Trump's Treatment of Kurds Shows Ignorance of 'American Values, Human Decency, and Honor,' Says Former Anti-ISIS Envoy

The former presidential envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition has continued his virulent criticism of President Donald Trump's foreign policy, condemning the commander in chief's apparent geographic and historical illiteracy regarding his latest comments about Kurdish communities in Syria.

Brett McGurk—who resigned as the U.S. envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition after Trump said in 2018 that he would withdraw all American troops from Syria—reacted angrily to the president's suggestion that Syrian Kurds should "start heading to the Oil Region" following the Turkish invasion of the country's northeast.

A ceasefire has ended the worst of the fighting in the area, which was sparked earlier this month by a Turkish military operation to clear Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces from an 18-mile deep zone along the border between the two countries.

The operation was facilitated by Trump's abrupt withdrawal of American troops from northeastern Syria, where they had been deployed to support their SDF allies in the campaign against ISIS.

Reacting to Trump's "Oil Region" comment, McGurk wrote on Twitter, "The President of the United States of America appears to be calling for a mass migration of Kurds to the desert where they can resettle atop a tiny oil field."

U.S. forces have abandoned their positions in northern Syria, with the majority retreating across the border into Iraq—though Baghdad has said they do not have permission to remain in the country.

Trump is reportedly planning to retain a small force of Americans in Syria, deployed to protect valuable oil fields in the east of the country. This could include tanks and other armored vehicles, Newsweek reported Thursday.

McGurk said the president's suggestion betrayed a "shocking ignorance of history, geography, law, American values, human decency, and honor."

Trump is continuing to defend his Syria policy despite withering criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. On Wednesday, Trump claimed credit for the ceasefire to end the fighting and claimed the U.S. had "done a great job."

But the reality is a strategic disaster for the U.S. and its Kurdish-led allies, who—abandoned by the U.S.—were forced to turn to the Syrian regime and submit to President Bashar al-Assad in exchange for protection. Russia—allied with the Syrian regime—has emerged as the main player in the country.

And on the other side, Turkey has been able to establish its desired "safe zone" along the border and ensured the demise of the Kurdish statelet which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considered an existential threat to the country.

Meanwhile, the chaos has allowed "dozens" of Islamic State militants to escape Kurdish detention. The U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Franklin Jeffrey admitted this week that the government does not know exactly how many fighters have been freed, and has no idea as to how they will be tracked or recaptured.

Trump boasted Wednesday that the ceasefire was "an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else." In fact, it was Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan who agreed the settlement, meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday to hammer out the shape of post-war Syria.

Donald Trump, Brett McGurk, SDF, Kurds, Syria
Syrian Kurds watch as a U.S. military vehicle drives away from a base in the northern Syriain town of Tal Tamr, on October 20, 2019. DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images/Getty