On Sunday, President Trump announced that some 1,000 U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria.
Lawmakers, policy experts, and the media — liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican — immediately reacted, condemning the announcement as unwise. While the President sees the move as fulfilling a campaign promise of getting us out of what he called “ridiculous, endless wars,” most others see it as a cruel and dangerous betrayal of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces and their Christian and Yazidi allies.
The Kurds will now have to defend themselves against NATO-member Turkey, which views them as terrorists and wants them out of Syria. In fact, the President announced that Turkish forces would be “moving forward” into the region.
So who exactly are the Kurds? They are a minority ethnic and mostly Islamic group in portions of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. They have been loyal and effective allies to the U.S. in the fight against ISIS. The areas they control in Syria have become last-resort havens for persecuted Yazidis and Christians.
With U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria, the Kurds — and the Yazidis and Christians they protect — will be fully exposed, and therefore in grave peril. They will be forced to turn their attention and their fighters away from ISIS to confront the existential threat from Turkey. The resulting vacuum could lead to a resurgent and emboldened ISIS, much as President Obama’s unwise and impulsive withdrawal from Iraq led to a re-organizing of our enemies there.
And there’s an additional problem: The Kurds hold thousands of ISIS prisoners. The Administration assumes that Turkey will take control of them, but it’s far from certain if and how that would happen if Turkey launches an all-out assault on the Kurds.
Some 11,000 Kurds have given their lives in the fight against ISIS already. They need and deserve U.S. support. To withdraw that support now sends a message around the world about the U.S.’s reliability as an ally.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and David Carlson