President Donald Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds is so cruel and so unwarranted that it defies comprehension.
The Kurds are our friends. They fought alongside the U.S. to defeat Islamic State militants, with 11,000 brave Kurdish soldiers killed in the process. To abandon our friends and let Turkey come in and slaughter them is inexcusable. The Islamic State will now be strengthened to renew its terrorism around the world, and the U.S. will never be trusted again.
This is not just a global story, but a human one. Jamal Tmr, 35, of Moorhead, is Kurdish and has close family members who are caught in the middle of this nightmare in Syria. His mother, brother, three sisters and two nieces are all under attack from Turkey. I listened to a phone call between Tmr and his family. They are frightened, hungry and desperate. I could hear the chilling sound of bombs and gunfire in the background.
“I’m very worried,” Tmr said. “My whole family is scared. I’m afraid they will be killed. They’re not targeting troops. They are targeting civilians.”
Tmr came to Fargo-Moorhead three years ago, with his wife and seven children. They were North Dakota’s first Syrian refugees. They escaped bombings near the family home in Dayrik, Syria, in 2013, and an Islamic State attack that left several people dead.
His sister-in-law was killed by an Islamic State suicide car bomber. Tmr and his family will never forget those frightening images. He knew there was no future for them in Syria, and their only hope was to try to get out. After fleeing across the border to Iraq and spending three years in a refugee camp, they finally made it here.
Tmr is skeptical of the temporary cease-fire agreement. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains a ruthless thug, and has constantly called the Kurds “terrorists.” Tmr said if the attacks don’t kill his family, then hunger will.
“My family has nowhere to go,” Tmr said. “They will still be in danger. Erdogan is full of lies. He will never stop his attacks against the Kurds. He’s not going to stop until he kills all the Kurds.”
Much of Tmr’s anger is directed at President Trump. He says Trump’s withdrawal of American troops from Syria gave Erdogan the green light to come in. He said Trump knew what Erdogan was going to do, and didn’t care. It’s especially painful for Tmr because the Kurds gave their lives to help the U.S., only to be abandoned by America and left to die.
“This is the biggest betrayal ever from Trump,” Tmr said. "He’s a businessman, and he decided his business interests are more important than human life. He doesn’t care about Kurdish lives. Trump is responsible for the murder of the Kurds. It’s a travesty. Trump has blood on his hands.”
Tmr has every right to be angry and afraid. This will not end well for the 1.7 million Kurds in Syria. Where do they go and stay alive? American troops protected them, which is the least we could do, with all the help they provided us. Now, they are shamefully on their own. Our friends the Kurds deserve much better than this.
There are far too many Jamal Tmrs in the world now. People who are legitimately afraid their families will be killed or who have no place to live. The United States is much better than this. Our presidents have been much better than this. None of this misery and suffering needed to happen, and it shouldn’t have happened.