Sunday, October 13, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He surrendered northern Syria to Turkey amidst ongoing war crimes, and gave the Assad regime a new ally.

Trump's original abandonment of the United States' former Kurdish allies in northern Syria only involved moving about 50 troops. By symbolically removing American protection from the Syrian Democratic Forces, the front line in the fight against Islamic State militants, Trump was giving Turkey the green light to attack them. But about 1,000 American forces would still be on the ground in Syria.

In the last day or two, there have been dramatic and horrifying developments, although they were all predicted the moment Trump allowed Turkey to invade.

  • Turkish-backed forces have captured Kurdish "terrorists" and executed them on camera. This  includes Hevrin Khalaf, a 35-year-old woman who was the secretary-general of the Future Syria Party, a Kurdish political organization. The videos were posted to social media. This is a war crime.
  • The remnants of the SDF and other Kurds in Syria have been forced into an alliance with the government of Bashar al-Assad. In other words, Trump's abandonment of them has changed the balance of power against the United States and put a vulnerable population under the direct control of America's main enemy in the region—and with it, the northeastern quarter of the country.
  • The Turkish military has pointedly ignored American requests to proceed carefully or allow civilians to stay out of harm's way. (They've also completely ignored Trump's Twitter threats to damage their economy.) This morning, Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper admitted that Turkey would likely "extend their attack further south than originally planned."

Trump responded today by announcing that all American forces in the region would be withdrawn immediately.

How is this a problem?

  • It's wrong for the strongest military in the world to be ordered to ignore war crimes happening right in front of it.
  • It's bad if the President of the United States is perceived as being this weak.