Reversal of Fortunes: U.S. Must stand with Kurdish Allies
October 11, 2019
The potential genocide of the Kurds and Christians in northern Syria is all the more painful when you consider "that six things designed and made by America are being used by the Turkish airport air force to bomb civilians and Kurdish fighters who helped us destroy ISIS," said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) on Thursday's Washington Watch. Graham has been one of the most outspoken supporters of the nascent democracy that had begun to take root in northeast Syria, now under attack following a decision by the Trump Administration to pull out of part of the region, allowing Turkey's President Recep Erdogan to attack.
Until recently, U.S. troops in the region helped provide a buffer zone between Turkey and Syria, where a provisional government allowed people of all faiths -- Christians included -- to live together in peace. U.S. Allied Kurdish fighters also kept the terrorists of ISIS in check. But the president recently decided to pull out of the region to end U.S. involvement in "endless wars."
I asked the senator how can we reverse course at this point?
Graham replied: "Well, the president the United States is a good friend of mine and a good friend of yours. And let's pray for him. He's done a lot of good and believes that we can pull out of Syria, and it won't matter to us ... (but) if it weren't for the Kurds, Iraq would still be under ISIS control, and look at the number of attacks that were generated from Syria into Europe. Look at the number of people who died here in America because ... ISIS inspired Americans to take up jihad. So if they ever come back, every radical Islamist in the world is gonna be on steroids."
While some argue that we shouldn't pay the cost of keeping a few troops on the ground, in fact, we are saving money and lives in the long run.
Graham noted: "If we withdraw from Syria, the Kurds get slaughtered. ISIS comes back. We'll have no partners in the future. We'll go back into Syria. It will cost us ten times more than it's costing us today."
Building relationships and maintaining a presence is really a preventative measure, which also was resulting in a haven in the Middle East.
"There's a human element here," said Graham. "We don't want to see war anywhere. We don't want to see anyone treated as it appears the Turks are now treating those in northeast Syria. But this was a region where true liberty and democracy was taking root in the Middle East, something that outside of Israel you don't see in the Middle East. And that's going to be cut short."
One of the reasons that Turkey cannot be allowed to control northern Syria, even as a policing force, is that long-standing hatreds will result in the collapse of the governing coalitions and another refugee crisis.
"One out of five people in Lebanon is a refugee, and it's about 10 percent of the Jordanian population," said Graham, noting it would be hard to accommodate many more in that region.
Vox reports: "About 1.7 million Kurds live in the northeastern region of Syria, though that area is larger than Erdogan's planned 18-20 mile ‘safe zone.' Still, the United Nations has already warned of the possibility of mass displacement and mass slaughter in the wake of such an operation by Turkey."
Also at risk from the potential collapse is Israel, who would be faced with traditional enemies who may partner with Russia, a wildcard in the mix.
Israel would be "surrounded by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. They're surrounded by Hezbollah in Lebanon. And Hezbollah is going to move in with Iran and Syria. This is a nightmare," said Graham.
"They [the Kurds] were there helping us when nobody else would, so we owe it to them," Graham observed. "[...] So a safe zone keeping the Kurds away from the Turkish border, having an international force, watching ISIS prisoners and everybody else was the answer."
Please pray for peace in the Middle East and for the president as he considers how to respond to wars and rumors of wars in northern Syria.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.