The slogan “U.S. Out of the Middle East” should not be controversial for any leftist or class-conscious worker. The decision to remove 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria must be extended to include the over 5,000 estimated “contractors” — i.e. mercenaries — in Syria. U.S. bombing anywhere in Syria is a violation of the country’s sovereignty and of international law. The retreat and departure of U.S. forces confirms Western imperialism’s defeat in Syria, after seven years of catastrophic war. That is why the U.S. ruling class — from liberal to conservative — is up in arms about Trump’s decision, and why the corporate media howls as if the sky is falling.
It also creates a new grave political crisis for the Trump administration. Although Trump is technically the “commander-in-chief,” the president functions primarily as a manager for the collective interests of the bourgeoisie. Those collective interests are primarily safeguarded through the permanent bureaucracy of the institutions of the state, and for U.S. imperialism chief among those institutions is the military high command. The resignation of Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis signals that this sector of the ruling class has begun to rebel against him as well and that Trump’s destabilization of the Empire is intolerable for them; whether he can survive this struggle within the ruling class amid a plummeting stock market, a likely government shutdown and multiple corruption investigations, is an open question.
Regarding the situation of the Kurds in northeastern Syria, the PYD/YPG are not political novices. They knew this day was coming — even if the precise day was a surprise. The U.S. complicity in the Turkish invasion of Afrin earlier this year, the contradictory statements of leading White House officials, against the backdrop of a century of imperialist back-stabbing of Kurdish forces, have made it clear that no Western power can be counted on to protect the Kurdish people. A considerable faction within the Kurdish forces in Syria have long been calling for a reorientation towards an alliance with the Syrian government — as has happened on multiple occasions during the war, such as in the battle for Aleppo. An agreement of this sort, which would be based on preserving the territorial integrity of the Syrian state, was not made in time to prevent the catastrophe in Afrin, leading to the loss of the city and 100,000 displaced Kurdish residents, but this time there will be considerable momentum to do so.
The PSL opposes any Turkish invasion of Syria and its genocidal war on the Kurdish people inside and outside of Turkey. We support the Syrian and Kurdish forces in the defense of their homeland against Erdogan’s dream of creating a neo-Ottoman empire. We oppose any calls, however, for U.S. troops to remain in Syria as if Trump has not already quietly agreed to Erdogan’s war, and as if one section of NATO will somehow be a benign force against another. The only road to national liberation and self-determination is based on the alliance of Arab, Kurdish and all peoples of the region against the NATO powers that have divided and invaded it for over a century.