SALT LAKE CITY – Utahns with unique perspectives on the Syrian conflict say the President’s decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria is a massive mistake. They think it will leave allies vulnerable and they believe Kurdish rebels have good reason to feel abandoned.
Earlier this decade, Salt Lake City resident Freeman Stevenson joined a Kurdish group called the YPG, which translates to the People’s Protection Unit. He watched the group’s posts on social media and decided to help them in their fight.
Recently, the YPG has been in many battles with the Free Syrian Army, which used to be backed by the U.S. to fight against the Bashar al-Assad regime. Eventually, that support was turned against the U.S.
Stevenson says, “Without any real material support from the west, the FSA started losing. So, they had to turn to someone who wasn’t losing. Who wasn’t losing? The jihadists networks who had been operating in the region for decades.”
However, he says there are many different groups fighting each other in that region, and his group never fought against American troops.
“There was quite a lot of laughing when we would end up fighting these groups in the FSA,” he says.
Without support from the U.S., Stevenson says Kurdish rebels are very vulnerable to attacks not just from ISIS, but the Turkish government. Counter-terrorism expert University of Utah Professor Amos Guiora agrees with Stevenson. Guiora believes groups who feel abandoned by the west will likely look for support from countries like Russia or Iran.
“You’re going to have to think again, and again, and again… if you really see yourself as aligned with the United States and whether the United States is a reliable ally,” he says.
President Trump has promised to “destroy” Turkey’s economy if they attack the region, but, Guiora doesn’t think that threat will work.
“I don’t think that’s going to particularly discourage [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan from not doing whatever he wishes to do,” Guiora says.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney has been a ling-time critic of President Trump. Earlier, he tweeted…
This President’s decision to abandon our Kurdish allies in Northern Syria is ultimately a victory for Assad, Russia, Iran, and ISIS. The Administration must immediately reconsider withdrawing the few remaining U.S. troops who are playing a vital peacekeeping role.
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) October 7, 2019
Also, some of President Trump’s supporters question his decision. Representative Chris Stewart posted…
President Trump must not make the same mistakes President Obama did. I will continue to press the White House to protect our Kurdish allies & security interests in the region.
— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) October 7, 2019
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