No Friends But The Mountains

Map Syria Admin Divisions CIA 2007

Once again the Kurds are cast aside. This is nothing new. Over the span of the past 100 years they have been used as proxy forces and then kicked to the side of the curb once their usefulness has run its course. The United States decision to abandon the Syrian Kurds is yet once more instance of history repeating itself.

On Thursday, December 19, 2018, President Trump declared that the fight against the Islamic State in Syria was over and that we had ‘won’. He announced the immediate withdrawal of the U.S. troops and diplomatic personnel in northeastern Syria that is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Front (SDF).

The biggest loser in this latest Trump decision are the Syrian Kurds. The SDF – with some Arab but mostly Kurdish fighters – have been instrumental in the degradation of the Islamic State in Syria. Other losers – in the long run – will be the Syrian people who will continue to suffer the abuses of the Assad regime, Iran proxy forces, and Hezbollah. The United States loses bargaining position and the ability to influence events in Syria and in the Middle East region.

The big winners in this debacle are the Assad regime, Iran, Russia, Turkey, and IS. It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out over the next few years. Turkey certainly will do everything it can to marginalize and / or destroy the Kurdish enclave in northeastern Syria. The Kurds – realizing now the mistake of trusting the United States – will likely come to an accommodation with the Assad regime. That would solidify the northeastern region of Syria for Assad. Then again – Assad and the Turks could come to an arrangement that would decimate the Kurdish enclave.

The 5th Special Forces along with many supporting U.S. military elements spent a lot of time and energy getting the SDF established, equipped, and trained to fight the Islamic State in Syria. Certainly there has to be some angst at Fort Campbell about the future of the Syrian Kurds. The abandonment of the Syrian Kurds is a tragic error on the part of the United States. And once again the Kurds realize that they have no friends but the mountains.

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