The Battle that Biden Forgot to Mention

Wikipedia has a detailed account (see “Battle of al-Hasakah”) of the Kurdish victory last month, with U.S. help, that Biden didn’t even bother to refer to in his Feb. 3 announcement of the U.S. attack on the compound of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. Fortunately, no Americans were killed in taking out the ISIS leader, but the Kurdish SDF suffered over 100 deaths (far less than those of the ISIS fighters) in their desperate battle at al-Hasakah to minimize the number of ISIS militants escaping from the prison in that city and to drive off the ISIS attackers.

Biden didn’t acknowledge the SDF deaths in his announcement. One would think he should have a new ending for any future speech or announcement about the struggle against Isis: “God protect our troops and the troops of our Kurdish allies.” Why is he so nervous about offending Turkish dictator Erdogan, ferocious enemy of the SDF? Erdogan’s cynical manipulation of Trump in 2019, causing Trump to betray the Kurds, was a direct assault on the U.S. national interest and the honor of the U.S. armed forces for which Erdogan has yet to pay any price.

Please note that the Wikipedia description of the battle in its first paragraph as a “partial strategic victory and major propaganda victory” for ISIS is not properly cited and is contradicted by the account that follows, including of the very large number of ISIS deaths, casualties and recaptures. According to Voice of America, the battle was characterized by Brigadier General Isaac Peltier, commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, as a “huge ISIS failure.”

And would the battle have ever occurred if Donald Trump had not slashed U.S. support for the fight against Isis in Syria and thus failed to build a hardened prison for captured ISIS fighters?

Why have the Kurds been so easily forgotten?

President Biden announced this morning how a raid by U.S. troops against ISIS in northern Syria resulted in the death of ISIS’s new leader. Unfortunately, there was not any emphasis on the heroic Kurds in northern Syria, who, in late January, fought for over a week, with some air and armored vehicle support from the U.S., to prevent ISIS from breaking into a prison in al-Hasakah and releasing thousands of ISIS members detained there. The successful raid against the ISIS leader was almost certainly connected to the battle in al-Hasakah that resulted in defeat for ISIS.

It is not known by many Americans how the Kurds continued the battle against ISIS after Donald Trump betrayed them in October 2019 to Turkish dictator Erdogan in apparent hope of getting a Trump Tower in Istanbul. Nor do many Americans know just how many Kurdish women, including Kurdish women fighters, were raped and killed when the U.S. allowed the Turks to come over the border and seize Kurdish territory–the territory of our ALLIES, the ones who had done most of the successful ground fighting against ISIS in northern Syria since 2014 (with robust U.S. air support) that contributed so much to the defeat of ISIS in Iraq as well as Syria.

This may have been the greatest betrayal of an ally in U.S. history and one that Biden has been silent about, as has too much of the U.S. military leadership both at the time of the betrayal and ever since. Former Marine general James Mattis, Trump’s defense secretary, resigned over an earlier Trump decision in Dec. 2018 to pull out of Syria. Mattis’s resignation may have been caused by his recognition of an impending and profound matter of honor as well as by his alarm over the strategic implications. In The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg quoted Admiral Michael Mullen, former head of the Joint Chiefs, as saying, based on a conversation with Mattis the day before his friend’s resignation: “He’s not going to leave friends and allies on the battlefield.” The friends and allies who would be abandoned on the battlefield the following year were the Kurds.

Oh, and when will the U.S. Justice Department begin to investigate Trump’s (and possibly Jared Kushner’s and West Point graduate Mike Pompeo’s) role in the betrayal. Certainly Trump deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail for the rapes and murders that resulted, although I know the chances of that are almost non-existent.

A good beginning at some measure of justice would be for MSNBC to start interviewing Erdogan’s Kurdish victims and the U.S. troops who served with the Kurds until Trump told them, in effect, to “stand by.” And then let’s pressure Biden, his Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs to break their silence on Trump’s orchestration of one of the most dishonorable events in the history of our military.

One step might be to reach out to the families of the Kurdish fighters killed in the battle that helped to stave off a disaster of the first order at al-Hasakah last month. The U.S. should offer burial of these heroes at Arlington National Cemetery or, if the families prefer, erection at the cemetery of a memorial to the fallen. I know this is an unusual idea, but what Trump did was far more than unusual; he implicated our nation and military in a high crime and cynical betrayal that requires something more than an “oh yeah, sorry, I forgot about the Kurds” mumble from Biden.

And maybe, while he’s at it, our current President could give the Kurds  sufficiently advanced weapons to make Erdogan think three times before launching any more campaigns of murder, rape and land seizure against Kurdish territory in Syria.