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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

America's decision to arm Syria's Kurds is long overdue

When it comes to renunciation of Jihadism and expressions of women's rights, the Kurds have few rivals in the Muslim world. They are the most progressive and pro-western Muslim ethnic group in the middle east. A people without a country of their own, they are oppressed in every Muslim state where they live. They have been victims of gassing by Sadaam Hussein, cultural genocide by the Turks, and ongoing brutality in Iran, all three of which fear the establishment of a Kurdish homeland.

George H.W. Bush made a slew of promises to the Kurds during the first Gulf war, upon which he reneged. George W. Bush did a little better, by establishing a semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq following the second Gulf War, but that still fell short of the security of genuine Kurdish self-determination.

The Kurds are on the front lines in the fight against the Islamic State, whose fundamentalist, vicious interpretation of Islam is at complete odds with Kurdish liberalism.

It should have been a no-brainer for America to provide arms to the Kurds to allow them to defend themselves and establish a bridgehead for the moderate Islam that western leaders frequently talk about but is virtually nonexistent in the Levant among mainstream Sunni and Shia. Pressure from NATO member Turkey and cowardice in the Obama administration kept the Kurds under-armed as they bravely fought back incursions by ISIS.

However, finally, the US has a president who is unwilling to kow-tow to pressure from Islamist authoritarians, like Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan, and the American arming of Syria's Kurds is in the works.

Hundreds of thousands of people were killed, in Syria, by both ISIS and the Iranian-backed forces of the dictator Bashar al-Assad, and millions of refugees fled that country, creating a domino-effect of destabilization in other countries. That chaos was made possible in large measure by Obama's inaction. In the last few weeks, Donald Trump has made good on the Syrian 'red-line' drawn, and then scurried away from by Barack Obama, and now is providing Syria's Kurds with the means to defend themselves.

Whatever complaints Trump's opponents have of him, his actions in Syria will save lives that were written off by the previous administration and will alleviate the refugee crisis his opponents claim to care about so deeply.

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