Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) have put forward a joint resolution “opposing the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria”.
President Trump, having conferred with NATO ally Turkey over the phone regarding an imminent invasion into Syria, withdrew U.S. troops and other military personnel from the North Syrian border. On October 10th the White House stated: “This morning, Turkey, a NATO member, invaded Syria. The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea”.
The attack went through, and has now concluded just over a week of heavy fighting between Syrian Kurds and the Turkish Military. Trump has taken up role as watchdog over the situation, threatening to “obliterate” the Turkish economy if certain measures to protect civilians and minimize the scope of the conflict are not taken.
The decision has seen the President pilloried by Republican and Democrat interventionists alike, notably the commander of the Senate warhawks Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Adam Schiff (D-CA) who is leading the charge towards the impeachment inquiry.
Now Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria has earned him the ire of the House FAC as well.
But within the rapacious attacks on the President’s decision, we can glean insight into the gears which turn in the War City as the suggestions in the J.R. H625 display an unnerving amount of interventionist foreign policy that doesn’t fall in line with the national security of America.
Leaving Turkey no other choice
“President Trump’s callous and impulsive decision has set into motion a calamitous breakdown in international security in Syria, one with long-lasting consequences for the United States and the world. Congress must denounce the reckless, dangerous policy coming from the Oval Office and Turkey’s horrific incursion in Syria,” said Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) in a press release from the FAC.
On the 31st of August, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the U.S.-Turkey agreement regarding a so-called safe zone in Syria had to happen sooner rather than later and that they were preparing to move forward with it sans sanctioning by any foreign government.
“We do not have too much time or patience regarding the safe zone. Within a few weeks if our soldiers do not start controlling this area, there will be no other option left but to implement our own operation plans,” said Erdogan.
The reason behind the urgency is refugees from Syria. As the Syrian Civil War Raged, over 6 million people fled the country, seeking respite mostly westward – to Europe. In order to stem the flow of these international displaced persons, Turkey agreed to hold as many as she could provided she receive massive amounts of foreign capital to help accommodate them.
“This either happens or otherwise we will have to open the gates,” Erdogan said in a speech in the capital, Ankara, as Al Jazeera reports.
“Either you will provide support, or excuse us, but we are not going to carry this weight alone. We have not been able to get help from the international community, namely the European Union,” he added, which they indeed have not.
3.6 million people living in tent cities is not an affair that can continue for long, and after Ankara’s NATO allies failed to help in any meaningful way, Erdogan took matters into his own hands as he had warned of doing for months, however violent the result has been.
Chairman Engel’s imagining of an “callous and impulsive decision,” has been anything but. In fact, the decision is one that has been coming for a long time, with Erdogan and Trump agreeing on this plan months ago; and while a few hundred lawmakers cannot be made to feel comfortable with the thought that 1,000 or so U.S. infantry and staff can’t stop one nation from declaring war on another, that’s exactly the reality of this situation – in this situation the U.S. is powerless.
Casus belli – a cause for war
In the press release from the FAC, one finds a lie, disinformation, or plain naivety in the congressmen’s statements.
In the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, one remember’s it started with protests, as had gone on in many Arab countries. The pressure on President Obama, as revealed in his interview with The Atlantic, to do something militarily to stop the alleged chemical gas attacks by Assad on his own people years later, was intense – particularly from cabinet members Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
The casus belli for America’s involvement with Syria was, at least in Congress, the desire to save the citizens of Syria from being gassed. And so Congress authorized the limited use of military force to prevent Assad from utilizing chemical gas attacks against his own people.
Now the credibility of the claims that it was Assad who launched the gas attacks have been shaken, as many of the incidents, after coming under independent review, seem to conclude that non-state actors were the culprits. The attacks on the town of Douma on April 2018, were particularly shaken, when a report showing that the cylinders containing traces of chlorine were not dropped from aircraft, as was the original consensus, was covered up by the international chemical weapon authorities .
So if the authorization from Congress were based on false information (and by some indications, possibly lies) then what exactly can America say that justifies her involvement and presence in Syria?
To answer that question, pay close attention to the words chosen by the members of the House FAC.
