media bias against Turkey's humanitarian intervention in north Syria
The U.S. Turkic Network (USTN) has highlighted several common biases that are at full display in virtually all the reports against Turkey's humanitarian intervention in north Syria. Please consider sending this letter to your legislators and local media. Of course please personalize it, feel free to shorten it as required or needed by your local newspapers. 

USTN Letter:

Dear editor/member of Congress,

The last weeks have brought a lot of misinformed, one-sided, and outright false reporting on the time-tested U.S. ally and very active NATO member Turkey and its military intervention in north Syria. As an American with Turkic roots, with keen interest and knowledge of that region, I wanted to set the record straight with the following few pertinent facts.

Syria has been in a state of civil war and foreign interventions since 2011. That is eight (8) years already that Syrian civilians are being killed, people are displaced, and infrastructure is bombed by all kinds of armed forces – with Turkey intervening only recently and on a much more limited scale than either U.S., France, UK or Russia. One would benefit to take another look at the map to realize that Turkey is the only one that shares a border with Syria, and is directly affected by everything that has been happening there since 2011.

Indeed, between March 2011 and April 2014, some 191,874 civilians were killed in Syria. One of the more recent reports, issued by the Syrian Center for Policy Research in 2016, put the death toll at 470,000, more than twice the figure issued by the United Nations in 2014. In March 2018, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the war had killed more than half a million people. So half a million civilians in Syria have been killed before Turkey even intervened in a limited area in the north of the state.

It should be noted that since the U.S.-led intervention in Syria in 2014, 29,000 civilian deaths have been pinned on that coalition, according to the London-based non-governmental organization Airwars.

Compare this to the civilian death toll from the Turkish intervention – 30 as of October 11, 2019. Surely, even 30 is too many. It is unfortunate that the war in Syria has been going on for eight years, and aside from hundreds of thousands of Syrians killed, millions displaced and billions in damages, has inflicted billions of dollars of costs on Turkey, a five million refugee influx (in a country of 75 million), and cross-border bombardment and killing of Turkish civilians living in the border areas.

Then, Turkey’s border with Syria is 511 miles long. Add to that the 206 miles of border with Iraq, itself lawless and safe haven for terrorists for well over a decade, and we can sympathize with Turkey’s counter-terrorist needs.

Since the 2011 Syrian war, Turkey welcomed close to five million legal (registered) and illegal (unregistered, or in American jargon, “undocumented”) refugees. So far, it has spent about $37 billion hosting them. That’s about 4.5% of Turkey’s economy (GDP). EU promised over $6 billion in aid but delivered only half that at best. It should be noted that France, despite bombing Syria, accepted only 11,694 Syrian refugees, the UK accepted 10,583, and the U.S. accepted around 16,218.

According to the 1998 Adana agreement between Turkey and Syria, there is a recognition of the security interests of Turkey and its need to defend itself against terrorist threats emanating from there. In other words, the sovereign nation-state of Syria actually recognized the security concerns that Turkey has had, acknowledged Turkey’s right to defend itself, and that agreement is still in effect.

Then, when describing Syria, just like Iraq before it, mass media seems to acknowledge only Sunni and Shia Arabs, and Kurds. Yet there are up to 3.5 million desperate Turcomans (Turkmens), who are ethnic kin to Turks, and live (if one can call it a life) in northern Syria, including in places like Qamishli (itself a Turkic toponym in Syria, showing that sizable Turkic population has lived there for centuries). Yet all we hear is about the populations and rights of the other two ethnic groups. As if Turkomans are expendable, and do not deserve the same humanitarian concerns as ethno-religious groups. Same treatment of nearly total ignoring was in play for the Turkmens in Kirkuk, Iraq. That is a very vivid example of Turcophobia.

We can go on and on. What is clear is that Turkey, a U.S. ally and NATO member for nearly 70 years, has the right to self-defense against attacks from various terrorist groups in Syria that have become stronger and more militarized as the result of the eight-year war and loss of centralized control of the nation. Turkey also has the moral obligation to protect the Turkic population in Syria – since no one else seems to care about millions of those civilians – much like U.S.-led coalition have openly advocated the protection of Christian minorities there.

Finally, let us look at the countries that are in opposition to Turkey’s humanitarian intervention in northern Syria (about 10% of Syrian territory, by the way): Bashar Asad’s Syria, Putin’s Russia, MBS’ Saudi Arabia, and Rouhani’s Iran. Add to that some controversial politicians in the U.S., such as Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and we have quite some company.
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