Resigned acceptance of the inevitable?
Why is everyone so much more upset with Trump than with Turkey?
My first ‘contact’with the Kurds was when I wrote a piece about Mustafa al-Barzani for Sydney University student newspaper Honi Soit in the middle 1970s. Then, as apparently now, the response was deafening disinterest.
The volume hasn’t risen much since then, except Trump.
Unfortunately we are never likely to read a transcript of the conversation between Erdoğan and Trump. I, for one, would love to know whether Trump was persuaded by the Turk’s arguments or intimidated by his threats.
If the threats, what were they?
I can think of two. The first, is simple. Turkey will ignore the presence of US troops, estimated at less than one thousand. If US troops remain in the area what chance would they have against a massive, modern army with armoured vehicles, artillery and planes?
This gives America three bad options:
- Do as Trump did and withdraw. That is in any case in line with his noninterventionist world view. You could argue that this was the world view that won Obama his Nobel.
- Keep the troops where they would either be useless or targets, leaving the President to console grieving parents and a hostile Congress.
- Expand the presence. Turkey is formally an ally and a N.A.T.O. member. Hostilities would be far more complicated than bombing the Taliban or ISIS.
About five thousand airmen, the 39th Air Base Wing (39 ABW) of the U.S. Air Force even share the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey!
The second threat is more indirect. Turkey would point the refugees it intends to rehouse in the safe zone towards Europe. As of September 2019, Turkey hosts 3.66 million registered Syrian refugees. Europe, especially the high social services countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Scandinavia would be very unhappy but even less likely to go to war against Turkey, a N.A.T.O. member and applicant for EU membership than America.
Perhaps Trump’s ego won’t allow him to admit that he was taking what for him was the least worst option so he rubbishes the Kurds, instead?
What about Israel?
How did they expect to cross most of Syria with its Syrian, Iranian and Russian military presence? By sea through the Russian safe zone or via Iraq, crossing Jordan or southern Syria seems equally unlikely.
Nor is war with Turkey on the cards. Despite the unpleasantness from the Turkish President, Israel and Turkey are trading partners.
Turkey is Israel’s sixth-largest export destination.
In addition, there is the murky area of Israel, not a member of N.A.T.O. in a conflict with a N.A.T.O. member.
America, the unreliable ally
Much of the criticism has been of the nature, Trump has shown that America is an unreliable ally. Here’s news for you. Obama showed that before Trump.
What more proof did you need when Iran attacked the world’s largest oil refinery in Saudi Arabia and knocked out about 5% of global oil production almost immediately? Trump’s response was nothing. (I’m not concerned whether the Iranians did it or the Yemenite Houthi using Iranian weapons, know-how and probably on Iranian orders. Six of one – half a dozen of the other.)
Israel has never relied on or even expected American boots on the ground. All we expect is resupply because wars eat up huge quantities of ammunition. There is no reason to expect the most pro-Israel P.O.T.U.S. in my memory to renege on that. A Democrat P.O.T.U.S. ??
An opportunity rises?
Yesterday the Kurds announced that they would join with Assad to repel the invaders. Did they really have a choice?
Let’s be cynical. To have Turkey bogged down in Northern Syria and the Syrians together with the Iranians withdrawing troops from the Golan can’t be so bad for Israel.
- Trump did not betray the Kurds, Caroline Glick, Israel Hayom, 11 October 2019
- Report: Trump Pullout Draws Anti-Israel Forces Away from Golan Border, David Israel, Jewish Press, 13 October 2019