Former White House chief of staff John Kelly has lashed out at his former boss, President Donald Trump, for pulling US forces out of northern Syria and giving Turkey the green light to attack Kurds.
Kelly said Saturday at a political conference hosted by the Washington Examiner that while he supported ending US wars abroad, the decision was “wrong.”
“What was working in Syria was that for very little investment, the Kurds were doing all the fighting, the vast majority of the dying, and we were providing intelligence and fire support assistance. And we were winning,” said the retired four-star general.
15 deaths in Syria war
Meanwhile, violence continues in the region amid clashes between Turkish and Kurdish forces.
According to the U-K-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, nine pro-Turkish militants and six members of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces lost their lives in an area between the towns of Tal Tamr and Ra’s al-Ayn Saturday.
Kelly further estimated that the move would boost Russia’s influence in the region.
“A couple of other people recently left the administration and then he went with his instinct,” Kelly said. “But it was, on a number of levels, the wrong thing to do and it has opened the way for the Russians to be very, very influential in the Middle East.”
‘Warning Trump of impeachment’
Kelly also commented on the impeachment inquiry underway in the US House.
He asserted that he had warned Trump about impeachment if a “yes man” was to replace him as the chief of staff.
“I said, whatever you do — and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place — I said whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth — don’t do that. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached,” Kelly recalled. “That was almost 11 months ago, and I have an awful lot of, to say the least, second thoughts about leaving… It pains me to see what’s going on because I believe if I was still there or someone like me was there, he would not be kind of, all over the place.”
The general also suggested that if he had remained at his post he would have prevented impeachment.
“Someone has got to be a guide that tells [the president] that you either have the authority or you don’t, or Mr. President, don’t do it,” Kelly said. “Don’t hire someone that will just nod and say, ‘That’s a great idea Mr. President.’ Because you will be impeached,” he added. “The system that should be in place, clearly — the system of advising, bringing in experts in, having these discussions with the president so he can make an informed decision, that clearly is not in place. And I feel bad that I left.”