Earlier this week we heard rumors that the President’s decision to pull out of Syria abruptly was reached during a phone call to Turkish tyrant Recep Tayyip Erdogan. At the time, I wrote, “The real danger to the Kurds comes from Turkey, where Erdogan has been hell-bent on exterminating them for quite some time. I’m somewhat less concerned with allowing ISIS in Syria and Iraq to slip the noose than abandoning the Kurds to a massacre.”
Well, that didn’t take long. I generally enjoy a good “I told you so” moment as much as the next guy, but I can take no pleasure in this. It sounds like Erdogan isn’t wasting any time in preparing his next move. Whether he can (or even truly wants to) eradicate ISIS in Syria and Iraq, his first objective clearly seems to be clearing our allies the Kurds out of the entire region. (Associated Press)
Turkey said Tuesday it is working with the United States to coordinate the withdrawal of American forces but remains “determined” to clear U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters from northeastern Syria.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters that “if Turkey says it will enter, it will,” in comments carried by private DHA news agency.
For weeks, Turkey has been threatening to launch a new offensive against the Kurdish fighters, who partnered with the U.S. to drive the Islamic State group out of much of northern and eastern Syria. Ankara views the Kurdish forces as terrorists because of their links to an insurgent group inside Turkey.
We should probably be clear about one thing here. When Erdogan says “drive them out” he most likely means “wipe them out.” If the Kurds decided to leave the region of their own volition and retreat to their traditional stronghold in northern Iraq, he might be satisfied with that. But if push comes to shove Erdogan would no doubt be even more satisfied with his military exterminating them.
The Kurds are on thin ice and have been for a long time. Both Turkey and Iran are perpetually on the verge of war with them. The government of Iraq seems to only tolerate them because of their alliance with the United States and they are viewed as a potential breakaway province in that nation. How long that situation will hold with the United States mostly out of the region has always remained an open question.
The Kurds have been loyal allies to America and fearless fighters. They appear to neither have nor desire the option of some sort of mass diaspora to escape their enemies. They have their own lands to protect in Kurdistan, as they have for more than a thousand years. We’re sending a very poor message in terms of any present and future alliances if we sit back and let Turkey’s military wade into the YPG.
Just to add a bit more ugliness to this mess, during the same announcement, Erdogan said that he was heading to Moscow next week to discuss this situation with Vladimir Putin. Russia and Iran are on the same side when it comes to supporting Bashar al-Assad and opposing the American-backed Syrian opposition groups. Everyone has their eyes on eastern Syria because of its rich oil fields. With every turn of the news cycle, the news out of this region looks worse and worse.