Ten years ago unrest in the Arab world, which began due to what is known as the Arab Spring, had reached the country of Syria. What began as unrest quickly escalated into what became the Syrian Civil War.
During President Trump’s term, the Kurdish fighters of the war made the news when President Trump decided to pull American troops from Syria, leaving the Kurds exposed to retaliation. This is not the first time that the United States has seemingly betrayed the Kurdish people.
Sadly, the U.S. has a long and conflicted history with the Kurds.
The Relationship of the U.S. with the Kurdish Peoples
In 1920 the Treaty of Sevres had disemboweled much of the Ottoman’s control over their territories, which included Turkey. The Kurds, who inhabited areas of Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq saw this as a chance to create a place for themselves in the world.
However, the Turkish people opposed the treaty fiercely enough that it caused the U.S. to back the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. Which left no provision for the Kurdish people to have rights to the land they inhabited. Which was a small betrayal compared to the following genocides.
From 1958 to 1963 the U.S. armed Kurdish fighters to destabilize the region against the rule of Iraqi Prime Minister Abdi Karem Kassem. Then in 1963, we supported a military coup that ultimately deposed Kassem, of which Saddam Hussein was involved with.
Post-coup, we immediately stopped providing military support to the Kurdish people, once our goal of deposing Kassem was met. Immediately the new Iraqi regime moved against the Kurdish people, as they saw the armed group as a threat to the regime, exterminating thousands.
Then in 1970, the Iraqi-Kurdish Autonomy agreement was brokered, which paved the way for the Kurds of Iraq to have self-rule. However, during this time the Kurdish rebels were quietly being supported by the U.S. in order to support Iran during the border disputes between Iraq and Iran.
After the signing of the Algiers Agreement in 1975, which saw the support of the Kurds by the United Stated end, the Iraqi government immediately waged an offensive on the Kurds in northern Iraq. This offensive ended what chance the Kurds had for autonomy in the region at the time.
In the 1980s, the Iraqis moved for genocide against the Kurdish people, in order to wipe out pockets of rebels in the area. The United States turned a blind eye to this act of violence by Saddam and did nothing to support their previous allies.
Then during the Gulf War, George Bush called on the Iraqi people to rise up against Saddam, which the Shiite and Kurdish people did. Once the U.S. goal of freeing Kuwait had been reached, the war ended, and the United States abruptly withdrew troops, leaving the Kurds and Shiites exposed to Saddam’s genocidal retaliation.
Then later, during the Clinton administration, the Kurds in Turkey began to organize and rebel, forming the PKK. The United States sent Turkey weapons to bolster relations, Turkey being a U.N. ally, which they then used to exterminate thousands of Kurdish people.
This act of war against the Kurdish people was a direct retaliation towards the PKK in the area but ultimately resulted in the genocide of thousands of Kurdish.
Between 1992 and 2009, the Iraqi-Kurds managed to scrape together governance and forge an autonomous area for themselves inside Iraq, based on the previous 1970’s Iraqi-Kurdish Autonomy Agreement. This autonomy was formally recognized in the new Iraqi constitution in 2009.
As Kurdish autonomy was being solidified, in 2007 Turkey began to bomb Kurdish-controlled areas inside the Iraqi border, due to this autonomy making them nervous, and rightfully so. The oppression of the Kurdish people in Turkey had created the PKK, an organized rebel group.
Again, the United States stood idly by.
Most recently when President Trump pulled U.S. forces out of Syria, the Turks decided to push into Kurdish-controlled areas of Iraq yet again, left exposed without the presence of U.S. military troops.
So as you can see, the United States’ relations with the Kurds over the past 100 years fall nothing short of using them as an expendable fighting force in a series of proxy wars to meet short-term goals.
In fact, with the recent events unfolding in America as they have, I wonder how much bread and how many circuses do the American people have to go through to understand that we may very well be part of a puppet game ourselves?