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January 8, 2019 8:38 am

Withdrawing from Syria Betrays the Kurds — and American Values

avatar by Robert Amos

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Kurdish-led militiamen ride atop military vehicles as they celebrate victory over Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria, October 17, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo.

In the last few weeks, many people have been troubled and outraged by Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria. I am chief among them. I have lost many close friends while fighting against ISIS in Syria.

In 2015, before any US soldier set foot in Syrian Kurdistan, I went to there to join the Kurdish armed forces fighting against the hideous evil that shocked the world. I was not alone, and was joined by like-minded people from all over the world who, without any recruitment or social pressure, felt the personal call to protect the innocent. I lived the maxim of Edmound Burke: “The only thing necessary for the Triumph of Evil is for good men to do nothing.” So after seeing images and hearing stories of ISIS massacring villages of men and selling women into sex slavery, I dropped my studies and took a flight to Kurdistan and picked up an AK-47.

My American comrades and I were never paid with money; we were only paid with the satisfaction that we were freeing the people who lived there, and that we were protecting our own homelands from ISIS. Our president is currently threatening to take away both rewards, as ISIS has yet to be defeated. Many of my close friends died trying to protect this freedom, and never got to see what happiness they gave to those freed from the chains of ISIS. This land was paid for in American blood, and now Trump is threatening to give up sacred ground to hordes of jihadists, waiting like vultures for our departure.

On occasion, my comrades and I saw ISIS soldiers crossing the Turkish border back and forth under the permissive eye of the Turkish army. Is it any wonder that many Turkish-backed Arab militiamen are former ISIS fighters? And is it any wonder that most foreign fighters who joined ISIS went through Turkey? As soon as the US leaves Syria, these jihadist forces will be poised to unleash havoc upon their civilian populations.

Trump’s isolationist attitude of ignoring the rest of the world has often been hailed by many “originalists,” such as Senator Rand Paul, who think we can go back to a mythical time and a “natural” place, in which America was more innocent because it stayed out of foreign entanglements. This self-centered attitude ignores the fact that our nation was born by the foreign intervention of France, who forced the British to surrender at Yorktown. Is it any wonder that France is now insisting on continuing the fight against ISIS in Syria?

This retreat from Syria is not only breaking a promise to defeat ISIS, but will help create an open corridor from Iran to Hezbollah, a land bridge of terror beyond the Islamic Republic’s wildest dreams. As the Kurds are devoured by Turkish-backed jihadists like Ahrar Al-Sham, ISIS will regroup and eventually plan attacks against the US again.

Robert Amos has an MA in Politics and Sociology of Israel from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2015, he joined the Kurdish armed forces in Syria, fighting on the front lines against ISIS, before any US soldier set foot there.

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