Why America should support the Syrian Kurds

Why America should support the Syrian Kurds

Gary Bauer, Washington Times


With every beheading, crucifixion and execution, Judeo-Christian civilization is under assault. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Middle East, where non-Muslims who encounter the rapid advance of the Islamic State face a cruel choice: confrontation, subjugation, or annihilation.

Until recently, ISIS has achieved success spreading its militant Islamic creed. The West’s politically correct response — some of its leaders, including President Obama, refuse even to link the Islamic State to Islam — has only emboldened ISIS and aided its propaganda and recruiting efforts.

But there is a glimmer of hope in a region otherwise defined by death and destruction. Syria’s Kurds are fiercely resisting ISIS and have staunchly aligned themselves with America and the West. The Kurds are a multi-ethnic Muslim people territorially trapped between warring Islamic factions. Among them are the brave men and women of Syrian Kurdistan — or Rojava — meaning, in Kurdish, “West.”

Despite being surrounded by hostile neighbors, outmanned by terrorist forces, and having little military experience, the Syrian Kurds have organized into a formidable fighting force capable of challenging and even repelling ISIS forces. Their tenacity is reminiscent of the French Marshal Ferdinand Jean Marie Foch, who said: “My center is giving way, my right flank is retreating, situation excellent, I am attacking.”

Even with outdated equipment and limited help, the Syrian Kurds have redefined the battlefield. They have also advanced the idea of the establishment of an autonomous region in Northern Syria. This is an idea Americans should support because the Kurds’ national interests, governmental objectives, and democratic principles are pro-America and pro-West.

The emergence of a Western-style state in the Middle East would not be unprecedented. A similar cause, Zionism, the Jewish nationalist movement to reestablish a sovereign state in the Land of Israel, predates their struggle. That the Jewish state has achieved political order, regional dominance and a global economy should inspire optimism for an alignment with Rojava.

Like Israel, the Syrian Kurds have a foreign policy that is inherently practical and ecumenical rather than sectarian. What’s more, as many liberal democracies do, the Kurdish government not only permits but encourages both men and women to fill the ranks of its armed forces. And while many Syrian Kurds practice the Muslim faith, their interpretation and tradition is distinct and unique: It stresses tolerance and respect for adherents of other religions, including Christians, Yazidis and Jews.

Circumstances have changed drastically since ISIS set out to subvert the liberal state-based order. For the first time, an influential Muslim entity in the Middle East has disavowed the prevailing attitude toward a unitary Islamic state. With brash modernity, the Syrian Kurds have also rejected a moral code stuck in the Dark Ages.

Given the geo-political reality of the Middle East — a region filled with dangerous actors united in their commitment to destroy America, dismantle the West, and replace it with an Islamic caliphate — it is in the American interest to see the Kurds thrive. Providing them support could be beneficial for the United States. To be fully effective, that support must be significant, apparent and ongoing.

The vitality of the West depends on the ability and willingness of liberal democracies to stand up for their values. By building and growing cooperation with the fledgling power of Rojava, Washington can promote Western values and strengthen the democratic alliance community. It can also weaken the influence of ISIS and deter other radical actors from reproducing the evil ideology that the West must remain committed to defeating.