Quoting remarks made by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, a US senator has said Syrian Kurds will not be safe, warning that they may turn to the enemies of the US for protection out of fear in the event of an attack by Turkey.
“The truth is that the Kurds in the world today, no matter where they are, are not completely safe anywhere. The Turkish defense minister made that clear just this last December when he said that when the time comes … the Turkish defense minister said the Kurds ‘will be buried in the ditches they dug. No one should doubt this.’ That’s a direct quote, Mr. President,” Republican Senator from Louisiana John Kennedy said in the US Senate on Jan. 10, 2019.
During a speech to Turkish troops deployed in Qatar, Turkish Defense Minister Akar said: “Right now it is being said that some ditches, tunnels were dug in Manbij and to the east of the Euphrates. They can dig tunnels or ditches if they want, they can go underground if they want, when the time and place comes, they will buried in the ditches they dug. No one should doubt this.”
Akar was referring to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey describes as a terrorist group and linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). YPG is allied with the US in the fight against the ISIL.
The senator praised the remarks of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said that “ensuring that the Turks don’t slaughter the Kurds and the protection of religious minorities there in Syria are still part of the American mission set.”
“Secretary Pompeo is a wise man,” Kennedy added.
He stated that the US troops presence in Syria does more than simply offer supplies and logistical support to the Kurds but also is a visible sign of US solidarity in the fight against Islamic terrorism.
“Without assurances of our support, the Kurds will be left to defend for themselves. Without the Kurds, we cannot be certain who will step in to fill the power vacuum in the areas of Syria that they currently control. We just cannot. We can only guess, and the answers aren’t good”, he added.
Kennedy further noted that the of US military force has been a major deterrent for the re-emergence of jihadists like Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and al-Qaida.
“We know that our presence has held back Assad, Turkey, Russia, and Iran from gaining stronger footholds in the area. If the Kurds are vulnerable to attack from Turkey or Syrian rebels, I fear they may turn to our enemies for protection”, Kennedy stated.
He added that “even if the Kurds didn’t, they can’t fight off Turkish troops and pursue the remnants of ISIS at the same time. For America to abandon the Kurds in Syria now would compromise the security of our allies, would compromise the security of Israel and Jordan, and would risk exposing the region to more turmoil”.