×

The Syrian mess is the establishment’s fault, not Trump’s

PARIS — With President Donald Trump deciding to withdraw U.S. forces from northeast Syria near the border with Turkey, the Kurds in Syria have found themselves under attack from Turkish forces.

What isn’t being clearly defined is who these “Turkish forces” are. The hard truth is that the combatants killing Kurdish civilians are American-made. And now, the same oblivious Washington establishment warmongers who claim on social media to be upset about the loss of life have only themselves to blame for creating these militias.

According to Foreign Policy magazine, the Free Syrian Army and “Ankara’s radical proxies” are conducting the attacks against the Kurds and are releasing ISIS prisoners who were being held in the area.

To be clear, it’s not the Turkish army that’s conducting the offensive against Kurdish civilians, but rather a group terrorists trained by the U.S., with cooperation from NATO ally Turkey. The Free Syrian Army was a ragtag group of mercenary fighters assembled in an effort to eject Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power. They were trained and equipped as part of the CIA’s Operation Timber Sycamore, which began in either late 2012 or early 2013 and cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $1 billion per year.

In a parallel effort, the Pentagon partnered with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan to train even more “Syrian rebels.” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported in 2015 that, “The train-and-equip program has been jointly organized by the U.S. and Turkey to help prepare Syrian opposition fighters in the campaign against [ISIS] and the Bashar al-Assad regime.” Turkey was used as a staging area for these training operations.

The U.S. officials now publicly lamenting the death of Kurdish fighters and civilians at the hands of terrorists were cheering those same terrorists when the target was Assad. At the time, there didn’t seem to be much concern for the Syrian civilians caught in the crossfire during the attempted regime change.

The Washington establishment’s concern about casualties in Syria seems limited to groups they can instrumentalize politically or profit from in some way. There are members of the establishment who view the Kurds as useful squatters occupying an oil-rich section of Syria, formerly backed by U.S. forces under the guise of protecting a minority group. The Kurds were a convenient excuse to establish a lasting military presence in the area.

Turkey is hell-bent on destroying the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the PKK, which it considers to be a terrorist group linked to the Kurdish fighters it’s targeting in Syria. The U.S. classifies the PKK as a terrorist group, too.

Trump not only destroyed plans for an extended U.S. presence in Syria but also outed the U.S.-trained rebel “freedom fighters” as terrorists.

Strangely enough, the Kurds’ best hope for a white knight is the army of Syria’s central government, commanded by Assad. On Sunday it was announced that the Kurds and the legitimate Syrian army had reached an agreement, with Syrian troops to deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border to help protect the Kurds. The Russian military is also now patrolling the contact line between the Turkish and Syrian militaries, according to Reuters.

At some point, in order for Syria to become whole again, it will have to assert itself over all of the militia groups operating within the country, including Kurdish militias. Kurdish fighters will have to cede to the legitimate army of Syria. The country can’t function otherwise. Imagine if the U.S. allowed a bunch of guys in Texas to freely operate a militia in order to protect the state’s border, and their efforts were supported by foreign countries that wanted to get their hands on Texas oil. America wouldn’t put up with that sort of thing inside its borders, so why should Syria have to?

Trump gets it. “Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land,” Trump tweeted. “Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!”

It’s the rest of Washington, whose plans Trump has ruined, that bears the responsibility for this entire mess.

Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and host of an independently produced French-language program that airs on Sputnik France. Her website can be found at www.rachelmarsden.com.