Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Arming Syrian Kurds, Trump Expands Obama's Policy

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President Donald Trump has approved a Pentagon plan to directly arm the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — a group of Syrian Kurds with direct ties to an Islamo-Marxist terror group — in the fight against the Islamic State. The decision is sure to add insult to injury in already strained relations between the United States and Turkey.

In a statement released Tuesday, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said President Trump approved the plan Monday. She also stated that the SDF “partnered with enabling support from U.S. and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future.” Raqqa has been a stronghold of the Islamic State since 2014 when the city in central Syria fell under ISIS control.

U.S. military forces have spent more than a year on plans to capture Raqqa. The plan to arm the SDF — first reported by NBC Tuesday — “allows the process to begin to function," according to an unnamed official. As NBC reported:

Once the order comes to the Pentagon, the U.S. can begin providing the Syrian Kurds with arms and equipment fairly quickly since some equipment is pre-positioned.

The officials could not say what might flow in first or how it would get there, but among the expected options are:

• Breaching equipment — bulldozers, engineering equipment
• More effective infantry equipment: rifles, ammunition, armor and communication gear (radios)

What is clear — not only by the fact that some of the equipment the United States will be providing to the Kurdish rebels is “pre-positioned,” but also by recent history — is that Trump’s plan to arm the SDF is an extension of the Obama administration's previous actions. As The New American’s Alex Newman reported in January 2016:

Under the guise of fighting the Islamic State, or ISIS, the Obama administration has put American boots on the ground in Syria to work with local communist-linked militants on an air base in the war-ravaged nation's northeastern region, according to satellite images and Syrian military and security sources cited in media reports. The estimated 100 U.S. “experts” and Special Forces troops on the ground there, deployed unilaterally by Obama without a declaration of war or even congressional approval, have reportedly been building up and expanding the air base for several months. Before deploying U.S. forces to Syria in October, Obama had pledged repeatedly not to do so. Now American involvement is deepening.

And:

The self-styled Kurdish People's Protection Units, known as Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG) in Kurdish, are essentially the military wing of the Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat (PYD). The PYD is basically the Syrian affiliate of the communist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an oftentimes ruthless outfit that was officially designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. government in 1997 for myriad bombings and attacks targeting civilians. Since then, the group, formed with backing from the Soviet Union, has continued to slaughter civilians in its quest for a Marxist-Leninist regime to lord over Kurdish communities in the region.

As the Washington Post reported yesterday:

The Trump administration — nor the Barack Obama administration before it — had not made any secret of its intention to give the Syrian Kurds a primary role in attempting to seize Raqqa. Defense officials have said repeatedly the Raqqa operation would require direct weapons shipments and upgraded equipment as local forces maneuver though minefields and other obstacles leading into the city.

Turkey objected to the plan to arm “one terrorist group to fight another,” saying that the likelihood of backlash is high. And recent history in the War on Terror lends credence to that warning. After all, arming one terrorist group to fight another terrorist group has never really ended well for America. The idea that our enemy’s enemy is our friend seems always to end with the United States empowering more and more of our enemies. The Islamic State came to power as a direct result of the United States funding and arming enemies in an attempt to bring down al-Qaeda. Of course, al-Qaeda came into existence as a result of the CIA backing of Islamist Afghan mujahadeen guerillas (including a young Osama bin Laden) in the 1980’s Soviet war in Afghanistan.

So here the United States is, getting into bed with a terrorist group in hopes of defeating a terrorist group that was created by the United States getting into bed with a terrorist group to defeat a terrorist group that was created by the United States getting into bed with a terrorist group to defeat the U.S.S.R.

Clearly, the policy of supporting our enemies’ enemies is a failure, unless the plan is to destroy America. And while President Trump and his supporters may feel the end justifies the means, the fact is that this was a bad policy when it was pursued and promoted by President Obama and it is a bad policy now.

The question is not only one of defeating ISIS, it is also one of what terrorist group the implementation of this plan will create and what terrorist group the United States will have to cozy up to next to bring down that newly created terrorist group.

Photo of Syrian Kurdish militia members in Syria: AP Images

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