President Trump’s decision to give a green light for a Turkish invasion of Kurdish-populated regions of northern Syria has been faced with swift bipartisan opposition. Apparently, no one in the diplomatic, military or intelligence community — much less the leadership of the self-governing Kurdish enclave the U.S. has armed and supported and is now under siege — was consulted beforehand. U.S. troops should indeed be withdrawn from Syria, but the U.S. soldiers removed from the border area where Turkish forces are now attacking are not being sent home, and instead are simply being redeployed elsewhere in northeastern Syria. Trump’s sudden and apparently impulsive move following a conversation with authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (one of a number of autocratic leaders with whom Trump has developed a close relationship) is dangerous and irresponsible.
What many of the commentators are ignoring is that this is hardly the first time the United States has goaded Kurds to fight and then abandoned them to slaughter.
The Kurds are a nation of more than 30 million people divided among six countries, primarily in what is now northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey, with smaller numbers in northeastern Syria, northwestern Iran and the Caucasus. They are the world’s largest nation without a state of their own. Their struggle for self-determination has been hampered by the sometimes-bitter rivalry between competing nationalist groups, some of which have been used as pawns by regional powers as well as by the United States.
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