Patriot Voices President Nadine Maenza and Freedom Research Foundation Executive Director Brandon H. Wheeler wrote this excellent article in Providence Magazine with a strategy for defeating Islamic Fascism and saving Christianity in Iraq and Syria.
The rhetoric about the so-called “War on Terror” has led us down the wrong path for 20 years. Terrorism is a tactic. We are not at war with terror. Similarly, our fight is not against radical or extreme Islam. When it comes to the Middle East, particularly Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, it is imperative that we understand the true nature of the threat. We are fighting Islamic Fascism—the political idea in which state actors or nonstate actors are using Islam to rule people through the use of violence. This is not about Islam itself, but rather about belligerents hijacking the religion for their own political purposes. With this definition, it is clear that you can be a good Muslim and not be a fascist. This is the reality for thousands of Sunni Arabs who fought and died alongside Christians and Kurds against ISIS as members of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
We are fighting a political idea that currently manifests itself in the violent actions from Turkey and Iran as well as non-state actors who seek land and governing structures—ISIS, Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq, thugs in Idlib, and even those in al-Hol refugee camp. The ongoing war in Afghanistan has shown that we can’t win with just guns and money; we have to win the war of ideas. To permanently defeat the Islamic Fascists, we must first delegitimize their ideology. The only way to do this is by ensuring the success of two areas being governed in the exact opposite manner, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and the proposed Nineveh Plains Province. You can’t make people care about each other or respect each other’s religion; it has to be organic. Both of these areas are religiously diverse and include some of the oldest Christian communities in the world.
The Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria is a perfect example of a space being governed in the exact opposite manner as Turkey, Iran, and the Syrian regime run areas nearby. The 4 million people who live here have created a functioning government, a military force to defend its people, and a shared identity based on values in a community made up of multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-linguistic people. It is the only area in the entire Middle East where Christianity can be proselytized, where churches can easily be built and droves of the population are self-converting to Christianity. Christians are living peacefully alongside Arab and Kurdish Muslims, Yazidis, and Armenians. There are more women in political leadership than even in the West. No wonder Turkey and Iran would like to see its demise.
Since the Turkish invasion on October 9, hundreds of civilians have been killed, and several hundred thousand have been displaced. Personally, we have seen the results of the drone attacks and how they continue in civilian areas outside the “safe zone.” Turkey is currently moving between 1 and 3 million refugees from other parts of Syria after forcibly removing Kurds, Christian, and Yazidis. It is impossible to call this anything other than ethnic cleansing. This most recent incursion is the third in three years, so it would be foolish to presume Turkey’s aggressions are finished. Most people on the ground in northeast Syria expect Turkey will try to gain more land within six months to a year.
In order to empower the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria to defend its civilian population from future attacks by Turkey, ISIS, and Iran, the United States should immediately give them political recognition as a state in the future Syria. This political jurisdiction, based on the social contract and the rights of all the people in northern Syria, would give the president an ability to conduct business in northern Syria and still maintain sanctions on the rest of Syria. This would also give nations the political legitimacy needed to continue the delivery of humanitarian aid. Recognition would ensure a future for the people of northern Syria. The success of their political project could free us from needing an enduring military footprint.
In Iraq, Christians and Yazidis are still not able to return to their homes after being victims of genocide by the Islamic State in 2014. That persecution continues with the Iraqi-funded militias directed by Tehran, the Hashd al-Shaabi, PMUs, or PMFs—that continue to chase them from their homes or make it impossible for them to return. While USAID has been rebuilding homes, community centers, infrastructure, and working to recruit private investors, the security conditions make for an impossible situation with a fraction of the religious minorities returning.
Read the rest here.