Trump’s announcement has left the Kurdish people to face an invasion from Turkish forces.
President Trump announced this week that American troops would be pulled back from the Syrian conflict in order to allow the Turkish military to wipe out a perceived Kurdish threat. This marks an ill-advised and blatant abandonment of the Kurds, longtime American supporters in the region.
Despite the loyalty and assistance provided by the United States’s Kurdish allies, President Trump’s order leaves the Kurds at the mercy of Turkey, a nation that has deemed them an urgent threat to national security.
The opportunities for the Kurds to gain some form of independence from the whims of larger nations have been scarce and costly, to say the least. As the civil war in Syria has dragged on, various radical Islamist groups have materialized within Syria. Because of the swift rise of groups such as IS, the Syrian military was forced to withdraw troops from Kurdish territories in the north in order to deal with the growing unrest and violence in other areas of the country.
As a result of the security shortfall, in 2012 Kurdish militias began expanding their territory in northern Syria; as this progressed, the Kurds continued taking steps to further declare independence, even taking steps as far as drafting their own constitution.
As a result of this expansion, they soon found themselves in direct conflicts with militant groups — the most notable of these groups being IS. As the influence of IS grew, the U.S. sought out a way to indirectly deal with that extreme threat without actively deploying American troops.
The Kurds made an appealing ally; because they were already expanding in the region and getting into conflicts with these actors, the U.S. opted to utilize these Kurdish militias and use them as a tool in a sort of proxy war.
The United States provided them with weapons, military advising, training and air support needed to fight back and win. The result was a successful campaign against IS; the United States had minimal direct presence in Syria, and the Kurds were furnished with the tools they needed to defend themselves and fight against IS.
This relationship was mutually beneficial, and the support provided by the Kurds has been indispensable in nearly every measurable capacity. The fact that Donald Trump was willing to throw them to the wolves at the earliest opportunity does not bode well for any alliance, present or future.
It should be noted that the Turks view the Kurds as a serious threat to their national security — the action that they have taken against our Kurdish allies has been swift and unforgiving. This view of the Kurds on behalf of the Turks does not reconcile in any way with the partnership of the United States and the Kurds. Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States; therefore, it is not necessarily logical that the ally of an ally is an exceptionally threatening enemy.
Nonetheless, because the Trump administration has officially decided to pull those advisors out of the Kurdish areas along the Turkish border, various agents of the Turkish military have begun carrying out brutal strikes on Kurdish positions in the area.
Despite the fact the IS has largely been defeated, it is not sound foreign policy to abandon allies in such a blatant and irreversible way. President Trump has demonstrated a reckless willingness to allow allies to be wiped out whenever it is expedient, and the damage that has been done to the reputation of the United States will require some extreme rehabilitation.