American Kurds take up Syria fight as Erdogan visits Trump

The visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House this week reignited the controversy over his country’s actions against Syria’s Kurds. And it spurred Kurdish-American activists to take up their cause with renewed vigour, writes journalist Deborah Bloom.

A country-music loving, beer-drinking, gun enthusiast with a southern drawl, Nejeer Zebari is like any red-blooded southern American male.

But ever since US President Donald Trump abruptly pulled US troops from the Syria-Turkey border, the 44-year-old Tennessean’s focus has been 10,000km (6,200 miles) away in Kurdistan.

“We never expected this to happen after one phone call,” says Zebari, referring to Trump’s controversial October phone call with Mr Erdogan that paved the way for a Turkish military offensive against US-backed Kurdish forces. “It was a complete betrayal.”

Zebari was driving from Nashville to a demonstration in Washington to protest against Mr Erdogan’s visit to the White House earlier this week. It was a cold day and he was irritable.

“I’m sick of these protests,” he says. Three weeks ago, right after the White House announced it would withdraw troops in the region ahead of Turkey’s “long-planned operation” into northern Syria, he’d left his wife and three children in Nashville to drive north to protest outside the White House.

“But then Turkey is going to attack us, and Trump is gonna roll out the red carpet for him?” he said angrily, driving into…

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