Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon bring back Dilliman Abdulkader, a Kurdish policy expert. He is director of external relations at Allegiance Strategies, a Washington, DC -based public affairs consulting firm. He is involved in advocacy for Congressional passage of tough sanctions bi- partisan legislation just as a cease fire “pause” of 120 hours comes to close in northern Syria. The “pause” was concluded with Turkish President Erdogan during a session in Ankara with Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo. The pause has been interrupted with continued fighting between Turkish -supported jihadist Syrian National Army (SNA) militias and elements of the Kurdish YPG-led Syrian Democratic Force. Moreover, there is increasingly evidence of war crimes perpetrated by the jihadist SNA and use of chemical weapons such as white phosphorous. President Trump ordered the redeployment of 1,000 US forces in Syria to bases in Iraq, while abandoning and even bombing former bases in Syria.
Abdulkader thinks sanctions in proposed bi- partisan legislation co-sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) are tougher than those lifted by President Trump in the “pause “agreement with Erdogan. A bi-partisan US House resolution condemning the President’s withdrawal from Syria passed resoundingly by a vote of 354 to 60. A House version of the Senate sanctions bill has been scheduled for a vote. Adoption of the Senate version is dependent on a call by Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) who wrote a Washington Post op ed critical of President Trump’s withdrawal from Syria.
Abdulkader said Erdogan’s Turkish Armed Forces unleased a jihadist terror war using former Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and ISIS fighters to ethnically cleanse Kurds from their ancestral homeland in northeastern Syria. He noted Friday preaching in Turkish Mosques of the Quranic Mohammedan Army verses promoting jihad against Kurds, Jews, Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities. Abdulkader noted that Pakistan and Hamas support Erdogan’s terror war against the Syrian Kurds. The irony is Turkey is a NATO partner committing this jihadist terror war in Syria.
The Turkish-backed jihadists have committed documented war crimes against Kurdish civilians. They have videoed the execution and beheading of prisoners, that in one example included the brutal murder of a 35-year-old woman Kurdish politician. Many children have been maimed by random Turkish artillery bombardments. Abdulkader noted that upwards of 300,000 people have been internally displaced during the fighting in a massive humanitarian crisis. The only realistic option for many fleeing the conflict is Iraqi Kurdistan, which is united in support of Syrian Kurds.
The Turkish attack on October 9th followed a phone call on October 6th with President Trump who acceded to Erdogan’s demands for withdrawal of US special operators. Abdulkader believes that President Trump may have been “duped” during that call. Erdogan already had a security arrangement acceptable to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Force with joint US patrols, and removal of border barriers.
Abdulkader thinks it would be in Israel’s long-term interest to support Kurdish interests in northeastern Syria. He suggests Israel reduce exports to Turkey akin to EU arms embargoes.
He contends that US presence on the ground, while symbolic, is necessary to preserve the gains of Kurds and other religious minorities to stabilize the area. The alternative facing the US is the resurgence of ISIS that cost 11,000 Syrian Kurdish lives to defeat the Caliphate. Meanwhile, Russia has gained ground in the region, as evidenced by meetings with Saudi Arabia and the UAE concerned over US withdrawal from the region. The US appears to have no strategy in Syria, let alone the Middle East.