Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds risks an Islamic State revival
The thousands of foreign IS fighters held in north Syria could be released if the Turkish army invades
Betrayal is an ugly word. But if you are a Kurdish fighter who has spent the past few years risking your life fighting at America’s behest against Islamist fanatics in Syria, you are going to feel that US President Donald Trump has completely abandoned your cause with his announcement that the US is to undertake a unilateral withdrawal of its forces from Syria.
In an age when the major western powers no longer have any appetite for overseas military interventions, the new paradigm is to get local forces to do the dirty work of fighting and killing on their behalf. The main contribution made by the US and its allies is confined to providing air support and technological know-how, particularly in intelligence-gathering, as well as small groups of special forces. Otherwise all the hard yards of conducting ground operations are undertaken by local forces which, in the highly successful recent campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (IS), fell to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
It is largely due to their heroic efforts that IS’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria has been destroyed, and thousands of IS fighters taken into captivity. So the SDF and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) which commanded its anti-IS campaign have every right to expect that, at the very least, their American backers would continue to protect their interests once the fighting ended...