Reason Roundup

U.S. Consents to a Turkish Invasion in Syria; Kurdish Forces Call It 'A Stab in the Back'

Plus: Guns, gender discrimination, religious schools, immigrants, and abortion before the Supreme Court; thousands injured in Iraqi protests; and more...

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The U.S. will pull back troops from northern Syria to make way for Turkey to take over, the White House announced on Sunday. "Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria," said the White House statement, using awfully euphemistic language for what many are describing as a Turkish invasion undertaken with U.S. consent.

The U.S. military will neither support Turkey's moves nor act against them.

Obviously, those who prefer an endless U.S military presence in the Middle East are upset by this. But even some non-interventionists, such as Justin Logan, have been critical of the Trump administration's actions here, saying the sudden withdrawal fails to give Kurdish and other forces in Syria enough time to prepare to push back against Turkey.

"In eight words: Trump is f**king over Kurdish allies in Syria," tweeted Daniel Drezner.

The "safe zone" Turkey wants to set up "would effectively extend Turkey's border 30 km into Syria," explains Brett McGurk, a Stanford-based foreign affairs analyst.

The U.S. military has already withdrawn forces from Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain posts in the area, officials said. It's not clear if the U.S. will withdraw troops from northern Syria entirely.

"Syria's Kurds warned on Monday a Turkish military invasion would spark a major ISIL resurgence and vowed to battle Turkey's military," reports Al Jazeera. "The Kurdish-led [Syrian Democratic] force also denounced Washington for the pullout."

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Kino Gabriel told al-Hadath TV:

There were assurances from the United States of America that it would not allow any Turkish military operations against the region. But the [US] statement today was a surprise and we can say that it is a stab in the back for the SDF.

Turkey is not only a NATO member, U.S. ally, and recipient of American aid and arms; it's also a place where Trump has personal business. Many commentators have highlighted a Trump tweet from 2012 announcing the opening of Trump Towers Istanbul:

Here's the White House statement:

McGurk objects that the U.S. "is not holding any ISIS detainees" itself. Captured ISIS fighters are being held by the SDF, "which Trump just served up to Turkey."

Trump tweeted more about Syria this morning, in a typically confused mix of facts and garbled braggadocio.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.), usually one of the biggest Trump sycophants in Congress, has called the move "a disaster in the making." Graham tweeted this morning that "if this plan goes forward," he will sponsor a "Senate resolution opposing and asking for reversal of this decision. Expect it will receive strong bipartisan support."


FREE MINDS

Iraq has undergone days of protests, as "large crowds of mostly young Iraqis have poured onto the streets of Baghdad and other cities in an outburst of anger over chronic unemployment, corruption and poor public services, including access to water and electricity," Al Jazeera reported on Saturday.

Along with tear gas, police have also fired water cannon, live rounds and rubber bullets to disperse the rallies, which began on Tuesday when thousands in Baghdad answered a call on social media.

The prime minister "imposed a near-total internet blackout" and a curfew that was lifted Saturday.

Al Jazeera notes: "At least 109 people have now been killed since the unrest began on Tuesday—and more than 6,000 people have been injured."


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The Supreme Court is back in session today. On the upcoming docket: cases about whether gender identity is covered by laws against discriminating based on sexual orientation; a New York law preventing people from taking legally owned firearms to gun ranges out of the city; a Louisiana law requiring abortion clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals; the Trump administration's changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; and Montana's exclusion of religious schools from a state scholarship program.


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