In 2016 I remember saying that a vote for Donald Trump was a sure vote for War, because of the many harsh statements he had been making on the campaign trail up to that point. I also pointed out that if Trump went to War, it would only be adding to a long and proud Republican tradition of Warmongering. For example, the last 2 Republican Presidents have started all 3 of America’s most recent Wars. If Trump followed suit like his predecessors, he would simply be starting the 4th or 5th.
However, now that Trump is in office I have become incredibly impressed at his approach towards de-escalating the Syrian Civil War, a War essentially started by Barack Obama, James Clapper and John Brennan years ago. More specifically, I am referring to Trumps decision to halt all funding and weapons to Syrian Rebels five months ago, as well as his decision to halt funding and weapons shipments to Kurdish forces fighting in Syria last week. Both moves go a long way towards eventually ending a conflict which has killed over 400,000 people since 2011, or in the very least prevents the War from growing or getting any worse.
Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East. I will get it all done, but what a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 24, 2017
I’m not sure if the news got lost with all of the hoopla surrounding Thanksgiving last week, but I am incredibly surprised at the lack of coverage this announcement has been getting here in the United States, which is exactly why I am writing this article here today. For some more perspective on this news, as was originally reported by Middle East Eye on November 24th 2017, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaking about a phone call between President Erdogan and Trump earlier that day, “Trump very clearly said he had given instructions to not provide weapons to the YPG” in the future, meaning the US had decided to cut off funding to the Kurdish forces fighting in the Syrian National Dispute.
For anyone whom is unaware, the YPG are essentially Kurdish militia members currently fighting in North-East Syria against the Islamic State. While the Kurds are also opposed to Assad, they have primarily been fighting terrorism along side the United States, not necessarily directly against the Government of Assad- yet. This is why also why I referenced the Kurds in the context of the overall Syrian National Dispute and not necessarily the Syrian Civil War, which primarily involves the Syrian rebels – an entirely separate fighting group from the the YPG (Kurds).
Lastly, up until last week, the YPG had only been the recipient of arms and funding from the US Government because they had been serving on the literal front-lines of the US coalition’s battle against terrorism in the region. For example, earlier this year the IS strong-hold of Raqqa was finally liberated, and it was the YPG whom primarily did a lot of the dirty work and heavy lifting to make it happen.
The Timing of The Announcement
There is a reason why Trump abruptly made this decision last week, it came just days before the Kurds announced they would be holding a second referendum vote to separate from Syria later this year, reinforcing a referendum vote to separate from Iraq in September of 2017. This is also why I fear that Trumps decision to cut off the Kurds/rebels may still have come too late. The catch 22 to the situation is that the Kurds could only afford to separate from Iraq and Syria in the first place using the same money and weapons which have given them strength. Ironically, as a result of this very funding over the years, the US now has to cut off the Kurds and rebels before their actions get out of control and an entirely new War is started in the region.
As was reported by Middle East Eye on November 25th 2017 about this very scenario, “Elections organized by the Kurdish-led authorities of northern Syria will be held on 1 December, part of a process leading to the creation of a local parliament by early 2018.” Explaining that “Elections will culminate in January with the election of an assembly that will act as a parliament for a federal system of government in northern Syria ” and points out how currently, “Kurdish groups and their allies control almost a quarter of Syria” and their “stated aim is to secure autonomy as part of a decentralised Syria.”
However, both Turkey and Iraq have threatened to go to War with the Kurds or Kurdistan if the referendum vote ever becomes enforced. This is not to mention the fact that Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin will never just sit back peacefully and allow the Kurds claim nearly 1/4 of Syria’s land. The Syrian Government would absolutely go to War with the Kurds to reclaim their own territory. By cutting off the Kurds ahead of their vote, Trump is trying de-escalate an already intense situation while sending a message to the Kurds to stop acting so aggressively, while also trying to prevent three countries from going to War with one of the US coalitions own allies. Lets just hope for all of humanities sake that these decisions weren’t made too late.