Why Trump’s Betrayal Of The Kurds In Syria Is Such A Big Deal

Trump’s withdrawal from Northern Syria is allowing Turkey to slaughter the Kurds, who were key allies against ISIS. It will have dire consequences.

On the left: Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces gather after a training session at a firing range in northern Syria - May 21, 2016 (AP Photo/Robert Burns). On the right: President Donald Trump shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

On the left: Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces gather after a training session at a firing range in northern Syria – May 21, 2016 (AP Photo/Robert Burns). On the right: President Donald Trump shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

It was October 17, 2017, almost two years ago. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) could be seen cheering in the streets of Raqqa, Syria. It was a powerful moment of celebration years in the making. The de facto capital of ISIS, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had declared its caliphate, had fallen.

Among those in this US-coalition were Kurdish YPG forces, over ten thousand of which died in the fight against ISIS. Flash forward to this week and the President of the United States just left more of them to die at the hands of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

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Late on Sunday, President Trump announced the spontaneous withdrawal of troops from Northern Syria and the abandonment of those Kurdish forces who helped us diminish ISIS. Trump did this after speaking to the authoritarian leader of Turkey, Erdoğan. This move not only blindsided Congress, our allies, and the Kurds themselves, the Pentagon was reportedly not consulted.

President Trump (who has business interests in Turkey) gave the green light for Erdoğan to launch the military campaign against the Kurds he’s long wanted. Erdoğan believes the Kurds to be terrorists and wants them to no longer be at the Northern Syrian border. The Kurds reacted with understandable outrage.

Given the imminent slaughter of the Kurds, this drew bipartisan backlash. Staunch Trump defender Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) led the pack with his appearance on Fox & Friends.

Widespread condemnation came from Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and more. Senator Graham even announced a bipartisan sanctions bill targeting Turkey. After this sharp Republican response, President Trump sent out one of his most unhinged tweets ever.

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Before President Trump had the chance to backtrack, it was too late. Reports indicated Turkey’s assault on the Kurds had already begun, but the US denied them.

This is what the situation on the ground looks like:

This withdrawal is not only a betrayal of our closest allies in the battle against ISIS, it has wide-ranging geopolitical ramifications. Senator Graham outlined the most direct consequences of Trump’s decision in a concise manner:

How does this ensure an ISIS comeback? The SDF has about 10,000 ISIS prisoners in their custody. It’ll be quite hard to guard them when they’re fighting off Turkish forces. President Trump’s move to withdraw could directly give ISIS a second wind.

This move also plays directly into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hands, as well as Syrian Dictator Bashar Al Assad and Iran. President Trump has also once again eroded America’s credibility in an irreparable manner. The Kurds allowed America to combat ISIS in Syria without sizable troop commitments by allying with us. Who would trust the United States now?

The bipartisan condemnation should give you insight into how terrible this move truly was, but of course, Republicans also own this. This is an unmistakable tragedy directly green lit by the President of the United States and enabled by the Republican Party who has refused to hold him accountable for his corruption and unfitness for office.

Perhaps, President Trump just needs a pep talk with himself.

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Rundown // Donald Trump / Erdogan / ISIS / Kurds / Syria / Turkey