The Kurds find themselves caught in the middle of a power struggle between the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria — a familiar situation that follows decades of geopolitical strife in their region, explains Ted Snider.
By Ted Snider
The only thing that has ever been faithful to the Kurds is history: it has faithfully, without fail, betrayed them. The Kurds have been cast in the role of the pawn in powerful countries’ games of chess. They do much of the hard work only to be sacrificed when checkmate is in sight.
Most recently, the U.S. rediscovered the Kurds as useful pawns in the war on the Islamic State. But, despite being one of the most effective forces fighting the Islamic State, now that the end is in sight, the Kurds are, once again, in danger of being abandoned.
The United States, unlike Russia and Iran, was never invited into Syria. The U.S. insisted, though, that it was only there to save Syria from the Islamic State. Recently, however, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tipped the American hand. America has no intention of leaving Syria once the Islamic State is checkmated, he said. The U.S. will stay after the war is over, and the uninvited stay has to do with more than just keeping the Islamic State down – it has to do with keeping Iran out.
Consistent with the current strategic pivot from Syria to Iran and Hezbollah, keeping American forces in Syria appears geared more toward kicking Iran and Iranian ally Bashar al-Assad out of Syria than it does with keeping the Islamic State out of Syria.
But to checkmate the Ayatollah, America needs to employ its pawns, and those pawns, once again, are the Kurds. The 30,000-soldier border force the U.S. would deploy to block Iran would be made up mostly of Kurds. But an armed Kurdish presence on the northern border with Turkey is a red line that Turkey has long warned it would not allow the Kurds to cross. So, the American decision has brought the wrath of Turkey down upon the Kurds.
As Turkey invades and bombs Afrin and the villages around it, experts on the region, such as Patrick Cockburn, warn that the Kurdish villages will be “reduced to mounds of smashed…