Bob Menendez says Pompeo ‘in a parallel alternate universe’

By Rishika Dugyala

Sen. Bob Menendez said Sunday there are “no guarantees” that U.S. interests in the Middle East are still being served following the White House decision to pull troops out of northern Syria.

The New Jersey Democrat also scoffed at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s assertions that the region has become more stable since the U.S. announced its withdrawal and that the Islamic State is being effectively countered.

“I think the secretary lives in a parallel alternate universe,” Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on ABC‘s “This Week.“

He later added, “Everybody in the region is recalibrating and rethinking about what their alliances should be.”

President Donald Trump’s abruptly announced pullout allowed Turkey to invade the region and attack Kurdish forces that were allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS.

On Thursday, Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to secure a 120-hour cease-fire designed to let Kurdish forces leave a roughly 20-mile zone along the Turkish border.

Menendez called the decision “a betrayal of the Kurds.” The House last week passed a resolution condemning the White House decision in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, and Menendez pointed to legislation in the Senate that would do the same — as well as introduce more sanctions and ask for a complete ISIS strategy.

“We need to do this,” he said. “Others in the world, when we are asking them to fight with us or for us, will say, ‘Why should I do that? When you're finished using me, you're going to let me die on the battlefield.’”

Menendez also criticized Trump for saying that the U.S. need not worry about terrorists so far away.

“When the president of the United States said that we shouldn't worry about 7,000 miles away and those terrorists there, well, on September 11, they traveled over 7,000 miles and ultimately did the worst attack in our nation's history,” he said.