With all of the fleeting headlines of recent, this is one that we should probably all be concerned about:
“Turkey-Syria border: Kurds bitter as US troops withdraw” (BBC, 2019)
I say this openly and with the greatest concern for the future of our nation’s foreign policy: this is an extremely bad idea. Why, you might ask?! Not to be “that old guy” that notes how history has a way of repeating itself, but… this will make at least the sixth time in modern history that our nation has turned our backs on the Kurds, after of course we got what we wanted out of them. Maybe you still don’t see the inherent problems with this seemingly unilateral presidential decision. Maybe you think, “It’s about time ALL of our troops be brought back home and stop fighting other people’s wars or being the world’s police force”. To that end, I would have to agree, but to what effect?
Most of us should remember President Obama’s declaration to get all of our military “out of Iraq”, and the subsequent, withdraw of all but a few “advisors” in late 2010. Remember how well that turned out? ISIS/ISIL/Daesh decidedly swept in and filed that vacuum with all sorts of violence, propaganda, and destruction. So much so that our forces were shortly thereafter returning to the theater, and back to combat. This single decision by President Obama is exactly why the troops that are now withdrawing from the mentioned border were there in the first place. But hey, that’s different, right? That was because of Assad. Well…
So maybe you’re still not convinced that this is a bad move on “the leader of the free world’s” part. Let’s consider some of our other famous dismissals. Another huge gaffe was our nation’s rapport/support turned targeting of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the late 1970’s and into the 1980’s. Our nation (read CIA) supplied funds, training, weapons, and intelligence to these “freedom fighters”, during the Russian invasion and subsequent civil war, who we would later classify as terrorists and target with great ferocity. Flash forward a few decades, and we ourselves are invading Afghanistan in order to remove an authoritative regime. Oh, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the main recipients of U.S. funding and support during the 1980’s, our government has now labelled him and his group, Hezb-e-Islami/Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), as terrorists, as they aligned with the Taliban and targeted U.S. and Coalition forces. But wait, it gets better… Hekmatyar has extremely close ties with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). You know, the country where we ultimately found Usama bin Laden, and they acted like they had no idea? Yeah, that country. As a side note, the ISI should not be considered friendly at all, even though Pakistan is still a U.S. “ally”.
Why does all of this matter? So what? The underlying issue with all of this is simple: The United States will no longer have any clout or proxy elements in the Middle East/Southwest Asia to serve our bidding, if we continue this methodology for alignment of forces during times of conflict. We have used our last “phone a friend” so to speak. Worse off, it seems like everyone we “support”, we train in our methods and styles, and supply them with U.S. weapons and equipment. People outside of The United States are not necessarily as rudimentary as our policy makers would like to think.
Let us know your take on this. Comment below and let’s see what we can generate from this discussion!
Kheel, R. Mitchell, E. 2019. Five things to know about Trump’s decision on Syria, Turkey and the Kurds. The Hill.
BBC. 2019. Turkey-Syria border: Kurds bitter as US troops withdraw. BBC News Online. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-49960973
Gannon, K. 2019. AP Interview: From warlord to Afghan presidential candidate. Retrieved from: https://www.apnews.com/c767007da3d1415282e6c63d05007f5e