The Kurds are one of the best allies the United States has in the Middle East, second only to Israel in terms of a practical strategic partnership against Islamic extremism in the form of al-Qaeda and Daesh (ISIS). So why is the United States letting the Kurdistan Region of Iraq go to Hell in a handbasket? My article at Arc Digital lays out the reasons why Americans should give a damn about the Kurds.
There Is A Special Relationship Between the Kurds and U.S. Special Forces
It’s no secret that Syrian Kurds and Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga are among the staunchest allies the United States has in the fight against Daesh (ISIS). What’s less commonly known is American Special Operations Forces, more commonly known by their acronym SOF, work closely with Kurdish fighters. They are part of an expanding “shadow war” against Daesh that I examine in my latest piece at NRT English.
U.S., Iraq inch toward permanent military presence
According to the Associated Press, White House and Iraqi government officials are quietly negotiating increasing the number of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq — a reversal after both the Bush and Obama administrations reduced U.S. forces there.
The attitude can be summed up in a simple phrase now popular with the Trump administration national security team: The U.S. left Iraq too soon. The withdrawal of U.S. troops six years ago authorized under the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi governments led to political chaos and gave Daesh the opportunity to launch its insurgency.
My recent column for NRT English explores the questions raised by this development and continues my coverage of the issue.
Trump the Internationalist?
Once upon a time, Donald Trump disdained U.S. international involvement and criticized his predecessors for what he considered a reckless and adventurous foreign policy. Now, his administration talks openly about the “international community” in the wake of Syrian gas attacks on its own civilians and Kim Jong Un’s threats of further nuclear tests. There is even the question of how the U.S. will continue to offer its services as a protector state to Syrian Kurds — an issue that is particularly timely because of Turkish airstrikes against the YPG. Here is my column about the evolution of Donald Trump and how it will shape American engagement in the international order.
ICYMI, The U.S. Just Invaded Syria
Well, I am being a bit snarky. U.S. Special Forces have been in Syria since 2014 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. But the recent uptick in conventional forces there is significant — and under-reported in my opinion. Here is my round-up of the units now in Syria and their probable missions in the fight against Daesh/ISIS.
The Kurds are no easy ally
Probably no other group has taken the fight to ISIS like the Kurds. They are staunch allies of the United States — and quite frankly, their numbers so far have kept U.S. military presence in Syria to a minimum of Special Forces advisers. But what is the future of that alliance during a Trump administration? Our support of Syrian Kurds drives Turkey (a NATO ally) nuts. Furthermore, the Russians play the U.S. and Turkey against one another over the issue. My article in Arc Digital Magazine explores everything you need to know about what comes next for the Kurds.