Syrian Withdrawal: How the US is Actually Abandoning its Allies

Sal Donofrio, Student Editor, Student Editor

ISIS has been effectively defeated to US-backed Syrian fighters. One less faction exists to complicate the already complex situation in the Middle East. But the Kurdish freedom fighters that helped the US have always been a minority, and a target of larger powers such as Turkey and Iraq.

President Trump has since announced a plan to withdraw from Syria, now that the threat of ISIS is defeated. This comes as Turkey, a power that has subjugated the Kurdish people in the past, announced plans to invade northern Syria. Members of congress from both sides as well as the Kurdish army have now accused President Trump of abandoning the Kurdish people. Since then, the president has doubled down and said that he “will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey” should the Turkish army invade northern Syria. 

But are the accusations of abandoning the Kurds true? In short, yes. But the US withdrawal does not only threaten the Kurds, but the world.

Turkey has not had the best relationship with the Kurds. Starting in the 1930s with massacres and the banning of Kurdish culture until the early 90’s. Although there has been more leniency toward the Kurdish people living in Turkey, a hatred remains. 

This has lead to worldwide fears that the Turkish invasion may lead to genocide.

Turkey has continued to amass troops on its border with Syria in preparation for an invasion code named Operation Peace Spring. The purported aim to resettle displaced Syrians that had fled Syria with the outbreak of its ongoing civil war and to establish a buffer between southern Turkey and northern Syria. Additionally, Turkey considers the Syrian Democratic Front, the group of Kurds backed by the US, as terrorists. Accusing them of abetting a separtist movement in southern Turkey. 

The Turkish Air Force has been able to bomb Kurdish strong points with impunity, as the Kurdish army possesses no air assets to fight back. Air strikes is something Turkey would not have undertaken if US troops were on the ground due to their mutual status as a NATO member. 

While the Kurds have defeated ISIS, not all of them were killed. Some 10,000 fighters were captured and imprisoned. Kurdish fighters are already stretched thin, and with Turkey being a more pressing problem, the Kurds may be forced to abandon the defense of the prisons. Such a large number of prisoners escaping could lead to a resurgence of the Islamic State and a new wave of terror attacks around the world. 

In fact, the Kurds lost 11,000 fighters in combating ISIS. As of October 10th, Turkey claims it has killed 109 “terrorists.” However, an independent group in the UK claims that Turkey has only killed 19 combatants and 2 civilians.

While the Turkish invasion is still in its early stages, and the ultimate goal is still yet to be reached, the US has allowed Turkey to the action that is has.