There’s been a lot in the news over the last few days regarding the situation with Turkey, Syria, and the Kurds.
On today’s Jay Sekulow Live, we took our time to discuss the very interesting convergence of activity in Turkey. You have Turkey looking to take on Syria, specifically the Kurds in Syria. The Kurds have been an ally of the United States and Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States.
I asked ACLJ Senior Counsel Skip Ash, who leads our military and national security practice, to explain some of the history. He said:
Turkey has been a loyal NATO ally for a long time but the recent government under President Erdogan is a really conservative government which is seeking to reinstitute many of the Islamic activities that were done away with under the Turkish Revolution after World War I under President Atatürk. President Atatürk tried to move Turkey more towards the West. Erdogan is trying to move Turkey more towards the East and more into the Islamic Community. The more he does that, the more he breaks culturally with the NATO alliance and the United States. He’s not yielding very much. In fact, in order to push more against the United States he’s beginning to cooperate more and more with Iran and with Russia. That is not in our best interest.
The Kurds are a separate ethnic group that exists in the Middle East. They exist in four countries: Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and a small portion in Iran. The ones that we’ve been closest with are the ones that are in Iraq. When the United States went into Iraq, they sided with the United States against the Saddam Hussein regime. We had helped them because Saddam Hussein had even used chemical weapons against them. They were very pro-United States.
There are also groups of Kurds in Turkey that want independence from Turkey. I asked also asked Skip to explain if there is a potential terrorist element within some of the Kurdish independence groups within Turkey. He elaborated:
There is a group that goes against the Turkish interests because they believe that they are freedom fighters. The West views them as terrorists as well.
This situation was created after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. The Kurds were supposed to have been given a state and never got one. They’ve been fighting for one ever since. Since they are in four different countries it makes it very difficult.
The Turks really are against the Kurds because the largest threat to Turkey, in their view, is the large Kurdish populations in Turkey and on its borders.
Understanding the historical perspective really gives insight as to why this situation is so complicated.
Now the big news earlier in the week was that President Trump announced that the U.S. would be withdrawing our troops from Syria. Not surprisingly, there’s been opposition on the Left to that. ACLJ Senior Counsel and Director of Policy Harry Hutchison analyzed the President’s position, stating:
The President is making a well-considered decision in light of his reluctance to expand the military force in Syria in the first place. If we want to take a more aggressive posture in Syria, this will demand more American troops on the ground. This will ramp up the risk that more American lives will indeed be lost.
We think it’s important that you the audience be educated about Turkey and the Middle East.
You can listen to today’s entire episode here.
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