‘Daughters of Kobani’ – The Story of Kurdish Women Who Fought for Religious Freedom and Equality Against ISIS and Won
Read this interview by Focus on the Family with Patriot Voices President Nadine Maenza and author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.
We were right to be confident in him as we doubted Trump.
Wall Street Journal op-ed by Rick Santorum
Twenty sixteen seems like a lifetime ago, but it’s been fewer than five years since conservatives like me were struggling to accept Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president. Mr. Trump was a thrice-married New York casino magnate, who had given thousands of dollars to liberal politicians including Chuck Schumer and Kamala Harris. Now he was poised to lead the Party of Reagan?
I had my own personal confrontations with Mr. Trump. In 2011 he called me a “loser.” I immediately phoned to remind the not-always successful developer that not winning at everything doesn’t make you a loser—that learning from your defeats makes you a winner. He told me I was “too conservative” and “too pro-life.” A few months later he endorsed Mitt Romney.
So when he was about to secure the 2016 nomination, conservatives like me needed reassurance that he would follow through on the campaign promises he was making. Much of that reassurance came in the form of Mike Pence.
by Nadine Maenza and Lord David Alton
“We feel forgotten and abandoned sometimes. The world does not know much about the challenges and difficulties that face us. All countries in the region do not recognize conversion from Islam. This makes life very difficult for us, especially in terms of marriages, funerals, and obtaining birth and death certificates, because we are still considered Muslims by law.”
These were the words of Pastor Nihad Hassan, who leads one of three Kurdish churches in Beirut, Lebanon, whose members are mainly Syrian Kurds who fled the war in their home country. Pastor Nihad estimates the number of Kurdish Christians living in Lebanon at over 5,000. “Fifty families have emigrated to the West recently, and we used to have a flourishing church and over 250 families in Afrin [in northern Syria] before the Turkish invasion.”
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Save Religious Freedom in NE Syria!
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. Last year, Open Doors USA 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 solders, 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, Yazidis, and Kurds 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 is still shelling border areas with a clear desire to invade again.
Patriot Voices President Nadine Maenza just returned from spending a month on the ground in Northeast Syria. As you know, Senator Rick Santorum has long warned about the danger of those who use Islamic Fascism to govern. 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 Maenza was reappointed as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. In June, they held a Congressional Hearing chaired by Tony Perkins where they documented the extraordinary religious freedom conditions with the AANES as well as the egregious war crimes and persecution of Yazidis, Christians, Kurds, and others in the areas Turkey occupies. You can watch and read about the hearing here. Nadine co-authored an article titled "U.S. Leaders Must Stand Against Turkey's Atrocities in Northern Syria" you can read here.
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 country 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 small military presence and undertakes these simple actions:
1) Recognize the AANES as a legitimate 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 falls.
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 to go through NE Syria.
Our loses in Afghanistan and other countries 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 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 400 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 continuing 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 eliminate the AANES and create 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 the President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and your Members of Congress 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!
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As countries limit religious activities and close major religious sites in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, religious liberty advocates say governments have an obligation to consider religious freedom.
Send an email today to your Member of Congress here asking them to support workers and small business here!
We are all coming to terms with the economic consequences of the coronavirus. Who could have foreseen that self-distancing would turn into being quarantined with businesses all over the country being shut down?
We opposed government bailouts in the past because they focused on Wall Street, particularly mismanaged businesses. This emergency is different. Families could have never anticipated that all income – and job opportunities – would stop at the same time.
Congress has the opportunity to provide real support to working families that will also uphold the economy until this emergency passes. If done correctly, this will keep businesses and nonprofits on hold and prepared to reopen - with their employees ready to go back to work - once the coronavirus is behind us.
Executive Director Nadine Maenza gave opening remarks at this important event at the Capitol hosted by Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China, and the Uyghur Human Rights Project.This event featured a groundbreaking report by Matthew Robinson with evidence that political prisoners in China are being killed while their organs are removed and sold. This chilling report can be read here. Watch Nadine Maenza's opening remarks here. Watch entire event here.