Congressional Candidate Yahya Yuksel (AZ-02) on Events in Syria

Tucson, AZ 13 April 2018

Tonight President Donald J. Trump ordered US Armed Forces, in conjunction with our allies France and the United Kingdom, to attack targets inside Syria associated with alleged chemical weapons production and distribution. He did so without a specific Authorization for Use of Force from our Congress.

His statement to the nation lacked a specific mission statement and no clear exit strategy. President Trump has not offered sanctuary to the refugees that will be produced by this military strike. The President chose to inform the American people about this action 2 days after tweeting his intentions to the world. There are credible reports that Syrian assets were redeployed after that tweet to more advantageous positions.

The current Representative for AZ-02, Rep. Martha McSally, a member of the Committee on Armed Services has consistently remained silent in the face of Trump administration stumbles. We call on Rep. McSally to explain to her constituents the Trump policy in Syria and the goals of that policy.

Congressional candidate (AZ-02) Yahya Yuksel strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons and calls on the administration to develop a coherent strategy leading to the peaceful resolution of the Syrian civil war, the final destruction of ISIS and to a negotiated settlement of the other conflicts in the region, including the question of the Kurds.

Similar to the use of 59 Tomahawk missiles in April 2017, this strike once again is being conducted in the absence of any strategic initiative to address the serious issues posed by Assad and his Russian backers or to resolve the many regional conflicts playing out in Syria.  Once again, we see a failure by the United States to develop a coherent strategy with clear goals. As in the past, this will leave Assad in power and allow three authoritarian regimes, Russia, Iran and Turkey, to determine the political settlement in the region.

We appreciate the role the United Kingdom and France are willing to play in this action showing our allies are with us even when our President is dismissive of their importance. The United States and its Western allies lost the initiative in the Syrian conflict, which allowed Russia to take a key role in the Assad regime’s military strategy to win the civil war. As part of the Arab Spring in February 2011  peaceful protests begin throughout Syria against the dictatorial Assad regime, and in July 2012, Assad decided to attack the peaceful protesters igniting the current civil war which has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and the exodus or displacement of millions of Syrians.

In 2013, the Obama Administration agreed to a process whereby Syria gave up all of its chemical weapons, and while many were destroyed, Human Rights Watch has documented 85 chemical weapons attacks in Syria in the period 2013-2018.  These attacks are thought to use either chlorine or sarin gas. Clearly, our missile attack in April 2017 had no lasting impact on Assad’s conduct of the war or the civil war itself. In fact, it may have encouraged Assad and Russia to more freely use conventional weapons indiscriminately against the civilian population.

ISIS still holds territory in Syria and will return to menace the region if once they are militarily defeated there isn’t a rebuilding program for the region.  The United States is sending the wrong signals regarding its goals and a timetable to withdraw. Similarly, we are allowing Iran to play a major role in this region and there is no process to draw them into negotiations which includes U.S. and Western interests.

The Kurds have played a major role with U.S. assistance in the fight against ISIS.  Turkey is now attacking the Kurds in Syria who have aspirations for a political settlement which grants them greater autonomy or independence.  The Kurds have played a major role in the military successes against ISIS and have shown themselves to be a loyal U.S. ally. The authoritarian Erdogan regime is now attacking them with heavy military weapons.  The United States is abandoning our ally, the Kurds, by allowing the regime in Turkey to attack them. This is shameful. Muddled strategic thinking is one thing; active abandonment of an ally to favor a dictator in Turkey is quite another.

When American forces are deployed abroad, when America goes to war, there are no Republicans, there are no Democrats. When we fight we fight as one. Our nation deserves a real debate and real leadership.