The U.S. has kept troops near the Turkish-Syrian border for sound military reasons. In the same way that we have troops at the Korean border for deterrence against further armed conflict, the U.S. forces in northern Syria allowed Kurdish forces to maintain control of former Islamic State territory.
Now that President Donald Trump has withdrawn U.S. forces from the border, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered his military into the region, setting up likely clashes with Kurdish forces and raising major humanitarian concerns about the region’s civilian population. The Kurds have proved to be an invaluable, stalwart ally to our country, ousting Islamic State forces at a high cost: 11,000 Kurdish fighters killed and 24,000 wounded.
Erdogan’s regime in Turkey, in contrast, has proved an untrustworthy NATO member, insisting on purchasing an anti-aircraft system from Russia despite firm protests from the U.S.
Kurdish leaders have rightly expressed shock and anger at our country’s action. The U.S. withdrawal undermines our reputation as a faithful ally and opens the door to further Middle East upheaval.