Commentary: Lindsey Graham Gets the Kurds and Syria Backwards

by George Rasley


“We can’t abandon the Kurds now,” said Senator Lindsey Graham during a recent appearance on Fox & Friends. “When Turkey goes into Syria, they’re not going in to fight ISIS. They’re going in to kill the Kurds because in their eyes they’re more of a threat to Turkey than ISIS,” the South Carolina Republican said on “Fox & Friends. According to reporting by William Cummings for USA TODAY Graham added that “every military person” has told Trump not to pull the troops out.

“We destroyed ISIS with the help of the Kurds,” Graham continued. “We can’t abandon the Kurds now. We can’t turn it over to Turkey. To think that will work is really delusional and dangerous.”

Senator Graham has a point about the government of Turkey’s enmity toward an independent Kurdistan and the danger a Turkish incursion poses to independence-minded Kurds, but he has it all backwards about the United States “abandoning” the Kurds.

It is apparently lost on Senator Graham that the Kurds live in a very dangerous neighborhood, with some really nasty neighbors: ISIS, the Iranians, Bashar al Assad and various Iraqi militia factions, to name a few of the nastiest.

When ISIS rose in the wake of Obama’s departure from Iraq and the so-called Arab Spring he and Hillary Clinton instigated, the Kurds were on the front lines of the fight not because we somehow suckered them into to taking our side, they were there fighting ISIS to preserve their culture, homes and lives.

In reality the Arab Spring was an Islamist uprising against secularism and it ushered in fairly successful civilization-level attack on the West by political Islam. The millions of Muslim “refugees” invading Western Europe and the United States and the spread of Iranian influence throughout the region were caused by the war in Syria, and we came to wipeout ISIS and in the process help the Kurds save themselves; it’s not like they flew halfway around the world to help us.

So, to the extent we remove U.S. troops from Kurdish areas of Syria we’re not “abandoning” them, we’re merely returning things to the status quo ante the rise of ISIS.

In truth the President’s analysis that the current state of affairs in Syria should be brought to its final conclusion by parties in direct proximity to the problem is nothing more than the sensible judgement that the heavy lifting in the fight against the Islamic State has already been done, and that the mopping up can and should be handled by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

However, there is a deeper truth that both the President and the opponents of the pullout are ignoring, because those who advocate keeping American troops endlessly engaged in the intramural Muslim conflicts that have animated the U.S. intervention in Syria refuse to acknowledge it exits, let alone that it should be confronted and defeated.

And that truth is that behind all the arguments about borders, self-determination for the Kurds and democratic principles lurks the dark shadow of Iranian political Islam and its drive for world domination.

And today, the most important mission U.S. troops in northern Syria and our Kurdish allies are conducting may have nothing to do with ISIS at all – it is acting as a blocking force to separate the Iranians from Hezbollah, their Islamist allies in Lebanon.

While neocons, such as Senator Graham, and Obama apologists, such as Susan Rice, want to keep Americans in Syria acting as human shields to separate Iran and Hezbollah, none of them have a clear vision of how to win a confrontation with Iran – or the stomach for the casualties it would involve.

The real enemy in the Near East is Iranian political Islam, and the only way to defeat it is to drop the fiction that “Islam is a religion of peace” and use all our national power to present an alternative worldview that undermines and eventually destroys Sharia-supremacism and Iranian “Absolute Wilayat al-Faqih” (Guardianship of the Jurist).

None of the generals who have been tasked with fighting and winning the wars in Syria and Iraq, and certainly none of the politicians who have advocated United States involvement in them, have been willing to accept and confront that truth, and as a consequence the war that was supposed to be a three month intervention to defeat the “JV forces” of the Islamic State became an eight year sinkhole of American lives and treasure.

The Kurds may very well be the largest ethnic group in the world without a self-governing homeland. Their fight against ISIS to defend their lives, homes and culture was epic, but creating a Kurdish homeland in parts of Syria, Iraq and Iran has never been a U.S. policy or commitment.

President Trump has a clear strategy of attacking Iran’s economy and destabilizing the Islamic Republic through economic sanctions which is vastly superior to anything his detractors have proposed, and he’s right to pull Americans out of harm’s way in northern Syria while he pursues it.

– – –

George Rasley is editor of Richard Viguerie’s and is a veteran of over 300 political campaigns. A member of American MENSA, he served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle, as Director of Policy and Communication for then-Congressman Adam Putnam (FL-12) then Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and as spokesman for Rep. Mac Thornberry former Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Photo “Lindsey Graham” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.




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4 Thoughts to “Commentary: Lindsey Graham Gets the Kurds and Syria Backwards”

  1. William R. Delzell

    If there is one thing worse than a hawkish Republican, it’s a hawkish Democrat, although many hawkish Republicans like Graham and retired Senator Corker I would put in the same category with the hawkish Democrats.

    First of all before I go any further in attacking the Democrats’ (and several Republicans’) hypocrisy, my views are admittedly left-of-center without any shame and I would never vote for Trump.

