YPG Using Syriac Christian Front Organizations As Mouthpiece for Fear-mongering Messages Regarding Northeast Syria

 Aramean (Syriac) proxies of the YPG demonstrating in Sweden and carrying their own flags with a picture of the jailed PKK leader. Swedish texts: "Stop Turkish invasion in Kurdistan" and "Boycott Turkey." Source photo: unknown.

Aramean (Syriac) proxies of the YPG demonstrating in Sweden and carrying their own flags with a picture of the jailed PKK leader. Swedish texts: “Stop Turkish invasion in Kurdistan” and “Boycott Turkey.” Source photo: unknown.

Wca-ngo.org – 24/8/19

A few Syriac organizations claiming to represent the Christians of Northeast Syria while basically being front organizations of the YPG, have recently been causing quite a stir online. Being aligned with Kurdish communist separatists from Syria, their fearmongering messages deliberately portray an aggressive Turkish invasion that will exterminate the last Christians in this region. Certain news agencies have picked up and further spread this perceived fear. However, what does the majority of Aramean (Syriac) Christians in Northeast Syria believe?

A few Syriac organizations claiming to represent the Christians of Northeast Syria while basically being front organizations of the YPG, have recently been causing quite a stir online. Being aligned with Kurdish communist separatists from Syria, their fearmongering messages deliberately portray an aggressive Turkish invasion that will exterminate the last Christians in this region. Certain news agencies have picked up and further spread this perceived fear. However, what does the majority of Aramean (Syriac) Christians in Northeast Syria believe?

Two days ago marked the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism. Such a memorial day provides a fitting moment to differentiate the victims from the perpetrators in Northeast Syria. This statement may sound like a surprise to many people, since the mainstream media rarely reports on this subject, but arguably the biggest threat to the Christians of Northeast Syria in the past years up to the present has actually come from the Kurdish nationalists.

Let us allow the following cold hard facts sink in to fathom the harsh realities on the ground in the self-proclaimed and idealized autonomous region of Rojava (“Western” Kurdistan). The military arm, the security forces or the proxies of the Kurdish PYD/YPG/Asayesh have murdered young Arameans, while beating up elderly teachers almost to the point of death. They have intimidated, threatened and fired warning shots at the residences of the region’s Syriac Orthodox (in 2016) and Syriac Catholic Bishops. They have frequently kidnapped, tortured and exploited Christian youths. They have illegally seized lands, properties and villages of defenseless Arameans and Armenians. And more than once, they have attempted to close down, seize and Kurdify Christian schools.

These and other acts of terror are all carried out to tacitly cleanse the area of its native populations and to transform Northeast Syria into a Kurdish region, inspired by the example of North Iraq. Against this background, many local Aramean Christians are of the belief that the armed Kurdish nationalists were also behind the failed assassination attempt of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch and the recent car bomb explosion in front of the Syriac Orthodox St. Mary Church in Qamishli (Kurdish secessionists have proclaimed it as the capital of their self-declared autonomous region). Last year, the local Syriac Catholic Archbishop, being a voice in the desert, was recorded saying: “For years I have been saying that the Kurds are trying to eliminate the Christian presence in this part of Syria. … Kurds make up only 20 percent of the population, but, thanks to Western support, [they] are disproportionately represented in the local government. … The West cannot keep silent.”

Clearly, the portrayal of this ‘Rojava’ as a model of governance and a safe haven for the persecuted Christians in the Middle East is highly misleading. This begs the question as to the motives of those Syriacs promoting this deceptive narrative.

Initially, the masters and their puppets promoted an autonomous Kurdish region. Owing to military interventions by Turkey, which disconnected their envisioned independent cantons of Afrin, Kobani and Jazira, they changed their strategy and language, while still covertly pursuing their unchanged nationalist aspirations to achieve their “Rojava Revolution” or “project” of an independent Western Kurdistan. Heeding the advice of one of America’s most senior generals in 2015, the YPG Kurds transfigured themselves the next day into the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF). “I thought it was a stroke of brilliance to put democracy in there somewhere,” U.S. Army General Raymond Thomas, the head of Special Operations Command, recalled, because “it gave them a little bit of credibility.”

Indeed, the Kurds and their Arab and Syriac comrades are prone to use and promote catchy words such as democracy, pluralism, equality, religious freedom, gender equality and similar terms. They are well-aware that these words sound like music in the ears of Western nations. That is also why, seeing that the Kurdish nationalist and expansionist agenda in Syria might be threatened either soon by Turkey or later by the Syrian government, they began a deceptive campaign of instilling fear in the hearts and minds of those who are genuinely concerned about the wellbeing and fate of Syria’s already halved Christians. “Turkey aims to kill and destroy us and to finish the genocide against our people” in Northeast Syria, these Syriac proxies of the PYD/YPG recently claimed, adding that “more than 100,000 Syriac Christians…will be killed or driven away if Turkey invades.”

