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‘He threw them under a bus’: US allies in Middle East fear abandonment after Trump’s betrayal of Kurds

The shock waves from Donald Trump’s surprise announcement that US troops in northern Syria would step aside and allow a Turkish offensive to obliterate its long-term Kurdish partners rippled out of Washington and shook America’s allies across the region.

From Israel to the Gulf, officials, diplomats and commentators expressed fears – in private and in public – that the Trump administration would ultimately prioritise isolationism over loyalty to all his regional partners.

Allies could not only be cast haphazardly to the side, but they could be set up. The Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who fought America’s war against Isis, had agreed to Washington’s demands to dismantle some defensive positions along the border with Turkey, ultimately leaving them as exposed when some US troops pulled back.
Even Saudi analysts writing for the usually carefully-worded pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, spoke of the “the state of confusion and emptiness” in US relations.
On Tuesday, under the headline “The flaw in Trump’s foreign strategy” commentator Yousef El-Dini wrote of the president’s “confusing… ego doctrine” where he lashes out and makes bizarre decisions on his own. El-Dini warned of “the vacuum and uncertainty under Trump”.

In Kuwait, Abdullah al-Shayji, an MP, was more acerbic.

“He threw them under the bus,” he wrote in a flurry of energetic Tweets condemning Mr Trump’s decision. “This is how America gives up its allies who fought Isis: Another bitter lesson for all America’s allies!”

Arguably the most worried was Israel, one the US’s most strategic allies in the region. US-Israel relations have been watertight since Trump took office and made a slew of controversial decisions that pleased Israel, including recognising Jerusalem as the country’s capital.

But on Monday, Israeli media revealed that its officials were blindsided by the fact they had not been informed or consulted by the Trump administration about such a drastic move, despite the close intelligence-sharing cooperation they enjoy.

While Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu kept diplomatically quiet on the matter, Israeli MP, and former education minister, Naftali Bennett went as far as to say a prayer for the Kurdish people on Twitter.

He added: “The lesson for Israel is simple. Israel will ALWAYS defend itself by itself.”

The Independent

Bel Trew

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