On October 6, 2019 President Trump announced with little forewarning that he was withdrawing a handful of U.S. special forces operators assisting Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria.
The presence of the special forces amongst Kurdish YPG fighters had formerly served as an effective barrier against Turkish attack. Their abrupt withdrawal, following a phone conversation between Trump and Turkish President Erdogan, gave Ankara an unambiguous green light to initiate military operations against the Kurdish forces which could not be walked back by subsequent conflicting statements from the White House.
Less than 24 hours later, Turkish jets began pounding Kurdish positions, followed by a Turkish artillery and ground attacks which have killed as many as one hundred.
Later, the United States joined Russia in vetoing a statement supported by the rest of the Security Council condemning Turkish operations against the Syrian Kurds.
The thirty to forty million Kurds are the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East. Their century of political misfortunes arise from a cruelly simple reality: their people are dispersed across Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, without a state to call their own.
As America has periodically warred openly or covertly with Iraq, Iran and Syria, it has supported Kurdish revolts in their territory.
But while the Kurd’s nation-building zeal and relatively progressive attitudes of certain Kurdish factions has attracted supporters amongst Western journalists and activists, Washington has never truly supported an independent Kurdish state.