Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy

Photograph Source: Shealah Craighead – Public Domain

What perfidy. Is there any more solemn a word that can be developed in the English language for such treachery? The west’s Kurdish allies are being betrayed all over again. Like Kissinger, like Trump. And here come the Turks again, once more playing their border games, pretending they are fighting against “terrorism” when they were perfectly prepared to assist al-Nusra in Afrin while oil from Isis flowed into the country. And Trump now suddenly realises that the Turks are not good allies when he was perfectly happy to let them invade northern Syriafour days ago.

If anything could be more illustrative of the madhouse in Washington it has been the divisive, insane “policy” which the Americans still claim to uphold in northern Syria. A hundred thousand displaced, dozens of civilians dead. In Damascus, the Assad regime must be appreciating this farce, although the chances of taking back territory from Turkey probably looks a good deal more dangerous. But the prospect of Syria’s invaders fighting each other will evoke only bitter reflection in a state where the government had almost won its war.

As for Trump himself, his preposterous remarks about Turkey and the Kurds – and Normandy, for heaven’s sake – and even the Second World War – merely prove once more that the US president is crackers. The Americans are leaving Syria, he told us some months ago. Then he says it again. And this is before anyone has thought about the resurrection of Isis, perhaps fleeing from their prisons along the border. Are we to have Isis back in Europe once more? Or fleeing along with the 3.6 million refugees with which Turkey has threatened Europe?

It is not just Trump who is causing chaos. It is the entire American empire, its maniacal foreign policies and the stream of Trump supporters whose ignorance is now at the heart of Washington’s establishment. How can the EU stand so idly by while Turkey has adopted what looks like ethnic cleansing on a vast scale? For it is their Arab militias who are now appearing in northern Syria. How can anyone justify this vile business?

How tragically, how terrifyingly, how pitifully the Kurds were betrayed. Is this how Erdogan intends to go down in history after 16 years of power? First he accuses his own army of being behind the attempted coup against him in Turkey – then he sends the same army into Syria. Maybe Erdogan and Trump have more in common that we imagine.

But the events of this past week have also shown how international governance has broken down across the Middle East region, how failure at the centres of power has – especially in the most powerful nation on earth – led to an endemic and hopeless war. Because of Trump’s foolishness – his arcane stupidity – dozens are now dying again in the region. It is a sad and dangerous world in which the Middle East now exists and it will become more so in the coming weeks.

How long ago seem those revolutions of 2011, how the small lights of hope have disappeared so fast. Egypt is now a brutal dictatorship. Libya remains in chaos. So, too, Yemen. There is not a functioning democracy in the Arab world (save perhaps, for Lebanon). And the Americans still believe in new freedoms in Saudi Arabia – though not, of course, for one missing journalist and American resident whose body parts we may never find. Jamal Kashoggi’s voice would have been one to listen to today. But his memory has also been besmirched by Trump’s total abasement to the Saudi royal family. Perfidy indeed.

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Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

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