“I am pleased to join a bipartisan and bicameral group of colleagues today to express our alarm at Turkey’s incursion into Syria and call upon the President to reverse his reckless foreign policy-making that is directly harming United States national security and contributing to an already devastating humanitarian crisis,” said Ranking Member of the FAC Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
It’s unclear how, after 9 days of military operations, the President could possibly “reverse” his decision. Just one reporter’s speculations, but that could mean sending thousands more troops into a firefight between our non-state cat’s paw the Kurdish SDF, and our sworn NATO allies.
While the Turkish military operations have been widely condemned by European nations and American lawmakers, it is still the sword arm of our NATO ally.
Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX) is quoted in the press release as saying “Turkey must immediately cease their military offensive in Syria, which has already had devastating consequences for our Kurdish partners.” he says. “The Kurds have worked hand-in-hand with American forces to make the world safer from terrorism”.
While we may see the Kurds as our partners, taking their side against Turkey would be breaking our defense pact with a NATO country. Furthermore, now that the Kurds have allied with Assad, who Congress has called on to step down, whose military installations and aircraft Congress has sanctioned with destruction, whose sovereign borders America has invaded and occupied under illegal pretence and false justification, whose economy we have shattered with sanctions, are we to accept that in fact, Bashar al-Assad is the sovereign political leader of the people of Syria and the commander-in-chief of her military?
Or are the Kurds now our enemies, since they have aligned themselves with a dictator backed by America’s most hostile rivals, and are actively killing the forces of our NATO ally Turkey?
Finally, in calling for Trump to “reverse” his actions, it would mean placing American men and women in the same theater of war as Russia, a dangerous gamble in such an uncertain conflict. Assad and Russia have close ties, and the Russian’s helped rebuff the American attempts at regime-change when Obama began arming America’s sworn enemy al-Qaeda, in Syria.
Even with the widespread media coverage, it’s impossible to imagine why Syria would need Russia and Iran’s help if all she were doing was killing innocent, defenseless civilians. Assad wasn’t just repressing protests, he was fighting against American and Saudi-backed Sunni insurgents in a desperate bid to remain in power.
While the situation may seem bad now, by Vladimir Putin brokering a deal between Assad and the Kurds to repel Turkey, and by Trump withdrawing from the conflict zone, the two leaders have effectively eliminated all chance of a war between the major powers, since Assad and the Kurds can fight off the NATO-member state Turkey, taking Assad’s ally Russia out of the firing line.
The term “forever wars” is finding more and more use in the media, especially since the Democratic Presidential debates began.
“President Trump is right to examine our enduring presence in places where threats have been defeated. However, we learned from President Obama’s premature disengagement from Iraq in 2011 that if we withdraw from countries too quickly our hard fought gains on the battlefield can be quickly erased and undermine the trust and confidence of our allies,” says Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, and Senator Todd Young (R-IN).
What Senator Young is referring to is the safe haven myth that has perpetuated the “forever” part of “forever wars”. Young is referring to the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) an event which had nothing to do with Obama’s premature departure from Iraq.
As more money and military hardware fell into the hands of Obama’s Sunni jihadists as mentioned above, a certain group of them, called the Nusra Front, as well as certain al-Qaeda elements decided that taking orders from John Brennan and the CIA, and that regime-change in Syria should not be the priority.
Led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, they created the Islamic State and thus another reason for America to never pull out of any conflict zone. While the the rise of the Islamic State was down to actions taken by Obama, it was not from his decision to withdraw from Iraq.
“While the President’s foreign policy blunders continue to embolden Russia, Iran and Syria, Congress must assert our role in promoting American national security,” says Congressman McCaul. Indeed, Congress has the power to authorize military force and sanction war. Yet who would the body legislative decide to raise their great saber against?
The only players as mentioned above, are a wrongfully persecuted regime who is currently acting only in self-defense, the non-state actors whom we consider our partners, but that who have allied themselves with a regime we wish gone and in doing so our greatest perceived enemy, the Russians, or our Turkish NATO allies?
McCaul just said that the withdrawal of troops from Syria has emboldened Syria – which he implies is the worst possible outcome, but the aim of the Joint Resolution is to denounce and encourage the President into stopping an invasion into Syria.
Congress, as confirmed by the Senate and House Committees on Foreign Relations want a war they cannot have.
Continue exploring this topic — Amid Murky Waters, 400 Congressmen Sign Letter Stating War In Syria Should Continue
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