A history of selling out the Kurds, people with 'no friends but the mountains'Breaking News
tags: Middle East, Syria, Kurds
As the skies over northeastern Syria blackened with smoke this week, as Turkish warplanes swooped down and gunfire and shelling resumed in what had briefly been an oasis of relative peace in the region, the world recognized what 36 million Kurds already knew: They had been betrayed, not for the first time, by their putative allies. In this case, the United States.
It has been a constant theme in the history of the Kurds, an ethnic group indigenous to parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. The quest for their own country where they could freely speak their own language, a right denied them for most of the 20th century, has come to define the Kurds, along with the broken promises of world powers that are happy to enlist the tough mountain people to fight their battles, but in the end find a reason to cut a deal with the national governments that have standing armies — and oil.
It was a decision by President Trump on Sunday, after he spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but without consulting either the Pentagon or the State Department, that paved the way for the latest betrayal. In withdrawing a token force of American troops from an area of northeastern Syria, Trump opened the door for Erdogan’s “Operation Peace Spring” to create a 300-mile “safe zone” — safe for Turkey, that is — along the Syrian border and rid it of what Erdogan described as a Kurdish “terror army.”
That army was the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which had borne the brunt of the war to destroy the Islamic State group’s caliphate, a prime goal of American policy and an achievement Trump frequently claims as a personal victory. Critics, including many Republicans, denounced the move as both a moral and political debacle, a betrayal of allies who had fought alongside American troops, a humanitarian disaster in the making, and an opening for ISIS to regroup in the growing power vacuum.