America’s betrayal of Kurds

Betrayal is a harsh word. But there is nothing else that comes close to describing what US President Donald Trump has done to Kurdish allies in Syria – the people who actually did the heavy lifting to defeat the ISIS there. Earlier this month, Trump announced that the US was pulling its forces, numbering about 1,000, who were engaged in training and acted in an advisory capacity, out of northeast Syria. He said Americans were tired of having their military bogged down in “endless wars” – presumably thinking this would be a nice little political boost. But those US troops were a buffer, the equivalent of a thin blue line, that prevented Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan – who shares Trump’s dictator style – from sending his military into the area in what could be a massacre of Kurdish fighters. Yes, these are the same Kurdish fighters who suffered nearly 11,000 casualties in combat against ISIS – which Trump likes to claim he defeated – compared to six US service members and two civilians who were killed in the anti-ISIS campaign.
Erdogan didn’t wait long after Trump gave him the go-ahead, pressing ahead with a military offensive in the vacuum left by the US and justifying the attack because of the Kurdish ties to militants inside Turkey and the long desire to have an independent Kurdish homeland. In addition to the dire situation faced by the Kurds, the Turkish invasion initially blessed by Trump has caused a humanitarian crisis, with aid groups suspending their work because of shelling, road closures and other threats. A reported 160,000 people, including 70,000 children, have been displaced since the fighting escalated. This decision by Trump is a disaster on every front. It helps the Russians, it throws Syria into chaos, and it could help the rebirth ISIS. And it sends a powerful message: Why would anyone help America in its fight against Islamist terror groups when they repay their sacrifice in blood with pure betrayal?