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Paradigm Shift | It Is the American tradition to betray the Kurds

The Kurds have an old famous proverb saying, “We have no friends but the mountains.” Now more than ever it has proven true. Trump’s withdrawal from Syria is the same as his predecessors’ treatment of using the ethnic minority as a geopolitical pawn. President Trump’s giving the green light to Turkey to cross the Syrian border and to crush the Kurds without U.S resistance did more than any single act has ever done to destroy America’s role in the Middle East and to isolate America from the rest of the world. By his decision to withdraw Americans from Syria, President Trump has done irreparable damage to America’s standing in the world. Consequently, the Kurds fear that the US withdrawal leaves them vulnerable, particularly to attack from Turkey.

Turkey considers several Kurdish groups, including the People’s Protection Units, also known as the YPG, to be terrorist organizations. The YPG is the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is the main US partner on the ground in the battle against ISIS and the ally that has controlled a large swath of northern Syria for the past several years. The Kurds are an ethnic group of about forty-million people centered at the intersection of Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. Kurds are Muslims yet are being oppressed by Muslim countries. Many Kurds naturally want their own state, but, of course, neither Turkey, Syria, Iran, nor Iraq want that happen.

It is an American tradition to betray the Kurds. The U.S has alternated between supporting and ignoring the Kurds. Kurds are a high card for U.S foreign policy. America arms the Kurds in whichever of these four countries is currently deemed the enemy of the United States, whether to make trouble for that country’s government or to achieve certain objectives. There are the proverbial bad Kurds and good Kurds for the US. Good Kurds are those who listen and accomplish their objectives; the bad Kurds are those who do not accomplish US interests. America does not want the Kurds to be powerful, so that they can continue to use Kurds as a piece on the chess board of foreign policy. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger argued that countries do not have permanent friends or enemies, only interests. Compounded by the President’s lack of care for human life and his ignorance of the Kurds being long-term allies, Trump based his decision on money and interests. The President of the United States explained, “They did not help us in the Second World War; they did not help us with Normandy.” In his analysis he determined that the day Turkey invaded Syria, the Kurds were fighting for their land: “They are there to help us with their land, and that is a different thing,” thus minimizing the US-Kurdish alliance.

America will never give up on the Kurds and will continue to use the Kurdish card for its national interest in the region because in the Middle East two nations are unwanted: one is Israel and the other is Kurdistan. Since the Jews have a nation and the Kurds are seeking a homeland, the Kurds were the only reliable proxy for and ally of the US in the struggles against Saddam’s genocide, Iranian encroachment, and subsequently ISIS jihadism. During the eight years of civil war in Syria, Kurdish forces have captured thousands of square miles of territory in the northeast of the country, close to the Turkish border. In so doing, they have established a de facto autonomous region, sometimes referred to as Rojava, home to significant Kurdish, Arab, and Assyrian populations.The YPG has borne the brunt of the campaign against the Islamic State in Syria. As a major player against ISIS in August 2014, the YPG helped evacuate 50,000 Yezidis from what the United Nations deemed a genocidal campaign. The Kurdish forces also aided in the recapture of Raqqa, the one-time capital of the Islamic State caliphate, in October 2017. Unfortunately, the Kurds, paradoxically, have little choice over the long term but to rely on the Assad regime to survive Turkish attacks. For Damascus, a deal with the Kurds on some form of self-government for the region might be preferable acquiescing control over a portion of Syrian territory to Turkey.

A tangential question about Trump asks why evangelical Christians continue to support someone who has married three times, is biblically illiterate, has extramarital affairs, avoids church attendance, and seemingly usurps God. Why would Christians blindly turn away from the President’s many other cruel, unchristian, inhumane acts, standing by him throughout the worst scandals of his presidency, such as his affair with the porn star Stormy Daniels? When former President Clinton had sex scandals in 1998, the Southern Baptist Convention rightly issued its seminal, “Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials.” That statement was ominous and unequivocal stating, “Tolerance of serious wrong by leaders sears the conscience of culture, spawns unrestrained immorality and lawlessness in the society, and surely results in God’s Judgment.” Evangelicals continue to support President Trump who is destructive to their religious values and witness. President Donald Trump’s use of religion to achieve an elected office or an ideological end is nothing new. Political leaders have always recognized the power of religion whether in the hands of emperors, dictators, or even democratically elected presidents. Because American politics today is divided among the fault lines of conservatives and liberals, more than opposing views of religions, Christians tend to stomach Trump rather than embrace the societal policies of socialism, abortion, and the LGTBQ agenda. For example, twice during the last Democratic debate, Ron Reagan, “an unabashed atheist,” ran an ad on freedom from religion, adding that he “is not afraid of burning in hell.” The ad was repeated several times on CNN, media heavily biased toward liberals. Although evangelicals have averted their gaze from Trump’s moral failures and attributed the attempted indictments and impeachment proceedings to Democrats’ war against Trump, they have largely denounced the President’s abandonment of the Kurds. Perhaps his decision to leave the Kurds at the mercy of Erdogan will cause devotees of the Bible to engage in soul searching about their role in supporting President Trump over all.

