In spite of protestations to the contrary, President Donald Trump's decision to provide arms to Kurdish forces was a good decision.
On May 9, NPR reported that Trump had approved the arming of Kurdish forces in Syria. A defense official told NPR that the arms would include small arms, rifles, machine guns, and other equipment. Trump's decision comes as part of an effort to aid local Syrian forces in the fight against ISIS. Specifically, the arms provided are meant to aid Kurdish forces in an effort to retake the city of Raqqa, which ISIS considers to be its capital.
This is not the first form of aid that the United States has sent to assist in the capture of Raqqa. Back in March, NPR reported that the United States was sending an additional 400 troops to Syria to help prepare for the attack on Raqqa. The number of U.S. troops in Syria currently numbers around 1,000.
Trump's decision to arm the Kurdish fighters has been met with some worry by critics. The biggest point of contention seems to be concerning the reaction of the United States' NATO ally, Turkey. According to NPR, Turkey perceives the Kurdish fighters are being armed as terrorists because of their connection to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has goals to become its own independent state within Turkey. Turkey has not yet reacted to Trump's decision.
Although concern about Turkey's reaction to Trump's decision is indeed justified, it should remain clear that Trump has made the right choice for several reasons. First of all, comments made by members of Trump's administration have shown that this decision was not made without considering possible repercussions.
"We're keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partners in Turkey," said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on May 9, reports NPR. "We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the U.S. is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally."
Defense Secretary James Mattis also made assurances that the United States is aware of the effect this might have on relations with Turkey.
"Our intent is to work with the Turks, alongside one another, to take Raqqa down," he said, reports NPR, "and we're going to sort it out and we'll figure out how we're going to do it."
With this in mind, it is clear that the United States has not taken Turkey's feelings toward the Kurdish fighters lightly. Spicer and Mattis' comments show that the United States is actively looking for a solution which will allow the alliance with Turkey to continue while simultaneously fighting against ISIS.
And fighting against ISIS should indeed be considered one of this country's top priorities. Since rising to power, the organization has been responsible for countless atrocities. According to the International Business Times, the organization was responsible for 33,000 deaths as of August 2016. In addition, CNN has reported that ISIS was believed to have held 3,500 people as slaves during 2015. ISIS has also been responsible for horrific acts such as kidnappings and public executions.
ISIS' reign of terror must come to an end. If the Kurdish forces in Syria were able to take control of the organization's capital, it would undoubtedly be a major victory in shutting them down entirely. Providing these Kurdish forces with weapons will make them more successful in their campaign to do so. Therefore, while some might consider Trump's decision to provide arms as risky, it will definitely be worth it in the long run.