October 14, 2019
President Trump has ordered
the withdrawal of American troops in Syria and the public is watching things
unfold on television, wondering what is going on? The conflict is the result of
a civil war in Syria, now in its 8th year, having come about as a
result Russia and Iran’s intervention.
Bashar al-Assad has been
able to survive and take back part of the nation he lost at the outset of the
war, but there are opposition forces known as TFSA in the northwest backed by
Turkey. Among this 80,000 to 100,000 group are former Al-Qaida and ISIS fighters
which belong to the Sunni faction of Islam. They hate the Kurds since they are
secular Muslims and allow women to be part of the armed forces.
The Kurdish forces in
Northeastern Syria numbering 60,000 are known as SDF. They were recruited by the
U.S. to fight against ISIS and acted as the ground troops of the American
coalition. The U.S. had a small force of some 1,000 soldiers training and
guiding the SDF forces. American airpower came from carriers and air bases in
There were artillery units
among the U.S. forces but the US troops basically moved around in lightly
armored vehicles. The devastating firepower came from Air Force planes.
The SDF was never given any
heavy weapons due to resistance from Turkey that hates the Kurds.
The Turkish onslaught came
with aircraft and artillery, augmented with tanks. Turkey did not want to use
its own soldiers in the ground fighting and unleashed the fanatical TFSA
fighters, who behave just like ISIS, slaughtering and murdering captured
fighters and civilians.
THE AMERICAN SITUATION
According to the Geneva
Convention, a nation must first declare war in order to invade another nation.
When President Trump decided to wipe out ISIS, he ordered American troops to
enter Syria without such a declaration. That means that the United States was
illegally in Syria according to the Geneva Convention.
The troops sent in by
President Trump functioned more as advisors and trainers and had no heavy
weapons like tanks. Furthermore, it was only a small force of some 1,000 men.
If Trump had ordered the US
troops to fight alongside the SDF, they would have been matched up against
100,000 Muslim fanatics. The American built fighter-bombers flown by Turkish
pilots would have caused havoc and they would certainly have faced American
tanks and artillery manned by Turkish soldiers.
Trump could have called in
airstrikes on the Turks but that would have meant the U.S. was at war with a
NATO nation. The Turkish president is a fanatical Muslim and he has shown his
ruthlessness and mocking of the United States.
The United States has an
airbase at Incirlik in Turkey, some 22 miles from the coast of the Mediterranean
and fairly close to Syria. There are around 5,000 U.S. Air Force personnel and
nuclear weapons on this base which is under Turkish control and the Americans
During the 2016 Turkish
coup attempt, President Erdogan shut off the electrical power to the base. He
could easily take control of this base since there are no U.S. heavy combat
troops stationed at the base. This gives Erdogan the ability to blackmail the
United States about the nuclear weapons stored on Turkish soil.
My conclusion is that
President Trump did not have a choice. The small force of 1,000 soliders would
have been slaughtered just like General Custer and his army group.
The situation in Syria was
never a win-win as President Trump only wanted to take out ISIS; he just did not
figure that Erdogan would stab him in the back.
Please read the following
articles for more information and a deeper background into the events of the
From the Desk
of John S. Torell