Richard Engel's anger could barely be contained as he described the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds taking place in Syria, and the consequences of Trump's impulsive decision to abandon them.
October 24, 2019

When Ali Velshi checked in with Richard Engel reporting on Syria Thursday, Engel could barely contain his anger at the havoc wreaked by Donald Trump's impulsive and foolish decision.

He began by reviewing what Trump claimed was a "permanent ceasefire" by Turkey toward the Kurds. I know it will come as a shock to learn that it's really not at all like what Trump said it was.

"But what's happening really is very, very different from that," Engel said. "Turkey is using militias. Deniable militias. Militias that are controlled by Turkish special forces. These are militias that U.S. officials have been monitoring, have been tracking. They know they're controlled by Turkish forces. They also say that those militias include former ISIS and al Qaeda members."

He continued, "Those militias are still fighting and what we're now seeing is a new tactic from those militias. They are using a propaganda terror campaign. They are putting out videos that show atrocities, apparently committed by themselves, by their own -- by their own militia members, brutalizing Kurdish fighters. Brutalizing men. Brutalizing women. Beheading them. Videos that are too -- far too graphic for us to broadcast."

Which people are being brutalized, you ask?

"The people being brutalized are Kurds and Kurds are -- are leaving," he said with barely disguised fury. "They're afraid. And this is a classic ethnic cleansing technique. You carry out a few atrocities. You publicize them. You scare everyone into leaving. And that is happening right now."

And dear God, what he describes next should shame us all. While all of this is happening, and militias are doing their best to ethnically cleanse a region which Kurds have carved out for years as their own, and which they now must flee, President Tweet-boy gives them an option and the second in the Senate John Cornyn stands tall for genocide.

President Trump drops a tweet saying that maybe it's time for the Kurds to start heading to the oil regions. So if you're a Kurd, you're looking at this. You're seeing on your phone the -- these -- these atrocious videos coming in of not just the militias carrying out beheadings and putting guns in Kurdish fighters' mouths laughing as they do it. And then on your phone, you get this information that President Trump just said, 'Hey, maybe it's time for you all to leave your homes, leave your villages, and go to some desert area where they are not from, where there are oil fields.

Is this what Trump means when he talks about "securing the oil"? Because if it is, the blood of those people is on his bald, shiny, dirty head.

And yes, this is what everyone knew Turkey would do if the U.S. left that region. It was even said at the UN General Assembly, according to Engel.

Worse yet, the U.S. could stop the genocide, but won't. Engel:

The people who are being brutalized apparently in these videos, the people who are fleeing their homes are the same fighters who were aligned with American forces. And by the way, there are still American forces here in this country who could be in a position to stop these militias. They're watching it all from the sky with satellite imagery. The American forces are here. But they're not intervening. They are packing. They are packing their belongings because they've been told to leave.

Although, some will stay in a desert area to protect some oil fields.

And apparently, President Trump thinks the Kurds should all go there and live in this desert area where the oil happens to be. Even though it's not their homeland, even though Arabs already live there and that they -- and Kurds have never, ever lived in that area.

So to ask about U.S. Responsibility, yes, the U.S. has not just a moral responsibility but may have a legal responsibility to help its friends. And while this is happening, while the world is happening, the world is watching the U.S., not just turn its back on its friends, watching its friends being slaughtered.

And while the world is watching that happen, Vladimir Putin is sending in his troops and today for the first time, we saw big convoys of Russian armored vehicles moving through Kurdish population centers.

Engel signed off with this bitter observation: "The message is clear: Russia is here to help; the U.S. is not."

Shame on us. Shame. Shame. Shame.

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