by Sudha Sudhaker ’21
On October 6, 2019, President Trump withdrew 1,000 American troops from Northern Syria without any warning to America’s Kurdish allies. After Trump’s administration announced that United States troops would leave the border area, Turkey launched a military offensive into northeastern Syria. Trump defended his decision as an attempt to fulfill a campaign promise to end U.S. involvement in places such as Syria. Trump’s decision to withdraw troops has paved the way for a Turkish assault on the Kurds occupying northern Syria.
The decision to remove troops faced criticism from the Repubican party, including Senator Lindesy Graham, who stated “letting Turkey invade would be a mistake of historic proportions and would lead to ISIS reemergence.”
The Kurds were holding 11,000 ISIS prisoners who have been apprehended through years of effort and expense of Kurdish lives. Trump’s withdrawal has risked the possibility of many of these ISIS prisoners escaping or being released. The Kurds have warned that the chance of ISIS coming back will rise considerably if Turkey moves into northeast Syria. Even though America has benefitted from the sacrifice of many Kurdish lives to capture ISIS prisoners, Trump is now abandoning the Kurds in their time of need.
Trump’s actions declared that the U.S. troops would step aside for an expected Turkish attack on the Kurds. However on October 7, Trump tweeted a string of tweets stating that he would “destroy and obliterate the economy of Turkey” if it did anything considered to be off limits in their conflict with the Kurds. Trump’s tweets are contradicting, since his decision to remove troops has led to the Turks invading the Kurds in the first place.
The United Nations announced that 130,000 Kurds already have evacuated their home as a result of the Turkish invasion. Turkey plans to get rid of Kurdish refugees from northern territory, which is both a humanitarian and security disaster. The forcible relocation of refugees will remove them from relative safety and drop them in the middle of a war zone, where most aid groups will no longer be able to reach them. The refugees will also be vulnerable to exploitation by extreme groups such as ISIS. Trump has closed the US to refugees, which puts the Kurds in greater jeopardy.
Trump’s decision has betrayed the alliance between the United States and its Kurdish allies, as it had negatively impacted America’s global reputation as a reliable ally.