SAA/SDF cooperation against Turks is working


"The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) entered late on November 7 new villages in northern al-Hasakah, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

“Syrian Arab Army units widen their deployment in the villages of Umm Shuaiyfah, al-Faysaliyah, al-Manakh and al-Mahmoudiyah on the axis of Tell Tamr-Ras al-Ayn,” the SANA’s reporter in al-Hasakah said.

Militants of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) launched a large-scale attack on these villages last month, capturing most of them. Back then, the SAA was forced to withdraw from the nearby town of Tell Tamr.

The villages were recaptured by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) within a few days, with SNA militants retreating to their original positions around the border town of Ras al-Ayn.

The SAA’s deployment in these village is likely aimed at deterring Turkish-backed militants, who are still launching limited attacks in northeast Syria. Army units entered the region last month to prevent such attacks following an agreement with the SDF."  sf


SAA troops are now operating in close cooperation with the SDF Kurdish and Arab forces for the purpose of resisting the Turkish backed Syrian National Army (SNA) of jihadis.  The Turkish Army stands behind the SNA and has supported them with artillery fires and air attacks but has not itself advanced beyond urban areas right on the border.  Evidently the blandishments of both the Russian and US governments have kept them from trying to advance farther into Syria.  This development indicates the possibility of further progress in re-uniting Syria politically.

The bizarre neocon attempt to withhold Syria's small  oil deposits from the national government is bound to fail.  It represents the fading effect of neocon arguments made by people like Keane and Pompeo.

Meanwhile, the R+6 continue to prep the battlefield in western Idlib and eastern Latakia for a renewal of the effort to recover that territory for the Syrian government.  IMO the ground effort when it comes will be toward Jisr as-Shugur from the west and north up the Al-Ghaab Valley.  pl

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69 Responses to SAA/SDF cooperation against Turks is working

  1. plantman says:

    Thanks for the update, but the situation in Syria is now more complicated than ever. (at least, to me)
    How will Russia counter Trump’s determination to hold onto the oil fields? And who will control the vast area between the Turkish-held safe zone and the oil fields near Deir Ezzor?? Will the SAA move into areas unoccupied by Turkey (to the north) and the US (to the south??
    This is a real mess! It seems like the probability of an unexpected clash between the US and Russia is now greater than ever…
    And now Dunford is gone and (from what I read) he was honcho who controlled the deconfliction issues.

  2. JP Billen says:

    Much of the SDF resistance in Tell Tamr is by troops of the Christian Assyrian/Syriac MFS. They have long been allied with the YPG and are a key component of the SDF. The Syriacs call the town Til Temir. It is a gateway to the Khabour valley whose farms and villages are mostly Syriac Christian.

  3. Leith says:

    Agree with your Jisr ash-Shugur opinion. Although it will be a tough go coming from the west. Rugged terrain and both TIP and HTS (al-Qaeda) are deeply dug in. Lots of caves and tunnels, it’s a battle against trogdolytes, or maybe H.G. Wells’ Morlocks. May need thermobarics to dig them out of there.
    They are mostly foreigners in that part of Idlib. Many Chechens and Uzbeks in al Qaeda and of course the TIP is predominately Uighur with some Turkmen. Erdogan is arming and resupplying these rats via Hatay. The SAA knows it. The Russians are aware of it also.

  4. turcopolier says:

    Elora Danon
    Remarkable analysis for a young Catalan girl.

  5. turcopolier says:

    Elora Danan
    i have asked people NOT TO use my blog as a bulletin board to post other people’s stuff. If you cannot think for yourself do not post anything.

  6. turcopolier says:

    Trump is not “determined” to hold on to Syria’s little oil deposits. This is just the latest thing shoved at him by the neocons. He will tire of it.

  7. jonst says:

    I am genuinely puzzled Col (and this certainly may be due to own analytical limitations) as to WHO Trump is taking advice from. Or can depend on. He seems highly isolated to me. I can’t say as i blame him for this given, my perception, anyway, that he is surrounded by spies, snakes and snitches. However, you can’t run Maine alone, never mind the US. He seems harried, harassed, and a bit overwhelmed. I would readily understand, if that were so. But this not Shakespearean Drama where we simply concern ourselves with moral dilemmas. You have to be able to govern. And I am starting to have my doubts. I no longer know who is ACTUALLY in charge at DOD. Or at Homeland Security. Or at the NSA….Oh, I know the names alright. But I have no clue who these people are. Pence seems worse than useless to me. Mick M is in the process of having his legs amputated. Rudy has been sidelined. Perry is on the way out at Energy. China? Who know who has the President’s ear on that front. Lighthizer or Navarro? And Don Jr, Ivanka, Jared et al seem pipsqueak morons to me. To be frank.

