Why is a NATO Member Helping al Qaeda Kill Christians in Syria?

Members of jihadist group Al-Nusra Front, which is aiding the Turkish attack on Syrian Kurds and Christians.

By John Zmirak Published on January 22, 2018

The government of Turkey has unleashed its troops and tanks on the heroes who conquered ISIS. The Turkish army is clearing the way for militias linked to al Qaeda. The goal? To conquer and persecute Kurds and Christians in Syria. These Christians and their Kurdish allies defeated ISIS in Raqqa. That’s why American soldiers didn’t have to do it. Now Turkey, a member of NATO, is using its massive military force to hand these American allies over to Islamists. They’re part of the same movement that crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And the U.S. State Department is doing nothing — except issue weak little requests that the Turks not kill too many civilians.

Mr. President, what part of “America First” did you not really mean? Are you being misled by State Department officials held over from Obama? The Christians who formed the strongest part of your political base want answers. Is this how the U.S. treats persecuted Christians, those who actually fought on our side in a vicious war?

Similar questions will vex any group or nation that might consider aiding America. Will the Kurds who helped us end up just like the South Vietnamese? We don’t serve American interests by showing ourselves as an utterly untrustworthy ally. One which uses its partners then throws them to the wolves.

When the Soviets Crushed Hungary

A tragedy like this has happened before.

In 1956 the world watched in helpless fascination. The people of Hungary rejected the harsh Stalinist system which the Soviets had shoved down their throats. Workers, students, clergy, farmers — every sector of Hungarian society, even leaders of its native Communist Party — rose up in 1956. They filled the streets with protestors. They closed down factories with strikes. The nation had lived under one dictatorship or another since the end of World War I. But now it rejected the vicious, totalitarian system imposed by Russia after World War II. For the first time in many years, people spoke freely in the streets about politics. Parties other than the Communists could meet once again. Citizens once again felt like full human beings.

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The Syrian Spring

Something similar is happening right now in the Middle East. In the Federation of Northern Syria, Muslims and Christians, Kurds and Arabs, Yazidis and women, are all working together. As The Stream’s Johannes de Jong has reported the regime in that region

is secular and tolerant, governed by a Social Contract that functions as a kind of constitution. … [It] rejects Islamism and dictatorship, and guarantees political representation for women. A network of “women’s houses” and female-led organizations supports this move to offer equal rights for all. Syriac Christians have their own cultural, civic political and media organizations, whose members I was privileged to meet. …

Westerners concerned about defending religious freedom and fighting terrorism owe the Federation their support. Christians like us who are privileged to enjoy religious freedom must not abandon the embattled Christians and other minorities who have won themselves a respite from persecution and dictatorship.

The people of Northern Syria face something even starker than Communism. Islamist intolerance goes back not 15 or 150 but 1500 years. Yet the Kurdish-led Federation is peeling it back. People are free to practice their religion under that government. Where else in the Middle East (except for Israel) is that really true? Even under the well-meaning government in Egypt, Christian Copts face death at the hands of extremists. There is nowhere in the Muslim Middle East where Christians are as safe as they are in the Federation of Northern Syria. New churches of Kurds who converted to Christianity are popping up like mushrooms. Muslims who did that in Iran or Saudi Arabia would face beheading.

Turkey, a member of NATO, is using its massive military force to hand these American allies over to Islamists. They’re part of the same movement that crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And the U.S. State Department is doing nothing.

Will we really stand by and let our allies be crushed and persecuted?

History Repeats Itself, But Now It’s Worse

I was about to say that it’s just like 1956, when NATO stood by and watched as the Soviets rolled in their tanks to crush and slaughter Hungary’s citizens fighting for freedom.

But in fact, it’s worse. Back then, we faced the real threat that nuclear war might erupt if we intervened. Now there’s no such excuse. The only consequence of stopping Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan and al Qaeda from conquering northern Syria? Another hissy fit. This by a leader who blackmails and bullies Europe, while aiding Islamists everywhere.

And this time NATO isn’t just standing by. Turkey is a member in good standing of NATO. Imagine if NATO had helped the Soviets crush freedom in Hungary, and the U.S. had just stood by.

