U.S. military retreat leaves 40 million Kurds landless

Cody Barnes, News Reporter

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With the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, many would assume tensions in the Middle East are getting better, yet the issue of the genocide of the Kurdish people remains an ongoing concern.

The Kurdish people are an Iranian ethnic group native to Kurdistan which is poised along southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, and northern Syria.

40 million landless Kurds are facing a genocide with the announcement of U.S. troops being pulled from Turkey.

In a recent Tweet, president Donald Trump said “it should be cleaned out,” referring to a strip inhabited by the Kurds on the border of Turkey, with the intention of clearing out terrorist activity.

Senior lecturer in English at UW Oshkosh and genocide scholar Cary Henson said that he believed the language Trump used was not genocidal in nature but did give power to regimes interested in committing genocide.

“It certainly gives a green light to those who may be looking to commit genocidal acts,” Henson said. “What the recent events of these last couple weeks have done is empowered three different regimes who care very little about human rights and protecting other groups.”

Those three different regimes are Putin’s Russia, Assad in Syria, and Erodgan’s Turkey. Henson said that the groups are not known for their attitude toward groups that they oppose and finds their empowerment concerning.

But despite the disheartening news, Henson had a few tokens of hope so that the average person can help in anti-genocidal efforts.

One group recommended was “The Enough Project,” which holds the membership of actor George Clooney and promotes genocide awareness and cutting money from genocidal regimes.

“Continue to be informed, continue to know whatever your position, continue to learn as much as possible so that you know we’re aware that these things are going on,” Henson said. “Nothing happened in Rwanda in 1994 because there was no consequence for not taking action. Until that’s the case, until there’s a political price to be paid for having a policy of doing nothing, people won’t do anything.”

Recently, things seem to have gotten better as the American troops, who were initially poised for being pulled out of the Middle East will end up remaining in the Middle East, offering slightly more protection for the Kurdish people.

Despite the troops staying or being returned, there is some damage that has already been done. There are American spy reports that state there are Turkish militias that are going through the areas abandoned by U.S. troops and killing Kurdish civilians.

Against a negotiated ceasefire, there are still Turkish militias who are not abiding by the ceasefire and American defense officials are concerned of a breakdown of the negotiations.

Amid the genocidal events in Turkey and Syria, there are other events in the world that Henson said people should be paying attention to. The uncertainty in South Sudan with current negotiations ongoing, the Central African Republic and the Rohingya people.

Another group that aids in anti-genocide efforts is Fortify Rights, and this group also investigates and documents abuses, provides customized technical support to human rights defenders and presses for solutions.