  8. turcopolier says:

    He is trying to run the US government single handed with everyone else being some kind of flunky. that is the way he ran his business. He has has no ability to absorb complex thoughts and will not read anything given to him. I am surprised he has gotten this far. I suppose he is tolerated by the Deplorables because th alternatives are so awful

  9. A.I.S. says:

    My understanding is that the deplorables considered a narcissist president as less bad then a sociopath president who explicitly hates them. This is a fairly reasonable position to take.
    Having worked under people who are perhaps a bit like trump, they can be handled, even without kissing their rear ends.
    Narcissist like having options and making decisions. They dislike details, unless they are micromanaging narcissists (who are far more annoying to deal with then the general variety). The best way to get anything out of Trump is probably this: We have options A, B and C, put the main pros and cons on one page, ask for a decsion. As long as neither of the options is garbage, and as long as the narcissist sticks with this decision (which they tend to be inclined to do) you get a reasonably quick awnser out of him and then implement it. Implementing a good option quickly is often better then implementing a better options slowly and by comitee, perhaps even more so in a military setting.
    You can go around the risk of selecting a garbage option by not having garbage options on the menu, and honestly, the impact such decisions make is actually fairly overstated most of the time. If he asks why the presention has like, one slide, you awnser that it boils down to this and why would you be wasting his time?
    This is far easier then dealing with sociopaths. Basically, a sociopath will consider you a threat to be controlled or destroyed if you show any sign of being more intelligent, knowledgeable or in any other way shape or form ahead of him. This can get really annoying really quickly. You can get by by specifically displaying a weakness so that the psycho considers you less threatening.
    Narcissists consider themselfs superior by default and thus do not require such displays.

  10. doug says:

    What has happened with the White Helmets? Are their true colors coming out with Turkey (apparently their training base) invading border areas? The only thing I’ve seen are some Kurdish sources saying the WH’s are moving into areas now occupied by Turkey and it’s surrogates. I’ve marveled at how the White Helmets were portrayed in glowing terms in most of out media though it’s always seemed more of a propaganda effort than anything.

  11. Jane says:

    It may be that someone that Trump listened to, at least once, got him excited about the oil in order to undo the departure of our troops, a sudden move after talking to Erdo. It is unlikely that he asked or figured out how much [or little] oil was involved. Meanwhile, Erdo will come roaring into DC screaming about the Armenian [and Assyrian and Greek] Genocide bill and hear the folks in Congress referring to his invasion of northern Syria as the beginning of a genocide against the Kurds.
    Those Assyrians who settled along the Khabour river in villages for individual tribes, did so under the French mandate. They are the remnants of the Assyrians of Hakkari in Turkey who fled first to Urmia in Iran, then to the Nineveh Plain and finally to this safe and fertile spot. I wonder whether Erdo’s Congressional or WH interlocutors are aware of the backstory. The Armenians in Hassakeh and the rest of Syria are also descendants of survivors. Erdo is getting criticized back home by the opposition for his failure to carry through with the full takeover he planned.

  12. Jane says:

    It’s hard to believe that any thought was given to this US/SDF plan for eastern Syria. The mainly Kurdish SDF rule after ISIS fled was a source of anger and frustration by the Arab tribal majority in the area. It is hard to imagine their putting up with it much longer, especially with the goal of taking the nation’s oil. ISIS escapees have likely found a safe haven with the ISIS sleeper cells and other disgruntled jihadis from the area. And then we have the Turkish-backed jihadis from Jaysh al Islam and the others. It looks like we are setting up a perfect storm.

  13. Babak Makkinejad says:

    This is not new or unexpected.
    Both East and West in the Cold War were offshoots of the Enlightenment Tradition. And both carried out and maintained that God did not matter.
    But He did matter, and a civil war was fought in Spain over that.

