Dec 23 2018

Trump's Syria troop withdrawal linked to Michael Flynn sentencing, says Pelosi

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi has raised concerns that President Donald Trump‘s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria was linked to the prosecution of his former security adviser, Michael Flynn, over his work as a foreign agent, the Independent reported.

Flynn has admitted failing to register his work as a lobbyist for Turkey and his sentencing set to take place on Wednesday was postponed as he completes a process of cooperation with Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. The 60-year-old has said he and his now-defunct company were paid $530,000 for three months of work directed by the Turkish government while he was serving as an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign. 

“All Americans should be concerned that this hasty announcement was made on the day after sentencing in criminal proceedings began against ... Flynn, who admitted that he was a registered foreign agent for a country with clear interests in the Syrian conflict,” Pelosi said earlier this week.

Two of Flynn’s associates, including Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, have also been charged with with illegally lobbying for Turkey in Ankara’s campaign to extradite U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara accuses of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt. 

The decision to withdraw some 2,000 soldiers stationed in the part of northern Syria  arrives amid Ankara’s ongoing complaints that NATO ally United States is backing of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara designates a terrorist organisation and has vowed to destroy.

‘’We must also ask why the president did not make this decision in the context of advancing peace negotiations. Syrian families caught in the middle of this conflict continue to endure heartbreaking horrors every day,’’ Pelosi went on to say, adding, “When we take the gavel, our Democratic majority will uphold the Congress’ constitutional oversight responsibilities to ensure that the president’s decisions advance our national security interests, not his personal or political objectives.”

Trump’s decision met with approval from staunch Syrian regime supporter Russian president Vladimir Putin, who said on Thursday his counterpart was “right” to pull out the troops, however, U.S.’ Kurdish allies suggested the move would destabilise the region at a “critical” stage in the fight against the Islamic State, the Independent said.

French President Emmanuel Macron also criticised the move on Sunday, questioning the reliability of the United States as an ally while expressing his regret at Washington’s decision to withdraw troops out of Syria.