Tuesday, November 05, 2019

The Kurds

Many conservatives were very upset with Trump about his recent decisions in Syria, Turkey, and nascent Kurdistan. Leaving allies in the lurch goes strongly against the grain for many.  His Democratic opponents, many of whom have long advocated we do less militarily throughout the Mideast, nonetheless found many reasons they disagreed with him on this.  Much of the conservative media is now telling us how well things ended up going in Syria after all, both for us and for everyone nice.  The alphabet media seem to be not mentioning it much these days.  So I can find someone to tell me whatever I want if I choose carefully.

I am much more interested in what all of you here think.  I accept that everything in the ME is unstable, but how unstable is this compared to other possible solutions?  Who is getting hurt at present, what villains have gained a protective space to grow in power? Suggesting good reads will be fine.


Grim said...

I think it's the other way around: it's about to stabilize. All the major players are now happy with the outcome. The Kurds aren't, and we may not be, but the Kurds are few and we don't have major forces in play anymore.

Assad, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Russia are all happy with how things turned out. Jordan will be happy to have the chaos subside on its northern border; China's making major investments through the region that they will be happy to see protected by a new stability.

So I think it's almost over. The US will be a lot less important than heretofore, and Israel will have to figure out how to cut a deal with Russia to let them target the Iranian proxies that are menacing them. The Kurds will bleed the Turks for a good long time to come in a low-level insurgency. But the war per se is almost over.

Christopher B said...

I think this piece by Lee Smith has good background. It's overall pro-Trump but without n-dimensional chess cheering.


tl;dr - it's probably about the best outcome for what was overall just a bad situation for the US to be in, the Kurds aren't going to be any worse off than they've been for over a century, and I think to the degree that the Iraq central government is weak they still have a de facto state in northern Iraq.

sykes.1 said...

Syria will be better off under the secular regime of Assad, especially the Christians, Jews, Druze and other minorities. We and our allies have been trying to use radical Islamic terrorists to overthrow Assad, like specifically ISIS, and if they had won they would have waged genocidal war against the minorities.

As to the Kurds, we have been arming the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK, a known terrorist group that is trying to partition Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Armenia to form Kurdistan. The YPG is also a radical marxist group. Evidently, Washington is not capable of learning from past mistakes. We supported the Taliban once to oppose the Soviet Union, and now we have to fight them.

Or, at least we think we do.

Aggie said...

The press and their political sycophants (democratic politicians) are shrieking that we have 'betrayed' the Kurds, a valuable ally. I'm no expert on that region - but in that part of the world, that culture, trust is not a recognized commodity. Betrayal is a common occurrence; allegiances change with remarkable swiftness as a matter of survival. Old grievances are quickly set aside and new arrangements are made. The Kurds provided assistance in the planning of the raid on al-Baghdadi, the way I read it, for example. So maybe the Kurd's situation hasn't suffered a catastrophe, rather a change in the weather.

One can tell when Trump does something original and smart. The press and political classes go bananas for a couple of weeks hollering about traditions being razed and decades of careful work being liquidated, and then it all goes very, very quiet. Because the plan is working, much to their chagrin.

HMS Defiant said...

There is great truth to the old saying, Nations have interests, not friends. For a while our interests ran parallel to some of the Kurd's interest and we both reaped benefits by gutting ISIS but that does not mean that we must stand by them now and forever and Trump was wise to see that. As usual with the State Department and even some of the POL/MIL types at places like CENTCOM, ARCOM there is a desire to see our 'allies' as our friends and this should not be allowed in places like the Middle East.
There is a world of difference between the Peshmerga and PKK and has been for decades. I think they'll do well enough in autonomous north of Iraq but they need to clamp down on the terrorists that are doing their best to provoke Turkey and Syria and Iraq and Iran. As we know from history, it's the rotten little provocateurs that inevitably bring down the rain of fire on everybody.

james said...

I have a vague bias in favor of the Kurds having their own state. It seems as though it would make for a more peaceful MidEast long term, and I've got some of the usual feeling for the underdog. And now I've got 4 countries mad at me.

Some of the Kurdish groups have been very supportive of our efforts, but other groups are poison.

If we wanted to support the Syrian Kurds, I don't know how we'd do it without taking over part of Syria ourselves. We never made supporting them a priority, and events caught up with us--probably would have caught up even more quickly if we'd been more active.

GraniteDad said...

Aggie, I’d disagree that just because the media stops talking about something outrageous Trump does, it’s because it’s original and smart. It’s also often because we’ve moved on to other true issues or Trump’s obfuscated with some distraction. I wouldn’t trust that the media is an honest arbiter of truth or norms, but that doesn’t mean that everything they complain about is useless or wrong. See: Trump’s tariffs and their turnabout negative effect on manufacturing.