In the Middle East, Kurdistan is on the Retreat

In Syria and Iraq, the Kurds are on the backfoot. The Foreign Policy magazine has eloquently described the internal troubles faced by the Kurdish people, including internal corruption and disputes between two powerful Iraqi Kurdish factions - the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) and PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan). Disillusionment also exists between the Syrian Kurdish YPG and the Kurdish middle class. I will not go into detail about these issues - Foreign Policy describes it better than I could - but the reader should know that internal troubles are currently plaguing Kurdistan.
In October of 2017, the Iraqi army pushed the Kurds out of Kirkuk, the 3rd largest city in Iraq and the largest city claimed by Kurdish forces. This represented a major blow, not just in terms of morale and population, but also financially, as Kirkuk is surrounded by large oil fields. Additionally, the United States is stuck in an incredibly awkward position when it comes to the Kurds. For all of Erdogan's bluster and America's shortcomings, Turkey is still a part of NATO and therefore, by definition, an ally of the United States. And, despite American support for the Kurds, Turkey and its people have a 100-year enmity with the idea of an independent Kurdish state. Washington D.C. has correctly concluded that the American alliance with Turkey is far more important than an independent Kurdish state possibly could be.
Previously I have argued that the US should support a Kurdish state, but only with Turkish consent. Over the past several months, it appears that Turkey will never consent to an independent Kurdistan on its southern border. With Trump cutting off all weapons to the Kurds, it appears that the US government has also realized that Kurdistan serves no purpose in terms of advancing American interests. ISIS has been, for all intents and purposes, defeated - thus, there is no need to keep supplying weapons to the Kurds. After Obama tried to walk the tightrope between supporting the Kurds and maintaining an alliance with Turkey, with the defeat of ISIS, Trump can now afford to step off the tightrope.
My only concern with America cutting off military aid to the Kurds is how other American allies will percieve this move by the US government. Presumably, NATO and its partners would recognize the motive behind America's actions, but potential allies might not recognize this motive and view the US as a backstabber. The Trump administration must emphasize the importance of the alliance with Turkey to the international community, and reassure current allies that the United States will not turn a blind eye in the event of a war involving China, Russia, or North Korea.
Kurdistan is doomed. The existence of Kurdistan would greatly disrupt the balance of power in the Middle East, something not welcomed under traditional Westphalian rules of international politics. The United States must follow reason and rationality, and preserve its alliance with Turkey rather than try and forge a new Kurdish state.


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