MUNICH, GERMANY — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) congratulated President Trump for destroying the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s caliphate, at the Munich Security Conference on Friday.
“The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is dead. It has been destroyed,” he said to a room filled with top European leaders and military officials.
“Mr. President, I want to congratulate you and your team for pouring on the gas in the last month or so,” he said. “We’re down to a couple kilometers in one town.”
.@LindseyGrahamSC to Trump at the Munich Security Conference:
“Mr. President, I want to congratulate you and your team for pouring on the gas in the last month or so.” pic.twitter.com/attut9zxzK
— Kristina Wong 🇺🇸 (@kristina_wong) February 15, 2019
Destroying ISIS was one of Trump’s top campaign promises. Upon coming to office in January 2017, he immediately tasked the Defense Department with developing a strategy to destroy the terrorist group.
ISIS — an outgrowth of Al Qaeda in Iraq — rose to power in Iraq and Syria in 2014, after former President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011. Obama sent U.S. troops back to Iraq in the summer of 2014, and sent troops into Syria in 2015.
By the time Trump took office, there were wars raging in both countries, and 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and about 2,000 in Syria.
Trump in December, as the end of ISIS’s caliphate neared, announced he would bring U.S. troops home from Syria.
But he also expressed desire to prevent a new war in Syria between two U.S. allies who view each other as enemies — Turkey and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), composed primarily of Kurdish forces that helped U.S. forces defeat ISIS on the ground.
Graham has warned against pulling out all U.S. troops entirely to prevent a return of ISIS and a war between Turkey and Kurdish forces.
In Munich, he proposed a safe zone in northeast Syria, along the southern border of Turkey.
“If we do not have a game plan, Turkey will go into Syria and deal with the YPG threat,” he said, referring to Kurdish forces. “They will not withstand the YPG on their border.”
Graham proposed that the safe zone be administered by a coalition of allied forces that would include only a fraction of the amount of U.S. troops deployed now in Syria.
He also said the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford would speak with some allies and partners at the conference to ask them to contribute their forces.
“Gen. Dunford will be coming to some of you in this room — our chairman of the Joint Chiefs — and will be asking for a contribution of forces to stabilize the region post-destruction of the caliphate.”
“So they do more, we do less, but there’s still a unique role for America. But the post-caliphate footprint for America will be substantially smaller,” he told Breitbart News in an interview.