Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Login

Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using
 

Email

 

Rudaw

Syria

Trump scrapped Obama’s plan to arm Kurdish forces for Raqqa

By Rudaw 3/2/2017
A fighter with the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ). Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP
A fighter with the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ). Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – One of the final exchanges between former US President Barack Obama and current President Donald Trump was reportedly about Obama’s plan for Raqqa – increase support, including arms, for the Kurds. The Obama administration spent months drawing up the plan to defeat ISIS in its Syrian stronghold, but left the final decision to Trump. 

After a quick review of the plan, Trump’s team scrapped it, the Washington Post reported on Thursday. 

“They provided the information, but we found huge gaps in it,” a senior official from Trump’s administration told the Washington Post. “It was poor staff work.”

The Obama plan included providing Kurds in northern Syria with armoured vehicles, anti-tank weapons, machine guns, and mine-clearing equipment, as well as training the forces in using the new arms and urban conflict tactics. 

The coalition of forces currently moving in on Raqqa under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is predominantly Kurdish with a growing Arab contingent. Antony Blinken, Obama’s deputy secretary of state, described them as the “only fighters capable of seizing Raqqa,” in a recent column in the New York Times. But, he noted, the SDF can only succeed if they are properly armed. 

This was actually plan B. Plan A had been to rely on Turkey to follow through on its promise to supply a force capable of taking Raqqa. The force that never materialized was dubbed “Erdogan’s ghosts” within the Pentagon, according to the Washington Post.

Turkey opposes any support given to the Kurdish forces, who Ankara deems extensions of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

To mollify Turkey, Blinken advocated providing just enough mission-specific support to the SDF under the condition that the weapons provided are not used against Turkey.

This suggestion was dismissed by David L. Phillips, director of the Program of Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. “Syrian Kurds cannot defeat ISIS with one hand tied behind their back. They need heavy and offensive equipment to take Raqqa. If Turkey is concerned about US weapons falling into the wrong hands, the US can monitor supplies so weapons are not transferred to the PKK.” Phillips made his comments writing in the Huffington Post on Thursday. 

Trump has advocated for hitting ISIS hard to “crush them.” He has given the Pentagon and his Defense Secretary James Mattis 30 days to devise an aggressive plan to do just that. The plan could include American artillery on the ground in Syria and using attack helicopters in an assault on Raqqa, the New York Times reported, citing official sources. 

Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state, has described Syrian Kurds as “our greatest allies.” 

Speaking at the senate confirmation hearing assessing his nomination to the post, Tillers said the US must “recommit to the Syrian Kurds that we intend to continue to support you with the capability to continue the advance on Raqqa and then build coalition forces that can contain ISIS if it attempts to move into other parts of the country.”

The Pentagon will present its plan to defeat ISIS to Trump by the end of February. How Trump’s team will handle the Turkey issue is unknown, though Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told journalists on Thursday that “there is no need to be pessimistic.”

Yildirim expects Trump will “correct mistakes staged by the previous administration in efforts to fight terror and defeat Daesh in Syria. What are these mistakes? PYD is an affiliation of the PKK and now the SDF. They are all the same,” he said, referring to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the ruling Kurdish political party in northern Syria. 

Comments

 
Data pager
Previous
123
Page size:
PageSizeComboBox
select
Brzoo Kurdi
Brzoo Kurdi | 3/2/2017
Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state, has described Syrian Kurds as “our greatest allies.”... this is the only real and reliable truth , the rest , is just sound and noise signifying nothing.
anti fake news | 3/2/2017
bullcrap fake news. trump will support kurds, both directly and indirectly with arms diplomacy and politically. washington posts bread and butter is fake news. historically speaking.
Liars | 3/2/2017
Does betraying start again? Typical America you are liars and you was always against the freedom of Kurds.
Mohamedzzz | 3/2/2017
Kurds should convince Trump that the only trustworthy power in the area are the Kurds, and that US is well come to have their bases on Kurdish land.
pre-Boomer Marine brat | 3/2/2017
I do not doubt that there were "huge gaps". By the mid-point of the Obama Administration, he'd fired the best of the top-level commanders. Anyone who stood up to him, giving serious professional advice, was canned. ... Both Obama and Trump have utterly enormous egos, but it appears that Trump's is capable of engaging in hard-nosed dialogue. Obama's most certainly was not.

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

Nana | 3/21/2019 7:50:37 PM
Don't know how much the trade between Iran and EU is but no matter how much it is, it's dwarfed compared with the trade between US and EU. On top of...
karma | 3/21/2019 8:06:40 PM
Oh this is priceless, he keeps whining about the West trampling on Iran's rights when just a year ago he tried to economically strangle Kurdistan...
Iran leader dismisses Europe trade mechanism as 'bitter joke'
| 13 hours ago | (2)
Elham | 3/21/2019 6:26:10 PM
May god rest their souls. What a tragedy. Peace and love to my maslawi brothers and sisters from an Armenian Iraqi from Basra. We are all with you
Sozan | 3/21/2019 6:57:20 PM
This is very sad and could have been prevented if the passengers wore life-jackets. Ferries should not be operated unless there are life jackets on...
Iraqi leaders demand answers after dozens die in Mosul ferry sinking
| 17 hours ago | (2)
w | 3/10/2019 4:18:40 AM
This article sounds like a commentary on the book of Proverbs, chapter 31, the "worthy woman, aka esheth chayiil"
Engsand | 3/21/2019 6:32:59 PM
In response to Arjun, this is not "feminist crap", as you so artfully put it. It's a concentrated effort to integrate the female population into the...
Rojava women take the lead in every field, not just battle
| 8/3/2019 | (4)
Burhan Elturan | 3/21/2019 6:27:45 PM
The tone of reporting in this article is so pro-Turkish that Erdogan would not mind, giving you a medal. Iraqi military authorities seem to have a...
Security situation in Shingal ‘is under control’: Iraq Joint Ops Command
| 21 hours ago | (1)

Elsewhere on Rudaw

The scent of soap making returns to Aleppo 3 hours ago |

The scent of soap making returns to Aleppo

"Saudi Arabia exports oil, Switzerland chocolate, more
Security situation in Shingal ‘is under control’: Iraq Joint Ops Command 21 hours ago | (1)

Security situation in Shingal ‘is under control’: Iraq Joint Ops Command

“The Cell emphasizes that the security situation more
0.5 seconds