Removing U.S. Troops from the Syrian and Turkish Border

Sheigh Williamson

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In early October, President Donald Trump made the decision to remove troops from the Syrian and Turkish border, leaving behind our allies, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G., in the process.

For those of you who do not know, according to USA Today, the Kurdish people are the largest ethnic minority (25-40 million people) who do not have their own autonomous state. Instead, they straddle a territory that sits in Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. According to The Kurdish Project and the GQ, the Kurdish people became the U.S. allies during the war in Iraq and have been our allies since then. Turkey, on the other hand, has been an ally to the U.S. since the beginning of The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, otherwise known as NATO.

Turkey and their president Tayyip Erdogan see the Y.P.G.as a terrorist group, and balancing being allies with Turkey through NATO and being allies with the Y.P.G has been difficult. Now people are questioning if Turkey is still a U.S. ally because according to The New York Times article and a video by CNN, Turkey attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish forces, and our allies.

Turkey and the Kurdish people have a tumultuous relationship. To simplify it, the Kurdish Workers Party, also known as the P.K.K. launched a violent separatist movement in Turkey during the early 1980s. According to The New York Times, the P.K.K. is considered a terrorist group by both Turkey and the United States. Across the Syrian border is the militia known as the Y.P.G; they are also fighting to form an autonomous state for the Kurds, but the Y.P.G. are U.S. allies. However, being allies with the Y.P.G. is very complicated as they have deep ties with the P.K.K.

Now, why did President Trump decide to pull troops from the Syrian and Turkish border? According to the GQ, last December President Trump claimed that the U.S. had accomplished its goal of defeating ISIL (also known as ISIS) in Syria and “that was the only reason we are there.” And since then the Turkish President Erdogan has been lobbying the Trump administration to remove soldiers from the border so that he could push Turkish forces further into Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) territory. President Trump has tweeted that we have not abandoned the Kurds while we are removing our troops from Syria and that Turkey understands that while we may not be there, any “unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and their very fragile currency.”

Consequences of removing troops from the Turkish/Syrian border are already being felt. As stated before, according to The New York Times article and a CNN video, Turkey has already attacked a U.S. ally in Syria. Turkey has set out to clear out a Kurdish-led militia, the SDF, that controls about a third of the country. And The New York Times is saying that it looks like President Trump doesn’t seem to care. It would be a direct contrast to the statement from earlier that President Trump put on his twitter. There was also the huge amount of backlash faced, not just from democrats but from republicans as well.

According to Politico, a political opinion-based company, republicans ripped into President Trump. Senator Lindsey Graham told Vice President Pence that “he was personally offended to read the decision in the news instead of hearing from the President or his aids.” Also, that “we’re going to hold this administration accountable for this decision; if Obama had done this, all of us would be going nuts, it’s such a bad idea. The job of Congress is to hold the Executive branch accountable.” Florida Senator Marco Rubio can also be quoted disagreeing, saying that “it is such a bad idea.” However, Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky has spoken out in support of President Trump and his decision to remove troops from the border.

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