Save the Kurds!
The Trump administration’s reported plans to pull out all U.S. forces from Syria by the end of April put key anti-ISIS allies on high alert, with many now worried that a hastened withdrawal will leave Washington’s Kurdish partners without any protection.
The White House, which is planning to redeploy most American troops by next month, still has no agreement with regional powers to protect the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group that has helped the United States fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Without the U.S. military as a buffer, lawmakers and experts warn, Turkey would follow through on threats to attack the SDF, an organization it views as a terrorist group.
“I think the Kurds rightly feel like they’re being left out in the cold,” said Ned Price, a former CIA senior analyst who later served as a special assistant to President Obama on the National Security Council staff. “They haven’t heard how the United States is going to provide any sense or source of protection for them.”
The Kurds – who began assaulting the last ISIS-held stronghold in Syria this past week – recently turned to negotiations with various elements of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Russian military intelligence agencies, seeking protection from the Turkish government.
That move was prompted primarily by President Trump’s announcement in December that all U.S. forces would withdraw from Syria.
“I think as soon as the president made his comments, SDF forces had already been preparing for a post-America Syria,” said Seth Jones, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)