New policy changes U.S. relations with Kurdish forces


Kurdish soldiers walk in Syria. Kurdish-led forces have been fighting against ISIS in Syria with American support.

    Fighting in Syria continues between Kurdish forces and Turkish troops backed by Russia.  However, one thing has changed. On Oct. 14, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that American forces would be pulled from the fighting in Syria.  

    Prior to this, the U.S. collaborated with Kurdish forces to fight the Islamic State, providing air and ground support.  

    “(Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)) had the protection of the US from the air and the help of the US on the ground,” CBS News foreign correspondent Holly Williams said.  “And in return, the SDF did the bulk of the fighting against ISIS. In March of this year, thousands of ISIS fighters were couped up in this last sliver of ISIS territory down in the far southeast of Syria surrendered.”

    The SDF had killed more than 20,000 ISIS fighters alongside their American allies.  

    “The group on the ground that has been doing all the fighting against ISIS is this the Syrian Democratic Forces, America’s closest partners on the ground,” Williams said.  “They are the targets of this Turkish incursion. And now, they’re busy fighting against Turkish forces instead of fighting against ISIS.”

    This is one reason why Trump’s announcement came as a shock for many who had anticipated continued American support for the Kurds.  

    Trump’s statement announced the “imposition of sanctions against current and former officials of the Government of Turkey and any persons contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria.” 

    The order authorizes also increased steel tariffs of 50 percent and  additional sanctions on other nations “who may be involved in serious human rights abuses, obstructing a ceasefire, preventing displaced persons from returning home, forcibly repatriating refugees, or threatening the peace, security, or stability in Syria.”  

    Many are upset by Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria. 

    “(Abandoning the Kurds) jeopardize(s) hard-won gains against the Islamic State — and potentially open(s) the door for its return,” a New York Times article said.

    However, not everyone feels that Trump abandoned the Kurds. 

    “I don’t believe that we have completely abandoned the Kurds; however, many Kurds feel backstabbed because of our decision to move our troops,” an anonymous Northwest student said. “I do agree with them.”

    The student also believes that the U.S. should continue to support Kurdish forces in Syria, with the role extending beyond just sanctions on Turkey.  

    “I hope that the sanctions will work with Turkey, but overall, I don’t think Turkey will completely stop unless U.S. forces or other forces are there to protect the Kurds,” the anonymous student said.