Last year Turkey’s authoritarian leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stood before the United Nations General Assembly and vowed to establish a so-called "safe zone" in northeast Syria. Erdogan promised to resettle Syrian refugees in parts of Syria already inhabited and controlled by Kurds. His intention was clear: ethnically cleanse the Kurdish population along the Syrian-Turkish border.
After a phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Erdogan, the small remaining number of American forces unilaterally and immediately withdrew from Syria. America's most valuable democratic ally in Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), were not informed. Caught off guard, the SDF were betrayed and abandoned.
Immediately after the U.S. withdrawal, the Turkish invasion began.
The Turkish regime displaced more than 300,000 people, halted the fight against Daesh (ISIS), allowed for permanent Turkish military positions in non-Turkish lands, strengthened radical al-Qaeda groups, and weakened America’s presence in Syria while tarnishing relations with our loyal friends and allies.
In the past year, Turkey has weaponized the water supply in areas it now occupies, a blatant war crime. Sexual violence against women and girls has increased, where residents are stating their lives under Turkish occupation is no better than it was under the control of Daesh. Thousands of students have stopped attending schools.
AFK believes that the Syrian Democratic Forces are critical American allies and are crucial to Syria’s stability and future. The United States must continue its engagement and partnership with the Kurds in Syria and across the region. Any further withdrawal will result in a victory for our adversaries: Assad's forces in Syria, Daesh, Turkey and its radical proxies inside Syria, as well as Russia and Iran. The United States must recognize that Turkey’s political and territorial ambitions stand against America’s national security interests in the Middle East.
We call on the United States to fully recognize the governing body of northeast Syria led by indigenous Syrians, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), and the forces which protect the region, the SDF. We call for the complete and permanent withdrawal of all Turkish forces and its Islamist affiliates from the area.
American Friends of Kurdistan will continue to ensure American-Kurdish interests are protected in Washington.