US Sells Out Syrian Kurds To Turkey’s Erdogan, Opening Door To Massacre

United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.

That’s from a White House statement released following a phone call between Donald Trump and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Effectively, it means the US just sold out the YPG, America’s Kurdish allies in Syria.

Since December, when Trump unnerved some Pentagon officials by tipping an abrupt withdrawal of US troops from Syria, advisors have variously warned the president that abandoning the YPG (who fought alongside the US in the battle to stamp out ISIS) risked undermining America’s reputation as a reliable partner to local fighters.

Read more: Obstacles To Trump’s Syria Plan Mount As Kurds Shelled

More importantly, it risked opening up Syrian Kurds to a Turkish offensive. Erdogan does not distinguish between the YPG and the PKK, one of the Turkish president’s mortal enemies.

In January, John Bolton made it clear that any cross-border incursion (or shelling) against the Kurds by Turkey put US military personnel at risk, and thereby would not be tolerated, even as the US moved ahead with a plan to pull troops out of the country.

“We don’t think the Turks ought to undertake military action that’s not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States at a minimum, so they don’t endanger our troops, but also so that they meet the president’s requirement that the Syrian opposition forces that have fought with us are not endangered”, Bolton said, on January 8, while speaking in Jerusalem.

Erdogan was not amused. “It is not possible for us to swallow the message Bolton gave from Israel”, Erdogan told Parliament that day, after literally refusing to meet with John, who was en route to Ankara. Bolton, Erdogan said, had made a “grave” mistake.

Five days later, on January 13, Trump threatened to decimate Erdogan’s economy if Turkey went after Syrian Kurds once US troops were out of harm’s way. “Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions”, he tweeted, adding that the US would “devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds”.

Fast forward 10 months, and Erdogan has run completely out of patience with what he considers intolerable foot-dragging on the US side when it comes to establishing a so-called “safe zone”. So, he’s going to do it himself, where that means effectively invading, claiming territory from the YPG and resettling millions of Syrian refugees his country has taken in over the course of the nine-year-old civil war.

On Monday, both Erdogan and the Syrian Kurdish fighters said American troops were abandoning their positions along the border, paving the way for a Turkish invasion.

Make no mistake, this is a potential disaster.

In addition to all but ensuring a massacre (while there is no guarantee that Turkish forces and Syrian Kurds will clash, fighting is more likely than not), it risks freeing tens of thousands of ISIS fighters and their relatives, currently held in the area. The Syrian Democratic Forces (which is effectively led by the YPG) warned Monday that many of those fighters and family members could end up going free amid the melee.

Specifically, the YPG says ISIS “sleeper cells” have already hatched a plan to jailbreak more than 10,000 militants held in northeastern Syria. That, the group rather dryly notes, is a “threat to local and international security”. In addition, the YPG control al-Hol, a camp that houses in excess of 70,000 people, including the wives and children of ISIS fighters.

The White House claims Turkey will somehow handle all of those captives, but has not elaborated on precisely how.

For his part, Erdogan says the SDF have “exaggerated” the number of ISIS fighters in captivity. Turkey, he says, is conducting a “study” on how they can be “speedily” processed.

“The American forces did not abide by their commitments and withdrew their forces along the border with Turkey”, a dejected statement from the SDF reads. “Turkey now is preparing to invade northern and eastern parts of Syria [and] the military operation will have a huge negative effect on our war against IS”.

With this decision, Trump is inviting what will almost surely be a series of stinging rebukes from US lawmakers. Additionally, acquiescing to one of Erdogan’s long-standing demands risks further shaking the Pentagon’s faith in the president, who has a habit of insisting that he’s smarter than any general.

Trump’s December decision to pull all US troops from Syria prompted the resignation of Jim Mattis. Days later, Trump lost the special presidential envoy for the coalition to defeat ISIS when Brett McGurk resigned.

“This looks to be another reckless decision made without deliberation or consultation following a call with a foreign leader”, McGurk said Monday. “The White House statement bears no relation to facts on the ground. If implemented, it will significantly increase risk to our personnel, as well as hasten ISIS’s resurgence”.

“Allowing Turkey to move into northern Syria is one of the most destabilizing moves we can do in the Middle East”, Rep. Ruben Gallego, a former Marine who served in Iraq, tweeted. “The Kurds will never trust America again. They will look for new alliances or independence to protect themselves”.

As for whether the Syrian Kurds are inclined to sit idly by while Erdogan indulges genocidal fantasies, the answer is obviously no. “We will not hesitate for a moment in defending our people” against Turkish troops, they said, in a statement.

“We are not going to support the Turks and we are not going to support the SDF”, a US official told The New York Times. “If they go to combat, we’re going to stay out of it”.

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9 thoughts on “US Sells Out Syrian Kurds To Turkey’s Erdogan, Opening Door To Massacre

  1. The quest for a Kurdish Free State is a Pandoras box ..You can’t involve yourself in this type of ethnic issue especially when you support both sides never giving clear ideological signals… Erdogan is crazy like a Fox…and that makes two of a kind in this issue…

  2. Are the Swiss, Germans, Mexicans, English, French and Japanese selling out the Kurds? Why is it the U.S. is responsible? If the rest of the world decides that the Kurds need military assistance, then maybe we should join in. In the meantime, let’s not let the New York Times, or CNN decide who are the good guys and who are the world’s bad guys.

    1. What? The “Mexicans” didn’t partner with the Kurds and fight and die alongside them for three years to defeat Sunni extremists. They were a reliable ally and now we just left them to either immediately seek protection from Assad, or else try to fend off the Turkish army.

      And we, as a country, have got to stop this nonsense where media outlets can’t even report the news without being accused of “deciding” something. The New York Times and CNN aren’t “deciding” anything. They are reporting what just happened. It’s not a judgement call. The judgement call was made by Donald Trump, who just left an untold number of people to die at the hands of Erdogan.

      Those are the facts.

  3. Obviously Erdogan learned from Xi and Kim that if you push back at Trump he cowers in a corner like a scared puppy. Typical bully response.

    1. And that’s the other thing here. This was just Trump folding to another strongman.

      Then, just hours later, he jumped on Twitter and threatened to destroy Turkey’s economy after green-lighting Erdogan’s cross-border incursion. He (Trump) is bouncing off the walls. It’s totally out of control. There is just no other way to describe it. He is completely off the rails.

  4. H-Man, truly a sad day. These people fought with us and gave us a foothold against terrorism and now we abandon them. Who would ever partner with us again knowing we sell out? Our foreign policy is in shambles and there is only one person we can thank. The Kurds let us have access in 2003 to invade Iraq when Turkey denied our request for airspace. Turkey buys missiles from Putin and now we turn the Turks loose on the Kurds. As I said, it is a sad day.

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