Rely on no one

Great and unmatched wisdom?

KURDISH MEMBERS of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan hike through the mountains from Iraq to Iran. (photo credit: COURTESY ZACH HUFF)
KURDISH MEMBERS of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan hike through the mountains from Iraq to Iran.
(photo credit: COURTESY ZACH HUFF)
As usual, Nikki Haley had it right. Responding to US President Donald Trump’s announcement – in a late Sunday night White House press release – that he would hand over Syria to Turkey, the former US ambassador to the United Nations tweeted:
“We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake,” adding: #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend.
Haley was not alone. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, considered one of Trump’s most loyal supporters in the Senate, called it “a disaster in the making.”
Graham was among a number of senior Republicans who came out strongly against Trump’s sudden decision to abandon America’s Kurdish ally. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Trump to reverse the decision, saying “a precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran and the Assad regime.”
Another Republican ally of Trump, Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, also voiced objection to Trump’s decision, and of course so did all the Democrats. But that so many stalwart Republican defenders of this controversial president so vociferously objected to his sudden change of policy, is a clear indication that this decision might be a major strategic mistake.
The decision was not just a remarkable shift and horrible reversal of US policy, but also a clear and present danger to the region both now and for years to come. Moreover, throwing the Kurds under the bus sends a disturbing message to the US’s other friends in the region – and that includes Israel – who now all have to ask themselves if they can truly rely on America with Trump at the helm.
Trump tweeted that it was “time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home.”
But because the blowback was so severe, he followed up the next day: “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”
Great and unmatched wisdom?
That hardly seems to be the case in this decision as well as others that he has made in Syria and the Persian Gulf and have given Iran a feeling that it can do what it wants without paying a price.
“I don’t believe it is a good idea to outsource the fight against ISIS to Russia, Iran, and Turkey,” Graham tweeted. “They don’t have America’s best interests at heart. The most probable outcome of this impulsive decision is to ensure Iran’s domination of Syria. The US now has no leverage and Syria will eventually become a nightmare for Israel.”
Thankfully, Graham will not sit idly by and allow a genocide to unfold. He announced that he and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen will introduce legislation calling for sanctions against Ankara if Turkey invades Syria, and “will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.”
The ostensible reason for the US leaving Syria is to allow Turkey a free hand in fighting ISIS, but that’s not realistic. Turkey does not have the capability to shut down ISIS. Its real target is the Kurds, and it is no doubt preparing to unleash a massive attack.
Israel needs to draw the necessary lesson that the Jewish state’s founding fathers understood after the Holocaust just as it was taught by Hillel and quoted in Ethics of the Fathers: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”
Every day, the State of Israel weighs the movements of its surrounding enemies bent on destroying the country. Surveying the landscape and weighing the options of how to react, Israel knows its decisions must be based on one underlying principle: it can never rely on others, even those whom it thinks are its best friends.
With his decision to abandon the Kurds, Trump proved once again that Hillel was right. Israel can only rely on itself.