By Nalin Mishra
It's forgivable if you do not understand what is currently happening in the Middle East. It is a very nuanced and complicated issue. What's much less forgivable, in my opinion, is pretending to understand the issue, or not caring enough about it. I bid you read through this article in its entirety to gain a better understanding of what promises to be of the most amusing, and at the same time, horrifying events of our time.
To understand anything about this issue, you first need to know who the Kurds are. The Kurds are one of the Indigenous people of the Mesopotamian plains and the Highlands are now what South-Eastern Turkey, North-Eastern Syria, Northern Iraq, North-Western Iran, and South-Western Armenia. They form a community, united by their language and customs without have a clear dialect. They adhere to many religions, though the majority follow Sunni-Islam.
In the early 20th Century, many Kurds began to consider the creation of a homeland - generally referred to as "Kurdistan". After World War One and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the victorious Western allies made provision for a Kurdish state in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres.
Such hopes were dashed three years later, however, when the Treaty of Lausanne, which set the boundaries of modern Turkey, made no provision for a Kurdish state and left Kurds with minority status in their respective countries. Over the next 80 years, any move by Kurds to set up an independent state was brutally quashed.
President Trump recently claimed that the Americans were going to start pulling out their troops from the Turkish border in Syria leaving room for Turkey's troops to invade the region. To this point, there was an American presence in the region that was helping the Kurdish-lead forces to battle ISIS which is an extremist group of the region. The American presence in the area also helped protect the Kurdish civilians from Turkey, Syria, and ISIS. Because of President Trumps' obviously brash actions, over 100 Turkish civilians have been killed and near about 200,000 civilians have been displaced.
Trump justified his decision to withdraw his troops by saying that he’d made the choice after he’d read a “very, very powerful article written by somebody” wherein the author made the case that the Kurds didn’t help the Americans in the Second World War, they weren’t there at Normandy to assist the American forces; Trump at this point proudly stated that the article mentioned the names of different battles. There are so many kinds of stupid to unpack here. Obviously, the Kurdish people weren't a part of the action in World War II, how could they be when they're not a State? They were also not at the Battle of Gettysburg helping the Americans gain their independence, or holding the ladder for Neil Armstrong on the moon. They were, however, part of the American forces in the Gulf and Iraqi wars, which by the way, are two more wars than Trump ever fought for the Americans.
In fact, recently, the Americans turned to the Kurds in 2015 helping contain ISIS in Syria. The Americans provided them with training and Air Support, and the Kurds were the first line troops doing the close fighting. In actuality, the American military trusted their ally so completely, that the Kurds were soon calling in American Air Strikes, and you know that you trust someone when you agree to blow up an area as large as a mile in circumference after they tell you to, giving you no cause for trust but their word. I mean, if I had that trust with the United States where I’d point at something, and they would blow it up, there would be no more McDonalds. They know what they did! They know exactly what they did.
The Kurdish sacrifice was so obvious that only 6 Americans died fighting in the region as compared to the 11,000 Kurdish casualties. And, given that I’m someone whose proteges have failed to even sacrifice a sandwich for my aid, it’s easy to understand how devoted the Kurds have been to the Americans.
The alliance is the only reason why ISIS which controlled a major portion of Syrian territory has now lost all of it. In fact, the very reason the Americans were able to recently take out Al Baghdadi was because of Intelligence they received from the Kurds.
The main reason Trump has given to withdraw from the region is that he doesn’t want to be stuck in Syria forever. He called Syria “sand and death.” It was startling to hear a man who owns a Golf Course in Florida say that he fears sand and death. From this property of President Trump, one would consider that the two were the greatest love of his life.
However, this is actually a proper reason to withdraw from the region if the troops were to come home, except the thing is, the troops aren’t coming home. Since May, the Americans have increased their deployment of Overseas Troops in the Middle Eastern region by 14,000.
In fact, just days after his Syria announcement Trump made another announcement saying that these troops are being redeployed to Saudi Arabia. Trump also very happily stated that Saudi Arabia has agreed to pay them for the entire ordeal, while the Saudi Arabians stated afterward that they have agreed to no such thing.
The principle that Trump would only deploy American troops to the countries that pay him is a fascinating one because it means that Trump will withdraw troops from South Korea which isn’t paying them enough, and has even threatened to pull out of NATO, an organisation founded by the United States itself for mutual protection during the Cold War because he believes that the other members of NATO aren’t contributing equally. It’s an explicitly transactional world view that Trump has chosen to subscribe to, and it’s very interesting to see the Americans do this after they themselves have caused most of the turbulence in these regions. It’s the same principle as my knocking your food out of your hard by force, and then asking for money to retrieve it for you.
