The Cost of Betraying Syria’s Kurds

Tommy Meyerson, a former Marine who served in Syria, has written an op-ed for Wall Street Journal called “The Cost of Betraying Syria’s Kurds.” He argues that withdrawing from Syria will likely produce catastrophic humanitarian consequences and cause harm to U.S. interests.

Meyerson begins by noting the immense contribution the Kurds have made in the war against ISIS:

The U.S. and the West have quietly relied on the Syrian Kurds to sacrifice their young men and women by the thousands to defeat the Islamic State. Thanks largely to their efforts, ISIS in Syria has gone from a fearsome juggernaut to a ragged band of die-hards trapped in a shrinking patch of wasteland.

After successfully defending themselves from attack by ISIS, the Kurds could have halted and focused on consolidating their own territory. Instead:

[A]t America’s urging they expanded their effort against ISIS. In a coalition with Arabs and Syriacs of the Euphrates River Valley, they’ve swept south to dislodge ISIS from one-third of Syria.

Now, at the urging of Turkey’s thuggish president Erdogan, President Trump is about to abandon the Kurds. This will expose them to an invasion by Turkey — something Erdogan has already tried twice.

Meyerson believes the consequences will be catastrophic:

The Kurds have earned a reputation for fighting bravely, but without U.S. air power their prospects against a modern army with a robust air force would be grim. An invasion would force Kurdish forces to pull back from the front lines against the remnant of ISIS, allowing the jihadists to regroup and proliferate. It would likely spawn a fresh humanitarian catastrophe, including areas that have been mostly spared the worst of Syria’s civil war.


Invasion would also leave the door wide open for the Assad regime to launch an assault with help from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. I witnessed just such an incursion attempt by regime elements this February, while the Kurds were distracted with Ankara’s invasion of Afrin—an incursion repelled only by U.S. firepower.

A pullout would also harm U.S. interests:

It would shred America’s credibility as a counterterrorism partner world-wide, while abandoning a strategic area and making it harder to check jihadist, Iranian and Russian ambitions.

President Trump says he’s about making America great again. Great nations don’t betray allies who have borne the brunt of a successful war against a mutual enemy. They don’t do the bidding of the likes of Erdogan and they don’t respond to the threats of such men by running away.

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