That’s the level of moral disgrace and strategic stupidity we have achieved in 2018.

President Trump, this isn’t what we voted for.

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  • Patmos

    It’s the elephant in the room regarding Islam: Built within it is a loose cannon. That’s what secular types and progressives in the West don’t understand, because according to them Muslims are such nice people! The only thing so far preventing Muslims from joining together as a single coalition is that the aforementioned cannon is so loose that it keeps on going off against itself.

    • Patmos

      “That’s what secular types and progressives in the West don’t understand, because according to them Muslims are such nice people!”

      I should emphasize, I point this out only to make the distinction between Islam (the religion and the texts it’s based on) and Muslims (people who follow the religion and it’s texts to varying degrees), a distinction secular types and progressives don’t seem to understand. Hopefully that was clear.

    • Bebe

      I lived in Cairo and traveled throughout Egypt doing research. You have painted a very distorted picture using one broad brush. The majority of Muslims I know from Egypt, many are still my friends today, are practicing their faith in a modern format and are very opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, and all forms of Islamist teachings.
      The Islamists are the enemy, not those who are able to put their religion in a modern, enlightened context. Look at the whole picture instead of wishing for worst battle the earth has ever seen. Read your bible carefully. There is no rapture until the last day, after that horrible war evangelicals long for. The whole church will go through that tribulation.

  • Ryan

    With the Ezekiel 38 war looming, (Russia, Turkey and Iran as the main players) President Trump already has an overfull plate. Neither Trump nor any other leader is going to stop what has been written, they are incapable of doing so.
    The thought that a nuclear engagement won’t take place is simply a thought and not a well thought out one at that. The U.S. NATO base in Turkey has nuclear weapons on it. There is a threat.
    Who would have thought things in Turkey would have turned against us as they have in the first place? These things happening have done so quickly, and the rest of what the scripture says about the situation in the middle east will also happen quickly.
    Who is responsible for the actions of the Turks? Surely not President Trump, nor any other leader who is not from the region. It is the actions of the Turkish leadership and their Islamic ideology of conquest.

  • tz1

    The YPK are Kurdish Terrorists that either attack Turkey or are aligned with the PKK that does.
    Consider all the “collateral damage” in our drone wars and bombings and the rest of it and the innocents we have killed, I really, really, don’t see your point.

    Also this is Syria, and the Assad regime and the Alawites were friendly and liberal to others, perhaps as secular as Muslims can be. Instead we decided that the Kurds – who aren’t Christians – should get those territories instead of returning them to that awful Assad – not unlike Christians and Yazidis were protected under Saddam Hussein but we toppled him and the Muslims destroyed the ancient Christian churches there.

    Turkey had it’s minor versions of our 911.

    When 911 happened here we applauded a scorched earth (kill ’em all and let Allah sort the out) and approved torture and worse. We attacked funerals assuming the dead “terrorist” would be mourned by others. We attacked first responders and other rescue personell after blowing up buildings since they were “aiding terrorists”. And everyone applauded – especially Christians that have all seasons of “24” in their collections and wondered why we couldn’t have someone like Jack Bauer around..

    Now that Turkey is going all scorched earth, and the Christians and Yazidis are “collateral damage” we are somehow shocked! shocked! that innocent civilians are killed when going after terrorist organizations?

    And lest you forget, Bin Laden and Al Queda were OUR allied terrorists when the were fighting the USSR in Afghanistan. Those wonderful allies that helped bring down the Soviet Union and Berlin Wall – until 911 when the pedophile narco terrorist Northern Alliance became our new “wonderful allies”.

    You are asking why war is Hell. If you do not know why from Clinton’s starvation of Iraqi children (Albright said of the half million dead that it was “worth it”), through the kill lists, bombings, drones launching hellfire missiles at cell phone signals and bombing wedding parties, I don’t know what else to say.

    And for some reason we have a huge number of Sharia Muslim refugee Syrians here (the USCCB is paid a lot to resettle them), but no Christians, or even Yazidis.

