In call after call over the past two weeks, Trump has sought counsel from prominent evangelical figures on how to protect his relationship with conservative Christians amid mounting criticism over his withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria.
Some of the leaders urged him to reverse course after he announced that American troops would no longer be operating near the Turkey-Syria border. They warned of religious persecution in the region and the threat to civilians in Kurdish-held territory. Others advised him of the danger his decision could pose to U.S. allies like Israel, whose security and sovereignty white evangelicals care deeply about.
“This gives evangelicals pause because now they’re wondering, ‘Hmm, that was not a good move. What’s next? Does this mean he’s going to throw Israel under the bus if he threw the Kurds under the bus?’” a longtime friend of the president said. Another evangelical Trump ally told the president he was offended by a comment the president made about Kurdish fighters having “plenty of sand to play with,” according to a person briefed on the conversation.