After a phone call with Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President Trump ordered U.S. troops stationed in Northern Syria to withdraw. This small detachment of U.S. troops had been collaborating with and provided some cover for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a military force led by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) which are the most important ground forces in Syria fighting the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS).
The Turkish government, immediately took advantage of this move to launch a major assault on Northern Syria, bombing water, power, and other necessary infrastructure systems, forcing over 100,000 Syrian people from their homes. Turkey is the ninth largest military power in the world. The Kurds have no comparable military equipment to fight back to defend themselves.
The Kurds are an ethnic minority of 40 million people, many living in Syria, Iran, and Iraq, but the majority live Turkey. The Turkish state has always fought to shatter their identity, wipe out their language, and destroy their culture, all in the name of building a strong Turkish state dominated by ethnic Turks. Like all racism and xenophobia, these are the politics that reinforce the rule of the rich and divides poor people into groups to attempt to control them.
However, for the last eight years, the Kurds of Northern Syria, taking advantage of the power vacuum in Syria, seized control of Northern Syria, where they have built a regime with the goals of liberating women, creating a coexistence of ethnic and religious groups, and democratic governance. Now this territory is subject to a bloody invasion by Turkish military forces. President Erdoğan cannot tolerate an independent Kurdish territory on Turkey’s Southern border, especially for the example of free expression and self-government it gives to Turkey’s 15 million Kurdish citizens.
The Kurds of Northern Syria, led by the PYD, have tried to maneuver between Turkey, the United States, and other forces intervening in the Syrian civil war including Russia and Iran by making alliances that reinforce independent Kurdish control of Northern Syria. This led them to an alliance with the U.S. military, especially in the fight against the forces of the Islamic State. The Kurds fought for their lives, with U.S. military aid and eventually defeated the ISIS caliphate.
Now, with ISIS scattered or imprisoned, all it took was a phone call from Erdoğan, and Trump ordered U.S. troops to clear the way for the slaughter of the Kurds. Even high-ranking U.S. military officials and Republican Party politicians have reacted against this disgusting betrayal of the Kurds. Of course, they are just concerned about the credibility of the U.S.and trying to preserve a useful military alliance. But they are right, Trump’s sudden move, driven by stupidity, ego, or his personal interests is a massive betrayal of the Kurds. By ordering the U.S. military to make way for the Turkish military, Trump has opened the gates of hell in Northern Syria and the lives of hundreds of thousands are threatened by this Turkish attack.
There can be no long-term liberation for the Kurds or anybody else on the planet by making deals and alliances with the U.S. or any government that represents the wealthy elite. The Kurdish movement in Northern Syria, for all its heroism, has been caught between a rock and a hard place, in the middle of overwhelmingly powerful military forces, trying to play one against the other.
It’s our responsibility to place the blame where it belongs – in the bloody hands of Trump, Erdoğan, Putin, and all of the regimes that are ripping the Middle East apart in their competition for control. We must say loud and clear NO! to the Turkish attack on the Kurdish people.