This Decision Will Live in Infamy: Betraying Syria’s Kurds and Christians

By Lauren Homer Published on December 21, 2018

Tuesday, the White House announced an astounding decision. It declared victory over ISIS and started withdrawing US troops from Northeastern Syria. This is a complete reversal of US policy announced as recently as Monday. We had repeatedly committed to support our allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces. We said we would back them during the ongoing fight against ISIS and other Islamist forces in Syria. And against threats from Turkey and the Assad regime, as part of seeking a lasting peace in Syria.

The pluralistic and democratic values of these allies are crucial. They’re the only viable antidote to Islamist dominance and ISIS. The US military and intelligence agencies all agree. A US troop presence is critical. First, to stabilize Syria. Second, to stop ISIS from coming back. And finally to keep Iran from having its long desired highway to the Mediterranean (and Israel).

An Island of Freedom in an Islamist Sea

Why have we been supporting the SDF? First, they are the only group in the entire Middle East actually fighting and defeating ISIS. They lost hundreds of lives in the fight. More importantly, they implemented a pluralistic model throughout the one third of Syria they defend. Arab Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Kurds …. All groups have full legal and political rights and can worship freely. Women hold half of government offices. They even have their own military force. The SDF’s territory is the only place in the Muslim Middle East where these groups have these rights. The only one!

Turkish jihadis vow to behead Kurdish converts to Christianity.

Turkish troops are massed at the border between Turkey and Syria. They are breathing the same threats uttered before they invaded Afrin last year. They vow to behead Kurdish converts to Christianity. To hunt other Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, and other minorities. Less than 12 months ago, these forces began genocide and ethnic cleansing in Afrin. They drove more than 200,000 primarily Kurdish citizens out. They demolished Christian and Yazidi places of worship.

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Turkey claims the Kurds in the region are terrorists. This despite overwhelming evidence that this is false. Only the US presence has prevented a Turkish invasion.

Helping Iran, Assad, and Hezbollah

If we leave, the SDF has only one alternative to extermination. That is: turning to the Assad regime. Allowing Iranian (Hezbollah), Russian, and regime forces in. That would undercut US interests drastically. It will also allow ISIS to regroup and become a threat again.

Abandoning our SDF allies tells people that the US commitment to international religious freedom is hypocritical. How much does it mean if one US pastor gets out of jail, when millions of Syrian Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and others face a further genocide?

The real reason Erdogan hates the SDF is simple. It is pluralistic, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic. Its success flies in the face of Erdogan’s plan for an Islamist religious state in Syria. He secretly backed ISIS throughout the Syrian conflict. Turkey created terrorist havens in large parts of Idlib and in Afrin. Afrin had been the safest and most free area in Syria. ISIS flags fly in Afrin now. Women wear black burkas. One year ago, women held senior positions there, and Kurdish converts to Christianity worshiped freely.

Are the President’s Words Empty?

In the last twelve months, the Trump Administration has fought for religious freedom around the world. It held the well-attended Ministerial on International Religious Freedom in July 2018. Trump even enacted strong enough sanctions on Turkey to get US Pastor Andrew Brunson out of jail. The White House persuaded Uzbekistan to agree to a road map toward religious freedom. It made religious freedom a key piece of US foreign policy. President Trump spoke about this repeatedly. Were those words empty?

Abandoning our SDF allies tells people that the US commitment to international religious freedom is hypocritical. How much does it mean if one US pastor gets out of jail, when millions of Syrian Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and others face a further genocide?

This arbitrary twist in US policy is a complete betrayal of our Syrian allies in war and peace. The SDF has bled for the values we hold dear as a nation. How can Christians who struggle against Islamist genocide and ethnic cleansing in other countries have any confidence in the US? How can any US ally trust us?

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  • Nick Stuart

    Ms. Homer wants us mired in yet another forever war. No mention of how it’s going to be paid for in United States’ blood and treasure.

    • Not true. Support of SDF is not the same thing as a “war against terror”.

  • Kevin Vail

    Crusade for “pluralism” and “democracy”…..

    No thanks.

  • timeout31

    This simply is an over reaction! Things are not the same as it was during the last part of the GWB and all of BHO. We are not abandoning anyone! Please stop with all the drama.
    Trump said he was bringing home all U.S. troops fighting ISIS in Syria. Politicians from both parties have denounced the president’s decision as reckless or dangerous. But Obama’s weapons shipments to ISIS have long ceased. Iraq is no longer unarmed or incapable of
    fighting ISIS in Syria, as it was when Obama brought back U.S. forces. There is no vacuum for a caliphate-seeking competitor to invade an unarmed Iraq and regain its capital. ISIS may be armed with inferior Soviet-era weapons now. It is being systematically
    destroyed by some of the best technology America can produce. Iraq is rearmed
    with U.S. manufactured equipment, and the militaries of the Middle East (Jordan, Saudi, etc) can handle a diminished ISIS without additional U.S. forces. Our men and women in uniform in Syria are no longer needed. AND if need be, surgical strikes are on the table , you can be sure! Bring home the troops from the mid east. It is time.

