We cannot afford to abandon our Kurdish allies

I was stunned to learn of U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to Turkish President Recep Erdogan to withdraw U.S. troops from the Turkish border in northeast Syria. The withdrawal of U.S. troops from this region would give Turkey a green light to invade the Kurdish territory recently liberated from ISIS. This move would be catastrophic for our allies, the Kurds, who have fought side-by-side with the U.S. military in the fight against ISIS.

Furthermore, this move would cause a massive humanitarian crisis and will likely lead to hostilities among the following parties: Turkey against the Kurds; Iran and Hezbollah against Israel; Syria’s dictator against Syrian civilians; as well as ISIS prison breaks and regrouping. This is a disaster in the making. No actor friendly to the United States will benefit from this policy decision.

If pushed out, Syrian Kurds will have no place to go, as this is their ancestral homeland. The Syrian Kurds have fought bravely and at great cost to help defeat ISIS. Since 2014, 11,000 Syrian Kurds have been killed and 24,000 wounded in the fight against the Islamic State. An assault on our Kurdish allies could also worsen the situation under Assad and the current humanitarian crisis in Syria.

As the situation unfolds, several possibilities are apparent. The SDF will relocate their resources to repel the Turkish invasion, leaving the more than 11,000 ISIS prisoners unguarded, likely to escape and lead to a resurgence of ISIS. Additionally, Turkish-backed extremist proxies affiliated with ISIS and al-Qaeda will engage in the fighting, further promoting extremism. If this occurs, the United States will once again be pulled into the region to help defeat the next iteration of terrorist group.

If the Kurds are driven out by Turkish forces, they will be replaced by some two million Syrian Arab refugees currently in Turkey. This change in demographics could trigger an insurgency in northeastern Syria and southern Turkey. Iran would also expand its footprint and gain access to more oil that is currently under Kurdish control and supported by the US military.

The withdrawal of U.S. forces is already being seen a betrayal of America’s Kurdish allies in the region and a gift to Iran, Russia, and Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Therefore, we kindly ask you to make statements, such as tweets, floor statements, op-eds, TV appearances, and press releases, to encourage President Trump to reverse this decision and to discourage Turkey from carrying out its threats.

Thank you for your support on this urgent and critical national security matter.

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