Reading such spine-chilling statements and terrifying headlines makes the shocking reactions of the readers understandable. This ‘Christian’ group further emphasized that an additional cross-border operation by Turkey may lead to another mass slaughter against Christians, just like last year “when the churches of Afrin were burned and the Christians and Yazidis there were hunted down.”

However, there was no Syriac church in Afrin and Syria’s Arameans also doubt the veracity of the “500 Kurdish Christian families” there and wonder about these timely converts to Christianity. If there indeed had been Christian victims in Afrin, it could have been Aramean teens snatched from the streets in the Hasakah province by the YPG/Asayesh and sent against their will to Afrin as human shields into a fight against Turkey. The call for ‘prayers’ to ‘fellow Christians’ in the West is also noteworthy, considering that the core ideology of this Syriac group is communist, anti-religion and violent (even against their fellow people). More significantly, they never speak about the fact that numerous Arameans (Syriacs) have already left Syria because of the YPG tyranny and that many others who are not able to or who do not wish to leave their ancient homeland continue to flee from the YPG’s oppression to find shelter and safety in places outside the Hasakah governorate.

Therefore, the vast majority of (Aramean) Christians in Northeast Syria have been complaining for years about the authoritarianism of the YPG and its separatist agenda, which runs against the spirit of national unity in the country and against UN charters. They are still eagerly hoping and waiting for Damascus to restore order and stability in their province. However, when Ankara threatened to clear its borders from these armed nationalists, who are ideologically and militarily in unison with the PKK, the YPG panicked and their pawns expressed this fear. Many of the region’s Aramean Christians, who typically are against foreign interventions, rather unexpectedly entertained a latent hope that Turkey will cross the border to finally halt the nationalist Kurdistan “project” (as the YPG leaders call it), teach the Kurdish separatists lessons of humility and give them a reality check, even hoping that governance will be returned to the local populations including the Arabs (the majority), the non-YPG allied Kurds and the non-YPG affiliated Aramean (Syriac) Christians.

One may acknowledge the Kurdish nationalists for joining in the fight against ISIS, but they were not the only ones combating this menace. However, this can no longer be the reason to arm and empower them as a distinct entity while speaking of ensuring Syria’s peace, security and territorial integrity, nor should it ever justify their dictatorial conduct against the local vulnerable groups.

In this region, the Kurds are betting high stakes involving serious perils for their own people if they lose. They may be willing and ready to pay the price for risking a strong Turkish or Syrian reaction. However, a grave concern, which America, France and the UK have not recognized yet, is that the Kurdish players are also throwing in priceless stakes which they do not own. Namely, non-Kurdish lives such as those of the Arameans (Syriacs), who are the only people in Syria having a continuous and well-documented presence of more than 3,000 years in Northeast Syria and Southeast Turkey. Those who are not able to distinguish between the victims and the perpetrators in this volatile region, are weakening those who already suffer and are strengthening the villains.

Click here to download this statement (pdf).

Press conference in Northeast Syria. Flags representing various groups, including the YPG and its counterpart the "Syriac" Military Council.  Source photo: Nadie Harbieh.

Press conference in Northeast Syria. Flags representing various groups, including the YPG and its counterpart the “Syriac” Military Council.
Source photo: Nadie Harbieh.

The PYD/YPG/PKK and their Aramean (Syriac) proxies 

The YPG is the military branch of the PYD, a political party of Syria’s Kurds that is an offshoot of the PKK. Just like the PKK in the 1990s had enticed, funded and organized some Arameans in Southeast Turkey, the PYD/YPG has applied the same divide-and-rule tactics among the Arameans in Northeast Syria, employing the dissenters as their mouthpiece. Out of the protection unit called “Sootoro,” which, like virtually all of Syria’s Christians, remained with the Syrian government, the PYD/YPG was able to lure a tiny group of dissidents with attractive salaries. They put them under their direct command and maintained the same name, but spelled this counterpart of the Kurdish Asayesh/security forces slightly differently in Latin as “Sutoro” (in Aramaic the name is spelled identically). Due to this intentional confusion, they were able to mislead Arameans in the West to support the wrong ‘Sootoro’. The “Syriac Military Council” (MFS), being the counterpart of the Kurdish YPG, seems to have been invented for symbolic, propagandistic and fundraising purposes.

According to local Arameans, this MFS is under the full control of the Kurds and more than 80% consists of non-Christian Arabs and former ISIS fighters! In addition, the tiny group of Aramean pawns of the YPG has set up paper organizations such as the Syriac National Council of Syria (again with the aim to confuse and deceive; note that its logo resembles our logo and that the SNCS has all but a ‘national’ representation), the Syriac Union Party (the equivalent of the Kurdish PYD) and the American Syriac Union (set up to romanticize Rojava in Washington). This group lacks the support from its own people simply because it serves Kurdish rather than Aramean (Syriac) interests.

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