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Win for Erdogan, betrayal for the Kurds

With Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, Turkey was handed a victory over the Kurds.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani (not seen) after their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC1B8B154360

A prominent Kurdish analyst from Turkey texted me on Dec. 19, asking my opinion on President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria. He was, naturally, curious about what the decision would entail for the Kurds in Syria and implicitly for their kin in Turkey. “If that’s a quiz question demanding a very short answer, my response is the following,” I wrote. “Sell-out or betrayal. Choose any of them, because they are synonymous in this case.”

The wording of US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis' resignation letter confirmed my rather blunt take on the dramatic development. In carefully selected words, Mattis wrote, "My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues."

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