The International Corner: Trump and the Kurds

21 March 2015 - TURKEY. Kurds of iraq, with Hand Palm Showing Victory Sign, during Newroz festival in Diyarbakir. In background a flag of Kurdistan Region by the Iraqi constitution. Editorial credit: cristiano lissoni /

By Christopher St. Aubin

Earlier this week the Trump administration took another bold move in their foreign policy stance. One of the long-lasting policies that Trump has kept has been his desire to eradicate the Islamic State, so they no longer pose a threat to the world. His earliest steps to achieve this included the blocked so called ‘Muslim Bans’. His intentions for this was to curb the inflow of potentially dangerous radicalized individuals. However, his newest initiative is more palatable to prior foreign policy stances. In an effort to aid the largest continuous force against ISIS, the administration has decided to help arm the Kurdish militia.

In my opinion, there is a need for the United States to validate the Kurdish forces as a legitimate military power that has been proven to aid in the fight against ISIS. The Kurdish people have more stake in the conflict than the United States does because the Kurdish people live in the Levant, the region in which ISIS has called its rightful caliphate. In this conflict the Kurdish people not only have the universal desire to curb radicalization and terrorism, but it also has the goal of obtaining sovereignty, or at least autonomy in the region.

Nations are created sovereign states when it is commonly known that the people who live in a consolidated region have a similar culture, language, and governing system as the basic prerequisites of all civilization. However, the creation of nation states has become more of a geopolitical fight for each new state, and states are recognized by different countries and organizations in different ways. We see this political fight occurring in the Israel-Palestine conflict, the Kosovo independence campaign. It happened in the Yugoslav wars when one state had multiple different ethnicities, cultures and beliefs on how people should be governed that it lead for ferocious wars and genocide.

Now with the political pawn that has been the Kurdish people, the United States, Turkey and Iraq have had an extensive political debate about establishing Kurdistan as a sovereign state. The United States have recognized Kurdistan as a legitimate force against the Islamic State; however, a long time ally of the United States and one of the strongest militaries of the region, Turkey, recognizes the PKK, the militia of the Kurdish people, as a terrorist organization.

So in the past the United States did want to risk alienating this important ally, but recent developments in Turkey might have discouraged the Trump administration and foreign policy experts away from the appeasement strategy that was employed by past administrations. At this point in time the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has taken profound measures to increasingly centralize the power of the Turkish government in himself. This is a result of a failed coup just a few months ago. The Turkish people have become accustomed to a decreasing amount of rights. This might be reasoning for why the Trump administration is breaking years of foreign policy precedents. This is a valid way to fight the extremist group that also prevents the use of American troops, while checking the Turkish impediments of human rights.