On October 9th, just three days after President Donald Trump ordered troops out of Syria, Turkey made their move by launching airstrikes on bordering towns of Syria. By moving troops out of Syria, there was then an open pathway that lead right into the Kurdish territory of Syria, in which Turkey invaded.
The Kurds are a nomadic ethnic group consisting of between 25-40 million people spread across the Middle East in countries such as Syria, Iran, Turkey, and Iraq. The Kurds played a considerable role in helping the U.S. fight against ISIS in Syria and helped to end its dominion. ISIS sought land controlled by the Kurds, and were using violence to get it. Thus, the U.S. stepped in and began airstrikes that supported the Kurdish advances to retake their land.
Americans are split on the decision. It seems almost like the resurgence of the Vietnam War dilemma. At the time, Nixon noted the importance of keeping the presence of a democratic country in Asia, but at the same time, he could not keep sending troops to be stationed there. Many Americans support President Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria because they believe that the U.S. is not entitled to be the world’s “police.” However, there are just as many people who believe that we should keep troops in the region because of the Kurds’ help in fighting ISIS. President Trump stated, “Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy – and I will.” Meaning, Trump is threatening the Turkish government to not do anything out of hand, or else he will wreak havoc on the economy of Turkey. According to the Washington Post, “Trump’s belief that he can destroy Turkey’s economy seems to be based on a newfound faith in sanctions and tariffs as an instrument of economic coercion” (Farrell). Trump is saying that with the United States’ position of power in the world’s economy, due to its tariffs and sanctions, he could easily destroy the Turkish economy if they keep up their offensive against the Kurds.
The Kurds had established a majority Kurdish-run territory in between the border of Syria and Turkey. However, from Turkey’s perspective, this establishment of the region is a significant threat. Turkish President Erdogan’s last wish is to see a self-governing Kurdish state across the border and is claiming the fight against terrorism to disguise their mission to invade and stifle the Kurds.
The Kurds are doing everything they can to fight back, even though they consider the U.S. to have “stabbed them in the back” in the past. The Kurds are in a difficult position, as they can no longer depend on the support of the U.S. and are now being attacked by the Turks, as well as Turkish-backed Syrian militias, loosely known as the Free Syrian Army.
Things are very tense in the Middle East, and it seems that at any moment, things could explode, which would then involve many people from other countries in their conflict.
Kirby, Jen. “9 Questions about Turkey, Syria, and the Kurds You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask.” Vox, Vox, 16 Oct. 2019, https://www.vox.com/world/2019/10/16/20908262/turkey-syria-kurds-trump-invasion-questions.
“Turkey Syria Offensive: 100,000 Flee Homes as Assault Continues.” BBC News, BBC, 11 Oct. 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50020829.
Henry Farrell, Abraham Newman. “Analysis | Trump Doesn’t Want to Be ‘Responsible for Destroying the Turkish Economy.’ Good Grief.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 17 Oct. 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/10/16/trump-doesnt-want-be-responsible-destroying-turkish-economy-good-grief/.