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A Middle East Grand Bargain Must Create Kurdistan
by Sherkoh Abbas and Robert Sklaroff
President Trump’s itinerary during his first overseas trip revealed both his goal and its attendant strategy—although it remains officially unstated—as he tries to fashion a durable end to the Syrian civil war and the birth of a restructured region.
In the process of touching-base with the nerve-centers of each of the three major Middle East religions, he attempted to eliminate the Islamic State without empowering Iran.
Conspiratorial Liberals yelp when he recruits Russia, and acolytes of the Obama Administration condemn his having maneuvered around Tehran.
But he must defang the ayatollahs, lest they ally with North Korean missile-rattlers and threaten World War III.
This is why he keeps an armada in the Gulf, while maintaining a beefed-up presence in the Sea of Japan and encouraging Beijing to block Pyongyang from nuke-testing, for he must stretch the depleted military in theaters a half-globe apart until it has been rebuilt.
And that’s why he has embedded Americans with Kurdish forces attacking Raqqa, for it is impossible to be a “player” without having placed pieces onto the board.Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the U.S. national security adviser, was triggered to inform Turkey on May 1st that the Kurds were to receive heavy machine guns, mortars, anti-tank weapons, and armored cars after the Turks had lethally-bombed Kurdish forces in northeast Syria the prior Tuesday. That reflected autocrat Erdo?an having again “distracted” world attention from targeting the primary target, the Islamic State.
Accommodating this major reconfiguration of regional forces, President Vladimir Putin said that Russia saw no need to arm the Syrian Kurds, but said Moscow would maintain working contacts with them.
Secretary of Defense James "Jim" Mattis had decided to arm the Kurds directly rather than via any regional country, finally reversing Obama’s following-from-behind intransigent passivity.
He is implementing key aphorisms derived from his storied career defending America.
Indeed, Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) recognized arming the Kurds constitutes “an immense milestone.”
In the process, Mattis has recognized The Road to Defeating the Islamic State Runs through Kurdistan, an essay—illustrated by a settlement-map—that succinctly details the historic, military, economic, religious and political implications of this overdue stance.
Visiting Trump in this charged atmosphere, Erdo?an chose the wrong time to be bellicose against Israel and America. His post-referendum dictatorial effort to promote Jihad was again manifest through two decrees; one that expelled more than 4,000 civil servants and another that banned television dating programs.
That these actions were not being well-received. That was reflected in the fact that the latter two hyperlinks [al-Monitor and Aljazeera] are from Arab websites, suggesting welcome-recognition of a tilt toward inter-alia the Sunni Gulf states, plus Qatar, the locale of a major American military presence over NATO-aligned Ankara ,which is increasingly aligning with Iran against the potential for Kurds to achieve independence.
That would serve as the culmination of battle-plans we have proposed for almost a decade. In 2008, we identified Kurds as an “invisible people” and advocated confronting the major source of global terrorism,The Road to Iran Runs through Kurdistan - and Starts in Syria. In 2015, we showed why the United States cannot evade this trouble-spot,[The Pathway to Defeating ISIS Runs Though Kurdistan – And Starts in America. In 2013, we concluded The Kurds can lead a reconstituted Syria, at peace with all of her neighbors. In 2014, we suggested NATO Must Help the Kurds Now.
That is why Kurds are seeking recognition of their enormous military sacrifice and their unique political feat, noting their carefully-constructed federal system in Rojava; the area of Northern Syria comprised of four self-governing cantons.
Resolving vague territorial claims would yield a regional Diaspora in Turkey, Iran, and Russia, although Stalin purged much of the USSR-population a half-century ago.
Recognizing that Russia has unilaterally created safe-zones, and buzzed American jets near Alaska and Crimea, it will remain vital to coordinate militaries functioning in close-quarters, to ensure spheres of influence do not inadvertently trigger conflict.
If America retracts support for anti-Islamist Kurds, Erdo?an will be free to promote his brand of Muslim Brotherhood ideology; the dangerous ramifications of which have been explored [Islamophobia: Thought Crime of the Totalitarian Future].
NATO can reassure Turkey that creation of an independent Kurdistan south of its border, joining with the federated section of northern Iraq, will remove inordinate fears that secession-agitation will persist on its eastern reaches.
Turkey needs to accept this type of endpoint, for its military killed six members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in air strikes in northern Iraq .
What really irks Erdogan is that “U.S. arming Syrian Kurds shattered Turkey’s Ottoman Empire ambitions. ” Both America and Turkey will face a de-facto proxy-war unless Erdogan heeds the more conciliatory tone struck by his Prime Minister.
The schism between the United States and Turkey was illustrated during their press event. These leaders deemed different entities as “terroristic”. Trump cited PKK; whereas Erdo?an cited YPG/PYD .
This perhaps explains the anguish expressed by Turkish security guards, when they beat protesters—primarily Kurds and Armenian outside t their D.C. embassy .
We suggest the following blueprint should be followed to prompt Moscow to help oust Iran from Syria. It would allow the Kurdish-plurality in northwestern Syria to extend its governance to the Mediterranean Sea, blocking Turkey from expansionist temptations.
The multi-front war against Islamists is recognized by Western leaders such as US Senator Ted Cruz (R, Texas) and globally Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—to have supplanted the Cold War paradigm of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Perhaps the ultimate method to illustrate the wisdom of this approach is to discount an oppositional paradigm, such as the false claim that American involvement in Syria would merely be a manifestation of Western Imperialism in Rojava.
Instead, America should implement Point 12 of Woodrow Wilson’s 14-Point Plan that advocated establishing Kurdistan more than a century ago.
At long last, America Must Recognize Kurdistan by serving as midwife for a new country [assuming this is the electoral outcome of the originally scheduled September 25 plebiscite sponsored by the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq. That would assist in finally defeating the Islamic State. This would offer immediate and long-term geo-political dividends.
Sherkoh Abbas is President of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria; Robert Sklaroff is a physician-activist and supporter of Kurdish self-determination. This article constitutes the policy of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, conveyed to America and to the world, representing the Kurds of Syria.