Ernst Calls for Clear Strategy for the Enduring Defeat of ISIS

Senator Ernst put forward a resolution asking DoD and the State Department to provide a strategy to Congress on their fight against ISIS, and joined bipartisan effort urging the administration to support America’s Kurdish partners

WASHINGTON—In response to Turkey’s reckless intervention in northern Syria, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a combat veteran and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, today called on the Department of Defense (DoD), in conjunction with the Department of State to provide a plan to Congress within thirty days outlining the United States’ strategy to ensure ISIS will never again threaten Americans or our allies.

Senator Ernst spoke on the Senate floor on her resolution, which asks the DoD for a strategy to address the ongoing threat ISIS poses regionally and globally, the plan to prevent an ISIS resurgence, contain ISIS expansion, mitigate the threat ISIS poses to the United States and our allies, and describe how our gains against ISIS since 2014 will be protected.

Senator Ernst also joined a bipartisan group of senators on a letter urging the administration to reconsider their strategy in the region and to support our Kurdish partners.

Click here or the image above to watch Senator Ernst’s speech.

Below are Senator Ernst’s remarks:

“Mr. President, I rise today to call attention to the dire situation which continues to unfold in northern Syria.

“Turkey embarked on a reckless and brutal intervention on October 9, 2019, ostensibly to clear northern Syria of terrorist elements.  They have ironically dubbed this operation “Peace Spring.”

“The departure of U.S. forces just days prior to this incursion left nothing between Turkish military forces and the predominantly Kurdish militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF. Up until the cease-fire agreement announced today, the SDF bore the brunt of the Turkish assault. 

“The Kurds are deeply stung by what they see as America abandoning them.  This, after a long, hard, and successful fight against ISIS.

“At the height of its power, ISIS controlled territory larger than the United Kingdom.  As many Americans know, ISIS directed and inspired terrorist attacks on our homeland –communities across the United States-- and staged numerous attacks against our troops overseas. 

“ISIS branches across the globe have conducted unimaginable atrocities, including targeting Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, and others who opposed their corrupt interpretation of Islam. 

“Just one example of these atrocities is the heartbreaking stories of so-called Yazidi brides who were forced into marriages with ISIS fighters, raped and brutalized repeatedly, forced to decide whether to abandon their children, or make an escape. 

“Or the multiple stories of ISIS terror inflicted on those with disabilities, such as babies being suffocated simply for being born with Down Syndrome.

“Together with a coalition of over 30 countries, the United States engaged in a campaign to rid the world of ISIS and to restore peace and stability to the region.

“But it was not a nation-state that bore the brunt of the fighting against ISIS. The Kurds and Arabs who made up the Syrian Democratic Forces took the fight to the heart of the caliphate. With the help of U.S. special operations forces and air strikes, the SDF liberated lands held by the terror group, imprisoned thousands of terrorist fighters, and restored hope to hundreds of thousands who suffered under ISIS rule. 

“In our fast moving and quickly changing world, it is easy for some to forget the terrible threat ISIS once posed while they were at their most powerful, but it would be wrong to think that we can now allow ourselves to take our foot off our enemy’s throat.

“Even now, ISIS cells are seeking to take advantage of the chaos in northern Syria to reconstitute and once again pose a direct threat to Americans right here in our homeland.

“You cannot watch what’s unfolding in Syria without being fundamentally concerned about the security of our friends and neighbors—a recapitalization of ISIS is a threat to us all.

“It is for this reason that I have introduced a resolution which calls upon the Department of Defense, in conjunction with the Department of State, to provide a plan within thirty days which will outline a strategy to ensure ISIS will never again threaten Americans or our allies now or in the future.

“This strategy will address the ongoing threat ISIS poses regionally and globally and will outline the plan to prevent an ISIS resurgence, contain ISIS expansion, mitigate the threat ISIS poses to the United States and our allies, and describe how our gains against ISIS since 2014 will be protected.

“We cannot afford to take our eyes off the vital task of ensuring the lasting and irreversible defeat of ISIS. We must consolidate our gains to rid the world of this terrible organization, and insist on a sound strategy to ensure our success to that end.

“Too many of our partner forces and indeed American brothers and sisters in arms have fought and died in this fight – we must ensure these sacrifices were not made in vain.”

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