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San Diego Kurdish Leader: Pulling US Troops Out Of Syria Could Lead To 'Genocide'

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San Diego County is home to one of the largest Kurdish communities in the United States. One local Kurdish leader says the Trump Administration's decision to pull American troops from northern Syria could lead to a "genocide" against the Kurds.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Over the weekend, the Trump administration announced that it would pull American troops out of Syria. These troops, some of them based at camp Pendleton had been fighting alongside Kurdish forces for the last several years. In an effort to defeat ISIS in the region. The curd say they've lost 11,000 troops in the campaign to destroy the ISIS caliphate. The concern now is that Turkey who has long viewed the courage as terrorist for seeking independence from Turkey will attempt to destroy Kurds in the region. Joining us today is Xi NAR [inaudible] who headed the Kurdish community center of San Diego for many years. She nor welcome.

Speaker 2: 00:37 Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1: 00:39 Would you start by telling us what your reaction was when you first heard the news about American troops leaving Syria?

Speaker 2: 00:46 Well, like many other curves here and around the world, very, very disappointed. Uh, hearing about this news this morning, actually I heard it. Uh, the smartest, um, Ben use to the curb, but to the world of the world really, that has the standard democracy and, um, fighting for freedom that also could of have fight on behalf of the world. And today there've been abandoned again. So I'm very discouraged at this point. Um, it's sad news. Um, and I hope and we're praying that, um, this actually, um, this news component out on them, you know, they will not draw the trope from the Celia cause this number for anybody,

Speaker 1: 01:40 you know, and it's, it's been estimated that up to 5,000 Kurds live in San Diego County. What have you been hearing from the community here since the administration's decision was announced?

Speaker 2: 01:53 Uh, I've been working on morning, but I pay under CV tax some calls. Um, like I said, it is heartbreaking news for the curve. Um, because we have a saying that we say, Oh, we have no phone but the mountain today to actually feel that way. Um, so they're preparing, I believe, uh, some of the curves that I heard, they might organize some protests, um, over the weekend or so. Uh, but again, um, they're trying to write to their Congressman or Senator and um, they're, they're pretty upset. It's a very upset in use. Um, uh, Curtis for the alarm side with the U S military. We have shed the blood, we fight and the half of the world and today we're just opening the door for that, for Turkey to go slow as it occurs. So it's very scary. They are many people here, um, occurred from uh, Northern part of Iraq, um, from the KRG area. But that doesn't mean anything there. We have many family. Yeah. He San Diego still have family. You know, if the 30 year they know the troubles we withdraw and then Coco move in and I don't know, after that Iranian little girl. So basically either a devastating use for a courageous community.

Speaker 1: 03:19 Yeah. [inaudible] are there attempts underway by any Kurds here in San Diego? To get family members out of the region?

Speaker 2: 03:27 They will not be able to because it is very difficult. Uh, you know, the, you have to, in order they become refugee or immigrant. They have to be in the frame country. You cannot please bring them from there. And unless it's a family reunion and that's a long, long process. I know for sure. I used to do that with many families. It takes up to 10 years a family reunion and that's not what we are looking for because that would not solve the problem to bring more refugee or immigrant, um, where you weren't the Kurt over there to be protected. The one that went around the border in Iraq or were two key to return home. But with the situation right now, it's going to be actually worse even though I'm inside Syria going to be refugees in neighboring countries. So it is the best situation.

Speaker 1: 04:21 And you know, Turkey has been at odds with the Kurdish people for decades. They say the Kurds have engaged in terrorism and an effort to achieve independence. How do the Kurdish people see it?

Speaker 2: 04:34 Well, unfortunately you have, you know, current are divided between four countries. So, um, every time, once one group in one country try to do something, and fortunately all are fine for fine, uh, enemy, uh, agree on one thing. And that is not to let the Curt of any project, any independent or anything. So, um, Turkey, uh, is afraid that the curtain cereals and I get from upon and me and like [inaudible] so, and dad would eventually lead to the critic inside Turkey, you know, majority of their current living Turkey. Um, but that's not the case. Um, uh, we can be best neighbor, uh, right now in, you know, Turkey operate more business with the curly narrows more than any other part of their neighbor. So, uh, it's not, we're not brought to anybody, but unfortunately that's how they see it.

Speaker 1: 05:33 Hmm. And you know, backlash to the administration's announcement has been strong from both sides of the aisle. Do you have some hope that condemnation from Republicans in Congress might cause the administration to backtrack on its decision?

Speaker 2: 05:49 Well, uh, I've seen a couple of pieces here and there today. I was watching you or I saw Megan McCain speaking out I, a Congressman and a Senator speaking out. So I hope more would come on board and try to change this decision now. So we are, we're hoping for that. We are praying actually for that. Uh, because really a genocide would take place if you S would, you know, Trump withdraw and then Turkey have a green light to go in.

Speaker 1: 06:19 I've been speaking with Sheena B Navi. The longtime head of San Diego is Kurdish community center. She, her, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much.

Speaker 3: 06:35 [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 06:38 um.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.