Save Northeast Syria as a refuge for Christians, Yazidis, and other Religious Minorities
Northeast Syria, an area governed by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and defended by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has the best conditions in the Middle East for religious freedom. It is the only place where Christians can openly evangelize and easily build churches.
What AANES has created is remarkable, especially considering that Syria has been in a brutal civil war and was ground zero for the ISIS caliphate. In January, Open Doors reported that “Christianity is on the verge of disappearing in Iraq and Syria.” AANES has provided a stable government and a refuge for Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities in spite of these conditions.
- Civil War: Pro-democracy protests erupted against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011. He has consistently responded with brutality against civilians and rebels alike with 400,000 killed, 5.6 million fleeing the country, and 6.2 million internally displaced. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended that the U.S. State Department designate Syria as a Country of Particular concern for its “egregious, ongoing, and systematic” religious freedom violations.
- ISIS: The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been the primary partners to the U.S. in the fight against ISIS and are responsible for the defeat of their caliphate. They were our boots on the ground, loosing 11,000 soldiers, so the U.S. did not have to put solders on the front lines. Their forces of 60,000 include Kurdish, Syriac/Assyrian Christian, and Arab fighters. They continue to work with the U.S. in removing ISIS cells in the country.
- Turkey: In October of 2019, Turkey invaded the AANES for the third time in three years entering through Christian villages killing civilians and causing over 200,000 to flee. Turkey is currently moving Syrian refugees from other parts of Syria into this land that had been home to Christians, Kurds, Yazidis and others. There is documentation of atrocities against Christians and Yazidis including killings, rapes, kidnapping, and the destruction of religious sites. Genocide Watch recently announced that these crimes fit the designation of Crimes Against Humanity.
Unfortunately, Turkey continues to shell civilians and has indicated a desire to invade again.
Patriot Voices President Nadine Maenza was able to visit NE Syria three times, most recently in April. She also spent over a month on the ground last November. Patriot Voices has joined with Freedom Research Foundation to execute a plan to save this refuge for religious freedom and fight Islamic Fascism. We need your help!
Nadine is currently serving her second term on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, currently serving as Chair. Last June, USCIRF held a Congressional Hearing where they documented the extraordinary religious freedom conditions with the AANES as well as the egregious war crimes and persecution in the areas Turkey occupies. You can watch and read about the hearing here. Nadine just published an article about the situation in Syria in The National Interest, Victory in Syria Requires Learning from Afghanistan.
No Nationbuilding Needed
Patriot Voices agrees that the U.S. should not police the world or be the financial backer of foreign governments. Fortunately, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) does not need us to do either of those things. They simply need us to let them survive. They already have the strongest security force in the region and legitimacy with the people. With 80% of the oil and gas in Syria and some of the most fertile land in the Middle East, they can build a robust economy and become self-sufficient if the U.S. maintains its military forces and undertakes these simple actions:
1) Recognize the AANES as a state within Syria with distinct borders.
2) Remove sanctions only for the AANES, a task that can be easily done by the Treasury Department.
3) Include AANES in the U.N. Res. 2254 process to form a new government for Syria after the Assad Regime.
The benefits of these simple actions will mean the AANES:
- Remains a place of refuge for Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities.
- Continues as a U.S. ally to offer stability in one of the most war-torn parts of the world.
- Maintains one of the most effective fighting forces ever assembled against ISIS.
- Blocks Iran’s land bridge and China’s One Belt One Road Initiative both planned through NE Syria.
Our loses in Afghanistan and other places have taught us:
- You can’t win wars in the Middle East with just weapons; you have to win the war of ideas. Because AANES is governed in the exact opposite manner of Turkey, Russia, the Assad Regime, Iran, and ISIS, it is freedom on the border – like West Berlin to East Berlin – which is the most powerful weapon against extremism. Nadine Maenza authored an article covering this topic that you can read here.
- You can’t make people care about each other and respect human rights. However, this comes naturally in Northeast Syria because of their values. The SDF could have easily built a military dictatorship in NE Syria, but instead supported the creation of a unique democracy in 2012. For the first time in the history of Syria, Syriac (the ancient Christian language), Kurdish, and Arabic are recognized as official languages and more female leaders are included than even than in the West.
These actions will require no additional troops or money from the United States.
The Severe Consequences If We Don’t Act
If the US removes the remaining troops from bases in Northeast Syria and allows Turkey to enter again, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) will have to make an impossible choice. It must either make a deal with one of our enemies or enter a brutal war against Turkey. The implications for Christians and other religious minorities are enormous.
- It will empty all the Christian villages on the northern border that includes some of the oldest Christian communities in the world made up of Syriacs, Chaldeans, and Assyrians.
- It will mean the end of all Yazidis in Syria.
- It will force Christians, Yazidis, and even Kurdish and Arab Muslims who survive the fighting to flee to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Northern Iraq that already houses over 1.5 million IDP’s and refugees that fled ISIS. Many have lived in these camps for over six years.
- Experts warn that ISIS has been re-energized expecting this development and will once again attempt to claim land to build a caliphate in Syria.
No More Forever Wars
The AANES and SDF are stabilizing forces in Syria. That is why Turkey, Russia, Iran, and China want them eliminated. Allowing them to exist is the only way to stop a forever war in Syria. If they are eliminated, these countries will fight among themselves for Syria while ISIS rebuilds its caliphate. In the future, the U.S. will likely be drawn into an even bigger war in the Middle East. This time, it will include nation states and the SDF won’t be our boots on the ground like they were in our fight against ISIS.
Don’t Defer to the United Nations
Currently, the U.S. State Department is following the Obama policy of deferring to the United Nations and Resolution 2254 in planning a future Syria that excludes AANES. This process would allow Russia, Iran, Turkey, China, the Assad Regime, and other countries to choose a new government once the Assad Regime falls. The U.S. can easily demand that AANES is part of the United Nations process, which is the only way Christianity and religious freedom will survive in Syria.
Join Patriot Voices by clicking “Send Message” below to send a letter to President Joe Biden and your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative asking them to support these actions to save the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) – without additional troops or money – which will ensure that Christianity and religious freedom survives in Syria!