    I will add one coda. You write this days after the march for life. If “America” can murder 60 million innocent babies on our shores and we can barely notice a few days after the anniversary of the event that enshrined the practice, I have no idea how you can even notice something happening 10,000 miles away. The innocent blood is a torrent in the cities right here and you don’t notice it for 360 days of the year. But the telescopic philanthropy says Kurdistan is much more important.

    • Andrew Mason

      Are the YPK terrorists or freedom fighters? And what of those Kurds outside Turkey who are not part of the YPK? Are they guilty simply for being born Kurdish?

      Assad lost control of the Kurdish territory and there’s doubts about his capacity to control it, even assuming the population of the territory would accept his forces. Why not simply recognise what is?

      Not really sure what you’re on about as regards scorched earth. The US never went total war, even after 911.

      The difference you seen to be ignoring, or blind to, is that the Kurds are not foreigners attacking a nation they despise but a subject people who want to throw off the bonds of tyranny after centuries of oppression. Rather than comparing Turkey and the Kurds to 911 why not compare them to America’s rebellion against British rule?

      I agree that the cost of abortion may be greater than the oppression of the Kurds, but why assume we must be concerned with one or the other? Why can we not be concerned by both?

      • tz1

        As a Christian in America I feel like I’m part of a “subject people”, but if I suggest doing anything like what the Kurds are doing I’m called a supremacist or terrorist.
        Why is the internecine battle between Turkey and the Kurds our business? What if Turkey sent soldiers to Charlottesville and started shooting in support of either side?
        We went to get Bin Laden, but let him go to build a nation out of the narcoterrorist pedophiles (the Taliban stopped the Opium trade and we gave them $1/2Billion for doing so). Then we tortured someone into saying Saddam was Al Queda, toppled him, de-Baathified things and created ISIS and Al Queda in Iraq – they werent there, no more than the WMDs.
        Also See Quadaffi and Libya. Or Egypt where they democratically elected the Muslim Brotherhood, yet we applauded when there was a Military Coup (See the current FBI memos on Trump – would you applaud if that happened here?).
        We’ve expanded NATO to the Soviet doorstep after we promised not to after teh Berlin Wall fell, and NATO was and is a cold war relic, we need to get rid of that and the UN. Erdogan is holding back millions of Syrian refugees ready to flood Europe. Do we really want to mess with him too?
        George Washington warned agaist foreign enganglements. We want to get more deeply twisted in the tangled web of conflicts that go back before the time of Christ.
        What hubris makes us think we can fix anything over there? Everything we do makes things worse. In 1998 the world was stable, but we rather have failed states. Turkey doesn’t.

        • Bebe

          Because I lived in Egypt (as an American) I am well aware that there was NO MILITARY COUP. The people themselves turned against the MB, who stole the election. Remember there was a recount between Morsi and Shafiq? The MB threatened a civil war if Morsi lost.

          Back up a bit: Christians in Al Minya were terrorized by MB into not going to the polls and voting.

          My friends in Heliopolis (where Shafiq was heavily favored) were unable to vote because of “malfunctions”. In Dokki the Salafi and MB monitored polls and wherever there were women without hijab and hijabis came to vote, the Islamist men put the hijabis in the front. Some women waited 6 hours and could not continue to hold a place on line.

          The MB stole the election.

          Morsi declared a constitutional amendment that enshrined any of his amendments and decisions were not to be overturned in perpetuity. People went to protest at the presidential palace and were shot down. He was trying to impose Islamist rule that started looking less like Egypt and more like Al-Qaeda.

          The people, including friends I had made when I worked there, rose up through internet contacts and decided on a day and showed up, they were amazed at the huge #s that turned out. They demanded Morsi get out. They used a soccer rule of the “red card” meaning, you were warned and now you are out! All these people were carrying the red card.

          The army went to protect Morsi. When Morsi ordered the military to fire on the crowds the army refused and negotiated a few days between the people and the MB. In Egypt, the army is a “people’s army”. Morsi was offered many face saving ways to step down and he refused.
          These were terrifying times for so many Egyptian friends and former colleagues. We were in touch daily by Skype. I saw many scenes from their balconies that they saw.

