Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s utter contempt for the rule of law and public opinion has cost Turkey the moral and symbolic components of the war in Syria. Erdogan has stampeded over all diplomatic niceties.His style of diplomacy was first put on display in 2017, when his bodyguards beat up peaceful protesters in Washington, DC. The surreal melee, in hindsight, was a harbinger of what was to come to the Kurds in Syria. Instead of using peaceful means to address its security concerns and launching a diplomatic campaign to gain the backing of Turkey’s NATO allies, Erdogan unleashed Islamist groups into northeast Syria, backed by Turkish air and ground cover. And, instead of softening Kurdish resistance by courting cooperation of the Kurdish population, he made the battle for losing hearts and minds in northeast Syria complete by unleashing Islamist proxies with links to al-Qaeda and ISIS, terrorist groups that have committed numerous war crimes. Erdogan has failed to produce any evidence of Kurdish attacks on Turkish soil by Syrian Kurds, and has stiffened their resistance by unleashing proxies who are driven by their desire for rapine and sheer hatred of the Kurds. Erdogan’s hubris against the Kurds has managed to unite the Kurds despite their political differences.Since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Turkey has systematically denied the existence of the Kurds and has sought to assimilate them. Until recently, Turkey’s violent oppression of Kurdish culture and identity had elicited little to no protest from the international community due to the imperatives of the Cold War and Turkey’s geopolitical importance in relation to Iran and Russia. Southeast Turkey, where the Kurdish population is concentrated, is a virtual information black hole where journalists are routinely intimidated, imprisoned or assassinated. Erdogan had counted on the international community’s silence, as had been the case in Turkey’s Kurdish majority cities, where entire cities are destroyed without the slightest protest from the international community. However, because the recent incursions took place outside of Turkey’s borders and in unfavorable diplomatic circumstances, it revealed for the first time Turkey’s default response to the Kurdish question in Turkey or anywhere else in the region.Today, public opinion across most of the world seems to be opposed to Turkey’s naked aggression against the Kurds, Christians and Arabs of northeast Syria. Erdogan has put himself in a bind. He can’t deflect the criticism of the anti-Kurdish nature of the incursion because doing so will acknowledge the existence of the Kurds, which is tantamount to treason in Turkey, so he calls the Kurds “terrorists.” But by lumping all Kurds together under the label of “terrorists,” Erdogan has failed to make a case that the incursion is against the YPG and not against the Kurds.World opinion has swung squarely behind the Kurds of northeast Syria who have found many friends in the US Congress and in the media. The Kurds are even being nominated for Person of the Year for 2019 by Time magazine. Despite winning the symbolic component of this war, it remains to be seen if the Kurdish David will survive ethnic cleansing by the Turkish Goliath in northeast Syria. The bright side of this, if there is any, is that Erdogan has done more than any other person to bring the plight of the Kurds to the world’s attention. Erdogan has done for the Kurds in northeast Syria and Turkey what Saddam Hussein did for the Kurds in Iraq; he brought to the world’s attention the brutal treatment of the Kurds in Turkey.By waging a war of ethnic cleaning against the Kurds, Erdogan has single-handedly moved Turkey from an undisputed and valued NATO ally to a resident in diplomatic purgatory. He has put Turkey in the category of rogue states. Today, Turkey is being threatened with sanctions, and its value as a NATO ally put up for debate in Congress and in the media.The writer is a graduate student in government and politics, focusing on the Middle East, at Johns Hopkins University.