While Kurdish nationalism on the surface seems to be the common theme among various Kurdish groups, at least according to the Washington ruling class and elites, by no means does this mean that all Kurds are unified towards a single common goal or ideology. Different agendas, tactics, and goals have evolved among various communities of Kurds in different regions and countries over the course of history going back to the 10th century.
Unfortunately, for most Americans, the uninformed inside the Beltway savants and their stalwarts across the political spectrum have pilloried President Trump for his eminently rational decision to draw down the U.S. troop commitment (initially, only 25) to the Syrian morass⏤whose “dynamic” has remained largely unchanged since the late 1940s.
Most of the ire directed at Mr. Trump has to do with hand-wringing over our “Kurdish allies,” even after the President warned Turkey not to engage in its habitual behaviors⏤since Ataturk created his ethno-racist state⏤towards the Kurds.
Regardless, here are a few salient points one should bear in mind about the Kurds, which the hand-wringers conveniently ignore in their adulatory fawning and adulation of the Kurds, albeit as America’s faithful allies and partners.
To begin with, understand that after intense U.S. efforts, Turkey has chosen to act unilaterally. As a result, we have moved the remaining very small contingent of U.S. special operations force elements in northern Syria out of the path of potential Turkish incursion to ensure their safety, but a number of them remain inside Syria⏤based on their mission. Not, repeat not because of the Washington elitist’s belief that our troops should die alongside the Kurds to show our solidarity … who does that? Certainly, not elites, that’s for sure!
As a follow up to my posting earlier last week on the Syrian-Turkish border situation, the Kurds, and the U.S. pull-back from the border area⏤I need to provide some follow-on insight of what is at play, in addition to the operational aspects that I previously discussed.
First, understand the situation that President Trump inherited is rooted in Obama policies that were always destined to erupt in chaos.
Secondly, President Trump gave Turkey a choice on Syria: cooperate with the U.S. productively or risk catastrophe⏤we are now watching the impact of President Recep Erdogan’s decision play out.
Here’s the factual background, as opposed to that of the mainstream media, political pundits, and even Fox News, which has been absolutely terrible and quite frankly dishonest and blatantly wrong. Understand this and understand it good! The conflict in Syria is one of the geopolitical crises that the Trump administration has been both quite focused on and fairly sophisticated in addressing. Unfortunately, none of this was apparent from the last few days of media coverage, however, because the mainstream media wasn’t listening or refused to.
– To put it bluntly, President Obama left the Trump administration an intractable situation in northern Syria. Back in the mid-2010s, after he dismissed the Islamic State as a “JV team.”
– As a result, President Trump and his administration scrambled to address the very real ISIS threat that had fomented in Syria by January 2017.
– The Obama administration had a range of allies to choose from in Syria, but they chose to empower the ideological Marxist-based Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has close ties with the Communist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group which had been regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, European Union, United Kingdom, and Japan.
The YPG are terrorists and strategic opportunists who fought and continue to fight the Syrian government, as well as other insurgent and terrorist groups⏤note; there were at least 32 insurgent groups involved in the Syrian civil war.
Aside from its ideology and goals, the YPG exists and operates only to pursue its own territorial aims and agenda. The aim of the YPG in its struggle was and is to seize their territories and integrate them as part of the autonomous Kurdish region envisaged by them.
Essentially, the YPG have direct links to ISIS – both are hard-core terror groups, differing only in aims, and even at select times, have worked together. In fact, this was validated by the BBC which revealed that the YPG signed an agreement with ISIS. According to that report, the YPG took former ISIS members with them to join their group. Again, understand that the YPG⏤is the Syrian branch of Communist terrorist PKK which is prominent in Turkey.
So together who are the YPG and PKK and what are their goals?
The YPG is mostly ethnically Kurdish, and also includes Arabs, foreign Islamic volunteers, and is closely allied to the Syriac Military Council, a militia of Assyrians. The YPG was formed in 2004 as the armed wing of the Kurdish leftist Democratic Union Party. The PKK traces its origins to the wave of Maoism that spread over Europe in the late-1960s. Since the 1970s, the young Turkish “Maoists” have tied to combatant Communist organizations, such as Revolutionary Left or groups that promote Kurdish nationalist demands, while remaining Marxist-Leninist. With its bloodthirsty methods, crude Leninism tinged with nationalist, leader worship, ferocity both within the ranks and towards outsiders⏤the PKK which bears a striking resemblance to Peru’s Communist Sendero Luminoso.
Further, the Obama administration helped to install the YPG along hundreds of miles of Syrian-Turkish border. Additionally, the group was identified as the recipient of support and aid by Obama’s NSC deputy Ben Rhodes, and his counter-parts in the Obama-Hillary Clinton State Department selected and earmarked YPG. It thus, stands to reason why the Obama administration sought to support this particular element and faction of the Kurds.
