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08 November 2019


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"Do no more harm" would be my recommendation. Unfortunately, our policies are developed to accommodate several, often competing, interest groups.


Turks are shedding SAA blood. An attack on Zirgan town near Tell Tamr left one Syrian soldier dead and three others wounded. The injured reportedly include Colonel Ekid Munif Mensur and Lieutenant colonel Ahmed Şerif Ahmed.

Turks also shelled SAA positions in Qibûr Fercanê village located between Til Temir and Zirgan killing three and wounding four.

Wounded are being treated at Tell Tamr, but serious cases are being medevaced to Hasakah City hospital.


Brad Ruble,
Fake news,IS never captured either US or Russian soldiers. They did capture two Russian PMCs(on video) in the autumn 2017 sukhnah counteroffensive,these two were never heard from again. They also captured another two again around sukhnah earlier this spring(again on video) but these two were dying out in the back of their captor’s truck. If the IS ever got their hands on US soldiers, a Caliph’s ransom wouldnt be enough to stave off a videotaped and choreographed execution.Refer to what they did to the two captured Turkish soldiers in 2016/17

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, so it seems that any and all of these interests groups only have a vision more war and more bloodshed in the Middle East: that none of them promotes or is promoting Peace Interest.


Upon watching quite a bit of news on the Turkish invasion of Syria I'm surprised
only Emmanuel Macron has been vocal in his criticism of the Turks acting outside
the supposedly cooperative bonds of NATO. Almost immediately Angela Merkel issued a
conciliatory statement basically saying all is well in NATO.

JP Billen, Why do you think the Evangelicals who support Trump so loyally appear to
remain silent on the disastrous effects the Turkish invasion is having on the
Christian population in Syria? I haven't heard any criticism on this matter from the
main stream branches of "the church' either other than an occasional lament from the
Pope in the form of generalized anti-war talk. The basic silence from secular society is unbelievable as if somehow the entire assault is reasonable.


I think the White Helmet brand was becoming too toxic.

There was a report a couple of weeks ago on the BBC of a Syrian father who'd been forced from his home/land by the Syrian regime (or it might have been the Turks who were equally as villainous as the SAA at that time, but I can't remember which). The family was living in a cave somewhere in North East Syria.

The camera work and sets were very White Helmets. High quality cameras and camera work, high-definition images. The father had, I imagine, been coached because he was word perfect and in total control of himself. (You'd imagine a father in such a situation to be at least a little distraught). His little son was equally word perfect and had to be prompted for his speech.

Another hallmark of a WH production was that the son and the rest of the family kept on looking off camera for directions (presumably from the director).

It appeared to be a pretty unimpressive one off. There might have been more but I tend to avoid all BBC News, especially now the election has started.


@ Babak Makkinejad, 08 November 2019 at 08:54 PM

Simple and easy:
Let the Turks stay at home and stop interfering in neighbouring countries... and far away.
That they recognize the Kurdish component in Anatolia and elsewhere.
That they return the Syrian territories currently under their control: Afrin, Azaz and Jarabulus, Idlib.
Let them judge Daesh's affidados used as Bachi-Buzuk.
Wikipedia history " Bachi-Buzuk: Essentially used to terrorize conquered peoples, Bachi-Buzuk are known to have been particularly active in the Balkans on behalf of the Ottomans. Weak discipline[...]"
For the present: https://www.hawarnews.com/en/haber/how-isis-turned-into-the-syrian-national-army-h12627.html

JP Billen

Elaine -

I have no clue as to why Evangelicala have been silent about the pogroms of Syrian Christians by Erdogan's bashi-bazouks. Perhaps they don't yet know what is happening? The press still touts the SDF and SDC as being entirely made up of Kurds and completely neglects to mention the many Assyrian, Syriac, & Armenian Christians and Arabs that have also fought in the SDF against IS. Or possibly they see the political benefit of sticking with the White House as more beneficial to their cause than saving churches in the MidEast. Or maybe they don't feel any kinship with the Assyrian & Syriac Catholic and/or Orthodox churches? I hope it is not this latter one.

Although I think Trump did get pushback from some of his base when he first decided to pullout. Which is why the troops are still in Syria. Did all of that pushback come from neocons or were there also some quiet complaints from Evangelical leaders? Again I have no clue. Regardless of what Trump said about the oil, that is just a pretext as there is no way to get it out of there economically.

Babak Makkinejad

Protestant Christians in Europe or in North America never ever expressed, to my knowledge, any concerns for Christian in Iraq, Syria, and Palestine. In my opinion there are 2 reasons for that: their emtional religious attachment to Israel, ancient & modern, and their historical animus towards Catholic Church.

Babak Makkinejad

You do not understand the Kurdish National Aspiration across 4 countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. It is nothing less than destruction of those 4 states. Well, Life is tough and those 4 states are not going to contenance their own destruction for the benefit of anarchic peoples.

Babak Makkinejad

What are your recommendations for US policy?

