Bassam Ishak is a Syriac Christian human rights leader and a member of the SDC’s Presidential Council.

They say that all that is required for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.

Will the world act to prevent another unprovoked military invasion of US allied territory in Syria? Turkey is threatening a large-scale armed invasion into North and East Syria, a region I call home. 

Turkey has already invaded in 2018 and 2019, capturing land and leaving death and devastation in their path. They have bombed and shelled our region continuously in the years since. Turkish F-16s have been used to kill our civilians and destroy our infrastructure, such as the well-documented Turkish F-16 bombing of the Syrian Teqil Beqil power station earlier this year. There have been 56 Turkish drone attacks this year so far in Syria, as documented by the Rojava Information Center. These 56 Turkish drone attacks have killed 21 people and resulted in 63 documented injuries. They continue to occupy our region with the help of the Turkish-backed so-called “Syrian National Army,” armed religious extremist groups. Now, Turkey is again threatening to roll in with tanks and warplanes. In North and East Syria, a state of emergency has been declared. The people of the region are bracing for the full onslaught of the Turkish military.

Turkey claims that they are attacking our region for humanitarian purposes – outrageously implying that they must violently seize our territory in order to house one million Syrian refugees who currently reside in Turkey. They want to invade in order to supposedly create a “security belt” corridor to create refugee camps for Syrian refugees. But they never mention the one and a half million people who already live in the region they wish to occupy. What good will it do to kill or displace hundreds of thousands of Syrians in order to house other Syrians? Turkey wishes to displace one population of people in order to settle another population of people in their empty homes. Is that called humanitarian? No, it is called forced demographic change, which is a crime against humanity.

Turkey’s other claim is that it must attack North and East Syria in order to protect itself from terrorism. But North and East Syria is not home to terrorists, as Turkey knows. This is Turkish propaganda. It is a false basis. In fact, the regions that Turkey has occupied have become safe havens for former leaders of ISIS such as Maher al-Agal, who was recently targeted in Jindires, Afrin by the US-led Coalition, as stated by the Biden Administration.

North and East Syria is no hotbed of terrorism, as Turkey claims. It is a place that has just begun to rebuild, where people have begun collecting the pieces of their lives. The United States, recognizing the need to stabilize, has recently granted an important waiver to the Syria sanctions in order to support growth and investment in North and East Syria. This waiver acknowledges that it is in the US interest to promote stability in the region – not engage in the kind of hostilities that Turkey is planning.

What Turkish President Erdogan mentioned in a recent speech that his military was planing to invade into Syria, past the Turkish border up to 30 km deep, into a well-populated fertile agricultural region known for wheat fields and farmers. It would also allow Turkey to control a major highway called the M4, giving the country easy access into the rest of Syria.

Who will this “security belt” be good for? It would be good for ISIS. 

ISIS thrives on the kind of destabilizing invasions that Turkey is planning. They prey upon large populations of the poor and disenchanted. Even today, ISIS sleeper cells are working diligently to radicalize young people in economically disadvantaged parts of Syria.

ISIS is still a threat, with tens of thousands still living in detention facilities in northern Syria and sleeper cells raising funds and working in secret to plot their resurgence. Just earlier this year, ISIS sleeper cells staged a deadly attack against the Hasakah prison, which is managed by our Syrian Democratic Forces, attempting a large-scale prison break which would have freed thousands of ISIS fighters from detention. Only through a massive battle, lasting several days and costing hundreds of lives, did our forces manage to defend the prison. The ISIS diaspora is hungry for the resurrection of their so-called “caliphate.”

Who can recall the horrors of ISIS – the beheadings, the women forced into slavery, the black-clad hordes chanting “death to infidels”? Is this what Turkey wants more of? If bombs and war destabilize the region once again, that is what we will see.

Northern Syria is the most stable region of Syria, where we have birthed a regional government based on democracy, women’s rights, diversity, equality, and human rights. We are proud of what we have built.

This inspiring democratic model currently governs roughly four million people in North and East Syria, providing them with water, electricity, sanitation, healthcare, education, and more. It is home to the US allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces, who fought to defeat ISIS in the past decade and received weapons, training, and praise from the US military. We host US diplomats, Western academics, travelers, humanitarians and aid workers, and entrepreneurs of all types. Turkey views this progress as a threat. They wish to bomb our region back into the past, occupy it, and steal our abundant wheat fields, lush olive groves, water supplies, and more.

To allow Turkey to invade would be unconscionable. Our region must be protected, so that stability, peace, and prosperity can return to Syria.

Will the good people of the world stand up and do the right thing? Or will good people step aside, let Turkey destabilize our region, and allow evil to prevail?