  14. Babak Makkinejad says:

    What are your policy recommendations for US and Europeans in the Near East?

  15. Petrel says:

    I continue to hold that President Trump is attempting to return the US to a pre-1945 dispensation of 33% tariffs — with minimal imports of raw materials the nation did not truly have — and a domestic economy funding wages 33% higher than that of Europe. In this dispensation, the US had no need to patrol the world’s oceans, nor maintain military bases in 110 countries.
    Of course President Trump’s dispensational return challenges the MIC, the State Department, industrial globalists of all sub-sets, from the EU, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, Senator McConnell’s wife and the Vindman twins busily transferring Ukrainian aid into their bank accounts. Mindful of what has happened to other, like-minded “heretics,” the President never articulates his agenda clearly, and has no real lieutenants in the White House.
    On the other hand, President Trump reports to his Deplorable rally goers just how many factories and jobs have returned to their States in the last 18, 24, 30 months, with a believable promise to deliver yet more. Fortunately for him, our national elite does not tune into these rallies and his promises of manufacturing job return, increased employment and higher wages. Our national elite also does not register the extraordinary boom of “MAIN STREETS” in fly-over country.
    Should he be re-elected and manage the US economy for a further 4 years, we may know whether President Trump’s dispensational return has succeeded and whether his Deplorable followers have developed resistance to elite sabotage.

  16. johnf says:

    John le Carre is an old man but his despair has turned to anger.
    His books over the last ten years are furious excoriations of the Western elites – their betrayal and destruction of all Western values and moralities.
    Like some old Lear or desert prophet, his recent writings have been a joy to read.

  17. Peter AU 1 says:

    Trump, Iran and his fixation on oil go back at least to 1980.
    1980 interview
    1987 interview
    Trump’s hatred of Iran may stem from the Tehran embassy hostage drama that he speaks about in the 1980 interview. Hezbollah because they are linked to Iran and the Beirut barracks bombing.

  18. turcopolier says:

    She said she had named herself for this character, boss

  19. turcopolier says:

    What goes around comes around. Payback is a bitch.

  20. Brad Ruble says:

    I don’t know if I will phrase this properly. Viewing the map, I read it as the Hajin Pocket at Al Bukama. I did not know we have had soldiers captured by ISIS. Is this accurate or do they mean people other than U.S. personal.

  21. turcopolier says:

    Brad Ruble
    I think they mean other than US.

  22. JP Billen says:

    There have been Assyrians living in the Khabur Valley for millenia, since the time of the Assyrian Empire, long before they converted to Christianity in Roman times. Syriac Arameans have also lived there with them. I’m sure they welcomed Hakkari refugees. But most refugees that fled to that valley from the Assyrian Genocide in Turkey were survivors from the massacres in Diyarbakir and Mardin. There have also been some Armenian refugees there for the last hundred years or so.
    As for the oil, The SDF, or rather their civilian counterpart the SDC, is still sharing oil with the Assad Government via Raqqa middlemen. So Trump ends up guarding the oil to keep it from Assad, yet he ends up unknowingly facilitating its transfer to Assad despite American sanctions?

  23. Isn’t it a question of what options he gets?
    If Dana Stroul of the Syria Study Group is anything to go by the options presented to Trump are uniformly disastrous. Sanctions, cutting off access to oil and cropland, preventing reconstruction and diplomatic isolation.
    I watched the House Committee hearing. As far as I can recollect none asked how these measures against the “Assad regime” would affect civilians. None contested the picture put forward by Dana Stroul and Michael Singh.
    A ZH video (3rd down, short) shows Dana Stroul setting out her case elsewhere –
    If these are the sort of options being presented to the President, and being presented by experts he’ll presumably trust as being well-informed, it’s difficult to see how any useful Presidential decisions can emerge from the process.

  24. Jane says:

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

  25. Leith says:

    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.

  26. Serge says:

    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

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    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.

  28. elaine says:

    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.

  29. johnf says:

    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.

  30. d74 says:

    @ 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:

  31. JP Billen says:

    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.

  32. Babak Makkinejad says:

    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.

  33. Babak Makkinejad says:

    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.

  34. Babak Makkinejad says:

    What are your recommendations for US policy?

  35. JP Billen says:

    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.

  36. Jane says:

    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.

  37. JP Billen says:

    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.

  38. elaine says:

    JP Billen, Thank you.

  39. Babak Makkinejad says:

    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?

  40. Barbara Ann says:

    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.

  41. Barbara Ann says:

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

  42. JP Billen says:

    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?

  43. Adrestia says:

    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.

  44. Jane says:

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

  45. Jane says:

    And the Iranians did not fight with us at Normandy.

  46. Jane says:

    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.

  47. JP Billen says:

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

  48. Babak Makkinejad says:

    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.

  49. d74 says:

    In 1967, Mustapha Barzani, also known as Mullah Barzani, explained to a journalist, René Mauriès, that the dream of a Kurdish state under the Treaty of Sèvres, ( 1920, where Iran (Persia) was not a party) was now dead and buried. The countries in question are frozen (Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran apart), so it is impossible to disrupt the Middle East. On the other hand, Kurdish autonomy, cultural and political, was what he was fighting for. And that is what the Kurds in Iraq got. The Barzani family (Barzan tribe) still holds the handle, a great continuity.
    The other Kurdish authority on this issue, Ocalan, is not saying anything else, but for different reasons.
    Let us conclude: the Kurds, from west to east, do not want a state. They want recognition of their specificity, with the local freedoms that go with it. This objective is achievable as the Kurds of Iraq show. And as the Rojava has shown, weapons in hand against Daesh, for about 5 years.
    There is nothing here that threatens the stability of these countries, except perhaps Turkey. From 1860 to 1923, Turkey managed minority issues through the most extreme violence. That’s what makes her weak. In 2019, this is no longer acceptable.
    Unfortunately, I have little valid information about Iran.


    No, Iran was occupied by UK, USSR, and US at the time; invaded against International Law.
    What was the difference between Germany invading a declared neutral country – Belgium, and Allies invading Iran?

  51. d74 says:

    Our host replied, and I quote:
    “I would abandon the regime change policy with regard to Syria and make a deal with the Syrian government that includes protection for our Kurdish allies and a continuation of the war against the jihadis.”
    Moreover, persuading Turks to return home should not be an insurmountable task for the State Department. They often have persuasive means for “allies”.


    What was the position of Protestant Churches in US on the invasion of Iraq?
    On Destablization of Syria?
    On Destruction of Libya?
    On the disposition of Palestine?
    On Israeli invasion of Lebanon?

  53. JP Billen says:

    Thanks Babak – I had no idea. But had to look him up after your comment. Where I found that there is now a ‘Dr Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture’ at the University of California in Irvine. And there is still a statue of him at Amirkabir University in Tehran. Perhaps at some time in the distant future there might be a reduction in sword waving between our two countries.


    When Iranians took away American College at Tehran from its American founders, they split it into two pieces – with a brick wall in between.
    One became Alborz High school and the other Amirkabir (Technical University).
    There is still a Jordan Hall there.
    I will not be alive when that sword beating begins – 37 years from now.


    There are no articles of alliance obtaining between the United States and Syrian Kurds; they were using US and US was using them. Each of them got something in return.
    It is up to Syrian Kurds to decide what is more important; living their lives – like the Armenians do – within Syria or to go again for the unreachable goal of destroying the Turkish and Syria states.

  56. elaine says:

    Just to free associate off your mention of Armenia, the largest Yazidi temple in the world was recently built in Armenia,funded primarily by a Yazidi businessman from Moscow.
    The largest Yazidi presence in the U.S. is in Lincoln, NB. If what has & is being done to these ppl in the M.E. is not an attempted genocide I don’t know what a genocide is. All this slaughter,enslavement,destruction
    justified by some purported concept that these ppl are “devil worshippers” even though they behave primarily in a very peaceful manner & don’t proselytize.
    I’m trying to grasp exactly what your post is recommending to counter the
    atrocities being committed against Christians in many parts of the M.E, (Africa & Asian countries also) primarily by Islamists; it sounds like hands off, keep quiet, let nature take it’s course or risk making it worse b/c ‘Christianity is associated with colonialism.’ Except in the case of Israel where it appears you’d prefer some intervention.
    That is what you’re saying, isn’t it?

  57. JP Billen says:

    Babak – What is the significance of the 37 years you mention?
    By the way, I understand another Prespyterian missionary founded Iran’s first modern medical school in Urmia.

  58. Leith says:

    The invasion and occupation was done by the UK and USSR. The American troops there came later as part of the Military Railway Service to maintain the rails and stock, and other engineering troops for road and port construction.
    Of course there were American civilian contractors from Douglas, Studebaker, and other companies that helped to build assembly factories for warplanes, trucks and much war material. Those factories were run by Iranians, and after the war became the nucleus for Iranian industry.

  59. d74 says:

    Îlham Ehmed is like the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab-Kurdish entity of North-East Syria, to which Rojava is a party. She was in Washington, D.C. (State Department) recently.
    Rojava Network‏ @RojavaNetwork 12 nov.
    Îlham Ehmed to the quastion if SDC want establish an Western Kurdistan: “We do not want to create an Kurdish unit and rojava is not an national project, but we have national rights as a Kurdish people and we have rights as a Syrian people.”
    This is only one of the many many statements made by Kurdish leaders on the issue, all in the same direction: no Kurdish state.
    The latest interview with Bashar El Assad is encouraging on the Kurdish , saying that the bridges have never been broken between them. It appears that the inevitable return of the Syrian State to the area will be done with caution and understanding. Let’s note that this is due to the Turkish aggression!
    The question is still pending but its answer is certain: the 2 parties are condemned to agree, between Syrians national that they have never ceased to be. Necessary compromises are inevitable. War and suffering make you realistic. The Kurds have shown that they are realistic.
    N.B.: I agree with you about the pseudo-alliance between Kurds and USA. That is a rhetorical question now. The United States is roasted in the north of Golan Heights. Everything happens as if they no longer matter. They retain a certain capacity for nuisance, at most. The Kurds are very polite about USA , but their politeness is not misleading. They went off the band-wagon just in time… And the Russians are not far from suffering the same “politeness”.


    Some months ago I posted an application of Bayesian statistics to the duration of confrontation between USA and Iran. That was the number that I computed for the remaining years.


    If you believe Elham Ehmed, I have a bridge to sell you right here in Michigan.

  62. d74 says:

    Considering the state of my wallet, even a bridge below 2 feet is out of reach! It would have to be 4200 miles long to get us closer.
    And I believe her. In this lying poker mess, she and the people she represents still lie the least.
    I have just learned that US officials strongly advise against Kurds negotiating with Damascus. Hassle, nothing more.


    That is the problem with you guys.
    You are going among foreigners who lie to you and tell you what you want to hear – to manipulate you to do their bidding.
    Israelis, Turks, Arabs, Kurds, Indians, Pakistanis, Afghans – it matters not. They know you more than you know them and they know which buttons to push.

  64. Leith says:

    Pompeo’s State Dept is pushing back against Kurd/Damascus talks. One of his point men, Joel “Jihadi” Rayburn, went spastic trying to get the SDF to make nice with the Turk backed SNA in order to oppose Iranian presence in Syria. The idiot apparently does not understand that many of those Turkish mercenaries are former members of ISIS or other terrorist groups like Ahrar al-Sharqiya, Nour al-Din al-Zenki, and others. SDF, or at least the Kurdish and Christian components, would never ally with those headchoppers and liver eaters.
    On the other hand there have been statements by senior US flag officers from the Pentagon and from within the coalition that we would never interfere with the SDF making deals with Assad. Or with the Russians. And the Pentagon has video footage from drones showing Erdogan’s proxies committing war crimes per the Wall Street Journal.
    I don’t think the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.
    Meanwhile Trump repeated today, that he only is keeping troops there for the oil. His words from todays press conference: “We’re keeping the oil, we have the oil, the oil is secure, we left troops behind only for the oil”.
    Speaking of oil, the SDF is still continuing to send oil to Assad’s refinery via Raqqa middlemen.

  65. turcopolier says:

    Agree. Most Americans will believe any kind o nonsense that they are told by “the natives.”

  66. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Exactly so. Like Margaret Meade who soaked up all the fairly tales that her Samoan informers were telling her about the sexual utopia that they were inhabiting.

  67. turcopolier says:

    One of my boring lecture points is the difference between “emic” data (what people tell you about themselves) and “etic” data (that which you come to believe is true).

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