Despite Trump Boasting 95% Republican Approval, New Poll Shows Almost a Third of GOP Disapprove of President's Syria Decision

Newsweek 1 month ago

President Donald Trump has maintained strong Republican support through the tumult of his presidency, maintaining the backing of his party's voters despite regular questions about his potential conflicts of interest, the scrutiny conjured by the Mueller report and now impeachment proceedings.

Though a faction of prominent "Never Trump" conservatives has regularly voiced discontent with the president, many have seemed unphased by the Trump's unorthodox conduct in office.

But 31 percent of Republicans disapprove of the president's decision to withdraw troops in Syria, according to a Quinnipiac Poll released on Wednesday.

The figure stands in stark contrast to the president's overall approval rating with Republicans, 83 percent of whom approve of Trump's handling of the office.

Trump has regularly touted his approval ratings from Republicans, and even before the impeachment inquiry began last month, he depicted low support from Democrats as reflective of a party unwilling to accept the results of the 2016 election. While Republican politicians have often strayed from publicly criticizing the president, instead configuring the party to support its new leader, Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw troops from Syria has provoked widespread dissent.

Lawmakers from both parties bristled at the message that the withdrawal of troops--which left former U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS exposed to a Turkish attack--could send, worrying that the decision would signal to potential future allies that the U.S. doesn't stick by its commitments.

A sweeping range of Republicans, including stark Trump allies like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, issued a rare public critique. Republican leadership also criticized the president's abrupt decision, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying that "a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran and the Assad regime" and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying that "if you make a commitment and somebody is fighting with you, America should keep their word."

The president's decision opened a new clash in the conflict and led to a rapid shift in alliances, with America's former Kurdish allies announcing they would align with the Syrian government. Trump's decision also enabled Russia to further cement its influence in Syria.

Turkey, where millions of Syrians fled after the start of the war in 2011, launched an assault into Syria shortly after the U.S. withdrawal announcement. The Turkish government said that it wants to resettle 2 million refugees in a "safe zone" along the Syrian border. Humanitarian groups raised concerns about the impact of the Turkish operation, and following swift bipartisan backlash, the Trump administration struck a deal with Turkey last week.

In the deal, which was widely derided as providing America's enemies the influence they had desired in the country, Turkey's government agreed last week to pause its offensive for five days.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Russia and Turkey had agreed to start removing Kurdish fighters from northern Syria. Once they have completed the removal, Russia and Turkey will conduct joint patrols in the area.

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