Trump did not betray the Kurds

Trump did not betray the Kurds, by Caroline Glick.

During his tenure as Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton hoped to revise the US mandate to enable US forces to be used against Iran in Syria. Bolton’s plan was strategically sound. Trump rejected it largely because it was a recipe for widening US involvement in Syria far beyond what the American public — and Trump himself — are willing to countenance.

In other words, the claim that the US has major influence in Syria is wrong. It does not have such influence and is unwilling to pay the price of developing such influence.

This brings us to the second flaw in the narrative about Trump’s removal of US forces from the Syrian border with Turkey.

The underlying assumption of the criticism is that America has an interest in confronting Turkey to protect the Kurds.

This misconception … is borne of a misunderstanding of Obama’s Middle East policies. Aside from ISIS’s direct victims, the major casualty of Obama’s deliberately feckless anti-ISIS campaign was the US alliance with Turkey. Whereas the US chose to work with the Kurds because they were supportive of Assad and Iran, the Turks view the Syrian Kurdish YPG as a sister militia to the Turkish PKK. The Marxist PKK has been fighting a guerilla war against Turkey for decades. The State Department designates the PKK as a terrorist organization responsible for the death of thousands of Turkish nationals. Not surprisingly then, the Turks viewed the US-Kurdish collaboration against ISIS as an anti-Turkish campaign.

Throughout the years of US-Kurdish cooperation, many have made the case that the Kurds are a better ally to the US that Turkey. The case is compelling not merely because the Kurds have fought well.

Under Erdogan, Turkey has stood against the US and its interests far more often than it has stood with it. Across a spectrum of issues, from Israel to human rights, Hamas and ISIS to Turkish aggression against Cyprus, Greece and Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean, to upholding US economic sanctions against Iran and beyond, for nearly twenty years, Erdogan’s Turkey has distinguished itself as a strategic threat to America’s core interests and policies and those of its closest allies in the Middle East.

Despite the compelling, ever growing body of evidence that the time has come to reassess US-Turkish ties, the Pentagon refuses to engage the issue. The Pentagon has rejected the suggestion that the US remove its nuclear weapons from Incirlik air base in Turkey or diminish Incirlik’s centrality to US air operations in Central Asia and the Middle East. The same is true of US dependence on Turkish naval bases.

Given the Pentagon’s position, there is no chance that US would consider entering an armed conflict with Turkey on behalf of the Kurds. …

What really sparked this — a phone call from Turkey announcing they were going to invade anyway:

The hard truth is that the fifty US soldiers along the Syrian-Turkish border were a fake trip wire. Neither Trump nor the US military had any intention of sacrificing US forces to either block a Turkish invasion of Syria or foment deeper US involvement in the event of a Turkish invasion.

Apparently in the course of his phone call with Trump on Sunday, Erdogan called Trump’s bluff. Trump’s announcement following the call made clear that the US would not sacrifice its soldiers to stop Erdogan’s planned invasion of the border zone.

But Trump also made clear that the US did not support the Turkish move. In subsequent statements, Trump repeatedly pledged to destroy the Turkish economy if Turkey commits atrocities against the Kurds.

If the Pentagon can be brought on board, Trump’s threats can easily be used as a means to formally diminish the long hollow US alliance with Turkey.

Here it is critical to note that Trump did not remove US forces from Syria. They are still deployed along the border crossing between Jordan, Iraq and Syria to block Iran from moving forces and materiel to Syria and Lebanon. They are still blocking Russian and Syrian forces from taking over the oil fields along the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

And you won’t hear that in the mainstream media.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific