I am writing this post because of the hysterical talking heads on Main Street Media (MSM) especially CNN and others pushing the idea that a withdrawal of American troops is betraying the Kurds. Many of these “experts” have limited knowledge of the situation on the ground. Here is my report after covering the Syrian War for years and numerous trips to the region starting in 2013.
MSM Lie #1: The Syrian Defense Forces is a Kurdish force.
The Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) was created in 2015 by the United States after its failed attempt to fund the Free Syrian Army (FSA) comprised of ex-Syrian Army officers, which turned out to be more corrupt, if possible, than Assad’s army. The FSA would not have existed except for United States funding through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In another act of incompetence, the CIA claimed it vetted the FSA and they funded, pushed by Hilary Clinton, with the promise that the FSA was safe and appropriate.
In reality, the FSA was highly ineffective and by early 2013 much of the active combat had been taken over by the Islamists elements like al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) and Saudi-backed Ahrar al-Sham. In 2013, the FSA sold most of its weapons, like the highly lethal anti-tank TOW weapon, to the highest bidder which included a wide variety of Islamists factions.
Therefore, the creation of the SDF is a reaction to that CIA blunder; however, from the very start the SDF and the United States worked at cross purposes. The SDF’s goal was the creation of a new independent nation state inside Syria. The SDF was an alliance of Syrian Kurdish Forces and the five tribes of Southern Syria. It was approximately 40 percent Arab and 60 percent Kurdish.
The threat of the Islamic State (IS) brought Arabs and Kurds together. The United States’ primary support was only fighting IS. It did not endorse the Kurdish state. It was very rare that the SDF engaged Assad forces. I stress this because the Arab tribes did not necessarily want to overthrow Assad so any characterization of the SDF as Kurdish denies its real purpose. The United States funded SDF as a coalition of Arabs and Kurds to fight IS.
MSM Lie #2: Withdrawal of US troops betrays the Kurds
The constant prattle by ill-informed CNN commentators is about Kurd betrayal. The fact is the United States supported the SDF to fight the IS. IS has been driven from Syria, except for small pockets, and Kurds and the Arab tribes are not menaced by IS in their area of Syria.
The mission was never to build a Kurdish state, regardless of what the MSM talking heads say. There is no record of that being the mission and the MSM talking heads know that. The MSM is conflating the Kurds of Iraq with the Kurds of Syria. These are two completely different situations.
MSM Lie #3: Turkey will slaughter the Syrian Kurds if the United States withdraws.
Here are the facts. Syrian Kurds live in the sovereign state of Syria. After seven years of war funded by the Saudis and the United States, Bashar Assad is in control of Syria. He is backed by Russia and Iran, and in a strange way Turkey.
Turkey has crossed the border into Syria with the silent approval of President Assad. Turkish involvement is largely confined to two areas: Idlib Province in the west and the al-Bab area and Manjb. It played a role of clearing the border areas of forces it considered hostile.
Turkey as well as Russia, Syria and Iran are part of the Astana Reconciliation process. This means there is a peaceful process to resolve these border issues. It is very clear that Russia, Syria, and Iran will not tolerate Turkey to conduct long-term military operations in Syria. The Syrian Kurds live in Syria. Iran, Russia, and Syria have clearly stated that all foreign forces must leave Syria and that includes Turkey. Once again the MSM talking heads are conflating issues.
It is true that Assad has had a rocky relationship with the Syrian Kurds. However, before the war began President Assad was making an effort to improve relations with the Syrian Kurds. A Turkish slaughter of Kurds on Syrian soil would undermine Assad’s hard-fought sovereignty. It would threaten Iran both geopolitically and internally since it also has a Kurdish population.
There will be no wholesale slaughter of Kurds in Syria by Turkey. If the Kurds want to avoid that fate from the Syrian government, it is in their best interests to negotiate with Assad and not fight.
MSM Lie #4: Kurds are needed to fight IS.
IS is largely confined to pockets of land in Syria that is far from Kurdish areas. IS is still operating in the Syrian Desert which is tribal areas. Kurdish forces are withdrawing from Deir ez Zor oil fields or making accommodations with Assad. IS is no longer a significant threat in Syria.
MSM Lie #5: IS will resurge
The real threat has always been al-Qaeda. As I have written before and now supported by academics like Max Abrahms and Ben Fishman, IS was the JV team as proposed by President Obama. For over 1200 years, nomadic forces have roared out of the Levant’s deserts and taken territory only to be driven back and IS is no different. The terrorist threat (not military) of IS was largely propaganda-based. As many academics have proven, IS played a very limited role in non-Levant based terrorism, except for feeding the hate of foreign nationals who wanted to strike against their governments in Europe.
Our threat is al-Qaeda, which IS was part of, and the al-Qaeda threat can not be handled by military effort, as 20 years of war have proven.