After focusing on our federal election, now is the time to switch to a lighter subject: the ongoing civil war, invasion and occupation of Syria.
Having lost their initial momentum, the Islamic State has been reduced to a presence capable of only hit-and-run tactics against their enemies: pretty much everyone. This is due to the combined efforts of the U.S.-led coalition and the Russian-Iranian backed Syrian regime, with both claiming the credit. Regardless, with such a hostile entity destroyed, peace can finally be restored, and the Syrian people can finally return to… Oh wait, we forgot about the ongoing Turkish invasion.
Turkey’s army has occupied northern Syria. Efforts were conducted in an attempt to wipe out pockets of ISIS resistance but instead missed the mark completely by attacking the clearly-not-ISIS Kurdish forces. They have since established their own rule of law, funded questionable militias and set up some permanent looking military bases, leading to major international backlash.
The Trump administration has condemned Turkey for the invasion, calling for more sanctions from an increase in tariffs to an end to all trade negotiations. According to The Guardian, President Trump said he was fully prepared to “ swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path.” Powerful words, yet ultimately meaning nothing as it was the United States which enabled Turkey to move in against ISIS… the Kurds.
Trump ordered an immediate withdrawal of American forces in the region against the recommendations of legal experts, diplomatic personnel, military advisors, and allied countries. Turkey, now not having to worry about the diplomatic suicide of harming Americans, launched airstrikes against their long-time enemies: Kurdish Peshmerga and YPG forces. The result? What is described as a “massacre” of the Kurds, the release of thousands of ISIS-related prisoners, and criticism from both domestic and international figures.
After being “abandoned” by the U.S., the long-time pro-western Kurds have enlisted the help of the anti-western Syrian regime. This has allowed the army of Syrian President Bashar-al Assad to enter Kurdish territory to defend against further Turkish incursions. Whether or not this results in deterrence is difficult to anticipate, but the move does allow the forces of Assad, an accused war criminal, easy access to past territories lost in the civil war.
But hey, at least ISIS is out of the picture, right? Well, yes, but actually no. It turns out that while everyone has been fighting one another, the insurgency group has slowly but surely been rebuilding their forces, allowing them to still be quite capable of attacking international targets.
Graphic by @sundaeghost