The United States has been the protector and ally of the Kurds for a quarter-century. And the Kurds have proven to be, man-for-man and woman-for-woman, the best fighters in the region.
Without Kurdish boots on the ground, we would not have made the sweeping progress achieved against the Islamic State caliphate.
Now, with ISIS crushed (but still wriggling and snapping), we’re turning our backs on our Kurdish allies in Syria as they’re attacked by a NATO ally gone rogue — Turkey, which is led by an Islamist strongman, the odious “President” Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Kurds are fighting for freedom and a state of their own. There are at least 30 million Kurds divided between Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey, and possibly 10 million more — none of the states where they’re captive have allowed an honest census. Kurds have been butchered en masse, denied fundamental rights, imprisoned, tortured, raped, cheated and scapegoated. (All of which should sound unnervingly familiar to those who know Israel’s backstory.)
After letting the Kurds down at Versailles a century ago, when we acquiesced to denying them a state, we finally stepped up to do the right thing in the wake of Desert Storm — after Saddam Hussein had used poison gas on Iraq’s Kurdish population. In return, the Kurds have fought bravely beside us in a succession of conflicts.
Outside of Israel, no one has done more to support our priorities — especially in combatting Islamist terrorists.
Now we’re on the verge of permitting another slaughter of Kurds. To please Turkey.
We should be on the side of the underdogs, not of the rabid dogs.
As Turkish tanks roll into Syria’s Afrin Province to kill Kurds, it’s time to recognize that Turkey’s no longer an ally and no longer belongs in NATO (Erdogan is even buying Russian air-defense systems). Turkey’s dictator-in-all-but-name has gutted democracy, imprisoned tens of thousands on false charges, suppressed the free media, rigged the courts, backed Islamist hardliners in Syria — and, for political advantage, reignited a conflict that had gone quiet with Turkey’s internal Kurdish population.
Oh, and Erdogan’s a prime supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Turkey and abroad.
Why on earth are we permitting his attack on our Kurdish allies?
It really comes down to two related issues.
First, inertia. Turkey has been our ally (if a difficult one) since the early Cold War, so we blindly accept the notion that it must remain an ally forever — even as Erdogan works against our strategic interests.
Second, restricted use of a single air base has paralyzed our Turkey policy. Unquestionably, Incirlik air base, in southeastern Turkey, has a prime strategic location. Our operations would be more challenging without it. And Turkey uses that as leverage.
It’s time to call Erdogan’s bluff. We should not sacrifice the future of 30 million to 40 million pro-American Kurds for the sake of a couple of runways.
Erdogan’s excuse for sending his air force and army across the border into Syrian territory liberated by Kurds is his bogus claim that the Kurds we’ve backed — who fought ISIS house to house — are all terrorists. In the alphabet game of the Middle East, Erdogan insists that Syria’s Kurdish YPG forces — our allies — are indistinguishable from the PKK, a Turkish domestic resistance group that had abandoned terror to seek a political accommodation.
While oppressed Kurds everywhere do feel a measure of solidarity with one another, claiming that the YPG is the same as the PKK is like blaming Rand Paul for Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks.
What should we do to stop Turkey from using US-supplied, US-made weapons to kill our only dependable regional allies outside of Israel? It’s time to embrace the future rather than clinging to the past. It’s time to imagine a strategy without Incirlik air base and with Turkey suspended from NATO until it returns to the rule of law and honest elections.
It’s time to recognize that the Kurds deserve and have earned a state of their own. And, right now, it’s past time to draw a red line for Erdogan, who cannot be permitted to slaughter Kurds who have been fighting beside us and for us.
The Kurds aren’t terrorists. The terrorist sits in his president’s chair in Ankara.
This article was published by nypost and the views and ideas are solely those of the author(s) and are provided here only for informational purposes.