Donald Trump, who believes everything that is real is fake and everything that is fake is real, has delved into another academic discipline for which he believes he is an eminent expert. After promulgating his own fake weather forecasts, political opinion polls, and news, Trump has now proclaimed his own fake history. After abandoning to invading Turkish forces the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces, who have been allied with US Special Forces battling the Islamic State caliphate jihadists in Syria, Trump stated, “They [the Kurds] didn’t help us in the World War II, they didn’t help us with Normandy, as an example.”
The one person who failed to help the United States in World War II, including the D-Day Allied invasion of Normandy, was Fred Trump, Sr., Mr. Trump’s first generation German American father. Starting on September 6, 1940, military conscription for men between the ages of 18 and 36 was mandatory. Fred Trump was 34 when the draft entered into force. Yet, this former member of the pro-Nazi Ku Klux Klan managed to avoid the draft. It was a family trait who would extend to his son, Donald, who claimed he had bone spurs in his feet in a bogus medical examination report ginned up so he could avoid being drafted during the Vietnam war.
As to Trump’s reinvention of the history of World War II and the D-Day invasion, he is absolutely delusional on Kurdish service with Allied forces in the war. It appears that Trump got his incorrect information from an article that appeared in a far-right website called Townhall. The article stated: “the Kurds didn’t show up for us at Normandy or Inchon or Khe Sanh or Kandahar.”
This contention can be shredded along with Trump’s bogus hurricane charts, opinion poll graphs, and unemployment rate claims. The Iraq Levies distinguished themselves in battle as a British-commanded militia that was first known as the “Arab and Kurdish Levies,” In 1922, under the British Mandate in Iraq, the Arab members of the Arab and Kurdish Levies were assimilated into the Iraqi Army. The Kurdish Levies were considered “members of the British Forces who were also inhabitants of Iraq.”
Half of the Levies were Assyrians, with a large contingent of Kurds. An affiliated battalion consisted of Shi’a Marsh Arabs, Turkomans, Mandaeans, Armenians, Yazidis, and Chaldeans.
In 1941, former Iraqi nationalist Prime Minister Rashid Ali al-Gaylani ousted the Iraqi regent and announced that Iraq was allied with Nazi Germany and the other Axis powers. Rashid Ali’s forces, supported by four Iraqi army officers nicknamed the “Golden Square,” surrounded and laid siege to the British Royal Air Force base at Habbaniya. The Levies recruited additional Assyrians, Kurds, and Yazidis to counter the siege of the Habbaniya base. After Rashid Ali’s forces were defeated and the pro-Axis prime minister fled to Iran, the Levies were incorporated into British units, including a parachute company, and served in Palestine and Cyprus. The Levies consisted of 166 British officers, 22 Assyrian, 10 Kurdish, 5 Yazidi, 4 Gulf Arab/Trucial, and 3 Baluchi companies.
In 1943, the largely Assyrian/Kurdish Levies were renamed the Royal Air Force Levies. They took part in the Allied invasions of Greece, Albania, and Italy. Some of the ranks of the RAF Levies came from Syria. It is their descendants who were betrayed by the Trump administration and are currently being pummeled by the Turks.
While, perhaps, a handful of Assyrian/Kurdish Levies trained paratroopers may have seen action on D-Day, the mere fact that the Levies provided regional security for Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Trucial Oman, Palestine, Cyprus, and Oman, allowing British and Indian forces to be freed for action in Normandy, makes Trump’s allegations, culled from Townhall, unmitigated “fake history.”
Also lost in Trump’s fractured history lesson is the fact that several Kurds fought with the Soviet army in the eastern offensive against Nazi Germany. The most celebrated of these Kurdish veterans of Soviet action against the Nazis was Samand Aliyeviç Siyabendov, who was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal for his service in the Red Army in World War II. Siyabendov authored two Kurdish language poems and wrote an Armenian-Kurdish dictionary.
On June 8, 1941, British, Australian, Indian, and Free French military units launched OPERATION EXPORTER, the Allied invasion of Vichy France-controlled Syria and Lebanon. General Charles De Gaulle’s Free French forces were joined by Syrian Kurds, some of whom also resided in Lebanon, who opposed the pro-Nazi Vichy regime and by those who defected from the Vichy-controlled Army of the Levant to join the Free French invasion force. On June 23, 1941, as De Gaulle entered Damascus, and in retaliation German aircraft bombed the city’s Christian quarter, killing a number of Assyrian, Chaldean, Armenian, Circassian, and Kurdish civilians.
By 1943, over 100,000 Free French troops participated in the Allied invasion of Italy. In addition to the Kurds serving in the RAF Levies, Free French forces participating in the campaign included Kurds from Syria. By D-Day, Free French forces numbered over 300,000, again, with Syrian Kurds serving in the ranks, along with Free French troops from other parts of Syria-Lebanon, as well as Chad, Moyen-Congo, Senegal, Upper Volta, Guinea, Togo, Dahomey, Mauritania, French Sudan, Niger, Gabon, Cameroun, Oubangi-Chari, Indochina, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Karikal, Pondicherry, Madagascar, Comoros, and French Somaliland.
When Mr. Trump advances the false notion that the Kurds made no sacrifices for the Allies in World War II, he not only shows his ignorance of history but his disdain for the Kurds. Trump is not the first US president to betray the Kurds. Woodrow Wilson betrayed them during the Versailles peace conference following World War I. The Kurds were promised independence after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. Wilson reneged on that promise as diplomats Mark Sykes of Britain and François Georges-Picot of France divided up former Ottoman territory in the Middle East between their two respective colonial empires.
In the early 1970s, Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, devised a plan to arm the Iraqi Kurds against the Baathist government of Iraq. Supporting the plan was the Shah of Iran. Kissinger and the Shah concocted a secret agreement with Saddam Hussein, the de facto leader of Iraq. Iran and the US severed arms shipments to the Kurds. The stab in the back of the Kurds permitted Saddam’s forces to occupy northern Iraq, where tens of thousands of Kurds were slaughtered.
During Operation DESERT STORM in 1991, President George H. W. Bush urged the Kurds and Marsh Arabs to revolt against Saddam Hussein. Promised US military aid never arrived for the ethnic groups and Saddam conducted massacres of the Kurds and Shi’a Arabs of the Shatt al–Arab in the south.
And now, Mr. Trump has betrayed the Syrian Kurds, who have been successful in establishing a nascent functioning local government in the Rojava Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria after the brutality imposed on them by the Saudi- and Turkish-backed Islamic State caliphate. Trump, who is more concerned about the Trump Towers in Istanbul than in protecting an American ally, has sent a stark warning to the Kurdish Regional Government of northern Iraq. The Turks will not stop at the genocide of the Syrian Kurds because they have always sought to eliminate any vestiges of Kurdish government and culture, whether in eastern Turkey, Syria, or Iraq.