When you ask evangelical Christians why they support President Trump, they usually will tell you that President Trump is the only candidate who supports life, meaning taking an anti-abortion position. A majority of these evangelical Christians are aware of what is happening to the Kurdish people living along the swath in Syria and that Trump even makes light of the Kurds and Turks in their unremitting conflict, implying that it is fine sometimes just to kill each other. Evangelicals, typically activists, are biblically-focused Protestants with an emphasis on conversion or sharing the good news with other people or being born again Christians. Many ask evangelical friends how they can ignore the relentless drumbeat of un-Christian behavior and non-moral character of the President. Why have they abandoned their commitment to political character to embrace President Trump? However, the reason evangelicals support President Donald Trump is fear. The church is under siege, because religious institutions are under attack from the left. The left ideology wants to facilitate access to abortifacients and contraceptives, the left wants churches to pay taxes and not have tax exempt education, and the left wants a total acceptance of homosexuality and its ramifications. These are important, and there are reasons for evangelicals to worry. But there is no reason for evangelicals to compromise on long held principles of behavior like any other political interest group must adhere to its principles. The reason the Protestants left the Church of England and settled in colonial America was because they protested the political encroachment on their liberty of conscience. Otherwise, how can Christians be a source of light in a darkening world?

Their leader jests while men, women, and Kurdish children are dying and many more are being displaced from their home. Christians should reject their fear and stand for what they believe in, “For God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power and love and self control.” The real Christians do not need Trump’s version of secular salvation. Early Christians who gave their lives for the cause of their salvation, as well as many martyred today for their faith, would be stunned. If Christians continue to support someone who is immoral, has no respect for others, and exhibits no godly characteristics, that means those Christians have lost their way. It is time for Christians to exercise their faith and to use their voting power thereby sending a message to the world.

The Reverend Franklin Graham continues his campaign tour for evangelicals to support President Trump for the upcoming elections. How can Franklin Graham campaign for President Trump when everything about the sitting President’s character is against everything Christian teach? How can Franklin Graham agree with Trump’s policies in withdrawing Americans from Syria and with his lackadaisical view of Kurds being killed and thousands being displaced? As a matter of fact, Franklin’s organization, Samaritan’s Purse, is operating in Kurdish areas, yet almost everything President Trump does flies in the face of the main tenet of Christianity regarding how they should treat their neighbors.

As Americans withdraws, Russia , Syria and Iran are emerging as the winners of the geopolitical puzzle in the region , and the Kurds and the U.S and Turkey as the losers. The agreement between Assad and the Kurds has given Assad almost entire country. Kurdish forces had appealed to Assad for help, Assad made more gains in one day than he has in the past three years. His forces are moving across Northern Syria toward the Turkish border and into areas controlled until recently by Kurds. Kurds had little choice but to call on Assad to come to their rescue. What all this means is Putin is now in a commanding position in the Middle East. President Erdogan no longer care much about America but he will not cross the President Putin. This shows the decline of the Americans role in the region and the rise of Russia. A new regional order is in the making. President Donald Trump shows why he is a stunningly bad deal maker. The best deal maker is the President Putin. President Trump leveraged his claims to be a world class deal make to win his presidency , touting that his fabled negotiation skills would reap benefits for America. But the longer he stays in office, the better we understand why he is a worse deal maker. Russia now possesses greater influences in the Middle East then at anytime since of Soviet in Power.

Russia enjoys growing military and political ties with countries throughout the region including U.S partners such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Turkey ‘s recent purchased of Russian military hardware and the advanced S-400 air defense system.

Russia has even entered the fray in the Libyan civil war, by supporting the rebel forces
The question is why do the Kurds keep putting their faith in the United States? The answer is very clear. The United States is a powerful country, whereas the Kurds are weak and, therefore, are forced to befriend a powerful one. International relations is not about charity; it is all about national interests. Countries do not have permanent friends, only fluctuating interests. President Trump has demonstrated before the world that the United States cannot be considered a trustworthy partner, whether that be on an arms agreement, a trade deal, or an ongoing struggle against terrorism and fundamentalism. That is for the same reasons President Duterte developed relations with Russia and China, because he preferred to buy weapons from Russia to fight insurgents in the Philippines. America urgently needed a godly and rational person to lead the free world and to stand for righteousness against the problems.

Dr. Aland Mizell is with the MCI, SETBI and a regular Mindanao Times columnist. You may email the author at:aland_mizell2@hotmail.com

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