Johny Messo, President of the World Council of Arameans (WCA; indigenous Syriac speaking Middle Eastern Christians), has written thoughtfully and sympathetically about Zionism as a (belated) prototype for “Arameanism,” though he guardedly refrains from “championing” Zionism, outright, today. Mr. Messo, nonetheless, does not appear to have imbibed in any way the vitriolic Antisemitic persuasions one too frequently encounters, sadly, among Middle Eastern Christians (rooted in continued promotion of the Deicide allegation, and rejection of Vatican II’s ecumenism toward Jews and Judaism). Indeed, Mr. Messo expressed his sincere gratitude when Israel became the first nation to officially recognize Aramean during September, 2014, as a unique national identity within its population registry, and the WCA invited the first registered Aramean from Israel to present a statement of recognition on behalf of the Arameans worldwide at the U.N. The WCA’s press release a month later further included this remarkable statement about Israel’s indigenous Christian population, and their growing tendency to reject “Arabization”—consistent with Messo’s earlier sympathetic posture toward Zionism:
Mainly due to the interrelated processes of Arabicization and Arabization, most of the Christians started to perceive themselves as “Arabs.” Recently, however, an increasing number of them have started to rediscover their authentic roots and have chosen to reclaim their Aramean identity and to learn anew the Aramaic mother tongue of their forefathers.
Mr. Messo is also gimlet eyed and unapologetic about Muslim Turkey, including the Kemalist ethno-racist state, as can be gleaned from extracts of his November 2010 address on the failure of “Turkish democracy”:
…T]he Arameans were never granted formal recognition by Turkey as a “minority” such as formulated in this [1923 Lausanne] Convention. Consequently, they have never enjoyed their basic human rights which include, for example, the foundation of Aramean schools, hospitals and even new churches. On that account, one could boldly state that the religious freedom of the Arameans is even more restricted than that of the Christian Greek and Armenian nations who are recognized by Turkey. …I question why is Turkey interfering with Israel’s internal affairs while it has not solved its own domestic situation? And why, in fact, is Turkey able to readily invest 150 million dollars in Palestine and translate its words into action, whereas it continues to neglect its own citizens and society in its very own backyard?…Is Turkey ready to invest structurally in its south-eastern terrain, above all in improving the security, infrastructure and facilities for normal life circumstances there that may draw Aramean refugees back to the land of their ancestors? .. Turkey should embrace and integrate the native Arameans as an ambitious people who can enrich it culturally, intellectually, spiritually and economically. With their experience in the Western diaspora, the Arameans may even become beneficial to Turkey in assisting Turkish society in the ongoing process of democratization…
Free of the Middle East’s Antisemitic baggage, clear headed about Turkey, and experientially knowledgeable about the fanatical Marxist Kurdish militias of the Syria-Turkey border areas as well (here; here; here; here; here; here), Johny Messo and his indigenous Christian organization are ideally suited to weigh in on the Trump Administration decision to withdraw troops from the (70+-year ongoing) Syrian morass. Below is the WCA/Messo press release in its entirety, issued October 9, 2019:
Indigenous Aramean (“Syrian”) Christians Proclaim “Trump is right on Syria!” YPG Kurds are responsible for escalation in Northeast Syria
POST 09 OCTOBER 2019
“President Trump is right on Syria!,” according to Johny Messo, the President of the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”). Withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria and halting financial and arms support to the YPG Kurds may help restore peace and security in Syria. Messo further argues that “the YPG Kurds are responsible for the current escalation in the northeast and that they hold the key for peace in this part of our ancestral homeland.”
1) President Trump made the right decision in withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria to end the “ridiculous endless wars,” fulfilling yet another campaign promise; he already ended the covert CIA program of 2013 to arm the “rebels” in Syria. America’s mission to destroy the Caliphate and military power of ISIS was achieved in March 2019. So there was no cogent reason to stay in Syria, let alone to keep arming the YPG Kurds. Staying rather than leaving would be a greater security threat and burden for America.
2) Trump’s edict may lead to peace, security and stability in Syria. Despite the powerful war narrative and war lobby, Trump shows the world that America chooses peace and jobs at home above wars abroad. If other countries follow suit, primarily those whose foreign policies largely follow America’s course, and stop arming their proxies, violence will soon end. Then one can finally focus on seeking a genuine political solution for Syria, beginning in a few weeks through the UN-facilitated Constitutional Committee.
3) The PKK and the PYD/YPG Kurds, who control the SDF, are two sides of the same coin. The communist ideology and violent nature of these nationalist organizations discredit democratic and liberal values. These ‘heroes’ have oppressed vulnerable Arameans, taken their innocent lives, Kurdified their lands and still use a tiny Christian group as their mouthpiece to represent Kurdish interests. The resentment against the YPG among the locals is prevalent, yet underreported. In due time, their authoritarian governance would likely lead to an ISIS 2.0 among the local Arabs, who outnumber the Kurds, mainly among Arab nationalists and among conservative Arab and Kurdish Muslims.
4) The YPG Kurds had ample time and opportunities to take away the security concerns of Damascus and/or Ankara. Inspired by North Iraq, the envisioned autonomous Kurdish region in North Syria would give a huge boost to the PKK Kurds in Southeast Turkey. Instead of striking a deal for their people, though, Western support made them haughty. The YPG did not calculate or care about the high risks involved in its determination to first craft an autonomous region in North Syria and then a statelet called “Kurdistan.”
5) By pursuing their own agenda, the nationalist PYD/YPG Kurds have acted irresponsibly, endangering the lives of their own people and those of Arameans and other minorities! Whenever a village, town or city fell in their hands, they proudly raised Kurdish flags and nationalist symbols on the buildings, and displayed images of the jailed PKK leader. It was only a matter of time until Damascus would reclaim control over Northeast Syria or until Ankara would unilaterally resolve its growing security concerns at its border. That day has come, and Aramean civilians now suffer due to the YPG’s irresponsibility.
6) Unlike the Aramean Christians and Yazidis, the YPG Kurds received protection and huge amounts of money, arms and airpower from America to defeat ISIS. The Kurds should always remain grateful to America, which never promised them an eternal partnership. The YPG Kurds should have used their privileged position to focus on Syria’s unity and strike a peace deal with Syria and/or Turkey. In particular because they should have known that America would never sacrifice its relations with a fellow state, huge trade partner and established NATO ally for a rather impulsive non-state actor whose mother organization after all is officially designated by the U.S.A. as a terrorist organization.
7) The PKK/PYD/YPG Kurds must give up the armed struggle for autonomy and the idea of a state called “Kurdistan” in the homeland of the Arameans and their Aramaic language! Our region has become weary of wars. They only destroy our common land and the lives of our loved ones and families, causing animosity toward one another. As the indigenous people of Southeast Turkey and Northeast Syria, we call upon the PKK/PYD/YPG to end its violent struggle for independence so that Arameans, Kurds, Arabs and Turks can work together on a mutually enriching co-existence between different ethnicities, religions and languages in Turkey and Syria. Whether in Southeast Turkey or Northeast Syria, the PKK/PYD/YPG Kurds hold the key in their hands to peace, security and prosperity for their own people and for other peoples in the lands which we need to be sharing today.