1. Statement
  2. Middle East & Iran

Diplomacy Could Have Prevented the Bloodshed in Northeastern Syria

By Diane Randall, October 10, 2019


As a Quaker organization committed to ending all wars, the Friends Committee on National Legislation calls on Turkey to immediately end its assault on northeastern Syria and urges the U.S. government to pursue a diplomatic solution to this quickly-deteriorating situation.

The U.S. military presence in Syria was never authorized by Congress and must come to an end. But the sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops without consulting our allies or our nation’s own military and diplomatic experts – without plans to protect the thousands of civilians and refugees living there, enable the delivery of humanitarian aid, or guard captured ISIS fighters – can only mean a humanitarian and security disaster.

Careful diplomacy by the Trump administration with all the regional stakeholders, including Syria, Turkey, Russia, the Kurds, and Iran, could have prevented this. Their involvement is desperately needed going forward.

Before ordering the drawdown of U.S. troops, President Trump should have obtained guarantees from Turkey, a NATO ally, to ensure the safety and well-being of all civilians living in northeastern Syria. The Trump administration should have worked with European and other countries to repatriate their citizens detained in prison camps in Kurdish-controlled Syria for fighting with ISIS. The administration also should be encouraging the United Nations to negotiate an end to the civil war in Syria and all the conflicts in the region.

Careful diplomacy by the Trump administration with all the regional stakeholders could have prevented this. Their involvement is desperately needed going forward.

Diplomacy and international cooperation are the most effective and principled means of preventing violence and resolving conflict. Attempting to impose the will of the U.S. on others using force is rarely successful in the long run, and carries unacceptable human, economic, moral, and environmental costs.

Continued U.S. military involvement in Syria is unjust, unwise, and unsustainable. It is not in the interests of the Syrian or American people.

The dire results of this unilateral move by President Trump underscore the importance of securing congressional authorization before engaging U.S. troops in overseas conflicts. We call on Congress to exercise its responsibilities under the Constitution to debate and vote before allowing the U.S. to be drawn into armed conflict.

Diane Randall

  • Executive Secretary

Diane Randall is the Executive Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Diane leads FCNL’s staff to effectively educate and lobby for the policies and legislative priorities established by FCNL’s General Committee. A lifelong advocate for peace and social justice, Diane is a fierce proponent for citizen engagement that advances policies and practices to create a better society for all.