Here’s What is Happening With Trump and the Kurds


President Donald J. Trump stands with President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in June 2019, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Shannon Goldhahn, Centurion Staff

On Oct. 13 President Trump issued an order for the removal of U.S. military from the Syria-Turkey border after a phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, allowing Turkey troops to invade Syria.

The United States and the Kurdish, the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, are long time allies. They first became allies in 2014, when former President Obama ordered air strikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters in northern Iraq to help protect the Kurdish population from their advancements.

In 2015 the Kurds, with the help of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) U.S. air-strikes, successfully drove ISIS out of north-eastern Syria. This allowed for the Kurds to take back a large section of their border with Turkey. In the beginning of 2019, the SDF officially removed ISIS out of Syria, but the threat remained pertinent right across the border.

Recently, Trump pulled back U.S. troops away from the border. This decision was made very suddenly without the complete consent of the Pentagon or Congress.

Professor John Petito of history and political science believes that this was too spontaneous of an order.

He said, “I don’t think I would have done this so suddenly, with no preparations, without notice to the Kurds.”

Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper commented on troops left to guard the oil fields.

“The focus is to deny access, specifically revenue, to ISIS and any other groups that may want to seek that revenue to enable their own malign activities,” said Esper at a press conference on Oct. 21.

The SDF believe that this could lead to ISIS retaliating. Unfortunately, the SDF were right. In the days following Trump’s order, ISIS and Syrian rebels moved forward toward the Syrian border under the orders of President Erdoğan.

The SDF has now asked for help from the Syrian government. Vice President Mike Pence has also agreed to help by calling for a cease-fire with Erdoğan for 120 hours, allowing for Kurdish forces to retreat to the safe zones. The Turkey military are waiting for the cease-fire to end to continue marching into Syria.

“I think we’ve said to the world: if we’re allies, trust us only a little bit because we might abandon you in the end,” said Petito.

Trump has also seen backlash from government officials back home. Many republicans, including Sen. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham believe that withdrawing from Syria is a mistake.

McConnell said in an interview with The Washington Post, “It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances.”

This decision could affect voter turnout for President Trump in the 2020 election.

Petito thought that, “It’ll affect him with people who are independents who might have voted for him.” In the 2016 election, 46 percent of independents voted for Trump.

Although after a moment, Petito remembered Trump during his campaign trail when Trump boldly said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

It appears that overall, the American people believe that removing U.S. troops from Syria will end with disastrous effects. Though the long-term effects of this decision are still unknown.