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The U.S. needs to stop breaking its promises to the Kurds

The U.S. needs to stop breaking its promises to the Kurds

The U.S. needs to stop breaking its promises to the Kurds
October 26
18:48 2019

The U.S. and the Kurds have had a very parasitic relationship: The Kurds do the large majority of fighting while the U.S. sheds little of its own skin and continually reneges on its promises to them. The U.S. left the Kurds to fend for themselves after a short-lived attempt to eliminate Saddam Hussein’s regime in the ’70s, and then left them to fend for themselves again shortly after the end of Desert Storm. This pattern repeated itself again when in 2017, the Iraqi government and Iranian forces squashed all attempts made by the Iraqi Kurds at independence beyond minor self-autonomy.

So, with a history like that, who exactly are the Kurds?

The Kurdish are an ethnic group in the Middle East, primarily clustering around the mountainous regions of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, plus communities across the globe. They have largely been a stateless people, thanks in part to a history of aggressive marginalization and ethnic cleansing directed towards them. And yet, they’ve been the U.S. and allies’ backbone in the war against Daesh.

The Kurdish forces in Syria are lead by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is comprised of many groups, most notably the People’s Protection Units (YPG), and the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). They have largely been the primary ground forces for the NATO coalition, in what is known as Operation Inherent Resolve, the official name for the U.S.’s actions against ISIS. The Kurds were working side-by-side with such distinguished units as Green Berets and the Delta Force to retake territory from Daesh, better known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Fighting tooth and nail from Kobane to Baghouz, the Kurds have taken the brunt of casualties against pro-government forces and Daesh. Going by the Department of Defense’s latest casualties report, the U.S. has suffered 88 deaths, only 17 from combat, whereas other sources report that the SDF has lost well over 11,000. Not only were the Kurds the ones trading fire with Daesh fighters, but they were also the ones taking them.

Kurds have also been the ones responsible for storing and housing captured ISIS fighters in prisons that are being shelled by Turkish forces. While the Kurds are responsible for the dismantlement of Daesh strongholds in Syria and a section of Iraq, Daesh isn’t necessarily defunct.

A recent report from the Leader Inspector General indicates that not only are Daesh fighters starting to regroup, but they’ve also resorted to organized extortion and assassinations. The U.S. withdrawal, according to the same report, will only further destabilize the region and create a hotbed of activity for extremists to thrive in. Daesh may not be the formidable force it once was, but it still poses a clear and present danger to innocents in the region.

While the Kurds have been securing prisons and camps in order to quell their numbers, the Turkish have shelled many of those prisons and camps, resulting in reports of escaping prisoners. Refugees have also been displaced in an attempt to escape the Turks. Meanwhile, the Kurds have been forced to reassign resources to curb the incoming hostiles. The hostiles of a government that doesn’t see little difference between them and Daesh by a government that will likely inflict further ethnic cleansing upon the Kurds.

It should also be noted that the Turkish government has had a leader riding on nationalist support and the employment of authoritarian methods, goons who attacked American citizens protesting Erdogan outside the Turkish embassy in DC, and knowingly bombed areas that had U.S. servicemen in them without any concern. Not only are the Turks self-defeating, but they’re also outright immoral and terrible allies.

There is an argument to be made for pragmatism, but the Kurds long ago proved themselves capable of not only being loyal and unlikely allies but outright hypercompetent in their fighting. The Kurds are not authoritarian. The Kurds are capable and despite their inferior numbers and resources, are largely the reason Daesh was contained and destroyed.

Yes, the U.S. needs to take a step back and try to end it’s “forever wars,” but not at the cost of longtime allies. Not only is it outright wrong, but it also sends the wrong message to potential allies: The U.S. will not commit, and if it does, don’t be surprised if we just get up and walk out.

The Kurds should not be left to fend for themselves. We need to stop giving them the dicer’s oath.

Featured Illustration: Thomas Strimpel

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Will Tarpley

Will Tarpley

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