Comments, EdgeNotes, In Focus

Kurds betrayed… again

President Trump announced that he is pulling the remaining US troops out of Syria, and abandoning their erstwhile allies, the Kurds.

 

Steve Latham

 

This is despite Kurdish forces, including female combatants, having done most of the ground fighting against the so-called Islamic State Caliphate.

The reason is that the US has become averse to supplying ‘boots on the ground’, preferring to conduct war-making through proxy armies, and even mercenaries, such as the firm Blackwater.

Trump, however, came to power, complaining about his country’s ‘endless wars’, and committed to withdrawing US soldiers from harm’s way.

Certainly, it has been the ill-advised US interventions in the Middle East, which have destroyed stability in the entire region.

The rise of IS was, in part, an opportunist response to this chaos, which was unleashed by the US invasions.

It is ironic, nevertheless, to witness a far-right Republican President, actually getting out of a war. This would be a stance which ought to be welcomed by pro-peace campaigners on the left.

Historically, however, it has often been Democrat Presidents who have presided over military escalation abroad.

Often this has been in the name of humanitarian intervention, or the defence of democracy: as with Kennedy and Johnson in Vietnam, or Clinton in the Balkans.

And, Trump may be correct in his claims, that if Hilary Clinton had won the 2016 election, the United States may well have had a more ‘adventurous’ foreign policy.

Despite his directionless Twitter-led policies, Trump’s instincts are consistently isolationist. As such he is part of a Republican Party tradition, which eschews foreign escapades.

He is reminiscent of Pat Robertson, former right-wing Presidential candidate, who opposed the Iraq war, as an extension of the US Empire.

Intellectuals within the Party look at the history of Rome, and oppose any suggestion of establishing an Empire to replace, an admittedly patrician and elitist, model of the Republic.

As for the Kurds, Trump’s current betrayal, leaving them exposed to a probable Turkish invasion of northern Syria, is merely the last in a series of let-downs.

H. A. L. Fisher’s magisterial History of Europe”, describes Kurdish representatives attending the Versailles Peace Treaty negotiations, hoping for their own national state.

British interests in the war against the Ottoman Empire made them promise an autonomous state for the Kurds in northern Iraq.

And aspirations for national self-determination from US President, Woodrow Wilson, raised expectations of a new ethnic state in the former Ottoman territories.

None of these hopes were achieved. Until today the Kurds remain split between enclaves in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran; all countries where they suffer discrimination and repression.

Only in northern Iraq, taking advantage again of the US invasion, has something like a Kurdish mini-state been established, but one still vulnerable to the vagaries of US policy. Even if Trump reverses his decision, as he did last year, under pressure from domestic critics, it would be wise of the Kurds to never again trust Western promises.

This is simply how an imperial power treats its auxiliaries.

(Photos: Pixabay)

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