Now that President Donald Trump has made it clear that he will abandon Kurdish resistance fighters to be persecuted and killed by Turkish forces, the erstwhile U.S. allies are moving to cut a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to ensure their protection — all but wiping out U.S. support in the region.
Not only was this broadly predicted by experts, but according to The Daily Beast, former anti-ISIS special envoy Brett McGurk was warned explicitly by Kurdish officials last year that this would happen if America did not secure a deal to contain Turkey and ensure the Kurds’ continuing security.
“McGurk said he supported that idea at a time when Trump already was talking about pulling out of Syria, but he met firm opposition within the administration. (Special Representative for Syria Engagement Jim Jeffrey, for one, ‘told the Kurds on multiple occasions, ‘we’ll manage Turkey, don’t make a deal with the [Assad] regime,” according to a source familiar with the matter),” reported the Beast. “Then-National Security Adviser John Bolton and crew insisted the U.S. must stay in Syria until Iran was out, or at least on its way.”
McGurk, a widely respected diplomat, resigned last December as Trump first made movements to withdraw troops from Syria. He ultimately backed off at the time, but is now making good on it.
“Since McGurk’s resignation, he has stayed in touch with the members of the SDF and some contacts in the U.S. departments of state and defense,” reported the Beast. “He says the Kurds asked repeatedly if the support and protection of the United States could be relied upon, and they were told repeatedly that the Americans had their backs. But that was not the case.”
There was, in short, ample warning for the human rights disaster unfolding in northern Syria, and the damage to U.S. soft power — and Trump chose to ignore it.