When Donald Trump withdrew American military support for our Kurdish allies in Syria he not only abandoned a vital ally but, as historian Janet Klein explains this month, he fundamentally misunderstood the history of the Kurdish people. Far from being an ethnic group locked into a centuries-long squabble with Turks, the Kurds find themselves in their current precarious situation as the result of more recent historical developments. As nations formed after World War I and maps were re-drawn after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds found themselves a people without a state.

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