Similarly, it was also this faction that Hillary Clinton targeted to be the recipient of the secret logistics smuggling of weapons (Stinger missiles, etc.) from Benghazi to Syria during the downfall, collapse, and regime change in Libya during 2011-2012 civil war, and the ultimate death of Muammar al-Gaddafi during the uprisings better known as the Arab Spring. Even Republican Senator John McCain was insistent that the U.S. support continue to these Kurdish elements.
Strategically, there are compelling arguments that suggest the Obama administration’s decision were more broadly linked to the administration’s wider pivot toward Iran and away from traditional American alliances in the region. Regardless of their motivations, the alliance created an unfortunate and impossible situation for Turkey. The Turks, justifiably or not, were never going to allow forces that they believed to be terrorist enablers to post up indefinitely across their border, absent some alternative to address Turkey’s security concerns, military action was all but inevitable.
To complicate the situation even more greatly, the Obama administration’s decision entangled the U.S. in the fate we are now dealing with of the Syrian Kurds as never before. The rapid and intense rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) and its ferocious onslaught across Iraq and Syria, caught the Obama administration off guard.
For clarification purposes, understand, it is the Kurdish faction known as the Peshmerga, it is the Kurdish entity predominately in Iraq that provided the most of the so-called “Kurdish” support to our U.S. military in the region during the invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent war in Iraq. This association is what provides and supports the narrative and notion that they are “partners and allies” of the U.S.
Understand, for the Kurds in Syria, as noted it’s the Marxist-Communist PKK elements that are the ‘fighting backbone” of the Syrian Kurds whom the failed mainstream media and the U.S. elitist ruling class (Democrats, Republicans, and not so intelligent pundits and national security analysts) are now claiming to have been “abandoned” by the Trump administration.
In turn, because of the common alliance against ISIS, the Obama administration, and the Neocons and Establishment in Congress threw the U.S. weight vociferously behind the Syrian Kurd’s (the YPG and PKK) cause and vice versa. In the process, they took enormous losses in battles that we had declared to the international community were absolutely critical to our national security. With the Syrian Kurds, we had become allies by proxy via the Obama administration erroneous policy and decisions. To that end, unfortunately for some, to those not familiar and less knowledgeable of the true realities, it means an enormous shortcoming.
In the end, this entire quagmire was emblematic of the untenable and problematic situation the Trump administration inherited from the Obama administration. Eventually and unfortunately, the Turkish security concerns would have to be addressed, but those concerns stemmed unfortunately from Kurdish fighters who had fought albeit with honor alongside our forces in the fight against ISIS. The only thing we had with the Kurds was a common interest, to eliminate ISIS. That’s it. Worse, there was never a promise that the U.S. would ever stand in between Turkey and the Kurds in a conflict of any sort between those two entities. Ever. Likewise, as I previously noted in my prior article, on the ground, the Kurds in fact provided protection to our forces, despite as otherwise noted by the media.
Over the past several months, after a number of dire attempts to solve the problem, the Trump administration dispatched some of our most seasoned diplomats to the region to offer the Turks a choice between two options. Those included;
(1) Turkey could cooperate with us, and in return, we would assist them in addressing their security concerns by setting up a “security mechanism”; or
(2) Turkey could unilaterally plunge into Syria and target the Kurds under their own auspices, in which case they would be ‘entirely on their own’ and bear the full brunt of the consequences.
Those consequences would include, but not be limited to, a potential impasse with the Kurds, the potential for thousands of ISIS fighters released into the chaos, international disapprobation, and potentially U.S. sanctions.
For anyone paying attention, this bifurcation of options always had been at the center of the Trump administration’s policy in northern Syria. In fact, just a few months ago, the Pentagon set up a Joint Center with Turkey to give them access to intelligence⏤so they could be assured we were holding up our end of the bargain on the cooperative security mechanism.
But, true to form, as I noted our knee-jerk biased mainstream media was not paying attention. Unfortunately, when President Trump announced this past Sunday that he will pull American troops out of northern Syria⏤after a call with Turkish President Erdogan that apparently went poorly due to Erdogan’s stubborn position, with the call ending in a Turkish threat to finally invade Syria set in motion the cascade of lunacy on both sides.
We witnessed a cast of characters on both the right and left expressed frustration and anger claiming we were abandoning the Kurds and gesturing toward yet again, prolonged stays in the region. Meaning, with shoot from the hip-knee jerk logic, more Americans should stay and die for the Kurds, because it’s the right thing to do.
Further, despite what the media has said about the Pentagon’s reaction being a surprise, the Pentagon actually reminded the Turkish President of the consequences. DoD quickly issued a statement cutting off Turkey from the agreed upon “cooperation” (or security mechanism) that had been the White House’s preferable path to the possibility of Turkish “unilateral action.” With military aid and assistance most likely to follow.
