Immigration

Jacqui Lambie lashes out at US for sending 'Kurds to slaughter' as Donald Trump defends troop withdrawal

Jacqui Lambie says Donald Trump has got it "very wrong" on Syria. Source: AAP

Senator Jacqui Lambie says Donald Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria is "very wrong".

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has accused US President Donald Trump of sending former allies in the fight against IS to slaughter over his handling of the Syrian conflict. 

The independent senator slammed Donald Trump for withdrawing US troops from northeastern Syria, leaving Kurdish fighters, who have been crucial to the defeat of IS, exposed to attack from Turkey. 

"It's not for me to go out and berate the US President, but I can tell you now I think he's got this very, very wrong and they are sending, basically, the Kurds to slaughter and it's an absolute shocker," Senator Lambie said on Sunday.  

Crossbench Senator Jacqui Lambie speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, September 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Senator Jacqui Lambie has lashed out at Donald Trump.
AAP

Senator Lambie, who served as a corporal in the Australian army in the early 1990s, said Turkey's military offensive in the Kurdish-majority area was scary.

"I'm worried about the whole Kurdish population out there and basically we want to say 'thanks very much for fighting beside us in the Middle East and we were all mates over there' and all of a sudden we're sending the Kurds to the slaughter."

Asked whether Australia should repatriate about 60 women and children stuck in the al-Hawl camp in northern Syria, Senator Lambie said their impact on national security would have to be carefully assessed.  

"It's not an easy decision," she said. 

Senator Lambie's comments add to a growing chorus of criticism of Mr Trump, including senior figures from within his own party, for apparently abandoning loyal US allies. 

US protecting own borders

The US President has defended his decision to withdraw troops from northeastern Syria, telling conservative Christian activists that the US should prioritise protecting its own borders.

"Let them have their borders, but I don't think our soldiers should be there for the next 50 years guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can't guard our own borders at home," Mr Trump said in a speech to the Value Voters Summit in Washington, an annual conference of religious conservatives.

Mr Trump was elected in 2016 running on hard-line immigration policy and has sought to make legal and illegal immigration to the US more difficult, pushing for a wall to be built on the US-Mexico border among other measures.

The US president's appearance at the Summit comes as evangelical leaders this week criticized Donald Trump's decision to stand down US forces in northern Syria.
The US president's appearance at the Summit comes as evangelical leaders this week criticized Donald Trump's decision to stand down US forces in northern Syria.
ABACA

After a phone call between Mr Trump and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan last Sunday, Mr Trump made an abrupt policy change and ordered out US forces in northeast Syria who had been fighting with Kurdish YPG militia against Islamic State.

Within days Turkey began an offensive against the YPG, which it says is a terrorist group backing Kurdish rebels in Turkey.

Syrian Kurds should fight on their own, Mr Trump said at Saturday's event.

"Don't forget: they are fighting for their land. They haven't helped us fight for our land," Mr Trump said. "They're fighting for their land and that's good, but we've helped them."

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, in which the YPG comprises the main fighting element, holds most of the northern Syrian territory that once made up Islamic State's "caliphate" and has been keeping thousands of fighters from the jihadist group in jail.

Some evangelical leaders have criticised Mr Trump over his Syria policy, saying he was endangering tens of thousands of Christians in the Muslim-dominated region.

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and Turkish soldiers watch as smoke billows from the border town of Ras al-Ain.
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and Turkish soldiers watch as smoke billows from the border town of Ras al-Ain.
AFP

Mr Trump has also had rare criticism from senior figures in his own Republican Party who accuse him of deserting loyal US allies in the Kurds.

Mr Trump has said he does not approve of Turkey's incursion, but hundreds of Kurds rallied outside the White House on Saturday, blaming Trump for exposing Kurds to a Turkish onslaught.

Evangelicals have been among Trump's most loyal supporters through scandal and controversy in the White House.

Criticism from influential Christian leaders has been a rare crack in their overwhelming support for Mr Trump as he fights an impeachment inquiry by the Democratic-led US House of Representatives and pursues his 2020 re-election bid.

With additional reporting from AAP

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch