Vicar of Aleppo slams US and Europe for betraying the Kurds and boosting jihadis

Washington promised independence to the Kurds, and now it has abandoned them to their foe. Europe (and the UN) "have done nothing" concrete other than endorse sanctions. The killings during Turkey’s offensive are similar to the massacres by Islamic extremists. Ethnic cleansing is affecting Christians too.

Aleppo (AsiaNews) - The United States "has betrayed the Kurdish people", deceiving them about a possible path towards "independence" from Syria and then abandoning them to their fate for their own reasons, said Mgr Georges Abou Khazen, apostolic vicar of Aleppo of the Latins, reacting to Turkey’s jihadi-backed anti-Kurdish offensive in northern Syria.

The prelate is also critical of Europe, which "we do not trust. We do not believe in them. On the sixth day of fighting, they have done nothing so far" other than utter empty words and proclamations.

"We are very worried about what is happening," said the vicar, "as a result of the Turkish invasion in the northeast. We already have tens of thousands of refugees, with many stories of people horribly killed on the ground, according to Daesh[i] modus operandi: executed their hands tied."

The victims include “not only Kurds, but also Armenian Christians, Assyrians, Chaldeans who have already known persecution under the Ottoman Empire, which is now affecting their grandchildren and great-grandchildren".

In Qamishli "the first victims of the bombing were two Christians" and if the Turkish "offensive continues, many will try to escape," triggering a new exodus.

From the latest war reports it is clear, as some have suggested, that anti-Assad jihadi groups and militias are an integral part of the forces the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent in. On paper, he claims that he is fighting terrorism and wants to eliminate the Islamic State group, but on the ground, he is favouring its revival.

"Jihadis operate and fight under the auspices of the Turkish army. They [the Turks] claim they want to repatriate Syrian refugees to places where other peoples and communities already live,” the vicar explained. “In fact, the goal is ethnic cleansing, to settle other refugees. They are doing the same in Afrin, causing a human tragedy. Meanwhile, political leaders are doing nothing. These wars do not solve problems; on the contrary, they lay the foundations for other, bigger ones."

"The United States has betrayed the Kurds. It is true that the Syrians were against Kurdish independence. A form of autonomy could be envisaged but it was the Americans who pushed them towards independence. The US helped them occupy a quarter of Syrian territory, where there are oil wells and natural gas reserves. And now they have abandoned them and sold them” to their Turkish foe.

"Trump has pledged US million to defend minorities in Syria, but they are the first victims of American policy in Syria. The White House used Syria; for us its biggest mistake was intervening in our internal affairs.”

The Turkish offensive has also created problems related to "the thousands of prisoners in the hands of the Kurds. "What will happen to those who helped Daesh?” wonders the prelate. “With Turkey’s offensive, they’ll end up with those Ankara trained and helped, encouraging their entry [into the country], and whose revival will now be favoured by the [Turkish] occupation.”

The vicar of Aleppo is harsh with Europe as well, “which we don’t trust. We do not believe in them" because "they have done nothing" other than make empty statements which do not fit the facts.

Neither the European Union nor the United Nations "have done anything concrete in nine years; indeed, they have favoured the escalation of sanctions against Syria, which have ended up affecting only the population."

Some reports from the disputed areas mention “damages to power stations and aqueducts, which will eventually aggravate the situation for the civilian population."

Hopefully, if the Syrian army moves in it can contribute "to the defence of the territory. It is clear that Turkey has not done all this on its own, but has received the green light from big powers and only they can put an end to all this.”

“At first, Turkey spoke of a 5 km buffer zone in Syrian territory. Yesterday Erdogan went as far as 30-35 km . . . The more you get the more you want."

[i] Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.