Arming the Kurds

WHAT IT IS

WHY IT MATTERS

Turkey, another key player in the war on terror and NATO ally of the U.S., views Kurdish forces and militias as terror organizations. Taking the step of arming the Kurdish forces and militias with U.S. weapons and machinery is a big step away from the Turkish government. It could throw the friendship between the U.S. and Turkey into question.

  • ARM THE REBELS: “Most benefit for everyone”

    • Common Ground: The U.S. and Turkey have more common ground fighting enemies such as ISIS.
    • Stop the infighting: Turkey has been bombing some of the Kurdish forces in Syria, so the U.S. tightening its relationship with the Kurdish forces may help refocus the fighting onto ISIS.
    • Erdogan is a Tyrant: Turkey’s leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has shut down most democratic institutions in his country and should not cater to someone forcefully retaining power.
  • STAND WITH TURKEY: “USA! USA!”

    • Fragility: Ties between the U.S. and its NATO ally Turkey have always been fragile, especially with Turkey’s inner turmoil, and something like this only adds strain.
    • Big Picture: Short term the Kurdish forces are fighting ISIS, but they are also occupying territory and trying to open trade routes for other Kurdish regions.
    • Extension of PKK: Kurdish forces and militias in Syria are mere extensions of the Kurdistan Workers Party, a group who is labeled a terror group by the US and Turkey alike.

WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • It seems the U.S.-Turkey alliance is going to survive this policy move by President Trump.
  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister, on the other hand, is asserting that the special U.S. envoy to smooth relations between the two sides is actually making things worse.
  • Kurdish forces in Syria have marched on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, intending to occupy the city after capturing it.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Is it better for the U.S. to make decisions based on the short term issue of ISIS in Syria, or focus on the long term issue of keeping Turkey as an ally in the Middle East?
  • Are there any other options of arming rebel groups, that are not Kurdish forces, in the fight against ISIS and the Assad Regime?
  • With how sticky of a situation it has become, having to decide between allies, is the fight against terror in the Middle East better left to the region’s countries?
  • Is there any way to broker a longer lasting peace between the Kurds and Turks so that the two can work together against common enemies?