By Javier Sethness, for the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice
Friday, December 21, 2018, 11am-1pm
6300 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
On Wednesday, December 19, 2018, Donald Trump abruptly announced that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL, or Da’esh) had been defeated in Syria, and that it’s “time to bring our great young people home.” Whereas this kind of haphazard decisionism is typical from Trump, his immediate mandated withdrawal of an estimated 2,000 U.S. special forces from northeastern Syria, otherwise known as “Rojava” or the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), was apparently agreed to only in coordination with neo-Ottoman Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with whom Trump spoke by telephone on December 14. Against the advice of senior members within the Trump administration, apparently without even consulting Republican legislators, and shocking coalition partners UK and France, Trump ordered the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Syria within 100 days. Vladimir Putin responded by celebrating the decision.
In a public statement released today, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)—a military coalition founded at U.S. behest in October 2015 which comprises Kurds, Arabs, and Assyrians/Syriacs, among others—declared that Trump’s sudden move will negatively affect the ongoing campaign against IS/Da’esh, which, contrary to the president’s conclusion, has not yet been defeated. See map below:
Key: Red refers to Regime-controlled regions; black to Da’esh/IS; green to anti-Assad opposition/Turkish-supported occupation; yellow to Kurdish self-administrative forces (courtesy https://syria.liveuamap.com/)
Indeed, Trump’s announcement may very well allow for Da’esh to reconstitute itself, considering that a deadly ailment must be fully treated, if it is not to recur. To this point, the SDF has warned that it may have no other choice but to release its suspected Da’esh detainees with their families “very soon.” In this sense, the president’s mandated withdrawal from Syria appears quite hypocritical and self-defeating, when juxtaposed with his public condemnation of the Obama administration’s withdrawal of troops from Iraq, which according to him, led to the rise of the Islamic State.
This is not to defend the U.S. military presence in Syria, whether in terms of bases, troops, or air support—for the U.S. air strikes over the past four years have killed thousands of civilians, involving attacks on hospitals, prisons, and family-members of suspected IS militants. Instead, we wish to recognize the grave danger that Trump’s impulsive decision-making implies for the Kurds and other ethnic minorities of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), in light of Erdoğan’s own declaration on Wednesday, December 12, of an imminent offensive combining an estimated 24,000 Turkish military and Turkish Free Syrian Army (tFSA) fighters against the remaining northeastern region of Syria east of the Euphrates River, where Kurdish-majority self-administration forces hold control. As with established precedent vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the war in Yemen, it is clear that Trump made a deal with Erdoğan over the DFNS that at least in part involves arms sales—though it is not clear at this moment if $3.5 billion was the only “win” Trump negotiated in this impersonal, neo-colonial “deal.”
See the below map of U.S. special-operations bases (red squares) in Syria:
If we look at the fate of Afrin after the Turkish invasion of January 2018 and the subsequent occupation there, we know that a similarly lamentable destiny would be in store for the remaining DFNS, comprising about one-third of Syrian territory, if Turkey attacks according to Erdoğan’s plan. Just today, while on a visit to a joint Turkish-Qatari military base, the Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar ominously declared that, while SDF forces may have been digging defensive trenches, they “will be buried in their ditches when the time comes.” Surely, this threat should recall the war crimes for which the U.S. was responsible in its vast destruction on the so-called “Highway of Death” during the First Gulf War.
Besides Erdoğan’s likely genocidal intent, the Kurds and other minorities of the DFNS are threatened by the possibility of reconquest by the Assad Regime, assisted by the Russian and Iranian militaries and allied paramilitary groups, likely in coordination with the Turkish State. Given the fate of prisoners in Assad’s dungeons and the Regime’s chauvinistic, Arab-nationalist view of Kurds and other ethnic minorities, this outcome would also be unacceptable. The only alternative is self-determination for the DFNS, and a coordinated withdrawal of all imperialist and sub-imperialist forces from not only northeastern Syria but the entire country and region.
Therefore, if you agree we must urgently oppose Erdoğan’s war-drive and support self-determination for Kurds and all other Syrians, please join the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice in an emergency demonstration outside the Turkish consulate in Los Angeles, this Friday, December 21, 2018, from 11am-1pm.
6300 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
No to Turkish Invasion of Rojava!
No to Turkish Occupation of Syria!
No to U.S. Arms Sales to Turkey and Saudi Arabia!
Remember the Highway of Death!
Solidarity with the Victims of War!
U.S., Turkey, Russia, and Iran out of Syria!
Self-Determination for Syrians!
Self-Determination for Kurds!
Erdoğan and Assad to the Hague!
Bush, Obama, and Trump to the Hague!
ICC for Putin!
ICC for Israel!