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Letters: Readers sift issues of war in Syria

Reader letters to Newsday for Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019

Kurdish women living in Cyprus shout slogans and

Kurdish women living in Cyprus shout slogans and hold a portrait of the Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a protest against Turkey's offensive into Syria, in Nicosia, Cyprus on Tuesday. Credit: AP/Petros Karadjias

There is more to the story of the Kurds, and Americans should not be too quick to judge Turkey’s invasion of Syria [“Turkey launches attack,” News, Oct. 10].

The United States allied itself with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units because its fighters were effective in defeating Islamic State invaders in northern Syria. However, this militia is allied with the Marxist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been engaged in armed conflict with Turkey and is listed by that country, the European Union and the United States as a terrorist organization. In places the groups take over, they put up pictures of Abdullah Ocalan, a founder of Kurdistan Workers’ Party who has been imprisoned by Turkey since 1999.

The overriding goal of the People’s Protection Units in Syria and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey is to create a state in northern Syria and southeastern Turkey.

The United States would not tolerate a communist-terrorist ministate in northern Mexico with goals to take over Texas, New Mexico and California. The cooperation between the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units and the United States was simply a temporary arrangement in which the United States supplied that militia with heavy weapons to fight a mutual enemy, the Islamic State.

As an immigrant from Turkey, I do not believe it is in the interest of the United States to shun Turkey, a longtime ally, in favor of what I believe is a terrorist group.

Ismet Apdiroglu,

  Island Park


President Donald Trump has done the unconscionable. This man of self-described “great and unmatched wisdom” abandoned the Kurds, our ally in the fight against terrorism, and opened the door for Turkey to invade Syria. I believe that Turkey’s objective is not to defeat the Islamic State, but to engage in the genocide of ethnic Kurds.

The pretense of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to return to Syria the refugees who fled from ISIS and are in camps in Turkey. Erdogan has further threatened to “open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees” to Europe if there is interference with his plan to be rid of Syrian Kurds. A NATO nation has invaded Syria and its president, Bashar Assad, was silent.

I expect that the UN will condemn Turkey, fighting bombs with words while the world stands by as civilians, including children, are killed. The responsibility for this genocide falls squarely on the shoulders of this administration.

Chris Monzert,



With the exodus of U.S. forces from northern Syria and territories controlled by the Kurds, our allies in the war against the Islamic State, it should be somewhat reassuring that Syrian forces might safeguard the Kurds and continue the war on ISIS.

The days of the United States regarding Syria, under President Bashar Assad, as our enemy might be ending. The policy of fighting both Assad and ISIS was doomed to fail from the start. The fact is that not only did U.S. forces and the Kurds help contain ISIS, so did Assad’s Syrian forces with the help of Russians.

Unpleasant as it may be, given Assad’s violent repression of his own people, it is high time to end the misguided U.S. policy of trying to bring regime change to Syria at the behest of our most powerful allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Assad had brought reforms and secularization before Syria’s devastating civil war, which I believe may have been brought on by the spread of ISIS in the void left in Iraq following the U.S. invasion there. Assad is the victor here, and we should begin to work constructively with his regime on issues of mutual interest.

This is an opportunity to normalize our relationship, restore diplomatic relations and help the Kurds at the same time, while doing everything necessary to avoid a direct confrontation with Turkey.

Harry Katz,



The Turkish government has launched a military offensive of artillery and airstrikes against the Kurdish people. Thousands of them are fleeing with no place to go. Some fear a genocide.

Before World War II, German theologian Martin Neimoller called attention to the actions of his government against Christians and Jews. He was imprisoned, then later liberated from the German concentration camp at Dachau. Neimoller is best remembered for his oral confession of personal guilt as a bystander to the actions of the Nazis. Now, in 2019, given the millions of refugees from Syria — as well as other displaced people around the world — Neimoller’s words resonate.

Will we sit by as bystanders, safe and secure in our own homes and our own country? Ponder these words of Martin Neimoller and determine what you will do:

“First they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Finally, they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Bill Kiley,

  East Northport


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