Washington D.C. – Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee delivered the following opening statement at today’s full committee hearing  on U.S. policy in Syria. 


Click to Watch

-Remarks as Delivered-

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The American led campaign to destroy the so-called Caliphate in Iraq and Syria was a great military success in our ongoing war on terror. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the courage and sacrifice of our partners on the ground, including the Syrian Kurds, Arabs, and others, thousands of whom died on the battlefield in our shared quest to defeat ISIS.

“Our military partnership with the Syrian Democratic Forces is vital to our ongoing counter-ISIS operations to fight ISIS’ insurgency. And that is why I have been so concerned about the possibility of withdrawing all U.S. troops from Syria. I firmly believe we need a residual force in Syria to best continue counter-terrorism operations so that we can protect the homeland.

 “I am worried that a full withdrawal will create space for ISIS to regroup, grow and gain more strength. We learned from President Obama’s reckless retreat from Iraq that power vacuums are exploited by America’s worst enemies. We do not want to repeat the same mistake. We must learn from history. I believe our Syrian partners deserve better. What kind of signal does it send to the international community that the United States will turn our back on allies who suffered so much? We cannot achieve our goals on the world stage if we undermine our credibility.

“I am deeply concerned by Turkey’s decision to begin military operations in Syria. Civilians on both sides of the border have been killed and over 170,000 people have been displaced in the past two weeks in a region already experiencing a refugee crisis. The only people who benefit from more violence and more chaos are America’s adversaries: Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, the terror sponsoring dictatorship in Iran, and Islamist extremists in the area and around the world, as shown by the deal that Erdogan struck yesterday with Putin.

“Today Members will have the opportunity to ask our witnesses questions about how the Administration is approaching critical issues such as:

  • What are the implications of the past two weeks for the future of counter-ISIS operations and the global coalition to defeat ISIS?
  • How will we prevent Assad from expanding his war against the Syrian people to Northeast Syria?
  • What are we doing to prevent Turkey from forcibly displacing Kurds and resettling Syrian refugees along the border?
  • How can we prevent Iran and Russia from exploiting this situation to their benefit?

“Last week, I was pleased to see a strong bipartisan majority of the House pass a resolution that I authored with Chairman Engel, calling on Turkey to end this operation. Fortunately, I would say that Vice President Pence and Secretary Pompeo were successful in brokering a temporary ceasefire. But if Turkey continues its destructive campaign, we will quickly pass new bipartisan legislation that will bring hard hitting sanctions against Erdogan’s government.

“But I hope the ceasefire works and I know Ambassador Jeffrey, I really look forward to your testimony here today. I know you’re going to give us some insight within the Administration as to what has taken place the last five days with the ceasefire. I want to thank you sir for being here right now. I know there will be a press conference at the White House in 35 minutes. And let me just say also sir that I believe you are the right man for this job at a very challenging time and I personally want to thank you for your public service to this country and this nation. Thank you and I yield back.”