What’s even more interesting is that this wasn’t done out of some grand principle or philosophy. This decision followed a phone call between President Trump, and the Turkish President Erdogan, who just so you know, is the same person who once got his testicles stomped by a horse when he was trying to record a view of him horse-riding to impress his people. The whole incident is very hilarious, and the horse video can even be found on Youtube, and I’d highly encourage you to look it up.
Anyway, for years, the Turkish forces under Erdogan have been battling a Kurdish extremist group called the PKK, which are without a doubt terrorists, and are even recognized as terrorists by the American State Department. The problem arises because Erdogan firmly believes that a Kurdish faction the Americans have been working with is basically the same as the PKK, which is clearly an untruth. But, because of his beliefs, Erdogan wants the Kurds either dead or nowhere near the Turkish border. To achieve this goal that had been rejected by every previous American President, Erdogan basically got on the phone with Trump and asked them to withdraw, to which Trump essentially said, “Fine, we’ll run away, then.”
It is clearly troubling the extent to which Trump has chosen to roll over for Erdogan. He has called the Kurds, who remember, have fought and died for the American forces “no angels”.
Trump did try to prevent Kurdish slaughter by sending a letter to Erdogan where he asked him to belay attacking the region and said and I quote, “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” which sounds more like a song by the Backstreet Boys, than words said between the Heads of State of two major world powers. Erdogan reportedly threw away the letter and launched the assault into Syria the same day.
Even if you think that Trump was right to withdraw troops from the area, it would make sense to do it in a systematic manner that caused the least damage to the region, America’s allies, and their vested interests. But, Trump did none of that. Their withdrawal was so rushed, they had to leave a lot behind. Reporters wandering around abandoned American bases just hours after the Americans left noted that the kitchens were completely stocked up on these bases. This means that the troops were in such a hurry to move out, they didn’t even take their food with them or grab an odd can of Coca-Cola for the journey out. A metaphor for how the Americans left the region would be the manner in which someone leaves a party after clogging the toilet. Quickly, leaving everything behind, and forcing the next person in to deal with all the shit.
The consequences of the Americans withdrawing from the region have been so dire that the Kurdish lead forces that were guarding high profile ISIS Prisoners were forced to abandon their post and fight for their life and as a result, all these high profiles ISIS terrorists are now wandering the lands free once more. More than 100 of the 10,000 ISIS prisoners in Kurdish custody escaped.
In quintessential Trump fashion, the President tried to downplay what had happened by saying that a few that had gotten out have been largely recaptured, while his own special Envoy said a day later that the more than 100 prisoners missing are at larger, and no one has any clue of their location. Kindly notify the Editors of the Oxford Dictionary that the word “few” has been redefined to denote about ‘a hundred’. I must say in the same context that I have only a few bad things to say about President Trump in this article.
The impact of American actions is so grave that the Turkish are already committing war crimes in the region. Turkish forces were seen shouting Allahu-Akbar while gunning down random, innocent Kurds on the roadside, and shouting, “Film me, film me.”
This is horrifying, a war crime, completely avoidable, and says things about human and soldier nature that I’d rather not talk about in this article.
Even in the face of all this, and the 100 death, do remember, Trump tried to spin all this as evidence of his tactical genius. He said in a rally, “It was unconventional what I did. I said, they’re gonna have to fight a little while, sometimes you have to let them fight a little while. Then people find out how tough the fighting is. Sometimes you have to let them fight, like two kids in a lot, you got to let them fight before you pull them apart.” At this point, I have no jokes to cover the seriousness of this statement. It is mentally deranged for anyone to comment upon the loss of more than 100 lives in this manner after they caused said loss. Whatever Trump’s said is not true for Syria, and it’s also not true for kids. It’s simply a monstrous thought.
Thankfully, a lot of the fuss caused has now abated. This is because after the Americans left a power vacuum in the region, another major player, the Russian Federation moved in. You heard it right. President Vladimir Putin has become the new Kingmaker in Syria as he and Turkish President Erdogan carved up the country between them. Putin now has a larger foothold over the region than the Americans do, and Kurdish forces, who were once allied with the United States have now flipped sides and struck a deal with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to avoid being wiped out. In essence, Trump has made a snap decision where the big winners are Putin, Erdogan, Assad, and the ISIS, and any group containing these four parties is a group that is not up to any good.
To cap it all off, Trump after the hostilities had stopped actually praised Erdogan saying that “ I’m glad we didn’t have a problem because President Erdogan is a strong man and a hell of a leader”. And, yes. Erdogan is a strong man because that is basically synonymous with a Dictator. The ridiculousness of the matter can be summed up with this as American President Trump praises an authoritarian leader for deigning to pause a slaughter that the President himself had enabled.