U.S. Should Arm the Syrian Kurds

The only capable force currently fighting IS are the Kurds  in northern Iraq and Syria. The Kurds are also the primary victims of the IS aggressive expansion. Over 130,000 Syrian Kurds have fled across the border into Turkey. In the meantime, a leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Dursun Kalkan, appealed for all Kurds to unite.  He also accused Turkish President Erdogan and his government of collaborating with IS. The Ankara government has been encouraging the formation of IS through its support of Islamist elements within the Syrian opposition to Syrian president Bashar Assad. It is also alleged that Turkey is buying oil siphoned off by IS in Iraq, thus enabling IS to fund its campaign of murderous terror.

Sherkoh Abbas, president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, is delighted with the PKK call for Kurdish unity. He points out, however, that the PKK, considered in the West as a terrorist organization, must end its opposition to Kurdish self-determination or federalism in Syria, as well as end its association with the Syrian dictatorship and the Iranian regime.

Asked whether the Kurds in Syria can defeat IS, Abbas pointed out that the Kurds need U.S. support with arms and training to be able to match the weaponry of IS. He added that the Kurds are fighting three entities in Syria: the Islamic State, the Assad regime, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, all of which seeking to destroy the Kurds.  He also stated that if the Democratic Union Party (YPG), which is affiliated with the PKK, joined the Kurdish front that is supported by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG),  IS would be defeated.

Abbas charged that the U.S. administration did not learn much from its experience in Afghanistan. The U.S. provided the Afghan Islamist rebels with weapons to fight the Soviets, only to have those weapons taken over by such groups as al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and turned against Americans. He explained his thoughts about why the U.S. administration might be repeating the same mistake. In Syria, Abbas pointed out:

The U.S. believes that dividing the country into a federal state will make diplomatic maneuvering difficult. It is also about petro-dollars. Let’s not forget who Washington’s regional allies are. These are the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and other Sunni majority states. They possess huge amounts of dollars and that is why they dictate what they want Syria to look like. These countries don’t want to see the independence of the Kurds or any other minorities and ethnicities. That is why President Obama is not capable of abandoning this policy of backing political Islam. But this approach is doomed to fail because it will only embolden Iran and Assad’s Syria.

Abbas asserted that the vacuum created by the lack of U.S. support for the KRG has resulted in Bashar Assad, Iran, and IS emerging as winners, not the pro-democracy forces that include the Syrian Kurds and groups such as the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNAS). “Americans” Abbas concluded, “who complain they cannot find moderates in Syria, need not look farther than the Kurds of Syria and other minorities who are repressed. They are ready and willing to fight the IS, and additionally seek to acquire all the attributes of western democracies. And unlike the Islamists in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, the Kurds will not turn their guns against America and the West.”