Erdogan appears to finally be cashing in on whatever blackmail dirt he has on Trump-Israel-Saudi Arabia in regards to the dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi. I predicted this would happen immediately after Khashoggi was sawed up. Needless to say, the dismemberment was swept from the headlines and all subsequent Turkish maneuvers are being treated as separate and unrelated events. Trump had indicated that he may sanction Turkey after they bought arms from Russia in June, but Erdogan smugly stated, “I do not see any possibility of these sanctions happening.” Erdogan’s insistence that he has foreknowledge of Washington’s actions should be telling. Trump made the decision to pull troops from their posts near the Syrian-Turkish border just hours after a phone call with Erdogan, who made his own announcement around the same time. Eye witnesses in the White House said it sounded as if Trump was being scolded on the phone. US commanders on the ground in northeast Syria were taken aback by the sudden and unexpected command.
The pull out was half-assed and patently designed to benefit Turkey. US and other allied troops are remaining at points further south in Syria. I have always, and still do, contend that the US should pull all of its troops out of Syria. But what is happening now is almost worse that keeping them all there. Istanbul gets to persecute Kurds on both sided of the border, and the US is still prolonging the war by occupying Syrian territory.
At various times over the last couple years, the Kurdish SDF forces have been in peace talks with Damascas, but, after Trump threatened to pull troops out of Syria last December, and the Kurds and Syria entered into serious peace talks, the US somehow convinced them to put an end to the talks. This week Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Maqdad said that Syria will not deal with “agents of Washington.” This is rather petty and uncharacteristic on the part of Damascus. The Syrian government is notoriously forgiving towards its enemies. When they retake rebel-held territory, they normally provide buses to transport the armed insurgence to another province instead of killing, imprisoning or deporting them like almost every other country would do. But, apparently, the Kurds just bent over for the US empire one too many times.
For Rojava, who is trying to form a libertarian-socialist economy, allying with Damascus and getting semi-autonomous status would have been their best hope for survival. Instead, they naively put their trust in the US military who has allegiance only to the almighty dollar. Now things are looking bleak for them.
The US just wants to economically strangle Damascus by depriving it of its oil-rich lands near the northern bank of the Euphrates, which they were happy to allow ISIS to do in the early stages of the war. When ISIS’s continued existence too obviously refuted the US’s stated goals for occupying Syria, Washington helped the Kurdish YPG take over, even though that area is mostly populated by Arabs. The land further north, near the Turkish border, however, is cursed with having no fossil fuels and is therefore useless to America.
The Syrian war has now moved into an economic phase. The west failed in ousting Assad militarily, so now their plan is to starve the nation, because apparently that’s what you do when you want to “help” people. Following the Venezuela model, they will sanction and blockade Syria until it is obvious that the people are living in misery, then the US media will turn around and say, “look what Assad did.”
Virtually the entire Democratic party, even progressives like AOC, are out-warmongering Trump, implying that the US should occupy Syria until the end of time. Congress is saying they need a vote: a claim they only make when it comes to ending wars, never for starting them. Trump, for his part, is evoking the old days when wars used to end by saying things like, “It’s time to get out of Syria. We never should have been there in first place.” While I would agree with the sentiment if Trump actually believed that, he is being as dishonest as always. The US is keeping thousands of troops in Syria, only pulling out from the area along the Turkish border.
The western world order should be jumping all over Turkey now. The just thing would be to boot them out of NATO and end all arms sales to them. But, alas, justice is a stranger to the world, and Turkey is a rising power in the Middle East.
Sympathizing with the plight of the Kurds is only natural, but it’s not the US’s job to play police man around the world and indefinitely occupy foreign countries. If you don’t agree, ask yourself when would it be a good time to pull out. Now that you realize the answer is never, let’s get out. Now is as good a time as ever.