The unrestrained killing in the Levant has started. The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News on Friday reported 342 Kurdish “terrorists” dead at the hands of invading Turkish soldiers and displaced Syrian militias, with many more civilians missing.
Clueless Donald Trump, who knows even less about history than he does about leadership, facilitated it all.
For centuries, the Kurds have lived unsettled lives in the vast Middle Eastern territory that is colloquially called Kurdistan. A country called Kurdistan never existed except in the minds of Kurds.
The Americans promised to help the Kurds find a real home in return for helping the U.S. defeat ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and its bastard child, ISIS.
The U.S. apparently ran out of help last week.
The Kurds’ unattainable dreamland encompasses a sliver of northeastern Syria, a big bite of western Turkey, a mouthful of Iraq, and a big chunk of Iran. Kurds represent the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East.
Trump’s ridiculous explanation last Wednesday of why it is okay to treat Kurds like piñatas offered America his first clue about what is to come.
“They didn’t help us in the Second World War. They didn’t help us with Normandy,” Trump said in a news conference the day Turkey invaded Northern Syria. “They’re there to help us with their land, and that’s a different thing.”
Indeed it is.
Fate made Kurds tough, defiant and apparently abhorrent to Trump, who detests all brown people of any stripe except those with lots of money and who live far away. Being poor (sort of), stateless and Muslim didn’t help the Kurds’ situation at all.
Both ancient and modern Kurdish history is the story of a restive, ambitious people without a homeland. Contemporary Kurdish history is the story of wars, threats of wars, and low-spark revolutions triggered to try and gain one.
About 98 percent of Kurds are ethnic Iranians and Sunni Muslims since the Arabs’ 7th Century conquest of modern Iran brought the Islam to the Kurds. Neither fact helped ingratiate them to Donald Trump.
The Kurds’ survival for many generations before the current unrest unfolded has been assured by obsequious service to whomever is the current strongman in the neighborhood. America is merely the latest and most powerful facilitator.
Trump is too dense to realize that a loyal ally with absolute understanding of our enemies is a huge force multiplier. America’s military successes in Syria and northeastern Iraq are a direct result of the Kurds’ familiarity with the customs and behaviors of insurgent fundamentalists.
Trump repaid them with a gobsmack. If he had bothered to discover anything about the people he just condemned, he might have seen the Kurds as an invaluable asset, something even he can appreciate.
A Kurdish man of letters named Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi told the Kurds’ tragic story in Sharafnameh, a monumental book he finished in 1597. It reveals the story of the pre-Islamic ancestors of the Kurds and the splintered Kurdish dynasties that followed.
Not much politically has changed for them in the 423 years that followed. Betrayal is part of their legacy. The current Turkish offensive into Kurdish territory in northeastern Syria is a case in point.
Much has been made of Trump’s astoundingly stupid comments regarding the Kurds’ failure to help the Allies during the 1944 D-Day invasion in Normandy. Not only did Trump’s behavior appear unhinged, as usual he is also incorrect — unless his behavior was cleverly deceitful.
Anyone in competition for running the world has advisers who know that the overarching reason Kurds offered no aid to America and its allies in France was because they were not only without a country, but therefore without an army. Even a dunderhead like Trump should be able to grasp that important detail.
For the record, disparate groups of Kurds did fight very effectively for the Allies in WWII during British operations against the Germans and their proxies in Mesopotamia. Later Kurdish formations fought bravely as mountain troops during British combat operations against Nazis in Italy.
They used very similar tactics to defeat and contain ISIS and Bashar al-Assad’s butchers in Syria and Iraq.
In a moment of cruel twaddle, Trump managed to bring into question the Kurds’ reliability and motives in order to divert the world’s attention from his real perfidy, abruptly washing America’s hands of responsibility for the instability in the Middle East.
It was all preordained, the world’s news is now reporting. Turkey begins its military offensive in Syria just days after Trump announced the U.S. was pulling out its trip-wire formations guarding the perimeter of ISIL’s last bastion in the Levant.
When he ordered them to leave, Trump pulled the plug on the Kurdish-manned stability machine that had finally cornered ISIL’s death merchants in a place they could do little harm. Now they are loose once again.
“President Trump and President Erdogan have reached an understanding over precisely what this operation is,” Turkish vice president Gulnur Aybet said from Ankara when the invasion started. “He knows what the scope of this operation is.”
Instantly, billions in American treasure, thousands of American lives, and hundreds of thousands Arabs for and against American adventurism were tossed onto the dung heap of history by an out-of-control mad man. It is not good.