    • Woobiefuntime

      We should have some near by to be ready at a moment’s notice. I believe that they were relaying information from our allies to aid our drone strikes. I am usually against conflict because my grandpa hated war with a passion after serving in ww2 .

      • We have 20+ bases in Iraq.

        • Woobiefuntime

          I know that is why we should keep a fee to be sure that trouble doesn’t fester.

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    The underlying logic for her opinion are the historical reasons that US troops are deployed in Korea, Europe (now including Poland) is to assure that American blood is shed at the moment of any aggression, to assure American involvement, manpower, materials and commitment to resolve the issue as quickly and effectively as possible with minimum destruction to the local national societies.

    It has been and is effective when standing up to establish national bad actors (linear warfare) given the threat of overwhelming retaliation hampered only by the concern for collateral damage. Modern non-linear warfare employed by non-state actors the only remaining option are either surgical strikes (to minimize collateral damage) or training mission with troops deployed with substandard national forces. The USA is more than willing to fostered dependencies by these nations on US troops, material, resources, treasury given that reduces their liability in their best selfish interest. The US DoD and defense industry is more than willing to play along as that is their primary revenue stream (Foreign Military Sales Dollars). Even the Dept of Homeland Security and TSA play along to foster the threat of non-linear warfare to assure their revenue streams as American society is more than willing to compromise liberties for security with their abundance of caution doctrine. This doctrine is the fertile ground that unelected bureaucrats thrive promulgation new regulations. The good news is that perhaps we have averted a global WWIII while the bad news is that the globalized world is continually at war.

  • apollo

    This is a European and Middle eastern problem. It is their turn to address the horrific problem of Islam and terrorism.

  • William

    If the war hawks and piece doves in the US congress dems and republicans are against this pull out then the removal of our troops is a good thing. And if we do have 20 plus bases in Iraq and Israel is armed to the teeth. We are still there. Turkey is the problem and Russia will deal with them. Assad is bad but not as bad as what has happened in Syria the last 5 or 6 years. Something like 250,000 deaths mostly civilians. And Trump campaigned on bringing the troops home. If msm is against this then we know its the right thing. God bless President Trump

    • Linda Choquette

      “If msm is against this then we know its the right thing”. Mad Dog Mattis is resigning over this…why does his expertise count for naught?

  • Patmos

    “This Decision Will Live in Infamy”

    No. No it won’t.

    If we leave, the SDF has only one alternative to extermination. That is:
    turning to the Assad regime. Allowing Iranian (Hezbollah), Russian, and
    regime forces in. That would undercut US interests drastically.

    The “US interest” to overthrow Assad was pretty much squashed while Obama was still president. All this troop removal means is Syria essentially goes back to being Syria: A nation with a less than ideal autocratic rule, but one where different religions existed without problems (relatively speaking).

  • tz1

    Maybe you should have advocated we leave and/or dissolve NATO where Turkey ended up as a more important ally.

    The Syrian Alawite regime PROTECTS CHRISTIANS – but apparently neoCon regime change is more important. The Kurds aren’t Christians (mostly) so which flavor of Islamic terrorist, oops, I mean Freedom Fighter like Bin Laden when he was fighting the USSR – do we support today? Some Kurds HAVE used terrorism against Turkey, but that area is just fog and smoke and tribal, so we can’t tell who’s who.

    Betrayal? Like when we pushed South Africa to switch and now there will be a WHITE GENOCIDE by the party with the song “Kill the Farmer, Kill the Boer” and will seize land and cause a horrible famine which we COULD prevent now, WILL YOU SEND TROOPS THERE TO PREVENT IT?

    I think Trump told Turkey not to genocide the Kurds, but also as we say goodbye to that quagmire (which I don’t remember a declaration of war under the constitution) we can tell the Kurds to NOT terrorize Turkey and settle with Assad.

    Why dont you go there and take all of your relatives and friends to lose their limbs if not their lives in battles there? You aren’t at risk now. It’s easy to say “we have to stay there until armageddon – we need to fight to the last drop of YOUR blood”.

    OK, but let it be really your blood, not mine.

  • Al Lejdly

    Why is it America has to shed the most blood to protect countries that don’t matter to us? Where’s that big bad UN and NATO? ~crickets~

  • John3in1

    All this talk about America shedding blood is not accurate. There is no war there now. The point is that, if we leave, there will be bloodshed–not a war, but a slaughter.

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