WASHINGTON, DC — In light of the Turkish government’s renewed threats of unprovoked military action against northeastern Syria, we condemn Turkey’s illegal and dangerous stance as a coalition of concerned Americans. We pledge to impose sanctions on Turkey should it carry out this unprovoked cross-border attack.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched an ongoing series of unprovoked military campaigns in northern Syria in violation of the Geneva Conventions. They did this under the false pretense of fighting terrorism.
After the territorial defeat of the IS, a democratic project has succeeded in north-eastern Syria. This democratic society was built by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and protected by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), America’s closest and most trusted ally in the fight against ISIS, for nearly a decade.
Under the AANES, Northeast Syria is home to Arabs, Kurds and Christians and values ethno-religious pluralism and gender equality.
Turkey is trying to destroy this burgeoning but fragile democratic project.
Contrary to Turkish claims, Northeast Syria does not pose a security threat to Turkey. The AANES and SDF consistently serve to prevent the reconstitution of ISIS.
Turkey’s continued military action in northeastern Syria will strengthen ISIS and other jihadist groups, as has been observed following each successive Turkish invasion since 2016. It has been confirmed by multiple sources that in addition to Turkey’s conventional forces, Turkey’s military campaigns in northeastern Syria have effectively deployed ISIS fighters and jihadist militias.
If Turkey wants to fight terrorism by creating a so-called security zone, it can do so within its borders without violating its neighbor’s territorial integrity. Turkey must not be allowed to use a “safe zone” as a pretext for land grabs, as it has done in other parts of northern Syria, such as Afrin. Turkish President Erdogan is looking to stoke tensions and solidify his nationalist base as his domestic popularity continues to falter and the presidential elections loom. Turkey’s threats of military action against northeastern Syria only prolong the Syrian civil war and put American military personnel at continued risk.
We call on the Biden administration to prevent Turkey from launching another illegal Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria and expanding its occupation. We call on Congress to ensure that any military action is met with swift and forceful economic and military sanctions against Turkey.
American Friends of Kurdistan President Diliman Abdulkader stated: “Turkey must be held accountable for its continued threats against the Kurds and other minorities in the region. Erdogan’s goal is to conquer, occupy and Turkishize land outside Turkey’s border. The Biden administration and Congress have an opportunity to stop Erdogan before he launches another unwarranted invasion. The Erdogan regime has become a major security concern for the people of north-eastern Syria simply trying to recover from the civil war.”
According to Richard Ghazal, executive director of In Defense of Christians, “Turkey has demonstrated its commitment to destroying the burgeoning democracy in north-eastern Syria and wiping out the last remaining Aramaic-speaking Christian towns with daily bombing. This is unscrupulous. Erdogan’s game is not only ruthless; it is a methodical and deliberate test of US and NATO resolve.”
“Ankara must be held accountable for its rising tide of regional aggression, most recently in the form of Erdogan’s threat to launch cross-border attacks against America’s battle-hardened Arab, Kurdish, Syrian-Assyrian and other allies,” said executive director of The Armenian National Committee of America ( ANCA), Aram Hamparian. “This must start with an immediate ban on arms sales and should also include strong sanctions against Erdogan and his inner circle.”
“Turkey’s recent actions in north-eastern Syria once again demonstrate Erdogan’s pattern of aggression and his efforts to destabilize regions around the world, including South Asia, where he supports terrorists in Indian Kashmir and, contrary to US interests, has an increasingly dangerous relationship with the Pakistani military. said Samir Kalra, executive director of the Hindu American Foundation. “It would be reckless to sell arms to Turkey until they change their behavior in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere.”
Endy Zemenides, executive director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council, said: “The West has finally confronted the revisionist powers after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Turkey’s planned invasion of northern Syria threatens the principles being fought for in Ukraine. It’s time for the US and EU to prove that commitments to territorial sovereignty, human rights and the rule of law are not met with double standards. All revisionist powers – be it Russia or Turkey – should be condemned and sanctioned internationally.”
Cliff Smith, head of the Middle East Forum’s Washington Project, added: “For too long the US government has turned a blind eye, even at times allowing Turkish aggression against the Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Kurdish forces have been a key partner in our fight against ISIS and deserve American support. The US government should let Erdogan know that there is a price to pay for his aggression.”