Noam Chomsky says US should stay in Syria to protect the Kurds

"The United States could deter attacks against the Kurds in Syria, which could destroy the one part of Syria that is actually functioning at a decent fashion."

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The US should stay in northern Syria to deter attacks against Syrian Kurds, well-known American linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky said in an interview with the Intercept last week.

“The other crucial question is the status of the Kurdish areas — Rojava. In my opinion, it makes sense for the United States to maintain a presence which would deter an attack on the Kurdish areas,” he said.

Chomsky noted that the Kurds have “succeeded in sustaining a functioning society with many decent elements” in Syria’s north.

“The idea that they should be subjected to an attack by their bitter enemies the Turks, or by the murderous Assad regime, I think is anything should be done to try to prevent that.”

Chomsky, described as the father of modern linguistics, is one of the most important thinkers of this century and shares some sympathy for the Kurds.

He backed a petition in 2016 condemning military operations in Kurdish cities and called for peace talks between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

For instance, in an interview with Kurdistan 24 last year, he said Kurdistan’s independence referendum was legitimate.

In October 2017, the US was silent and did not intervene to stop the Iraqi assault on Kirkuk – the Iraqi government’s response to the Sep. 25, 2017, referendum – leading to Kurdish anger at Washington’s inaction.

According to Chomsky, the US “pursues objectives determined by power considerations, and they lead to different positions with regard to the Kurds or others at different times.”

He reminded that in the 1970s, “there was a time when the United States supported Kurds against Saddam Hussein.”

“Shortly after, a deal was made in which [the US] sacrificed the Kurds to Saddam Hussein,” Chomsky told the Intercept, “That led to Henry Kissinger’s famous comment that we shouldn’t confuse foreign policy with missionary activity.”

Moreover, he described the Clinton administration’s support for Turkey against the Kurds in the 1990s as “enormously destructive.”

“Clinton was pouring arms into Turkey for the purpose of carrying out massive, murderous, destructive attacks against the Kurdish population of Turkey in the Southeast,” Chomsky said.

“That does not change the fact that now the United States could, with a relatively small presence, deter attacks against the Kurds in Syria, which could destroy the one part of Syria that is actually functioning at a decent fashion,” he concluded.

“We don’t expect consistency in humanitarian terms from a great power because those are not the guiding principles.”

Amb. James Jeffrey, newly appointed as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Representative for Syria Engagement, said in September that the US would maintain troops in eastern Syria until key political objectives are achieved.

“We’re no longer pulling out by the end of the year,” Jeffrey told journalists.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany