Small Wars Journal

'No Friends But the Mountains.' What Life Looks Like for the Kurds of Syria, Now That the U.S. Has Pulled Back

'No Friends But the Mountains.' What Life Looks Like for the Kurds of Syria, Now That the U.S. Has Pulled Back by Karl Vick – Time Magazine

The modern Middle East was formed exactly 100 years ago when, in the wake of World War I, the victors began creating new countries. Among the populations deemed deserving of nationhood — along with Armenians and Azeris — were the Kurds. The Kurds had lived for centuries in the mountains and high plains where Mesopotamia becomes Anatolia and, with their own language, culture and identity, met the criteria for a nation of their own.

Instead, the Kurds ended up within the borders of five other nations, a tapestry cut by a jigsaw. What photographer Moises Saman documents is that division playing out in three of the countries: Kurds in Iraq are giving refuge to Kurds from Syria, who have come under attack by the army of Turkey, the nation with the largest Kurdish minority of all. (The Kurds in Iran and in Armenia are uninvolved in the current conflict, except by viewing the Kurdish satellite channels that unite the roughly 24 million Kurds in the region, plus 1.5 million living in Europe.)

On Oct. 6, President Trump spoke on the phone with the President of Turkey, then abruptly ordered U.S. forces to abandon their positions protecting Syria’s Kurds, who had been essential allies in the common fight against ISIS.

Turkish troops then began shelling Kurdish towns in Syria, and Turkish forces pushed forward, irregulars executing people in ditches along the road. Perhaps 160,000 civilians fled the advance, most going deeper into Syria. Some 15,000 Kurds have so far made their way east to Iraq…

Read on.