Steve Willer: An open letter to Congress |

Steve Willer: An open letter to Congress

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Steve Willer

On April 25 at least 18 airstrikes carried out by the Turkish military on northern Syria's autonomous Kurdish region killed 12 members of the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) and eight members of the People's Protection Units (YPG).

Five Peshmerga, a Yazidi fighter in the Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) and a Yazidi civilian were also killed in concurrent air strikes on the Yazidi homeland in Northern Iraq. In Syria the YPG and YPJ are part of the ground forces known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF.

These were all people at the forefront of the fight against a medieval totalitarian mentality that is ISIS.

The world looked on with pride and joy when the fearless women of the YPJ were among the forces that liberated Kurdish, Arab, Turkmen and Circassian women from ISIS in Manbij Syria last August, Kobane in January in 2015 and many other towns, Sarin, Hassakah, Tal Tamar, towns and villages all across Northeast Syria.

As an American citizen I am calling on our members of Congress to raise the question of and condemn Turkey’s airstrikes on Kurdish allies in Syria and Iraq ...

Images of women freed from ISIS brutal control showed their happiness with shedding their enforced veils, smiling, hugging members of the SDF and Kurdish forces of the YPG and YPJ. Many of those Kurdish and Arab force grew up in the very towns they had just liberated hit headlines across the world.

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We should be proud of these people willing to stand up and risk their lives against the evil terrorist of the Islamic State who want to drag people back to a barbaric 7th Century Caliphate.

Now these same Kurdish women were the target by the Turkish government, which continues supporting reactionary, Islamic jihadist groups in Syria.

Turkish President Erdogan claims he is fighting terrorism, but that is a lie. Turkey is supporting authoritarian, anti-democratic and extremist groups that have the same ideology as him. It's not hard to see Erdogan's support for groups like Ahrar al-Sham, the al-Qaeda branches in Syria. Erdogan and his family have been supporters of ISIS jihadists since their beginning.

How can our government turn a blind eye to Turkey's transgressions while the U.S. Coalition also supports Kurdish and Arab forces, our partners in the fight against ISIS? How can we allow Turkey, another NATO member to undermine Coalition goals? NATO members are supposed to have Western standards that include democracy, press freedoms, and human rights. Under President Erdogan, Turkey has dismissed most of those standards.

The Kurdish forces fighting ISIS have now surrounded their last stronghold in Syria, the town of Raqqa. Recent air strikes by Turkey targeting our ground partners fighting ISIS is damaging US and Coalition efforts to defeat the jihadists.

As an American citizen I am calling on our members of Congress to raise the question of and condemn Turkey's airstrikes on Kurdish allies in Syria and Iraq, and urging them to take steps in making sure this is stopped.

Steve Willer lives in Grass Valley.

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