Thursday, November 16, 2017

Kurdistan Needs a Berlin-Style Emergency Airlift - Sherkoh Abbas and Robert Sklaroff

by Sherkoh Abbas and Robert Sklaroff

It is time for the Trump administration to stop waffling on one of the United States' most reliable allies in the fight against ISIS.

The Trump administration had better work fast to rescue our Kurdish allies – who are being attacked on all sides – if anything tangible is to be salvaged from the super-expensive American military involvement in the Middle East during this millennium.

If America abandons the Kurds, defeat of the Islamic State will become a dark victory, and America will become a diplomatic laughingstock to friends and foes, particularly Iran. She will lose the last chance to attain a reliable, long-term foothold in the Syrian-Iraqi theater by having betrayed an ally that has been, is, and promises to continue to be America's most reliable colleague.

The American "horse" is less "mighty" than Iran's, for the trove of bin Laden documents (that revealed his secret dealings with Tehran) proved again that Shi'ite Iran has had no compunctions supporting Sunni al-Qaeda.

They are all Islamists, threatening Western civilization by continuing to fight the Crusades.
  • That's why the Iraqi prime minister ignored Secretary Tillerson's plaintive request that he "dissolve" the Shia militia that has been accused of committing atrocities against the Kurds, abiding by orders issued by Iran's supreme leader.
  • That's why, as Iran runs roughshod over the region, Hezb'allah-dominated Lebanon is in turmoil, as it is to be evacuated by citizens of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.
  • That's why Turkey, unable to extricate Erdoğan's enemy from America (cleric Fethullah Gülen) amid the worst crisis in Turkish-American relations in decades, continues its Stalinist purges and tightens its siege on Afrin with the aid of Syria and Russia.
For a decade, we have explained why the time for Kurdish independence has come, even as Iraq is punishing the Kurds for having held its referendum.

Yet some continue to blame the Kurds for this predicament, for Iraq even criminalized the Israeli flag for having honored the referendum's results.

This has served as a pretense for the Kurds' perennial enemies to exterminate even their quasi-independence, thereby justifying having ignored their pivotal contribution to the war against the Islamic State.

They conveniently forget that this 92.73% endorsement of independence was based upon the Iraqi constitution, which mandates that Iraq conduct "a referendum in Kirkuk and other disputed territories to determine the will of their citizens, by a date not to exceed the 31st of December, 2007" (Article 140, Section 2).

We have fretted that both the globe and America have been "fiddling" during the past month, via essays that were written, respectively, for audiences that needed orientation and that might specifically prompt the Trump administration to act.

We have been sounding this alarm for a decade, for America must now decide whether it will pursue a muscular long-term foreign policy in the Middle East to allow, for example, creation of durable safe zones for the indigenous population (lest they continue to emigrate to Europe and America).

Listen to the Senate testimony of Tillerson and secretary of defense James Mattis regarding Authorizations for the Use of Military Force on the evening of October 30.

They were asked, in various ways, about the legality of Baghdad's use of American armaments against the Kurds – overseen by Iran – by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) (@ 2:55), Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) (@ 3:05), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) (@ 3:15). Instead of answering directly, they explained that the administration is not forthrightly supporting the Kurds because of the overarching desire to maintain current Iraqi and Syrian borders by de-escalating and de-conflicting.

Now note the journalistic blackout that transpired across the political spectrum, courtesy of Global Research, the Russians, CBS, ABC, NPR, Bloomberg, The Hill, The Daily Caller, and Real Clear Defense.

We are encouraged by evolution of comments by controversial former presidential antiterrorism adviser Sebastian Lukács Gorka, Ph.D., who has supplanted lame excuses for "neutrality" with recognition (listen at 29 minutes) that America will reliably help friends – particularly Sunnis – who do not need nation-building.

But we are worried that abandonment could prompt Kurds to revise their approach to America – even radicalizing them – for they do not regret having held their independence vote.

The administration apparently has yet to formulate a strategy to block Iran from creating a Shi'ite arc from Tehran to the Mediterranean – unlike the Israelis, who have forthrightly recognized Kurdistan.
  • In Syria, Tehran has vowed to seize Raqqa from U.S.-supported forces.
  • In Iraq, America jawbones while Iranian-proxy combat troops are reportedly assuming attack positions in Zumar, which the Kurds wrested back from the Islamic State in 2014.
Zumar is outside Faysh Khabur, the undisputed Kurdish border crossing per a 2007 agreement between the Iraqi and Kurdish forces, signed by their respective defense ministers. Violation of this accord would split Kurds in Iraq from Kurds in Syria, thereby preventing American forces from continuing overland supply of Kurdish YPG forces fighting the Islamic State inside Syria. It would constitute a serious threat to Israel.

Meanwhile, Baghdad is cutting budgetary support for Kurdistan.

Therefore, President Trump's foreign policy doctrine of "principled realism" will fail if his current version of neutrality allows for Tehran to assume total control over Iraqi Kurdistan, for this would presage the demise of Syrian Kurdistan to Damascus as well.

Trump has reassessed or reversed multiple international policies of his predecessor. There is no reason to adhere to another doomed paradigm instead of protecting the Kurds. Only by establishing an American outpost in Kurdistan – and repairing the straight-line map that was drawn after World War I – will America fulfill its role in the new Middle East. That's why America must defeat Islamism by confronting the number-one country disseminating it, Iran – a process authorized under the current AUMF.

Even former French P.M. Manuel Valls observed that attacks on Kurds constitute attacks on Europe, illustrating why abandoning the Kurds will threaten the vital interests of America and our allies.
Time is tight.

Sherkoh Abbas is president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria. Robert Sklaroff is a physician-activist.​ This article constitutes the policy of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria.


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Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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