- - Wednesday, March 21, 2018

In recent days, the situation has deteriorated dramatically for the Kurds in Syria. According to Kurdish sources, more than 200,000 Kurds have been displaced within the past week and several hundred Kurds have been killed as Turkey and its Syrian allies take over Afrin.

Both Turkey and its Syrian allies have committed numerous atrocities against the Kurdish people in the city. Turkey has bombed schools, hospitals, bakeries and water stations, which resulted in many civilians facing death and starvation.

Most of the victims of Turkey’s assault upon Afrin are innocent Kurdish women and children. Also among the victims in the assault upon Afrin are Yazidis, who are being specifically targeted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist allies.

There have been reports of human rights abuses in Afrin. Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have ridden on donkeys on top of the Kurdish flag, seized animals, produce and tractors belonging to local Kurds, and the Jerusalem Post reported that they even took down a statue of Kawa, a mythical figure associated with the Newroz holiday who is much adored in Kurdish culture.

In addition, they have looted civilian homes and stolen cars. Now with the fall of Afrin and the rest of the Kurdish areas in Syria under threat, the door is wide open for ISIS to re-emerge in areas where they were booted out of in Syria.

For seven years, the jihadists wanted to conquer Afrin. After they got the backing of the Turkish Army who has American-made fighter jets, German-made tanks and Israeli-made drones, the jihadists managed to reach the city outskirts.

The YPG then abandoned the city in order to save civilian lives. And thanks to this reality that came into fruition due to the fact that the U.S. abandoned the Kurds, Turkey’s Islamist allies who are merely former ISIS, former Muslim Brotherhood and former al Qaeda that switched uniforms are poised to ethnically cleanse Kurds from the region and in the process eliminate America’s foothold in Syria.

Although Russia, Turkey, ISIS and Iran disagree on many things, they all agree on booting America out of the region and given the present situation in Afrin, there is a real risk that this could happen. This reality represents a clear and present danger to the United States, its Middle Eastern allies, Europe and the world at large.

Turkey presently seeks to hold onto Afrin indefinitely in order to ensure that the YPG, which is associated with the PKK, does not have a foothold in Syria.

They also seek to prevent the creation of an independent Kurdistan, thus killing off all of the Kurds’ dreams and aspirations. The Turks are so adamant in this that they are willing to have radical Islamists be their neighbors just in order to ensure the YPG is not controlling their borders.

However, the YPG is not the only Kurdish group active in Syria. The Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, led by Sherkoh Abbas, is an umbrella organization of Kurdish organizations that are pro-American and they are also critical of the YPG due to their failed strategies.

They are prepared to take over the areas that Turkey took from the YPG if only given the opportunity to do so. America should use its influence in order to pressure Mr. Erdogan to hand over Afrin to the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria in order to assure that Islamists do not take over the area or that ISIS starts an insurgency in the area like they did in Mosul.

The Kurds remain the only alternative to the brutalities being committed by the Assad regime and its allies and Turkey and its Islamist allies.

For this reason, America has a moral obligation to help the Kurds out at this critical time and if they do not want to support YPG, then they should place a Kurdish group in charge of the area who is not YPG, which would both be good for the struggle against Iran and ISIS but also accommodate Turkey’s desire to not have the PKK control the area.

It is critical to recognize that in recent years, the Kurds have become a pivotal part of the anti-ISIS struggle and America has no plan B if their areas are overrun. ISIS will never be permanently eradicated from Syria without boots on the ground and if America does not want to provide those boots, then they need to help those who have been acting as America’s boots on the ground in order to maintain the gains that they have won.

The alternative to supporting the Kurds in Syria is further entrenching the Iranian axis in Syria or allowing ISIS to re-emerge under the tutelage of Turkey, which despite its opposition to the murderous terror group still prefers ISIS along its borders to the Kurds.

Neither option is a good one. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that America support the only major player in Syria that is fighting against ISIS and remains separate from the Iranian axis. The time has come for the U.S. to act and to stop ignoring what is happening on the ground. The time has come for the United States to put an end to Turkey and its ally’s atrocities in Syria.

Rachel Avraham, a senior media research analyst at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a correspondent for the Israel Resource News Agency, is the author of “Women and Jihad.”

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