The Turkish invasion of Syria is a tragedy. But it is also our responsibility.
There is no other way to put it. Turkey attacked the Kurds when the United States government agreed to withdraw American troops from Syria. The Kurds are a minority group who have often been persecuted by the governments in the Middle East. They are also long term US allies. But President Trump says that although the Kurds did help us against ISIS, we never promised to protect them. And in making this decision, he’s given Turkey a green light to do whatever they want to these people.
This is wrong. Turkey has been very clear about its intentions for the Kurdish people. The direct legacy of the US decision is emptied villages. It is brutalized civilians. It is a heart-wrenching video of a Kurdish mother clutching her daughter’s corpse and demanding an answer she will never receive.
But we owe it to her to speak. We owe it to her and to others like her to demand that the US not abandon the Kurds to persecution.
Last week, the House of Representatives voted to oppose the U.S. withdrawal. Democrats and Republicans agreed that choosing to abandon the Kurds is morally inexcusable. But while Senate held a hearing to discuss the situation, they have not yet voted on a response. There is already some bipartisan support for the Kurds, but that support needs to increase if there’s going to be any type of policy change. This is why it is imperative that we, as Americans, contact our Senators and ask them to vote for the Kurdish people.
There are real security concerns about an American withdrawal related to the possibility of an ISIS resurgence and to increased instability. But even outside of those concerns, the decision to abandon our allies is immoral and unjust. If we, the US, want to continue to see ourselves as defenders of human rights and democratic values, then we cannot allow one of our best and most consistent allies in the Middle East to be destroyed. We cannot ignore a threat of ethnic cleansing and even genocide against people that we were supposed to be protecting.
The president can say that we never made any promises of protection, but the Kurds have fought alongside American troops for decades. They’ve lost their lives defending American soldiers in Syria and Iraq, while carrying most of the cost of defeating ISIS. Without the Kurds, it is probable that ISIS would still control parts of Syria. Because of this history, we owe it to them to continue our support, and yes, to fulfill our promises.
As Baylor students, we are continually reminded to be lights in a dark world. But shining a light should not just mean winning football games, increasing research or quoting Bible verses. It should mean speaking out on behalf of others and demanding a more just world. This is why I’m asking you to contact your senators. The Kurds are at risk and we must not stand idly by.
University Scholar concentrating in journalism and international studies