Trump Betrays Kurds, World Must Act to Prevent Human Rights Crisis

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I’ve long been a supporter of Kurdistan, and I think the Kurds should get their country back.

So, it is my pleasure, though a sad pleasure, to print this OpEd by Kenneth F. McCallion. Kenneth F. McCallion is an accomplished human rights attorney, former federal prosecutor, and author of “Treason & Betrayal, The Rise and Fall of Individual -1

Not only have the Kurds been our most trusted allies in the Middle East in the fight against ISIS, but there are more than 40,000 loyal Kurdish-Americans in the U.S., with about 15,000 in the Nashville, Tennessee area and many Kurdish-Americans proudly serving in the U.S. armed forces. I had the honor of representing some of these U.S. citizens who were victims or families of victims of the March 16, 1988 chemical attack by Saddam Hussein’s forces in Iraq against the Kurdish village of Fallabja. I also represented the Kurdish National Congress in the U.S., one of the U.S.-based organizations that was seeking to obtain compensation for the victims of the chemical attack and their surviving families.

The Kurds once again appear to be the victims of recent chemical attacks in Syria, only now the perpetrators and violators of international law seem to be one of America’s own NATO allies with U.S. nuclear weapons stored there. They’ve been able to carry out these shameful and violent attacks on the Kurds thanks to the sudden withdrawal of support perpetrated by our very own President Trump.

My deep research and involvement in the chain of conflicts facing the Kurds in the Middle East has shown me that the Kurds are and have been America’s staunchest and most effective allies in the war against ISIS in the Middle East. They have worked closely with U.S. Special Forces to drive out, kill or imprison thousands of ISIS fighters in the northeastern area of Syria that they effectively control. The Kurdish-American alliance has been one of the great success stories of America’s War on Terror since 9/11, and Kurdish forces deserve the undying gratitude for taking the brunt of the combat responsibilities and the casualties required to rid this area of the ISIS scourge.

There can be no doubt that the loss of life by U.S. combat units in areas where they are fighting alongside their Kurdish brothers and sisters in arms would have been much greater but for the fact that Kurdish forces had their backs and could always be counted on when the going got tough. As the stepfather of a Marine, I am forever grateful for the dependability and honor they have shown.

U.S. servicemen and women are understandably feeling shame and frustration at a commander-in-chief who has abandoned and betrayed our most trusted Kurdish fighting allies. On the battlefield or off, America’s word has always (well, almost always) been its bond, and while it takes a long time to build a relationship of genuine trust, whether on an interpersonal or state-to-state basis, that trust can disappear in an instant when America betrays an ally in such a callous and surprise manner as was done with the Kurds. After a phone call with President Erdogan, Trump announced that U.S. troops in Syria would be pulled back from the Turkish border so that Turkish military forces could “clear out” a buffer zone along the border.

Even Trump’s use of language is offensive. Terms like “clear out” or “clean out” have been used all too often in the past to justify ethnic cleansing, mass murder and genocide. In this case, Trump’s actions demonstrate a complete disregard for the value of Kurdish lives. After removing U.S. support from the region, chaos and carnage involving the civilian populations predictably ensued. Turkish troops and allied militia groups rapidly advanced with indiscriminate shelling of civilian centers and the reported possible use of white phosphorous chemical munitions, which is banned under international law for use against civilian populations and causes horrific burns and injuries to anyone who comes into contact with it.

There are about 25 to 35 million Kurds that inhabit the mountainous region straddling Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. They have their own language and culture and comprise the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East. Indeed, they are one of the largest ethnic groups in the world without their own nation state, having had their hopes for an independent “Kurdistan” crushed by the treaties signed by the European powers after World War I. Now, without the support of the U.S., the Kurds stand to lose far more than hopes for their own nation state. They are in peril of being completely and permanently wiped out of the Middle East. The U.S. must act immediately to stop the escalating violence against the Kurds and prevent a human rights crisis.

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17 thoughts on “Trump Betrays Kurds, World Must Act to Prevent Human Rights Crisis

  1. Trump is a traitor. This was done at Putin’s behest, just like his betrayal of Ukraine. Putin fed him stories in private calls, help your hotel in Turkey, get dirt on Biden by withholding support, and the moron went for it. One must always ask cui bono and in both cases it’s Putin.

    1. Not only Trump but anyone who supports him, by, for example, not voting to impeach him and/or continuing to support him when he claims that there is no support for impeaching him for the Ukraine business or the attempt to give a huge contract to himself, or make “good deals” that benefit himself and/or Putin but do nothing for us but do harm us in some way or another not hard to find.

      Giving aid and comfort to an enemy is the very essence of treason, violating the Constitution is betraying a sworn oath that implies penalties for doing that (otherwise what rational basis is there for requiring an oath), and eliminating safeguards for the population that then have already led to the deaths of thousands of American (in the case of the relaxation of air pollution regulations) for no reason other than the corporate profits or just convenience. Trump and his minions have already been guilty of all of these things, are we waiting for something even worse before getting getting them out of the government and, in many cases into the courts.

  2. I do wonder how all the “patriots” who support trump and his work to “make America great again” dealt with seeing the video of the withdrawing US troops being pelted with garbage as they left the Kurds to their fate, all because the Kurds “didn’t help us during WWII.”

    Or how they dealt with Trump’s lie that he was bringing the troops home when most are being sent to help protect Saudi oil fields.

    As my neighbor (and, apparently, many others) said: “The Saudis didn’t help in WWII either, but 15 of them showed up for September 11 2001.”

