Which Ally does justice back: Trump Or Kurds?
Are the Kurds an ally, or only an enemy’s enemy?
In the wake of Trump’s “abandonment” of the Kurds along the border corridor of Turkey (not, so far, elsewhere in Syria), with whom should we, who were sympathetic to both, align?
As best I understand it, the Kurds were victims of a series of repeated genocides in the 20th century at the hands of Turkey. I had great compassion for the Kurds. So Trump’s “abandonment” of an apparent ally initially appeared indefensible. How would any country thereafter value being an ally of America? (Actually, the answer here doesn’t appear to have changed: when survival depends upon it.)
For several years, the Kurds have been reported to be fighting as American “allies”. As a former intelligence analyst, I also saw that what’s reported to the public by the media is an indecipherable ratio of impressions, opinions, propaganda, spin, misinformation and disinformation. And I also remember a number of reports where Americans were killed by “friendlies”. I suspect this is more prevalent than reported (at least by previous administrations).
Many Israelis cite a popular logical fallacy they consider self-evident: “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”. No, MY enemy’s enemy may be friend or just another enemy. Iran and Da”sh are enemies, but neither is a friend of America nor Israel. America’s decades of temporary alliances with otherwise-enemies (think Afghanistan, Pakistan and practically everyone present in Syria) simply because America shares an enemy with them is a fatal logical trap.
For me, the consequences of the universally-pervasive Arab (& Persian-Iranian) hudna immediately come to mind. In the Arab-Iranian universe, conflict is binary: there is war or sulha (reconciliation). There is no such thing as the Euro-Western concept of “truce”. When Westerners say “truce”, it is translated into the Arab-Persian mind as “hudna”. So, what is a “hudna”? This is a term inherited from earlier times when warriors needed to sleep at night or both sides spent their arrows or bullets in a traditional volley. A “hudna” is nothing more than a short intermission in fighting to reload and regroup to resume effective fighting again. When Westerners think a truce may hold, they are ignorant that Arabs and Iranians have NO intention of a prolonged intermission in the fighting. An enemy is an enemy, to be fought until death, the enemy is destroyed or reconciled.
When, and only when, survival depends upon it, the Arab-Iranian culture temporarily tolerates forming a temporary and conditional- heterogeneous fighting coupling. But the resulting coupling is not my enemy’s enemy is my friend. Rather, when the conditional- heterogeneous fighting force defeats their common enemy, they immediately revert to turn their weapons on each other. That’s worlds different from an ally. And it’s the innate culture of Afghanistan (see, e.g., the movie “12 Strong”), Pakistan, all of the fighting parties in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and throughout the Arab-Iranian world.
In that light, I ask myself whether this innate mideastern culture-trait of Kurds may have been responsible for fooling a line of previous presidents until, perhaps, Trump recognized that Americans were fighting, providing weapons and huge sums of money to assist enemies of America because the previous fools (which would include me if it works out that way) thought Kurds were friends when they were only America’s enemy’s enemy—and remained America’s enemy as well? Trump’s record of doing what he promised is full-out spectacular compared to any of his predecessors. So both Trump’s record and the Kurds culture suggest that, below public radar, the Kurds may have been refusing to cooperate with Trump along the lines of an enemy of America who is also the enemy of America’ enemies. But that doesn’t make Kurds a friend of America. Or Israel.
We’ll just have to wait for more details to emerge. Were the Kurds the ally of America that they’ve been portrayed to be? Trump seems a bit put-off with them; as if the Kurds refused to comply with ultimatums that left America no choice but to abandon them. Further, the Kurds are are behaving like a child, placing all the blame for the split on America, counting on the assumption that they were perfect allies. I don’t believe that for a second.
So, I find the weight of the sparse public evidence to suggest, until persuasive details to the contrary, placing trust in Trump rather than the Kurds. I hope their situation in Syria leaves them a just option. It seems to me that it would be just for the Kurds to accept the border safety corridor that Turkey demands. And perhaps, in that case, America might then be able to forge a peace treaty between Turkey and the Kurds. I wonder if Kurd intransigence to this kind of treaty (for example, perhaps a refusal to separate themselves from Kurds determined to fight Turkey and sign a peace agreement with Turkey?) might have contributed to Trump’s exasperation? In such case, Trump has also sent a message to everyone in this region.
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