Denver7’s Ivan Rodriguez reports:
Members of Colorado’s Kurdish community gathered outside the state Capitol Sunday afternoon to protest Turkish attacks in Syria.
President Donald Trump ordered U.S. troops in northern Syria to step aside, clearing the way for an attack by Turkey, which regards the Kurds as terrorists…
Kani Murad said aside from being Kurdish, she believes this is a humanitarian issue and not political.
“No matter where you are, you should still care about those people, about those families who have been displaced,” she said. “People have lost family members, lost children, and don’t know what to do.”
In past years, Colorado politicos on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for the Kurds well beyond the official American position. In 2014, then Rep.-now Gov. Jared Polis called for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan in a Denver Post op-ed:
In Iraq, the Kurdish people have been an immeasurably valuable ally to the United States, because we share common democratic values and general respect for human rights. For a long time, we shared a common enemy: the repressive dictatorship led by Saddam Hussein. Kurdish soldiers fought alongside American troops and our coalition partners during the first Gulf War, and the Kurds were the most actively pro-America voice in Iraq following our 2003 invasion. They have also been reliable opponents of the violence and extremism of al-Qaeda terrorist groups.
Though the United States has provided half-hearted support for Kurdish autonomy in Iraq, our foreign policy has often treated the Kurds as a political tool to weaken Iraqi groups we oppose, rather than as an ally with whom we have shared interests. After the Gulf War, the United States deliberately encouraged the Iraqi Kurds to rise up against Saddam Hussein in a bid for independence. Kurdish leaders were under the impression that the United States would provide support. We didn’t; the uprising failed; and more than 30,000 civilians were killed.
Although some Colorado Republicans including Sen. Cory Gardner have put out hand-wringing statements of “concern” about President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds in northern Syria and allow a Turkish military offensive to proceed, the situation on the ground is by all accounts rapidly deteriorating after Trump ordered the last of American forces out of the country–a decision announced just yesterday. The Kurds themselves are no strangers to being betrayed by the United States out of political expediency, but the sudden and inexplicable nature of this decision by Trump seems worse than previous episodes.
For members of Trump’s party like Sen. Gardner, his decision to abandon the Kurds to the Turkish Army is a political problem. For Colorado’s Kurdish population, it’s a death sentence for members of their families. It’s difficult for those of us who have lived our lives in peace and prosperity to fully comprehend what it’s like to live in a war zone where civilians are dying indiscriminately.
The message yesterday at the Colorado Capitol was that we Americans are not taking it seriously enough.