[P4722] Trump's Foreign Policies toward the Kurds

Created by Vera Eccarius-Kelly
Monday, 11/20/17 1:00pm


U.S. air power enabled the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq (KRG) and the Syrian Kurds in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) to turn back ISIS in epic battles. However, the unexpected presidential victory of Donald J. Trump in November 2016 has thrown a potentially new element into the situation. What will be the new Trump administration policies toward the Kurds? Will he continue to support them in Syria or chose a renewal of the NATO alliance with Turkey? How will the new administration's stated emphasis on business affect its relations with the Kurds? Will the Trump administration support putative KRG independence?

Much, of course, will depend on the perspectives of Donald Trump, who appears to be more favorably disposed toward Turkey than his predecessor. It has been a difficult 2016 for US-Turkish relations. What are the overall expectations for 2017? The new president will probably put less pressure on Turkey for its perceived human-rights and general domestic problems, and instead emphasize making business deals to aid both countries, and possibly rejuvenate the ailing Turkish economy. Rex Tillerson, the billionaire ExxonMobil CEO and Trump's choice for the all-important post of Secretary of State, may further this outlook toward touting business cooperation instead of addressing problems with human rights.

Although some of the current differences on ISIS (Daesh) will remain, General Michael Flynn, Trump's new National Security Advisor, also seems more favorably inclined toward Turkey on security and foreign policy issues. The issue of Rojava and the PYD/YPG already seem more manageable than just a few months ago. The US will continue to appreciate Turkey's timely efforts of implementing a ceasefire in Aleppo and sending UN observers to monitor the situation, as well as its momentous efforts to aid refugees and IDPs. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia's President Vladimir Putin also appear ready to welcome Donald Trump to their working relationship given the latter's frequently stated affinity toward Putin. Thus, greater cooperation among all three leaders in eradicating ISIS can be expected. The earlier perceived crisis concerning continuing Turkish membership in NATO may, in a most optimistic outlook, recede as Turkey will likely facilitate US usage of the geopolitically strategic Incirlik airbase.


Ahmed Foundation for Kurdish Studies


Intl Rltns/Aff



Michael M. Gunter

(Tennessee Tech)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

David Romano

(Missouri State University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Vera Eccarius-Kelly

(Siena College, NY)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer; Presenter;

David Pollock

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Michael Rubin

(American Enterprise Institute)
Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC; senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California; senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly; and a contract Iran analyst for the U.S....
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;