A US Senator yesterday introduced legislation into the Senate to provide US visas to Syrian Kurds who have served in the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) and alongside US forces throughout the Syrian conflict.
Senator Mark Warner, serving from Virginia, wrote on Twitter yesterday regarding President Donald Trump’s alleged abandoning of the Kurdish militias to Turkey’s military operation in north-east Syria. Warner stated that “Our Kurdish allies are still in danger, thanks to this President’s betrayal and the violence that has resulted.” He went on to announce that “Today I introduced legislation that will make visas available to the translators and other Syrian Kurds who served alongside U.S. forces in the fight against ISIS [Daesh].”
Our Kurdish allies are still in danger, thanks to this President’s betrayal and the violence that has resulted.
Today I introduced legislation that will make visas available to the translators and other Syrian Kurds who served alongside U.S. forces in the fight against ISIS.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) October 17, 2019
The move comes amid a volley of support for the Kurdish militias by many figures in the US and in Europe, with Turkey’s military incursion – Operation Peace Spring – having caused international outrage after it was launched last week. Trump ordered US troops withdraw from north-east Syria ahead of the military campaign, a move which was interpreted as approval of Ankara’s drive.
The operation, Turkey’s third such incursion into northern Syria, aims to achieve two primary goals: to push the Kurdish militias such as the YPG and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) further away from the Turkish-Syrian border and to establish a safe zone in the cleared area east of the Euphrates River which would be able to house around two million Syrian refugees.
Warner’s legislation, however, is the latest manifestation of Western opposition to the Turkish operation, which stems primarily from their admiration for the Kurdish militias. This is despite the fact that those same militias have been linked back to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a designated terrorist group by the US and EU which carries out attacks within Turkey.
The West has repeatedly backed Kurdish fighters against Daesh in Syria, arming them and providing them with support. The militias have been seen by the West as being moral.
This, however, contradicts reports which show them kidnapping, torturing and urinating on an Arab family which was passing through Kurdish territory and executing a woman in a refugee camp who protested against the group’s policy of separating mothers from their children. Further reports of the YPG raiding local towns and villages and kidnapping young men and children to force them to join their forces abound throughout the recent years of the Syrian conflict.
Despite that, the Kurdish groups have been able to maintain a positive image of themselves throughout the conflict, having encouraged numerous Western individuals and military personnel to travel to the country to fight alongside the YPG and SDF, with little to no charges or prosecution over their decision once they return to their home countries.