Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden on Thursday said President Trump “sold out” American-allied Kurdish fighters and “betrayed our word as a nation” by giving way to a Turkish bombardment in northeast Syria.
Mr. Trump says he is trying to unwind endless wars in the Middle East and that he’s talking to “both sides” of the unfolding fight, though Mr. Biden joined much of Washington in upbraiding the commander-in-chief, saying the president moved American troops out of the way on a whim after speaking to “fellow strongman” Recip Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president.
“Donald Trump sold out the Syrian Democratic Forces — the courageous Kurds and Arabs who fought with us to smash ISIS’s caliphate — and he betrayed a key local ally in the fight against terrorism,” Mr. Biden, a front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said in a four-paragraph statement.
“But that’s not all — he betrayed our brave troops, who sacrificed alongside them,” Mr. Biden said. “He betrayed our word as a nation — raising doubts among our allies around the world about America’s security commitments.”
Mr. Biden this week called on House Democrats to impeach Mr. Trump. He also accused the president of smearing his family.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pursuing an impeachment inquiry that centers on Mr. Trump’s push to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter, who had business ties in Ukraine through a gas company called Burisma Holdings.
Mr. Trump says Mr. Biden got Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who once looked into Burisma, though Mr. Biden says his push, part of a broader effort by the West, was aimed at ramping up corruption prosecutions — not getting Ukraine to back off.
Mr. Biden homed in on the Syria situation on Thursday, lambasting Mr. Trump for saying the Kurds didn’t stand with Americans at Normandy during World War II.
“By that standard, only Canada, a handful of European allies, and others could ever hope for America to come to their defense — and even they might have doubts after Trump’s performance,” Mr. Biden said. “Especially when Trump said he wasn’t worried about ISIS regrouping and fleeing Syria because they would only go to Europe.”
Mr. Trump says he is the one cleaning up a faulty strategy pursued by his predecessors. He’s also tired of taking responsibility for Islamic State detainees in lieu of Europe.
“This is not about keeping forces in northern Syria indefinitely,” Mr. Biden said in response. “That was never the plan. It’s about consolidating our hard-fought gains against ISIS, and preventing it from regenerating — which it is already trying to do. Managing this complex environment requires smart and sustained diplomacy, which President Trump has demonstrated he has neither the patience nor the wisdom to conduct.”