Of course, always being at odds with President Trump, the Left, the Establishment right, and Neoconservatives, and the political pundits wasted no time in constructing the narrative that President Trump has again recklessly gone rogue and that his position is entirely unreasonable. The usual invectives have been hurled at the President.
With that, let’s look at the other reality. President Trump was right to note that the U.S. has lost thousands of Americans and spent trillions of dollars fighting these conflicts (though not quite as many trillions as he suggests) — and of course, not to mention the suffering endured by citizens of these war-torn nations.
Such comments are in fact necessary for the President to say these things in order to justify his Syria decision last Sunday. Also understand while President Trump is correct in saying we need to bring the troops home⏤allegedly implying the 1,000 U.S. troops in the Syria would be coming home, but actually we’re not. Instead, we’ve moved roughly 50 U.S. service members out of northern Syria to get them out of harm’ way of this week’s just-started Turkish invasion.
In fact, let me add, in addition, the false narrative came into question because of what occurred on Friday and Saturday when artillery fire from Turkish positions hit within several hundred yards from a U.S. Special Operations unit and outpost near the Syrian town of Kobani. Right after the incident, U.S. jets patrolled the area to attempt to determine where the artillery fire originated from. The U.S. military determined it was likely executed by the Turkish military to pressure and force the U.S. forces in Syria away from the area near the border.
This raises the question, if U.S. forces are still there, how can it be justified that the U.S. has abandoned the Kurds? Secondly, and what is their mission? Let me remind the ‘U.S. elitist ruling class’ (now that you know who you are) remaining in harm’s way is not a mission.
So where do you stand? Understand, if you believe the insanity narrative, it’s because you don’t understand our actual policy in Syria.
Turkey as I noted, has chosen to act unilaterally in their incursion into Syria. Which of course, required a reaction by the U.S. As a result we have of course moved the few U.S. forces in northern Syria out of the path of Turkey’s incursion to ensure their safety, as noted. We have made no changes to our overall force presence regionally at this time.
Regardless of the outcome, it is abundantly clear that media coverage of the crisis has significantly underplayed both that Trump inherited a terrible foreign policy quagmire and that the diplomats he has empowered are doing a great deal to make a frustrating situation less frustrating. The media has little motivation to report on the complexity of this situation with accuracy. Hence, acknowledging the truth of what is actually transpiring in northern Syria wouldn’t fit the ongoing narrative of either a scandal-free Obama presidency, or the continued pushing the false semblance of an incompetent Trump administration.
Moreover, our very limited involvement is Syria has cost taxpayers a minimum of $54 billion, according to the Brown University Cost of War Project. It’s time for American involvement in this disaster to come to an end.
Of course, one school of critics predicts that in the absence of direct U.S. military involvement, ISIS will make a comeback. Understandably, that is a worthwhile concern, and worth taking seriously, seeing as something similar happened when former President Obama pulled troops out of Iraq in 2011.
Fortunately, that’s not going to happen in Syria. As President Trump rightly notes, an involved Turkey will have a strong security incentive not to allow ISIS to re-emerge. So too would the Assad regime’s allies, such as Russia. There will remain radicalized Islamist elements across the region, to include ISIS. It is an outcome of radical-Islam, let’s not kid ourselves. We’ve seen that emerge over the last several days in Iraq. And if a terrorism threat were to re-emerge, the U.S. does not need troops on the ground in Syria to step back in and fight it through remote strikes.
Here’s the reality, consider this: Can the U.S. really justify endless occupation of a foreign country based on the idea that if we ever leave, a threat might emerge? That logic would have us occupy everywhere, all the time.
The other critical concern, is that by pulling out, we will condemn our allies, the Kurds, to death at the hands of merciless Turkish forces.
Syria will continue to be a bloody disaster zone with deaths on all sides either way, and it may be true that leaving puts the Kurds in danger. That said, perhaps, we should leave anyway. U.S. foreign policy exists to put America first, and we did not enter Syria or return to Iraq in order to establish a Kurdish state.
As I noted previously, we never promised the Kurds our ongoing protection or aid in a war of independence in northern Syria. Our own goals and interests should always dictate our military decisions. To risk U.S. lives to police the outcome of the Syrian conflict, which will continue to be extremely bloody no matter what, puts American interests last in a failed attempt to continue policing the world.
Remember, it is not America’s job to sort out the future of Syria. We were in Syria for a very specific and limited reason⏤to eliminate the ISIS territorial caliphate. That was it. Under the current circumstances, we’ve accomplished that goal, and now it is time to remove our troops from that country⏤as of this past weekend the President has begun to do that.
President Trump was right to do so now, before more Americans lose their lives in yet another endless war in the Middle East.