US Sen. John Kennedy called on the Senate, earlier this week, to adopt an amendment to its first piece of legislation in the newly elected 116th US Congress.
Kennedy described his amendment as necessary. He delivered an extraordinarily eloquent account of the struggles, oppression, and repeated betrayals of the Kurdish people over the past century—since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following its defeat in World War I.
“Without my amendment, we may be leaving the Kurds to be slaughtered after they withstood incomprehensible suffering” in the fight against the so-called Islamic State, Kennedy said.
“My amendment will allow the US to defend the Kurds in Syria by giving the president, not requiring the president to do anything, but it would give the president the authority to use our military as he deems fit to keep our promise and to protect our allies, and all of our allies,” he added.
“After all, the Kurds have contributed to the fight against ISIS and we owe them some peace of mind as we draw down our presence in the region.”
Kennedy’s amendment would protect the Kurds in Syria, who have been, far and away, America’s most important allies in the fight against the Islamic State in that country.
However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not allow a vote on Kennedy’s amendment, proposing his own amendment which deals with both Syria and Afghanistan.
McConnell’s amendment warned that withdrawal
On Thursday, the Senate voted 68-23 to approve McConnell’s amendment, with a large majority of Republicans voting in favor. It is widely seen as a bipartisan rebuke to President Donald Trump’s plans for US troop withdrawals.
Kennedy’s proposed amendment followed Trump’s sudden announcement in mid-December that he would withdraw US forces from eastern Syria, where they have been fighting the Islamic State since 2015
Kurds fear that a US withdrawal will leave them vulnerable to Turkish attack. If they do not receive protection from the US-led coalition, they are likely to turn to Turkey’s rivals—Russia, Syrian, and Iran—for defense against Ankara, which has repeatedly threatened to attack them.
“To abandon the Kurds now would be unconscionable…and it would risk exposing the region to more turmoil,” Kennedy emphasized.
ISIS is currently fighting