JP Billen


Perhaps both I and Babak were wrong. There are several articles out there that state some Evangelicals are upset with Trump for abandoning Syrian Christians. Pat Robertson says he (Trump) is losing or may lose the mandate of heaven. Others are saying "shame on him" for abandoning Syrian Christians.



Of course Babak is partially right. Some in the Evangelical leadership, Billy Graham's son for example, will support Trump's actions in Syria no matter what happens to Syrian Christians. Their fear of Iran seems to supersede their so-called Christian brotherhood. Or maybe they want to convert the Syrian Christians like they have converted many Latin Americans to Pentecostalism. The pew Research Center claims one in five of Central and South Americans have deserted the Catholic Church. Rome should take note.


I take your point that other sets of Syriacs and Assyrians settled in what became Mandate Syria, including one earlier attempt to provide a group with land in another valley in Syria but it never grew. The clan-organized villages on the Khabour I am refering to were an outcome of the Simule massacres.

It was a belated effort by all those in the international community, to include the British in Iraq, that had led the Assyrians to believe they were going to get, if not a state, then at least a recognized as an Ottoman-type millet in northern Iraq. It didn't help that the Assyrian Patriarch of the "Church of the East," [described by the British as Nestorians, an association they reject] was actively trying to find European backers for their goal. The government of King Feisal refused as did the Arab nationalist politicians and after some foolish steps on the part of the Assyrian leadership, the army was sent into the area with the intention of killing all of the men. That turned out not to save the women and children, once it all got started. Bakr Sidqi, later a PM, was involved in planning the massacre. Anti-Christian sentiment spread with their help to all the Muslim ethnicities and even the Yezidis.

Here we have to recognize the British divide and conquer approach to Iraq. The Assyrians became a special armed force, guarding British facilities and other duties. The British constantly singled them out among Iraqi forces as better than the rest, a serious cause of resentment. The Assyrians thought that this position gave them some currency, but the departure of the British, of course, proved otherwise.

As for the Patriarch, the British sent him first to Cyprus and after another stop ended up setting up the seat of the church in the US, where it remained until the 1990s? Another thing that he did was to adopt the position that the Assyrians were a religious, not an ethnic, minority. This has remained the position of the church, later adopted by the Chaldeans and Syriac Orthodox and Catholics. [The Orthodox are/were? Monophysites and their corresponding Uniate Catholic church uses the customs and Aramaic language in church but adopted the theology of Rome.]

Lay people, however, have disagreed and are active politically. This is one important reason why there are different Assyrian [and Syriac] parties/militias fighting in various parts of Syria. Their bitter antagonisms are for all to see among organizers in the diaspora and now within the Syrian opposition.

As for the Syriac Orthodox [Jacobite] and Catholic Patriarchs and seats, they are in Damascus and are careful to appear loyal to the regime and a religious community. Syriac fighters in western Syria focus on protecting their villages from jihadi assault and have fought alongside the SAA when it was necessary.

The Armenians tended to settle in the cities to practice their skilled craftsmanship. After the war, some of those who were from Diyarbakir traveled back there periodically to sell their wares until some locals decided to pick up those trades and t he border became harder. It was also dangerous for Armenians who were perceived of coming back to reclaim their homes and wealth, many of whom were killed in different parts of Anatolia.

JP Billen

Jane -

Thank you. The other valley that you spoke of, was that the Jaghjagh River that flows into the Khabour at Hasakah city? I agree with all your points, but still maintain that Assyrians have lived in the bottomlands of the Khabour Valley since the time of Ashurbanipal. I am sure they welcomed any Assyrians fleeing the massacres in Nineveh, and before that they welcomed Assyrians fleeing the 1915 massacre in Diyarbakir. There are/were also Aramean villages in the northeast region, and there has been mixing and intermarriage.

As for city dwellers, there are Armenian and Assyrian communities in the urban centers of the northeast also: Hasakah, Qamishli, al-Malikiyah, Amuda, and formerly in Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad before the October Turkish invasion. In Qamishli and Hasakah there was a split in loyalty among the Christian communities. Some remained loyal to Assad and wore SAA or government militia uniform. But they never left those cities, until now that is. Others while never opposing Assad directly opted to ally with the YPG to resist IS in the countryside. Yes there was bitterness over that split. I would hope those antagonisms have now disappeared in the face of another Turkish genocide.

BTW, Kurdish fighters in Aleppo City also fought alongside the SAA during the liberation of that city in 2016. And Kurds have been fighting alongside the SAA defending the Tal Rifaat area from Turkish jihadis for 18 months or so.


JP Billen, Thank you.

Babak Makkinejad

I am not wrong.

What succor have Evangelicals provided Palestinian Christians, in comparison to the Catholic Church, over the last 70 years?

Likewise, in Iraq, in 2003, did they not support the war?

Barbara Ann
I think the White Helmet brand was becoming too toxic
I hear today that the WH's founder; James Le Mesurier will not be telling any tales.
Barbara Ann

Trump is an egotist, not a narcissist. He needs to win, not be loved, like his predecessor.