    However, I do have to rush to Trump’s defense on puling out of anywhere in the Middle East or in the Far East. These Democrats and Republicans who deride Trump for abandoning the Kurds should be willing to risk their own lives over there if fighting in that region means so much to them.

    Indeed, I sense quite a bit of hypocrisy in those who yell the loudest for supporting the Kurds because all the way back to 1990 when we entered the Persian Gulf War, we supported only those Kurds who lived in Saddam Hussein’s path; not the Kurds who resided in Turkey. When Turkey committed atrocities against its own Kurds, apparently that was okay because Turkey was OUR ally.

  2. CCW

    Good points. And, why dump this all on Trump? Yes he is Commander in Chief, but soon to be impeached by congress. Where is the congress in coming up with a clear and distinct middle east policy besides “whatever turns your crank today”. If Trump blew the hell out of the Turks today, he would be pillared as a “traitorous war monger out of control” tomorrow. He cannot even call the Russians to get them to help because he would be labelled by the Dems as “colluding with foreign powers (with the Russians_ ) to interfere with the 2020 elections.” and “going against one of the NATO partners.” Until today I had some respect for the Hindu Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii. But after her outburst in the press today, turns out she is just another “anybody but Trump” blowhard. She has no solution in mind just more “blame Trump”. Where is the Senate Foreign Relations committee in the Senate on this issue? [Crickets] And is Trump supposed to trust the NSA and CIA and UN and Department of State Obama holdovers and the rest of the snoops and their whistleblower, gossip mongering stoogies, for their advice? I would rather ask a Muslim for their “Honest to Allah” advice.

  3. Cannoneer2

    “We’ve got our own problems to attend to.” Yeah. Like sending U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia. Trump and allies are totally ignorant when it comes to international affairs, and that’s out in the wide open now.

  4. Ralph

    This commentary completely ignores the simple fact that it is Syria we’re examining, not Iran. Syria is a sovereign nation, and it accommodates religious minorities – Christians especially.

    You cannot say the same for Saudi Arabia. If the Kurds want protection from Turkey, they need look no further than the legitimate Syrian government, which opposes the Turkish invasion of their territory, as well as the illicit US presence. Since the Kurds chose not to do so, they find themselves under siege.

    Syria is predominantly Sunni, not Shia; 75% Sunni by some estimates. So how is it that Syria has found common cause with Iran who, in turn, have provided considerable ground forces to bolster the Syrian army in its fight against terrorists? And yes, Al Nusra and the Free Syrian Army are just that – terrorists. Terrorist factions backed and financed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel, and the United States. For those playing the home game, Al Nusra was also known as Al Qaeda in Syria…and the USA supported them with the late Sen. McCain and current Sen. Graham leading the pack.

    Elements of both have only been recently “rebranded” as the Syrian Defense Force (SDF) – but a rose by any other name smells the same.

    For those who recall the atrocities committed against the Yezidi minority by ISIS, it’s important to know that the Yezidi are ethnic Kurds.

    Turkey, too, has a large Kurdish population – 20% by some estimates and Turkey has a legitimate complaint about border incursions by Kurdish terrorist factions, as well as having born the brunt of the Syrian refugee crisis. Turkey is in no position to do so, they have their own problems. So their interest is in establishing someplace where they can repatriate the Syrian refugees and, again, the Syrian government wants the same but are not willing to cede their territory in the bargain.

    And the ethnic “homeland” for Kurds is western Persia, i.e., Iran. A persecuted minority, yes, by any account. Welcome to the Middle East and South Asia.

    Moreover, if you actually listen to what Assad says and compare that to the actions of the legitimate Syrian government forces under his Presidency, you will find that it is a country dedicated to countering terrorism and will welcome support in that endeavor from any quarter.

    In fact, in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks on our country, Syria lent immediate support and provided valuable intelligence to the USA, as well as being one of the countries into which we rendered captured terrorists.

    Syria is a statist regime – the state predominates, not the free market. Nonetheless, prior to the hostilities largely instigated by the West and Israel, comparatively speaking Syria enjoyed one of the more robust economies and standards of living in the area. No longer of course.

    President Trump is absolutely correct in pulling out of Syria – we were never invited into the country (whereas Russia and Iran were) and by any measure we are an illicit invading force providing aid to forces seeking to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria.

    Last, but certainly not least, it was Russian intervention in Syria that lent the air forces necessary to defeat ISIS and other terrorist factions in Syria – again, the US was there primarily to support forces opposed to Assad in an effort to impose regime change. That’s what the neocons have their panties in a twist about – it has nothing to do with the Kurds but everything to do with toppling Assad.

    We “abandoned” the Kurds in Iraq after the first Gulf War. The coalition forces left Hussein in power and he swiftly committed genocidal acts against the Kurds, using primarily chemical weapons of mass destruction. Yet, amazingly, in the wake of the second war in Iraq, the mantra was that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

    The Middle East sociopolitical environment is a dog’s breakfast by any measure and we are wise to get out. We have signaled to the world that Israel is our ally in the region and it’s best to leave the resolution of conflicts there to parties in the area. Those countries that have a genuine stake in the matter.

    We’ve got our own problems to attend to.