We both recently visited the AANES in our separate capacities and were able to better understand why Turkey, Iran, and the Assad regime want it destroyed. These countries have embraced Islamic fascism, a political ideology where states or non-state actors use Islam to rule people with violence. To defeat Islamic fascism, we must delegitimize it by winning the war of ideas. The best way to do that is supporting those who reject Islamic fascism and embrace democratic principles. The AANES represents freedom on the very doorstep of those countries – a West Berlin to their East – making it a powerful threat to the status quo.
This community of 4 million people is multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, and multi-religious with many women occupying positions of leadership. Arab and Kurdish Muslims live peacefully alongside Christians, Yazidis, and those of other religions. In fact, the Christian community in northeast Syria is among the oldest in the world with services still conducted in Aramaic, the language of Jesus. However, Christians are under constant attack and on the verge of being wiped out in Syria and Iraq. The preservation of the AANES will help ensure that Christianity and other minority religions will continue to exist in Syria.
The Turkish invasion of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria in October of 2019 began with air strikes on civilian neighborhoods, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds and the displacement of several hundred thousand. Turkey is now moving between 1 and 3 million Arab refugees from other parts of Syria into the so-called “safe zone,” the border region of northeast Syria, that has been ethnically cleansed of Kurds and Christians. Many in the region expect another Turkish incursion within the next few months, this time into predominantly Christian areas.
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