JP Billen

Babak, I was only speaking of your claim that protestants in America never ever expressed concerns for Christians in Syria. Apparently some have. But like I speculated above, perhaps they only want to convert them.

I understand there is a small community of Assyrian Presbyterians in Iran. When would they have been proselytized and converted?


Poor man, he accidently killed himself while sleepwalking.

Horrible kismet for such a great humanitarian. His organisation provides help in poor natural disaster and conflict ridden areas such as Somalia and Lebanon. I imagine that they will even help North Korea when needed.


The Christian militias fighting with the SAA I was referring to were in western Syria.


And the Iranians did not fight with us at Normandy.


There is no lack of concern for Syrian and other Middle Eastern Christians within the American Christian churches, both mainstream and Evangelical. Re Iraq, they have worked with VP Pence and members of Congress to allot a special fund within the USAID budget for Christian villages despite the church-state legal concerns among career people. Another tie-up regarding these grants is that the two potential local partner organization, the Catholic University in Erbil and a small Christian NGO lack the infrastructure and familiarity with USAID grants. The Chaldean Bishop of Erbil is a real activist who has been working the corridors of power in DC. Larger organizations, such as Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse, did get funding and are preparing to go in.
The very big push they have worked out is a special exception to the ban on visas for people from these countries, Iraq and Syria as well as “other minorities” meaning the Yezidis. From the point of view of the indigenous church leaders and for that matter, the Vatican, however, they don’t want Christians and Christianity to disappear from the land where it was born. Local church officials based in Damascus are careful to present themselves and their followers as loyal citizens of the Syrian state. It is also ironic that Assyrians and Chaldeans have such a large presence in the US that so many used to find it easy to immigrate on a family reunification basis. For Syria, the Vatican and the Moscow Russian Orthodox Patriarchate are coordinating efforts to repair damaged hold sites in consultation with the heads of the many churches represented in Syria. Orthodox charities in the US fund relief work on the basis of need, not on the basis of religious.

This special treatment for Christians is also problematic, with Christians already long associated with colonial and later American imperial machinations. It can easily lead to anti-Christian violence. This is one reason why the Vatican and others calibrate what they say about the countries these Christians live in. I recall once, the previous French PM stated that he would defend the Maronites And other Christians. The Patriarch immediately issued a strong response saying that they need no protection from their fellow Lebanese.
As for the Palestinians, the mainstream Protestant synods, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist and Lutheran and others with a long history of work in the area, along with the Quakers have divested from Israel-related stocks and taken other steps in BDS. All of the mainline American churches have had a long involvement in the Middle East going back to the 18th century. Missionaries almost immediately realized that they could not convert Muslims and did convert many Christians. Despite this adjustment of purpose, they devoted themselves to education across the region. In Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt their graduates, mostly Muslim, became leading figures in the development of their societies. Even in provincial areas, male and female missionaries, including medical missionaries devoted themselves to the people around them. Protestant schools in provincial Anatolia and elsewhere in the Ottoman lands are uniquely responsible for the development of educated Armenians and Assyrians who in turn developed their own schools. They also ran orphanages right up until they were separated from their charges that were killed by the Ottomans. A similar process took place in Iran. It was a time when both American and European missionaries labored in China and Africa as well. In the alst century, Mormons and Mennonites have also established themselves in the region.

The Catholic Church entered the region in the 16th century, if not before, at a time when many European merchants were setting up shop in trading cities like Aleppo and Izmir. They too focused on education for all, but religion for local Christians. By that time, some local orthodox clergy were splitting off and creating what are now the Uniate Eastern Catholic rites, to include the Maronites, Melkites, and Chaldeans. Not surprisingly, they were as annoyed by the arrival of Protestant churches seeking converts as the Orthodox did when they arrived. One other problem that all these foreign churches faced was antagonism among them based on the warring European nations they came from, even within one sect. They were often accused of being agents for the governments of their home nations.
The Evangelicals are active in these countries as well but one unfortunate aspect to their activities is the anti-Muslim element in their preaching. They have sat TV channels that beam in services dubbed into Arabic from the West. All of this has caused problems for Christians in Egypt who get associated with their work. You will recall the infamous film about early Islam that caused serious problems in Cairo in 2011. There was also a Coptic evangelical in the US on one of those TV shows that was recognized by locals and his family had to be rescued from their neighborhood in Cairo from angry mobs. And then, of course, we have Franklin Graham’s anti-Sudan campaign. Where it gets touchy is when those making life difficult for the Palestinian Christians are the Israelis.

JP Billen

I knew that Jane. Which is why I also mentioned the Christian militias in the northeast. But I apparently was not clear. My apologies.

Babak Makkinejad

I do not know. I knew one, a very good friend of mine. Likely in early 20th century when American Protestants really did try to help people of Middle East. My old High School, Alborz, started its life as a Presbyterian school under Dr. Samuel Jordan.

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