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My heart ached, then anger rushed through my entire being reading the news reports reflected in the following news headlines: “Syrian Christians to U.S.: Don’t Abandon Us Now” and “Christians Killed on Syria’s Front Lines.”
President Trump’s decision to pull all U.S. troops from Syria and in particular those special forces that have been protecting the Kurds in northeastern Syria was not made in isolation of Trump’s longstanding and lucrative business investments in Turkey.
Trump has long admired Turkey’s strongman dictator, Erdogan, and trusting him to protect his twin tower hotel in Istanbul and his extensive financial investments in Turkey. Today, this cozy relationship with this dictator is costing the lives of our Kurdish allies in Syria and the Christians among them!
The periodical Christianity Today reports that, “…Christians have been killed in Turkey’s assault on Kurdish-held areas in northeast Syria.” This was reported by In Defense of Christians, a group with members on the ground in Syria.
The Kurdistan 24 news agency reported the following joint statement by the Syriac Christian organizations in Syria, Europe and the U.S.: “We urgently need protection from Turkey’s threats to invade and ‘cleanse’ our territory from Christianity, religious freedom and democracy. U.S. President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw U.S. troops leaves us powerless and open to be destroyed by Turkey.”
Bassam Ishak, an SDC diplomat of Syriac-Assyrian origin, is quoted as saying, “They want to finish the job they started a hundred years ago in Seyfo.”
What has President Trump unleashed? According to the periodical National Interest: “Turkey plans to use the Syrian National Army, an alliance of Islamist rebels, for its operations in Northern Syria. The Army of Islam, one of the members of the Syrian National Army, has paraded around hostages from Syria’s religious minorities in cages. Its late leader, Zahran Alloush, once referred to religious minorities as ‘filth’ that should be ‘cleansed.’”
CBN News reported that “Some Christian fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces went to church to pray and kiss the Bible before heading back to the front lines to defend their homes against the Turkish invasion.”
Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention reports, “The bombing campaign, launched less than 48 hours after a phone call between President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, appeared to target Christian and Kurdish enclaves in the cities of Qameshil, Kobani and others. Shelling also hit the border town of Nusaybin in Turkey, where the oldest church in a region once dominated by the earliest Christians is located.”
Had President Trump bothered to consult his military chiefs of staff, his top foreign affairs advisers, he would have been warned of this catastrophic slaughter of human life. Trump’s enormous ego and embracing of strongmen dictators led him to the tragic decision to extract U.S. Special Forces keeping such a tragic event at bay.
Bill Kristol, a Republican pundit, may have said it best: “Who wanted Trump to withdraw U.S. troops and abandon the Kurds? Not the Defense or State Department. Not the foreign policy establishment or the American people. Not the Republicans or the Democrats. Who wanted Trump to abandon the Kurds and withdraw U.S. troops? Erdogan and Putin!”
Baptist Press further reported that, “Two children were killed and injured between the ages of 2 and 6 years old, according to the Rojava Information Center. It said at least one hospital had been bombarded. In Qameshil, a bomb struck Mar Gorgios Assyrian Church.”
“Turkish airstrikes targeting residential areas violated pledges from both Erdogan and Trump and defied UN calls to spare civilians. They caused ‘a huge panic among people of the region,’ said Mustafa Ball, chief spokesman of the Syrian Democratic Forces.”
On Nov. 13, President Trump is scheduled to welcome the president of Turkey, Erdogan, the same dictator who is slaughtering thousands of Kurds, into the open arms of the White House.
Donald Trump is unfit for the office of president of the United States and should be shown the exit door of the White House as soon as possible. Our constitutional republic and freedom-loving nations of the world can wait no longer.
Edward “Ned” Walsh of Princeton is a retired Baptist denominational worker who served as executive director of Johnston County Habitat for Humanity from 2004-08.