“Irresponsibility”, “betrayal”, “potential disaster”. Expressions of censure on President Trump's abrupt decision to abandon his Kurdish allies in the fight against Daesh are multiplying. Trump ordered US troops to be withdrawn from eastern Syria to pave the way for the Turkish military invasion already announced as imminent.
Critical qualifiers for the decision are equally hard on Republican ranks as Democrats, including close allies of the White House. "The president's impulsive decision overthrows all the advances made and throws the region into chaos," Republican Lindsey Graham, one of the senators most associated with the presidential circle, condemned in Fox News. "The abandonment of Kurds is a potential disaster and a stain on US honor," said Lindsey Graham. "The withdrawal is a betrayal of the Kurds, reinforces the Daesh and endangers the United States," said Republican Congressman Peter King, in a similar record to the Democrats.
"The decision to remove US troops from the Turkey-Syria border leaves the Kurds and is a betrayal of a key ally in our fight against the Islamic State," lamented Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, who accused Trump of having " made the decision against the council of diplomats and military. Now the Kurds are at the mercy of Turkey, the threats of the Assad government, Russia and what remains of Daesh… Trump doctrine continues to apply: abandon your allies and reinforce your enemies, ”said Tim Kaine.
To Trump's detractors like Hillary Clinton, the president "betrayed loyal Kurdish allies." But on Fox News the opposite argument was also heard: the betrayal – inherited from Obama – was arming a guerrilla organization (the Syrian PKK branch acted as an infantry for US air actions) against a Nato member, Turkey. The last Kurdish bullet is the veiled threat of loosening the elements of the Daesh in its possession.
The White House statement announcing the decision to withdraw the troops did not include any reference to the role of the Kurds in fighting Islamic State terrorists, but in a blast of tweets Trump acknowledged to be allies, but “received lots of money and equipment. so that they could do so ”by belittling Kurdish help. Later, in response to the flood of criticism, Trump issued another message assuring that if Turkey does anything it deems unacceptable in its “great and unmatched wisdom” (literal transcription) “it will completely destroy the Turkish economy.
Hounded by the ongoing congressional impeachment investigation, Trump may be accelerating the fulfillment of some campaign promises, hence the withdrawal of troops in Syria to validate his commitment to withdraw the country from “endless wars, many of them tribal wars and bring our soldiers home. ”
But at what cost to the Middle East and to America's relationship with its allies? This is one of the questions for José Pedro Teixeira Fernandes, university professor in the areas of International Relations and European Studies, geostrategy expert, IPRI-NOVA researcher and author of Almedina's book “Geopolitics in time of peace and war”.
José Pedro Teixeira Fernandes warns of the risk of Trump's decision to “introduce an element of greater confusion in the Middle East” and anticipates the possibility of Erdogan having plans for deep changes in the region's demographics in the name of Turkish security. After all, the Turkish president plans to settle in eastern Syria more than 3 million and refugees, probably at the cost of thousands of Kurds having to flee their homes or stay in the minority.
The UN has already warned of the risks of new demographic tensions. Panos Mumtzis, United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Syria was adamant: "We hope for the best, but we are prepared for the worst."
Trump is making a dramatic change in US policy towards the Middle East by allowing Turkish troops to enter Syria and handing over to Kurdish allies the hands of enemy Erdogan. How do you read this decision?
It's another strange and confusing decision from Trump. I would not say that it is utterly surprising in the sense that Donald Trump's foreign policy trajectory already has strange and unanticipated decisions and in this case there were already known US intentions to leave Syria. Intention already expressed with Donald Trump at the White House that was generating at the time, a lot of contestation and perhaps for that very reason followed later a retreat in the decision. But this always seems to be a very erratic pattern, very inconsistent in thinking, probably also in the taste of US domestic politics from the perspective of the upcoming election year and the impact of such decisions on the average American voter to do with good eyes the return home of his soldiers.
Of course, at the strategic and political level Trump's decision raises several questions. I will list a few: from the outset the United States' commitment to its Kurdish allies, in this case fundamental in Syria to combat Daesh, the Islamic State. The decision naturally has implications for all US allies in the Middle East and in other parts of the world.
Then the very question of the Syrian war and its developments because, for all intents and purposes, Turkey is entering Syria without any authorization from the Syrian state. This raises the question of what exactly Russia and Iran's reaction will be. There are all the other ramifications of this question.
It is already suggested that the decision could have a significant set of negative consequences such as facilitating Daesh's return, placing the Kurds in the arms of Assad and Iran, as you say, eroding Turkey's relations with Congress in Washington and tarnishing the honor. of America by handing over "friends" – Kurds – into their "enemies" hand – Erdogan – and these are just some of the things in equation at this time …
They are important points of analysis. Looking now at the American side and trying to be direct in the United States there are also quite a few hesitations about what to do with Turkey at this time. If we look at the relationship of the United States with the Turks in recent years, it is far from a fluid relationship, of proximity, of understanding. On the contrary it has been a relationship full of tensions. Suffice it to mention Turkey's purchase from Russia a few months ago of anti-aircraft missiles. This is not a normal acquisition in a state like Turkey, a member state of Nato.
The point is that on the US side there are probably movements on the part of foreign policy personalities – and deep down the lobbyists who also operate in the area – there are those who argue that, despite everything, it is better to have a good relationship here. Turkey weighs more strategically than the Kurds, but there are, of course, considerations here – as I mentioned – about Ankara's own change of position.
Changes in Turkey's position are partly motivated by Washington's attitude and partly by President Erdogan's own policies. But there are obviously also ethical considerations. First of all it is strange and objectionable at least that the United States having largely relied on the ground in the Kurds to fight Daesh in this part of Syria now leaves them to their fate with Erdogan.
In this context, it is understood that Trump acknowledged on Twitter that the Kurds were his allies, but they have been fighting Turkey for decades, but the time has come to end many endless tribal wars. To classify the historical conflict between Turks and Kurds as tribal warfare is, in the least, inelegant for allies …
Yes. It's inelegant. It is evident that this is a language more suited to very informal conversation than in the official register of the President of the United States. But Trump has also gotten us used to unusual things and unusual language in traditional diplomatic records. In either case Trump touches a situation that has its foundation. These Middle East conflicts are extraordinarily intricate.
In a more neutral language there are religious and ethnic elements that are crucial in these disputes. In the Kurdish vs. Turkish conflict the issue is fundamentally an ethnic issue and of a Kurdish claim to a nation state. It has, in fact, a long way and even from the historical point of view it has curious elements as the promises to the Kurds, at the end of the first world war, of the constitution of an autonomous and independent state will make 100 years now. So even a century's cycle is about to end here around this Kurdish problem, at least in the sense of modern history.
But at the same time Trump's statement is also perfectly erratic in such a way that soon afterwards there is a protest throughout the day and then comes to say that if Erdogan does something off limits it can obliterate the Turkish economy. There is a record here of some inconsistency.
In addition to wishing to curb the Kurds, Erdogan will want to send back to Syria nearly 4 million refugees – 3.6 million more exactly – living in camps in Turkey.
The Washington Post writes that Erdogan plans to build 10 major cities in this strip of Syria and spur the growth of the Turkish economy with contractors as major supporters. At the same time Ankara …
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