MOORHEAD, Minn. — It’s been two and a half weeks since President Trump declared victory in Syria, but it sure doesn’t feel like a victory to Varseen Khalil, 23, of Moorhead. Khalil is Kurdish, and came here from Iraq in 2012. Even though there is supposed to be a cease-fire in place, her uncle was shot in Syria a week ago.
“There’s no victory,” Khalil said. “With so much bloodshed and so many deaths, I don’t see a victory.”
It also doesn’t feel like a victory to Jamal Tmr, 35, of Moorhead. Tmr is a Kurdish refugee from Syria, who escaped to Fargo-Moorhead three years ago along with his wife and seven children. Tmr’s mother, brother, three sisters and two nieces fled their homes in Syria after they came under attack from Turkey, thanks to the green light from Trump. They have since returned to their homes, only to be shocked as to what they found. Their furniture and other possessions were stolen, there is no electricity, and there’s hardly any food to eat.
“They are scared. They are worried,” Tmr said. “They don’t sleep at night. There’s no place for them to go. All they want to do is live someplace safe and live normal lives. They fear they will die soon.”
Trump had the audacity to say the Kurds, our allies, should be “very happy” about the outcome, even though they have lost their lives, land and autonomy. Russia, Turkey, Syria, ISIS and Iran are thrilled by the outcome, but for the Kurds, Trump’s betrayal is a catastrophe.
“There’s nothing to be happy about,” Khalil said. “I’m angry. There’s no cease-fire. What happened is inhumane. I feel helpless. I’m depressed because I can’t do anything.”
“What’s to be happy about?” Tmr said. “(President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan and the Turks are still killing us.”
It certainly wasn’t a happy outcome for Hevrin Khalaf, a Kurdish politician in Syria. She was pulled from her car, beaten on the head and leg with sharp objects, dragged by her hair and shot dead in the head and back. The murders of Khalaf and the others, and the expelling of the Kurds from Syria, would not have happened if Trump kept our troops there.
Yes, Trump should be commended for ordering the raid that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. However, that raid doesn’t happen without the assistance of Kurdish intelligence forces. The same friendly troops that Trump just abandoned.
Trump said he removed the troops from Syria because we need to bring them home, as opposed to say, assisting Russian President Putin. If Trump’s comments were true, then why do we still have 200,000 troops in 150 countries?
Also, those troops in Syria didn’t come home. They were sent to other locations in the Middle East, including guarding oil fields in other parts of Syria.
“It’s demoralizing,” Tmr said. “We can protect oil, but we can’t protect humans.”