How Obama’s team set up Trump’s Syrian dilemma

‘It’s bats- -t crazy,” Susan Rice talked about Monday on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” The former nationwide security adviser, who served beneath President Barack Obama, was referring to President Trump’s decision to tug US troops from northern Syria. She was notably dismayed by what she depicted as a dangerous betrayal of The People’s Protection Units, additionally known as the YPG, the Kurdish stress that helped the US-led coalition ­defeat Islamic State.

“These are the people who for the last four years have been fighting on our behalf, with our equipment, to defeat ISIS,” she talked about. “And they have done it with enormous efficacy, and they have sacrificed immensely, and we basically just said to them, ‘See ya,’ and let the Turks, who are like the hungry wolf trying to kill the lamb, go for it.”

Over the last few days, a bunch of former Obama officers has been repeating this story, which could be very misleading, to say the least. Rice and her colleagues would have us take into account that Team Obama created an especially environment-friendly plan for stabilizing the Middle East by working by groups identical to the YPG, and Trump, mercurial and impulsive, is throwing all of it away by in search of a rapprochement with Ankara. That’s nonsense.

In reality, the shut relationship with the YPG was a quick restore that bequeathed to Trump profound strategic dilemmas. Trump inherited from Obama a dysfunctional method for countering ISIS, one which ensured ever-greater turmoil inside the space and positioned American forces in a not doable place.

To guarantee, the YPG are good fighters, and the American troopers who’ve fought alongside them keep them in very extreme esteem. But the selection to make them the primary ally for defeating ISIS acquired right here at a hidden worth: the alienation of 1 amongst America’s closest allies. The YPG is the Syrian wing of the PKK, the Kurdish separatist group in Turkey.

Designated as a terrorist group by the State Department, the PKK has prosecuted a protracted battle in the direction of the Turkish Republic, ensuing inside the dying of some 40,000 people.

The Turks beseeched the Obama administration to not align with their sworn enemy, nevertheless, the Obamaians instructed them, in effect, to sit down and shut up. Why? The American relationship with the YPG was a direct outgrowth of the very best blunder of the Obama administration: the effort to realize a strategic lodging with Iran.

It all began in 2014 with the siege of Kobani, a Kurdish metropolis in Northeast Syria that was surrounded by ISIS fighters. Because the plight of the town was well-reported inside the American media, Obama acquired right here beneath political stress to intervene militarily to interrupt the siege.

Until then, nonetheless, he had strenuously prevented involvement inside the Syrian civil battle. To guarantee, he sought to avoid a quagmire, nevertheless, he moreover was desirous to avoid alienating the Iranians and the Russians.

By now, the negotiations which may consequence within the Iran nuclear deal have been underway. But Damascus was the shut ally of every Russia and Iran, so any American intervention in Syria risked upsetting the model-new relationship that Obama was attempting to forge with Moscow and Tehran.

This challenge is the hidden key to understanding why Team Obama gravitated to the YPG to resolve its points. The group had a protracted historical previous of cordial ­relations with the Russians and the Iranians, and, higher of all, it had no intention to topple the Assad regime. Every totally different group that Obama would possibly have to be used to defeat ISIS had an anti-Assad agenda.

So, no, Trump should not be betraying the YPG. He is in search of to revive stability to American worldwide protection.

The YPG knew from the ­beginning that its relationship with Washington was nonpermanent and transactional. It didn’t battle as a favor to the United States. America armed, expert, outfitted and funded the YPG. We gave it sturdy navy help, along with aerial bombardment, which allowed it to beat all foes in its neighborhood. Thanks to this assist, the power, have an effect on and territorial attain of the group expanded previous its wildest objectives. In the meantime, America moreover held Turkey at bay.

The YPG benefitted enormously from the effort, and the Turkish-American relationship suffered in equal measure. To paraphrase Susan Rice, this was a bat- -t crazy methodology to clear up the ISIS downside. If she and her Team Obama colleagues have to blame anyone for this mess, they might consider attempting inside the mirror.

Michael Doran is a Hudson ­Institute senior fellow. Twitter: @Doranimated

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