Everyday Americans have not known the fight that has been raging on for the past five years between the Kurdish Peshmergas and ISIS. The Kurdish fighters agreed to stand alongside the United States in its effort to dismantle the Islamic State. The Kurdish Peshmergas were able to secure control over a large amount of Syria, successfully defeating most of ISIS. The Kurds hoped that the new area secured would form the center of an independent Kurdish region. Of course now, this can only be a dream because of the decision that the Trump administration made this past week.
As reported by the Washington Post, President Donald J. Trump announced that he will take out the U.S. military presence in Syria to make way for Turkish soldiers. This decision was seen by the Kurds and Americans alike as betrayal to faithful allies. Turkey is an American NATO ally, which means they could never have invaded Syria as long as there was U.S. military there. The trust that was established between the Kurdish soldiers and their supposed allies during the fight against ISIS was shattered. The Kurds risked their own people, and lost countless of them, when they decided to become allies with America, and yet, America could not be a loyal ally to them.
A complete withdrawal of U.S. military forces would leave the Kurdish people to face not only the invading Turks in the northern part of Syria, but also continuing to face the efforts of the Islamic State which will become more rigorous now that their own allies have abandoned them.
President Trump does not feel any remorse for deserting our faithful ally even when confronted by Americans who were upset over the betrayal. In a report from the New York Times, Trump defended his decision by telling reporters at the White House during an event in the Roosevelt Room that the Kurds were simply “fighting for their land.” The president has not only left the Kurds alone and vulnerable from all sides, but he is also trying to belittle the efforts they made in defeating ISIS.
The severing of the alliance between the Kurdish people and America did not sit well with Republicans either. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham wrote on Twitter, “Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration.” Republican Representative Liz Cheney also chimed in via Twitter saying, “Turkey must face serious consequences for mercilessly attacking our Kurdish allies in northern Syria, who incurred thousands of casualties in the fight against ISIS and helped us protect the homeland.”
The Kurdish people have a long history of being betrayed by others even though history also shows that they have always been loyal. For the Kurds, the decision by the Trump administration to permit Turkey to invade Northern Syria is the most recent bad news they have received. Kurdish history and struggle goes as far back as the end of World War I, when Kurds were denied their own autonomous state by the victorious western allies. Kurds have continued to live in the areas of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran that make up Kurdistan, hoping that one day, they may become independent.
For this reason, there is a saying among the Kurds: “No friend but the mountains.”