Trump Faced Down Erdogan, Then Blinked and Caved
I was blind-sided and stunned by President Trump’s decision to pull our small (2,000 man) force of troops from Syria. He did so after threats by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to attack them, as part of a new invasion to liquidate the Kurds. These troops right now are the only thing preventing that Islamist bully from storming into the region and slaughtering the very fighters who just defeated ISIS for us. Israel aside, this Kurdish-led militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces, is the closest thing we have to an ally in that godforsaken region.
The government it defends, the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, stands as an island of religious freedom and decentralized, representative government. It’s the very kind of regime we once fantasized we could set up in Iraq. But we didn’t set it up. It created itself. Then sought the U.S. as an ally. It did the lion’s share of the fighting against the butchers of ISIS who still target Americans. That’s the kind of ally you want, so you can exert smart leverage on a region. Instead of leaving things to fester, then invading and occupying entire countries, as we stupidly did in Iraq. (Iraq’s government now is an ally of our enemy, Iran.)
Betraying Our Allies, Cringing Before the Turks
And now we’re throwing the Kurds to Erdogan’s wolves. We know what will happen. As Stream writer Johannes de Jong points out, it happened back in January to the small Afrin region of Syria. Turkish tanks and planes (obtained through NATO) bombed hospitals and apartment buildings. Jihadi mercenaries linked to al Qaeda hunted down Kurdish converts to Christianity, and burned their churches. Tens of thousands of refugees flooded out of the area.
We’ll be betraying the Kurds again.
Now that will happen to the men and women who till last week were fighting shoulder to shoulder with Americans, and taking the bulk of the casualties. We’ll be betraying the Kurds again, as we did back in 1992. Remember? President George H.W. Bush urged them to rise up against Saddam Hussein, whom we wished to expel from Kuwait. When he’d finished in Kuwait, we let Hussein slaughter them. Now it seems that Trump will let Erdogan butcher them. I pray I am wrong.
Northern Syria will transform overnight from a U.S-friendly democracy where Christians are safe into a hellscape dominated by al Qaeda linked Islamist militias. Look for hundreds of thousands more refugees to flood into Europe.
Turkey: No Longer An Ally, Increasingly an Enemy
The Turkish regime has ceased to be a U.S. ally. It could well become an enemy. After helping to start the Syrian Civil War, aiding ISIS at first, then al Qaeda terrorist groups, it dumped a million Syrian refugees on Europe. It periodically threatens to ship out hundreds of thousands more, if Europe doesn’t pay blackmail to keep them out. The Turkish regime has meddled with elections in Western Europe, and Erdogan urged Turkish migrant women in German to have large families, so they can someday outvote the natives. Turkey just concluded a missile deal with Russia, flouting America’s repeated requests not to. Dozens of Americans are still held illegally by Turkey. Our State Department urges Americans not even to visit the country. The American Enterprise Institute writes:
Erdogan is motivated not by counterterrorism, but rather by racism and religious hatred. As such, it is crucial to recognize that Erdogan is far less a partner than a 21st-century Slobodan Milosevic.
Just this week, a Turkish newspaper linked to Erdogan leaked the secret locations of U.S. bases, alerting ISIS and other terrorists to dozens of potential targets.
Trump Gives Away the Store
Yet President Trump appears to be surrendering unconditionally to Turkey. He’s handing it northern Syria—the most valuable part of the country, as al Jazeera has noted:
The [Kurdish]-controlled area contains 90 percent of Syria’s oil and gas reserves, including al-Omar, its largest oil field, as well as most of its water resources, major dams, and power plants. The northeast is also Syria’s breadbasket.
If our Kurdish allies are destroyed, there’s literally nothing blocking Iran from shipping or supplying terrorists right down to the border of Israel.
In return, Trump is getting … apparently nothing. So much for the art of the deal.
Don’t expect anyone to trust the U.S. as an ally anytime soon. Apart from Israel, don’t think that the U.S. will have any real partners in the region. We’ll be alone. And given the way we apparently treat our friends, in some sense we’ll deserve to be.
Please contact President Trump and tell him not to go ahead with this short-sighted blunder.