Starting in late 2014, ISIS began to look like it could be beaten. The Syrian Kurdish forces under the banners of the YPG and YPJ, with American help, turned the tide. Now over three years later, another Islamist force has invaded Syria. This time in NATO member uniforms accompanied by a collection of miscreant jihadists including ISIS, al-Qaeda and Taliban. Needing only the Russian mobster/mass murderer Putin’s permission and Putin’s stooge Trump’s cowardice, Erdogan is now planning his future victories all the way to Mecca after he ethnically cleanses Afrin. I’m sure the Iranians are rejoicing.
The US claims it intends to remain in Syria. Its betrayal of its Syrian ally may put that in jeopardy but I am addressing only the legal right of the US to be in Syria in contrast to the right of the SDF to be there and defend Syria from the invasion.
US claims it is threatened by the very parties listed on the 2001 AUMF that Trump just gave cart blanch to for the murder our Kurdish, Christians and Yazidi allies. We claim that Syria is unable to function as a state so we can step in without Assad’s permission to fight the islamist enemy. The same enemy that Trump just green lighted to kill our allies.
That is no legal justification for US to be in Syria. The US fall back justification is that the sole functioning democratic government qualified to participate per the Geneva Communique, the SDF, has invited the US to stay. At least for now. Beyond that, the US, like Turkey, is simply a trespasser.
But what about the Kurds? They unlike the US, Turkey or its Jihadist ally forces are actually Syrians. They unlike US, Turkey and Jihadists have an inherent right of civil defense, in Syria. But that inherent right of self defense when attacked by a neighboring aggressor under international law includes the right to bring the war to the aggressor. Every state has that right.
In counties like Syria where the state ceases to function to protect its citizens, as the US claims as the basis for its right to be in Syria, the right of territorial self defense falls to the militia like the SDF. That’s international law generally but moreover specifically the law under Article I, Sec. 10 of the US Constitution that gives each sovereign united American state the absolute right to make war if the Presidency fails in performing its Constitutional duty to defend from invasion.
If the SDF has the power to give the US authority to be in Syria, the SDF has the right to self defense unlimited like any other sovereign power. Turkey may want to consider the cost of a protracted war with Syria especially if some part of that war is fought on Turkish soil.