Dozens of Christian advocacy groups urge Trump to reverse decision to abandon Christians, Yazidis and Kurds in Syria

Dozens of Christian advocacy groups urge Trump to reverse decision to abandon Christians, Yazidis and Kurds in Syria
Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

In “Advocates to Trump: Don't desert Christians, Yazidis, Kurds in Syria”, Dave Gavlak reports in the National Catholic Reporter that dozens of Christian advocacy groups, led by the Protestant fundamentalist Family Research Council and the religious-freedom group Law and Liberty Trust, issued a letter to President Trump yesterday asking him to reverse his October 6 greenlighting of Turkey’s invasion of Syria. Under the umbrella of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, the letter says that Trump’s decision to let Turkey invade the Self-Administration of Northeastern Syria (SANES) “was deeply shocking to us as advocates for international religious freedom.” The letter goes on to say:

Turkey’s plans are clear: exterminate the entire SDF (our military allies), drive current residents out, and replace them. Just like Afrin in 2018, it will commit genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against women, seize homes and businesses, impose Islamist rule. Christians are specifically targeted for slaughter, not protection.

Turkish president Erdoğan has promised to move two million Sunni Muslim Syrian refugees into SANES, displacing Syriac Christians, Yazidis and Kurds who are native to the region, and repeating Turkey’s successful ethnic cleansing of Syria’s Afrin region last year. Before the 2018 invasion, reports Paul Idon of Arab News in “Why Erdogan wants to remake northeast Syria's demographics”,  “Afrin stood out as an oasis of stability that had welcomed displaced Syrians regardless of ethnicity from across the war-weary country.” After the invasion, Turkish-supported forces engaged in what Amnesty International called “arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and confiscation of property and looting to which Turkey’s armed forces have turned a blind eye” to replace the Kurdish native population with displaced Syrians allied with Turkey. Kurdish journalist Mohammed Salih, told Idon:

Erdogan and his Syrian jihadi proxies are planning and interested in nothing less than ethnic cleansing of not only the Kurdish people in northeast Syria, but based on what we’ve seen in Afrin, of Christian and Yazidi populations there as well.

In an interview  (in Italian) by Daniel Rocchi of the SIR news agency and reported by Gavlak, the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Jean-Clément Jeanbart of Aleppo, Syria, said that the Turkish invasion has “the risk of a real massacre with many innocent deaths”. Lauren Homer, an Anglican religious-freedom lawyer who heads the Law and Liberty Trust, said:

Instead of being on the brink of peace with much of Western and Eastern Syria stabilized, this will energize militant Islamists across Syria and Iraq.

In related news, Marty Johnson reports in The Hill that Trump’s political allies and satraps will appear in force in Sunday’s news shows, to try to do damage control over Trump’s greenlighting of the Turkish invasion. Defense Secretary Mark Esper will likely repeat his assertion that the US has not abandoned our Kurdish allies, even as the Turkish invasion seizes more towns from the Kurds. Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are also scheduled to appear. No representatives of Christian, Yazidi, or Kurdish groups have been invited.

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