former Kurdish allies in northern Syria who helped the U.S. beat back ISIS over the last half decade, some Republican lawmakers who served in the military and outside advocacy groups are divided whether the policy could damage the president’s support among current and former service members, which has remained high throughout his administration.

Despite the U.S. military and Kurds working hand-in-hand on military operations in the Middle East for more than two decades, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday that the Kurds are “no angels,” and deemed his move to withdraw U.S. personnel who had served as a buffer between them and Turkish forces “strategically brilliant.”

House Republicans break 2-to-1 against Trump on withdrawal of Kurd support
Veterans who fought alongside them praise Kurds as allies who ‘had our back’

Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon joined 128 of his Republican colleagues in a resolution criticizing the withdrawal of forces in Syria that led to a Turkish assault on Kurdish allies (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

By a 2-to-1 margin, House Republicans on Wednesday broke with President Donald Trump and opposed his decision to pull back U.S. forces in Syria, a move that exposed Kurdish fighters to attack from Turkey.

A resolution opposing the move passed 354 to 60, with 129 Republicans siding with the unanimous Democrats and 60 opposed. It was a noteworthy rebuke of Trump from Republicans who have long been wary of crossing the president.

Sanctions on Turkey go front and center as Congress returns
Trump’s proposed sanctions appear to buy some breathing room with GOP critics

Turkish troops drive their armored vehicles into Syria on Monday. (Aaref Watad/AFP/Getty Images)

Bipartisan, bicameral sanctions against Turkey over its incursion into northern Syria against longtime Kurdish allies of the U.S. are high on the agenda as lawmakers return from recess Tuesday, even as President Donald Trump appeared to try to undercut the emerging unity on the issue.

While the sanctions and trade actions declared by the president Monday fall short of what lawmakers had been proposing, they do appear, at least initially, to have bought him breathing room with some top Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has been leading the sanctions charge in the Senate.

Graham says he’ll introduce Turkey sanctions after Trump orders U.S. troops out of Kurdish territory
Graham, Rubio, Romney and former White House officials blast decision as betrayal of Kurds and bad omen for all allies

Syrian Kurds gather around a US armored vehicle during a demonstration against Turkish threats next to a US-led international coalition base on the outskirts of Ras al-Ain town in Syria's Hasakeh province near the Turkish border on Sunday. (Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images)

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday he and Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if it crosses the Syrian border and attacks Kurdish forces, after President Donald Trump said late Sunday that he was withdrawing U.S. troops from the border region.

“I hope and expect sanctions against Turkey — if necessary — would be veto-proof,” Graham said.

White House plans to cut refugee admittance to all-time low

The Statue of Liberty in New York City is seen through fencing on Aug. 14, 2019. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

The Trump administration announced on Thursday plans to slash its refugee admittance program by almost half next year, the lowest cap since the refugee system was created in 1980.

The White House said it would admit no more than 18,000 refugees for the next fiscal year, a drop from its current limit of 30,000 and a plunge from the 110,000 admitted in 2016 under President Barack Obama’s final year in office.

Another West Wing departure leaves Kushner taking point on Middle East peace
Official: Presidential son-in-law, ‘a few others’ will try to fill void left by Greenblatt’s exit

Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, steps out of the vice president's office in the Senate Reception Room to take a phone call. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump announced White House Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt is leaving the administration, essentially handing presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner the task of completing an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

“Jason has been a loyal and great friend and fantastic lawyer........His dedication to Israel and to seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians won’t be forgotten. He will be missed,” Trump tweeted in announcing Greenblatt’s departure.

Amid Epstein child sex scandal, Trump doesn’t rule out firing Secretary Acosta
About 2007 plea deal, president says he will ‘look at it very carefully’

Alex Acosta, center, then-nominee for secretary of Labor, talks with Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, after the senators introduced him during his Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions confirmation hearing in March 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday left open the possibility that he might fire Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta over a plea deal he struck last decade with accused child sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein after top congressional Democrats called for his ouster.

Acosta has been an “excellent secretary of Labor,” Trump said. But the president stopped short of saying Acosta would remain a part of his Cabinet as yet another scandal has engulfed his administration.