U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, a Collinsville Republican who is not seeking re-election, is pulling his support from President Donald Trump after the president’s decision to withdraw U.S. military forces from Syria and allow Turkey to attack U.S.-allied Kurdish forces.
Shimkus told St. Louis radio station KMOX on Thursday that he had directed his staff to “pull my name off the ‘I support Donald Trump’ list” after learning of the decision.
“It’s terrible. It’s despicable. I don’t have enough words to mention it. I am embarrassed by it and I am saddened for the Kurdish people,” said Shimkus, who was first elected to Congress in 1996.
Shimkus is not alone. The move has drawn criticism from Republicans and Democrats in Congress, along with many national defense experts, who say it has endangered not only the Kurds and regional stability but U.S. credibility as well. The Syrian Kurdish militia was the only U.S. ally in the campaign that brought down the Islamic State group in Syria.
Turkey began an air and ground assault on the Kurdish forces on Wednesday, three days after Trump opened the way by pulling American troops from their positions near the border alongside their Kurdish allies.
Trump warned Turkey to act with moderation during its assault and safeguard civilians. But the opening barrage showed little sign of holding back: The Turkish Defense Military said its jets and artillery had struck 181 targets so far.
Shimkus described himself as “heartbroken” by Trump’s decision: “I mean, we have just stabbed our allies in the back.”
Trump's decision marked a stark change in his position from last year, when he vowed to stand by the Kurds, saying they "fought with us" and "died with us." On Wednesday, Trump called Turkey's operation "a bad idea," but also said he didn't want the U.S. to be involved in "endless, senseless wars."
Trump earlier this month had named Shimkus, along with U.S. Reps. Darin LaHood of Peoria, Rodney Davis of Taylorville and Mike Bost of Murphysboro, as "honorary state chairs" for the president’s reelection campaign.
His 15th Congressional District is geographically vast, and includes Massac, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Saline, Gallatin, Hamilton, White, Wayne, Edwards, Wabash, Lawrence, Richland, Clay, Marion, Washington, Clinton, Fayette, Effingham, Jasper, Crawford, Clark, Cumberland, Shelby, Moultrie, Coles, Douglas, Edgar and Vermillion counties, and parts of Ford, Champaign, Madison and Bond counties.