Debate Magazine

Syria, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and the Media

Posted on the 14 October 2019 by Doggone
I have to admit to being baffled by the current reaction to Trump's decision to remove 50-250 soldiers from the Kurdish held area of Syria. Probably because I am somewhat aware of the situation, which means I see this as nothing new.
I'm no fan of Donald Trump, but the way the current Turkish invasion has been portrayed seriously makes me question the bias of US media. There has been absolutely NO discussion of some serious background points that put an entirely different spin to this story.
Part of me wanted to subtitle this "I love it when Barack Obama gets us involved in pointless military exercises." US involvement in the Syrian Civil War began back on 22 September 2014 during the Obama administration.

Syria, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and the Media

YPJ girl soldiers: shouldn't they be in school?


It seems that the Trump detractors have been too willing to think that the "abandonment" of the Kurd was somehow "sudden" when anyone familiar with this will tell you that it is amazing it hasn't happened yet. The Kurds in Syria are tied to the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK (Kurdish: Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan). This group is considered a terrorist group by United States, European Union, and NATO. The YPG/YPJ's use of child soldiers should be embarrassing as fuck to people who are trying to make Syria's Kurds somehow "allies" of the west.The Kurds are no saints, but you wouldn't guess that from the current attention they are getting lately.
Andrew McCarthy gets to the crux of the matter:
The Kurds have been our allies against ISIS, but it is not for us that they have fought. They fight ISIS for themselves, with our help. They are seeking an autonomous zone and, ultimately, statehood. The editorial fails to note that the Kurds we have backed, led by the YPG (People’s Protection Units), are the Syrian branch of the PKK (the Kurdistan Worker’s Party) in Turkey. The PKK is a militant separatist organization with Marxist-Leninist roots. Although such informed observers as Michael Rubin contend that the PKK has “evolved,” it remains a formally designated foreign terrorist organization under U.S. law. While our government materially supports the PKK’s confederates, ordinary Americans have been prosecuted for materially supporting the PKK.

The fact is that:
"The Kurdish militias weren’t Washington’s first choice. U.S. attempts to train secular, anti-Assad, Syrian Arab forces to fight on its behalf cost hundreds of millions of dollars but produced just 5-50 fighters. The U.S. was forced to change tack and support Syrian Kurdish militias. The largest and most powerful of these were the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which were later called the “Syrian Democratic Forces” in the hopes of easing Turkish hostility and endearing the new fighting force to the predominantly Arab territories it began to conquer with U.S. air support."
What bothers me most about all this is the sudden concern for the Kurds, a group which has been screwed over for some time in the geopolitical struggles of this region. The Kurds say that they "have no friends, but the mountains." On the other hand, all the anti-Trump forces have developed a deep love for  these "strong allies of the US."
Another thing which is conspicuous in all this is the fact that Turkey and The Kurds have had an armed conflict going on since at least 1978. There have been two other Turkish "invasions" of Syria (2016 and 2018) prior to the latest. A Northern Syria Buffer Zone was created by agreement between Turkey, The Kurds, and the US. Turkey felt the Kurds were in breach of that agreement.

An even more important point which is missing is that Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, as is the United States.  NATO, as a treaty adopted by the United States is part of US law (US Constitution Article VI, ii)! The Turks as co signators of the treaty are our allies, not the Kurds.
As far as I know there is no formal agreement between the US and Kurds making them "allies" of any sort. In fact, the Kurds have fought with the Assad Regime and their Russian Allies during the Northern Aleppo offensive of 2016. The Kurds will fight with whoever promises to protect them at the moment. They aren't strong allies of anybody but themselves.
The Kurds fuck and have been fucked in the political events of the region which makes it amusing when people try to make them out as "strong allies".  Anyone who says that appears to be ignorant about the Kurdish people. The Kurds will find that all this concern will evaporate
Scott Ritter, the man who was "the loudest and most credible skeptic of the Bush administration’s contention that Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction" writes:
That Turkey, an American NATO ally, is waging war against the SDF (which the Turks label as YPG/PKK—more on that later), while at the same time targeting ISIS, the archenemy of the all these Kurdish groups, underscores the complexity of the regional politics at play in northern Syria today. Deciphering this alphabet soup goes a long way towards explaining why the Turkish actions are justified and why President Trump will ultimately be vindicated for pulling the troops out.  
The reality of the situation is as Scott puts it:
The American embrace of the SDF was always a temporary solution to the problem of ISIS. The United States never has supported a greater Kurdish nation. And while there’s been much lip service to the idea of using the SDF as a vehicle to destabilize the government of Bashar al-Assad, regime change has never been seriously pursued by the United States in Syria.

The most important point is raised by Andrew McCarthy:
 Our intervention in Syria has never been authorized by Congress. Those of us who opposed intervention maintained that congressional authorization was necessary because there was no imminent threat to our nation. Contrary to the editorial’s suggestion, having U.S. forces “deter further genocidal bloodshed in northern Syria” is not a mission for which Americans support committing our men and women in uniform. Such bloodlettings are the Muslim Middle East’s default condition, so the missions would never end.
A congressional debate should have been mandatory before we jumped into a multi-layered war, featuring anti-American actors and shifting loyalties on both sides. In fact, so complex is the situation that President Obama’s initial goal was to oust Syria’s Assad regime; only later came the pivot to fighting terrorists, which helped Assad. That is Syria: Opposing one set of America’s enemies only empowers another. More clear than what intervention would accomplish was the likelihood of becoming enmeshed, inadvertently or otherwise, in vicious conflicts of which we wanted no part — such as the notorious and longstanding conflict between Turks and Kurds.
There are a lot of different players in the Syrian Civil War. It was a dangerous game for the US to have entered. Although, it wasn't really just the US that was involved here: Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve comprised soldiers from at least Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, Belgium, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. There were more troops on the ground than the 50-250 US soldiers.
I find the media's story troubling because I see narrative in the US media which is highly partisan and interventionist. I see a concern which is based not on reality, but on a media image which couldn't be further from the fact.
But it sure is convenient for making Trump look bad.
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