          • tz1

            But but but – colored revolution! American ally! We’ve already turned Egypt into Switzerland on the Nile!

            I do understand, and sympathize. And pray a lot. Including to just get out. We are like doctors of yore that bled patients with a fever based on the humor theory of disease.

  • Chip Crawford

    Simple … Obvious … Erdogan of Turkey went south some years ago. His continual actions validate that. He no longer belongs in NATO, but should be before the UN confronted with their crimes against his own people, neighbors, with sanctions under consideration. He’s moved his country to the enemy column. His behavior continually bears that out.

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Yeah, if only it were a perfect world. Regardless, your call to the president for action is morally correct. Politics be damned ….!

  • tz1

    I remember when Trump sent several millions of dollars of missiles to blow up an airbase – and civilians just under a year ago after an alleged chemical weapons attack (that made no sense, and seemed to be the classic false flag).
    Every war that destroys a secular government that protects Christians has been cheered and lauded and supported by the nice people here at the Stream since Clinton – Christian children in Iraq were part of those who died because of sanctions. Saddam protected them. Assad protected them. I don’t know how many were in Libya under Quadaffi, but the leaders of Egypt protected them until we wanted the democratically elected Morsi, and how are they doing there now. I can count on one hand the number of Catholics and Evangelicals I know publicly opposed such things, like Pat Buchanan. Everyone else is shouting from the housetops cheering on “Regime Change”.
    American Christians own this. They wanted secular leaders out. They got it. But then feral violent Islamists replaced them. The were warned, but thought there was some American Greatness that would make things work out. It didn’t. We weren’t exceptional. The NeoCons lied.
    The true evil is that they are still supported today. They still want Assad out. They still want Iran to devolve into chaos (but for some reason not Saudi Arabia which is just as oppressive if not worse). Why are Christians, especially Evangelicals, warmongers today? Blood-thirsty. Maybe Israel “must be protected at all costs so we can be raptured?”. I don’t know. All I know is that it is evil, and things like this is the collateral damage. Christians have cried havoc and released the dogs of war. And those dogs have attacked Christians.

  • Howard

    If you think NATO = good guys, because of the Cold War, you should also think Soviets = good guys, because of WW2.

    Aside from that one dreadfully naive reason for expecting NATO to be “the good guys”, what other reason is there to be surprised? Sure, as others take up below, Turkey has never been at the center of NATO, and they did fight a war with fellow NATO member Greece, and Erdogan has taken them in an ugly direction. Set that aside for a moment. Does anyone really think that the foreign policy of the UK, or Germany, or the United States is determined by ethical considerations — unless “what’s in it for me” is an ethical consideration?

    • Chip Crawford

      I’m not as cynical as you are concerning the composition of NATO. My only explanation for Erdogan not being more challenged within NATO and beyond is that members, including the US, are trying to work with him to encourage him back into “the fold” of peaceable nations. He seems to have taken it a step too far with this latest. We shall see.

      • Howard

        Sorry, but I really don’t think this is cynicism. Whether I’m looking at the history of the individual nations, or the tendencies of bureaucracies to do whatever is necessary to preserve their existence, or the way politicians (of all parties and nations) sell themselves to interest groups, or the insistence with which NATO countries have labored to impose abortion and the gay agenda on the developing world, I really do see nothing good in NATO as such. It accomplished its only valid reason for existing a quarter century ago.

        • Chip Crawford

          Sir, you are citing a flawed world. What else you got? That’s old news. We must work in that framework and bring as much up as we can or separate. Perhaps you consider that appropriate, as Mr. Trump has previously stated. But, he must represent more viewpoints than his own, and the country generally wants us in NATO.

          • Howard

            No, I am not citing a “flawed world”. I am pointing out that NATO is a military alliance organized to face a specific, and now obsolete, threat, and that the members of this alliance have been ethically shady before, during, and after the threat. It has never been a collection of choirboys; it has always been a collection of regimes that are sometimes more and sometimes less simply thugs. That’s just reality. It was something we were willing to live with as an ugly necessity during the Cold War. Having accepted that, though, it is ridiculous to act surprised when one of the more-or-less thuggish regimes acts more thuggish than normal.

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