The Kurds are more than counter-terror allies

The Kurds have proven their commitment to peace, stability and human dignity by opposing tyrants in the Middle East for a century and defeating the terror we all know as ISIS

SYRIAN DEMOCRATIC Forces celebrate the first anniversary of Raqqa province’s liberation from ISIS, in Raqqa, Syria, in October 2018. (photo credit: ABOUD HAMAM / REUTERS)
SYRIAN DEMOCRATIC Forces celebrate the first anniversary of Raqqa province’s liberation from ISIS, in Raqqa, Syria, in October 2018.
(photo credit: ABOUD HAMAM / REUTERS)
On October 7, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter and declared that the time had come for the United States “to get out of these ridiculous endless wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home” following a phone call with Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan. What Mr. Trump had done is officially abandoned his Kurdish allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and given Turkey who sees the Kurds in Syria as terrorists the green light for an offensive operation in North-Eastern Syria all without informing the Pentagon.
The SDF, a Kurdish-led force that also consists of many Arab, Turkmen and Armenian Christians has proven its reliability and commitment to the anti-terror coalition by being in the front line and giving 11,000 lives in the territorial defeat of the Islamic State or Daesh.
These same people who sacrificed so much, now, find themselves between the silent creep of Assad's tyranny and the aggressive advance of Turkish terror. They look around and notice that the U.S. has abandoned them like they have done with their brethren in the past.
On a positive note, though, other countries have come out and strongly condemned Turkey's unlawful, destabilizing and unprovoked offensive in Northeastern Syria. Israel was one of the first but others like the UN, countries in the Arab League and Europe have followed suit in condemnation and calling upon Turkey to cease its operation. Even superstar celebrities like Cher and Hollywood actor Robert Deniro took to twitter to denounce President Trump’s withdrawal of US troops considered by many as abandonment and betrayal of America’s most important ally: the Kurds.
Unlike the 2017 independence referendum that Kurds held in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, the world seems united in voicing opposition to Turkey’s aggression against the Kurds. However, this vocal opposition has not materialized into concrete actions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently blasted countries and organizations for condemning Turkish actions and vowed that Turkey “will not stop no matter what anyone says."
The increasing number of Kurdish casualties and the risk of thousands of ISIS prisoners breaking out of their cells is forcing Kurdish leaders to look to the Russians and Assad for potential assistance. In fact, Mazloum Abdi, commander of the SDF, recently told Bloomberg in a telephone interview that he will be forced to seek a partnership with Assad and the Russians if President Trump cannot prevent or persuade Turkey to pull back its army and cease its operation.
What the Kurds have achieved makes them the only true partners that western and regional powers can rely on in preventing the return of ISIS and bringing Assad to some form of political agreement on the future of Syria. Thus, speaking out and supporting the Kurds must be considered as more than mere humanitarian policy. It is sound, strategic and principled policy for Western and neighboring states that wish to thwart the resurgence of ISIS or any other terror group and deter Turkey and Iran from making their imperial design a reality at their detriment.
The Kurds have proven their commitment to peace, stability and human dignity by opposing tyrants in the Middle East for a century and defeating the terror we all know as ISIS. Nevertheless, when President Trump was questioned about his abandonment of the Kurds, he failed to fully acknowledge the sacrifices and contributions that the Kurds have made to defeat ISIS by arguing that “Kurds didn’t help us with Normandy."
What Mr. Trump neglected to mention is that the U.S. and NATO spend trillions of dollars as part of the ‘war on terror’ yet failed to effectively counter jihadists extremism. The rise of ISIS is definitive proof of that failure. If it was not for the thousands of brave, Kurdish Peshmerga and YPG forces who gave their lives to defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the West and regional countries would currently be negotiating with ISIS, like they have been doing with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
What the US withdrawal means for the Kurds is twofold. First, Kurdish unity and cooperation between the different parts of Kurdistan is imperative for the survival and advancement of the Kurdish cause. Second, Kurds must strengthen their relationship with Israel and regional Arab allies whose interests and long term security are also threatened by Turkish and Iranian efforts to regain former imperial dominance in the region.
By the same token, the Turkish offensive and the withdrawal of the U.S. from the region necessities that those same regional powers be proactive leaders and support the Kurds whose blood and political prose has saved thousands of lives, deterred ISIS from expanding into their territories and kept minorities in Northeast Syria secure from the radical jihadist terrorism, Assad, and Turkish forces since the outbreak of the civil war in the spring of 2011.
President Trump is wrong for pulling U.S. forces out of Northeastern Syria and abandoning a key ally but he is right about one thing. Regional and NATO countries must step up and take concrete measures against Turkish aggression and terrorism. The future of Syria and indeed the region requires that other states do more to maintain order and stability.

The author is an English teacher, freelance writer and PR student located in Vancouver who has written as a contributor for Kurdistan24, Rudaw and other Kurdish news organizations
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