Syria, Kurds, and Trump

I’m not a news site, so hopefully most people reading this aren’t just now learning that U.S. president Donald Trump ordered U.S. troops pulled back from the northern border between Syria and Turkey. This was done at the behest of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Here I would like to set a few things straight and give my opinion on the whole situation.

This post was prompted by this segment on Last Week Tonight:

First thing first: I’ve seen a lot of people calling the Kurds allies of the U.S. This is not true. They were proxies – partners at best. Turkey, however, is an ally. They are part of NATO, making them a treaty ally. Whether or not Turkey should be a part of NATO (or, for that matter, whether NATO should even exist now that the Soviet Union is gone) is another discussion entirely. The fact is, though, Turkey is our ally, the Kurds were merely proxies that we partnered with for narrow strategic reasons (defeating ISIS).

Which brings me to the second point: there is no U.S. interest in maintaining troop presence in Syria, much less keeping them in position to protect the Kurds indefinitely. People are now pointing out that the Kurds have had to look to Bashar al-Assad and Russia for a partnership. Why is that a bad thing? They are the regional players and should be in talks with one another. Just because the U.S. government has it in their heads that Assad needs to go, prompting us to launch an illegal war against him, doesn’t mean that the Kurds shouldn’t be in talks with one of the most important regional players. Indeed, if something good is to come of this, wouldn’t it be forcing the various sides to come to the table?

I’m not one to praise Trump. I simply despise the man, and am ambivalent at best about him as a president. I’m also not one to take the wrong side on an issue just because of my feelings about who was behind a decision. That being said, I think Trump made the right decision, but he did it for the wrong reasons and went about it the wrong way. By that I mean he seems to have done it simply because his strongman buddy Erdoğan asked him to and he did it suddenly, without telling anyone (particularly the Kurds) or seeking any counsel on how best to do it. However, Trump’s instinct to not want to stay in a forever war was a good one that should be praised for…

US troops, armored vehicles going to Syria oil fields

…well, dammit.

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