Northern Syria conflict

Dagmawi Tilahun, P.R. Manager

President Donald Trump announced Oct. 9, 2019  a new strategic move to begin pulling troops from northern Syria. The announcement preceded heavy media and political scrutiny due to the action of leaving one of America’s key allies, the Kurds, vulnerable. The Kurds coalition with the U.S. was instrumental in defeating the radical Islamic caliphate created by ISIS and also the toppling of dictator Suddam Hussein. Kurds are facing the threat from growing Turkish presence near the Syrian border in the wake of the announcement. 

After WWI the Kurds were promised an independent state by western powers, but that promise never came to fruition. Although the Kurds do not have an official country of residence, 20 million Kurds are currently spread out in regions that made up ancient Mesopitamia: ,south-eastern Turkey, north-eastern Syria, northern Iraq, north-western Iran, and south-western Armenia. A largely Islamic ethnic group native to the Middle East, the Kurds have their own culture and language separate from the traditions of other countries. Turkey, a member of NATO, has had shaky relations with the U.S. as of late due to their conflict with the Kurds. 

“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,” said President Trump via Twitter.

The move to pull troops from northern Syria where the Kurdish forces are stationed comes from increased Turkish aggression. Turkish aggression towards Syrian Kurds comes from years of  Kurdish militant groups calling for autonomy and launching violent attacks in Turkey. Turkey sees the Kurdish fighters in Syria as being linked with that militant group within their own nation. President Trump pulled U.S. troops out of northern Syria, Turkey moved in, pledging to remove the Kurds and create a so-called “safe zone” stretching about 20 miles into Syrian territory. Turkey’s plan is to resettle at least a million refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war who are currently living in Turkey in the safe zone. 

One of President Trump’s key campaign talking points touched on foreighn policy and the “America first” principle, pushing America towards a more isolationist route on the world stage. Taking troops out of northern Syria is in line with the Trump administration’s vision of U.S. foreign policy, 

President Trump, facing bipartisan condemnation over Turkey’s invasion of Syria, defended his handling of the matter on  Wednesday, Oct. 16 as “strategically brilliant” and downplayed the U.S. alliance with the Kurds, who are “not angels,” according to President Trump..

The majority of both Democrats and Republicans are against the pulling of troops from northern Syria because it leaves a long standing ally to fend for themselves which can relinquish power in the region to the likes of Russia. It also affects America’s credibility as a good ally, 

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio noted that, “at the request of this administration the Kurds served as the primary ground fighters against ISIS in Syria so U.S. troops wouldn’t have to.” 

Then he charged the administration of, “cutting a deal with Erdogan, allowing him to wipe them out. Damage to our reputation & national interest will be extraordinary & long lasting.”

The Kurdish forces in Syria, left with no ally, looked to align themselves with the Russian-backed Assad regime in order to protect themselves. The effects of another conflict in the Middle-East could prove to be long-lasting.