By taking U.S. forces out of Syria, the safety of America’s allies is compromised.
President Donald Trump made the announcement on Sunday, Oct. 6, that the U.S. would be pulling troops from their positions in Syria in an attempt to fulfill a campaign promise of ending the war in the Middle East.
This announcement was immediately met with worry and hostility from both major American political parties. Many were concerned about possible Turkish attacks on the Syrian Kurds, who have been a U.S. ally for years and fought against the Islamic State. Trump reassured his criticizers by promising Turkey’s economic collapse if “Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits.”
Trump declared last December that he was going to begin removing troops from the Middle East but later rescinded that statement due to Republican backlash. Trump now appears to be holding up the promises he made while on the campaign trail.
Republicans and Democrats in the Senate agree that withdrawing troops was the wrong idea and falls in line with what critics call an impulsive foreign policy. Republican Senator Liz Cheney of Wyoming said it was “a catastrophic mistake.”
Trump defended himself stating that the wars in the Middle East are endless and useless. He stated that the troops are “not fighting,” and are “just there.” However, he received criticism from his own party and past administration officials.
Former U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley commented that the U.S. “must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back … leaving them to die is a big mistake.”
On Monday, Oct. 7, the Turks had already began their attacks on the Kurds. Without American troops to back them up, the Kurds are outpowered and outmanned by Turkish troops. The Kurds not only fought alongside Americans against the Islamic state, but also act as jailors for IS fighters. A current fearis that the fight against the Turks could spread the Kurds too thin, possibly giving the IS fighters the chance to break away. Many IS prisoners already see this attack as their way to freedom.
When asked if the potential freedom of IS prisoners would pose a threat, Trump responded, “They’re going to be escaping to Europe. That’s where they want to go.”
Turkish forces unleashed a full on attack on Wednesday, Oct. 9 in Northeast Syria close to the Turkish Border. The Syrian Democratic Forces, the U.S. allies that operate in the area, are considered by Turkey to be a terrorist organization that they want to eradicate. The attacks are located at cities they operate in and are focused on killing them.
Reports on the attack confirmed that many are fleeing to safety after two civilian deaths and two injuries following aerial bombardment.
Trump’s only comment on the attack was that the U.S. “does not endorse” Turkey’s attack on the Kurds. The president is now looking to impart sanctions on to the Turkish government as a threat for them to back down.
Many feel that the blood of civilians are on Trump’s hands for his decision to pull back troops, and that a sanction is too little, too late.