    1. They dealt with it (1) just the way that anti-science creationists do, by ignoring it mentally, twisting or otherwise contorting it into a good thing or (2) as a pragmatic matter because they know the current Republican base, ~40% who still have faith in their craven leader according to recent polls, will hate them forever and kill them at the primaries so they’ve decided to lose any ethics they have not already abandoned than lose their jobs.

  3. I’ve long been a supporter of Kurdistan, and I think the Kurds should get their country back.

    I don’t think they ever had a country of their own — formally, at least.

    It’s my understanding that when the Ottoman Empire fell, the Kurds were promised their own country; but a new Turkish government that came to power three years later rejected the treaty and Kurdistan somehow fell through the cracks. That was 100 years ago.

    1. Yup.

      They have their own language and culture and comprise the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East. Indeed, they are one of the largest ethnic groups in the world without their own nation state, having had their hopes for an independent “Kurdistan” crushed by the treaties signed by the European powers after World War I.

      We can’t expect that to matter to today’s right: they won’t look at any facts: Trump’s comments that “they haven’t helped us” and “we’re bringing troops home” are all they need. My neighbor just informed me today that “The stuff you here about more troops going to guard the oil fields is bullshit: they aren’t going there” — so the lies continue to work.

  4. If Erdogan and Turkey wanted to ethnically cleanse the Kurds, why aren’t they doing this to the much larger block of Kurds living in Turkey?

    1. They have them under control? They have branded these “terrorists” for the same reason we call so many people terrorists: no real reason at all.

  5. There is no such country as Kurdistan. Never was, never will be. You are in favor of Balkanizing foreign countries and rewarding any group who will assist us with the Balkanization.

    Fighting ISIS? Assad was fighting ISIS. We were fighting Assad. The enemy of our enemy is our friend. The US fought alongside ISIS (and al Nusra) in Syria because we all wanted to depose Assad and seize some of his nation’s real estate.

    So screw off with your Imperial propaganda. And vote for Tulsi Gabbard.

    1. Anyone who looks at a historical atlas can easily see that the Middle East has no really permanent countries, just one empire after another, one movement after another, one set of boundaries after another, and all this often on a short timescale. The modern map’s boundaries were drawn by the fiat of European powers for their own reasons and simply ignored that the borders enclosed “countries” which contained incompatible ethnic, cultural, and religious sects. This is hard enough to manage in countries with some sort of democratic tradition but in the Middle East it is just a recipe for exactly what we have seen and will continue to see. Balkanization into countries with more homogeneity would probably be an improvement over the current mess.

  6. So trump sold the kurds out to be slaughtered because syria (who had been helping ISIS) asked him to. He lied about bringing troops home being the reason — they aren’t coming home, of course. Now erdogan has openly threatened the kurds if the russians don’t move them out.

    And people on the right wonder why trump is viewed as a worthless pos. They can’t handle the truth.

  7. why should the United States have an imperial army and build an empire outside its own states. Why are Kurds more important, than Afghanis or Tiebetians or any disperate group of individuals being opposed or “oppressed” by any other group.

    who made the us king of the world? wouldn’t it make more sense for america to worry about americans? Wouldn’t it make sense to reduce arms sales and reduce the size of the military?

    why do you spend your time worrying about Kurds when your very country is collapsing economically, morally and demographically. The barbarians are within your own gates as your own identity melts like sugar in the rain and you don’t even know what to beleive in anymore. so you pick you favorite fairy tale and dream while the flames burn your land and the smoke burns your nose.

    you think you are woke but you are mesmerized by the illusions your devices present to you as reality.

    1. America’s reputation — although it’s far from perfect — rests on honoring its commitments. We had a deal with the Kurds. We should have stuck to it.

      The larger picture is that the nations of the world have grown so interdependent that “America First” as promoted by Trump is no longer an option

    2. Christopher, you’re making the mistake of assuming that today’s right has any concern about being principled or honoring commitments. I’m not saying that Republicans have a long history of being ethical – you have to look hard to find any, and it was never found in their leadership, but the lack of concern for honesty, battling racism and general bigotry, and so on, is essentially gone from top to bottom in the right. Look at the right wonders who comment here for evidence.

  8. No longer an option?
    The existing policies are just set in stone, and cannot be challenged?
    This is not an argument, just like Max Boot’s ‘The only way to achieve America’s interests is to invade Iran.’

    1. Things like standing by allies should be “set in stone” — or are you a moral relativist?

      If a country does not stand by allies, shouldn’t it be for a good reason in terms of that country. What “good” thing happened as a result of the fake President’s sudden irrational and unadvised action in implementing Turkey’s plan after a phone call? Here they are, you pick any which is/are good for us:
      (1) Thousands of ISIS fighters are no longer held securely.
      (2) America lost status in the Middle East.
      (3) Russia gained status in the Middle East.
      (4) Assad gained territory he had lost.
      (5) Turkey which has become a theocracy and was the corridor through which ISIS’s foreign fighters entered Syria) essentially gained the border zone it wanted and the Kurds are now on the run.
      (6) America has lost its only dependable ally in the fight against ISIS.
      (7) American troops were put in danger because the had no forewarning or plan for their exit.
      (8) The operation that killed the ISIS head was put in jeopardy and was only rescued by making it sooner and more dangerous.
      (9) Troop numbers are apparently not decreasing but increasing to “guard the oil” (in a country which is not a major oil-producing country).

    2. Remember Tyvor, Republicans haven’t been about making an informed, moral stand for quite some time — Reagan showed them it was much easier to succeed if they shifted positions as needed. Hence the fact that one of their shining “heros” is best known for destroying his time’s economy and not only supporting terrorists on two continents, but breaking laws to sell weapons to them. The current crop of the right is simply carrying on with that tradition, and supporters (like those above) see nothing wrong with it.

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