Turkish Army Takes Afrin, Syria from Kurds
AFRIN, Syria – Turkish forces have overtaken the Syrian town of Afrin, driving the Kurdish forces out. To most readers in the Western Hemisphere, this news has little relevance. Most us have no idea who’s who or what is where in the conflict in Syria.
The situation for Christians in Afrin is, however, troubling.
Though only 25 miles from war-torn Aleppo, the city of Afrin is situated within an inland peninsula surround by Turkey which is less than 15 miles away. Its proximity to Turkey has helped the city to be one of only a few in the entire country of Syria that has been free of conflict and violence.
The Kurdish forces that have been in Afrin are a singular component of what the global media has labeled as “the rebel forces,” a name that some construe as ISIS (they are not) or as generically bad because of the nature of the word “rebel.” Russia supports the Assad dictatorship. The U.S. has supported the overthrow of Assad’s regime but has opposed the ISIS-backed rebel forces. The ISIS and the Kurdish forces are not aligned.
Kurdistan is a self-governing state within Iraq. Its forces have been in existential conflict with ISIS for over five years. The Kurdish state sits on one of the world’s largest oil reserves, but it has no direct way to ship its oil to the seaports for transportation around the globe unless it can build a pipeline. ISIS want’s control of the pipeline. Russia wants control of the pipeline. Turkey wants to control the pipeline.
The U.S. and Turkey are NATO allies. The U.S. has declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and will be moving its embassy there is May 2018. President Erdogan of Turkey has vowed to establish an “Army of Islam” to destroy Israel.
Erdogan has made no bones about his desire to establish an Islamic Caliphate with Ankara as its capital. He has called for Muslim domination of all of Europe.
Turkey is home to one of the U.S.’ most strategic air bases in the Middle East. Turkey continues to detain American pastor Andrew Brunson on charges of spying.
The current Afrian situation is ironically as twisted as the Gordian Knot that Alexander the Great is reported to have broken. Ironic, not only because of its complexity but also because the famed knot was in Phrygia which is now a portion of Turkey situated on the Asia continent next to Syria.
A CBN News story today led with the headline, “’Come Back to Allah’: Syrian Christians Fear Persecution After Turkish Takeover.” In that report, a Syrian Kurdish Christian told how the church has been growing during the Syrian conflict as Muslim citizens have sought refuge in the peace of Afrin. Scores of them have also found peace in Christ.
These new believers know what is happening around them. They have heard the threats of potential persecution from Turkish soldiers, one of whom said,
“By Allah, if you repent and come back to Allah, then know that you are our brothers,” a soldier in the video said. “But if you refuse, then we see that your heads are ripe and that it is time for us to pluck them.”
Turkish President Erdogan has indicated that he plans to continue to expand his military operations in Syria.
The question now is what comes next. It appears that the international community has no interest in venturing into the fray. Rather, most are waiting to see how the knot unravels.
Christians in the region have reason to believe that, as with Alexander, the knot cannot be unraveled, but will be broken only with the sword.