No international group has helped President Donald Trump more in his first year in office than the Syrian Kurds, who provided ground troops to capture Raqqa, the “capital” of ISIS. Turkey’s dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan is currently bombing Kurds in Afrin, Syria, and Trump needs to show loyalty to allies who once did the same by defying Turkey’s anti-American and anti-Israeli leader.
How the Syrian Kurds Helped Defeat ISIS
Several years ago, ISIS was beheading American journalists and sending operatives through the porous border between Syria and Turkey, taking lives in Europe and encouraging terrorist attacks in America.
Obama might have gotten credit for destroying ISIS by beginning a bombing campaign. However, his refusal to arm the Syrian Kurds and his reluctance to deploy a sufficient number of U.S. combat troops in Syria, bowing to public pressure, meant that ISIS would remain in the field. Former national security advisor and secret Turkish agent Michael Flynn rejected the plan to arm the Syrian Kurds, delaying an attack on ISIS and showing disloyalty to Trump.
With Flynn gone, the Trump administration made the correct call: arming the Syrian Kurds. Within a few months, the combination of U.S. airstrikes and armed Kurdish militias captured ISIS’s “capital” of the caliphate. History will give credit to Trump, provided that America doesn’t make a mistake in backing the wrong side, providing a way for ISIS and other terrorists to regain their foothold in Syria.
Syrian Kurds Need America’s Help
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that Trump would keep U.S. forces in Syria to train 30,000 Syrian Kurdish forces in order to ensure that ISIS doesn’t make a comeback.
Hoping to undermine America’s plans, Turkish President Erdogan ordered the bombing of the Syrian Kurds, dispatching more than 70 planes and hundreds of soldiers to kill Kurdish forces. Erdogan’s orders are a response to the Kurd’s acquisition of enough votes in the 2015 Turkish election to prevent Erdogan’s AKP party from getting a majority in the Turkish parliament.
Already, civilians have been killed in the raids by bombs and ground forces, which are worsened by the Free Syrian Army. The Army originally claimed to be moderate but instead linked with the Al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, revealing itself as an extremist Sunni group. Erdogan supported this al-Qaeda movement too. His AKP party will be the next terrorist group to attack Americans once the last ISIS fighter has been dispatched.
Turkey’s Support for Islamist Terrorism in Syria
Reuters reports, “Turkey’s state intelligence agency helped deliver arms to parts of Syria under Islamist rebel control during late 2013 and early 2014, according to a prosecutor and court testimony from gendarmerie officers seen by Reuters. The witness testimony contradicts Turkey’s denials that it sent arms to Syrian rebels and, by extension, contributed to the rise of Islamic State, now a major concern for the NATO member.”
The outlet also explains Turkey’s toleration of ISIS’s emergence. “Syria and some of Turkey’s Western allies say Turkey, in its haste to see President Bashar al-Assad toppled, let fighters and arms over the border, some of whom went on to join the Islamic State militant group which has carved a self-declared caliphate out of parts of Syria and Iraq.” Journalists, prosecutors and policemen who uncovered the corruption are suffering in Turkish jails, accused of being “terrorists.”
The purges have not ended with the failed coup. In response to peaceful protests against the military attack on the Kurds, ironically dubbed “Operation Olive Branch,” Erdogan has ordered the arrests of nearly 100 additional reporters and politicians accusing them of promoting “terrorist propaganda.”
Erdogan and His Anti-Trump Legacy
No leader in the world has done more to attack Trump and frustrate his foreign policy than Erdogan.
On January 25, 2018, Erdogan claimed that the White House mischaracterized a phone conversation between the two leaders, even though Trump’s words were in majority confirmed by a quoted Turkish official.
In addition to helping arm the Islamic State and crush free press in Turkey, Erdogan has accused the United States of arming a “terrorist army” in Syria by defending Kurdish allies. Erdogan also blamed America for the failed coup of 2016, cutting power off at the Incirlik military base, housing Americans, and creating anti-American propaganda to target its NATO ally. According to the Washington Times, during anti-ISIS operations, Turkey targeted American advisers while “a senior aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested American troops could be targeted alongside their Kurdish allies in the country’s ongoing air war against the militias.”
“A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders,” Erdoğan said in a speech given in Ankara, according to The Guardian. “What can that terror army target but Turkey? Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.”
Erdogan has also condemned the United States for moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He helped Hamas lighten the Israeli blockade, which was designed to prevent the terrorists from killing Jews. In America, a Turkish banker found guilty of violating economic sanctions on Iran has identified Erdogan as the one who participated in evading sanctions.
Donald Trump has a choice to make between aiding the Turks and the Kurds. Vox reports that it’s a hard choice to make, as both are American allies, but the choice is not difficult considering the facts.
Trump could side with Erdogan, who has been clearly disloyal, an opponent of the United States, an enemy of Israel, and a leader who helped arm ISIS. In addition, he is teaching Turks, who are generally pro-American, to despise the United States. Also, Erdogan’s Free Syrian Army allies in Turkey are connected to al-Qaeda.
“In the pro-government Turks’ commentaries, three features are evident,” al-Monitor writes. “[M]ost of these statements are brewing with a rather new type of anti-Americanism, rejoicing in the possibility of American suffering.”
On the other hand, Trump could help the Syrian Kurds, who fought ISIS, helped America take its capital, and are ready to be trained to ensure ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front never threaten the West again.
Syria President Bashir al-Assad demanded that the Turks leave, and Russia plans to take the case to the United Nations. However, eliminating the Turkish threat will take more than that. To save America’s allies in the War on Terrorism, bold action will be needed to prevent additional civilian casualties, the way Trump acted forcefully in Syria in the Spring of 2017 when chemical weapons were used.