I am sitting here on my keyboard just hours away from the most recent terrorist attack in Turkey. Just outside a courthouse in Izmir, a car bomb went off killing two and injuring several more. That is what we know for sure at this point. There are two things that seem to be widely speculated. The first is that these attackers actually planned something larger but had to launch their attack early when discovery seemed immanent. The second is that this was an attack carried out by PKK freedom fighters, not ISIS.
Normally, I would take that second accusation with a grain of salt. The knee jerk reaction is always to blame PKK first and then start digging into facts later. That is just the way the government works around here. But when the dust is settled and what truth that can’t be covered up is revealed, it almost always pans out that any attack with a high list of victims carried out in civilian areas is ISIS but any attack with a smaller number of casualties targeting a police or government institution is PKK [or some offshoot]. ISIS’ stated goal is to spread Islam. PKK’s stated goal is to gain independence. So this time around, I think the government might actually be telling the truth. Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
My heart breaks for Izmir and the victims of this second national tragedy to strike Turkey in a year that is not yet a week old. My heart also breaks for the countless victims caught in the crossfire of the multiple simultaneous conflicts that are ravaging my home of Southeast Turkey as well as Syria and northern Iraq. When will it end?
That question has been plaguing me a lot lately. Just to look at one small aspect of this regional mess, what would a positive outcome for Syria look like? Right now Bashar Assad looks to be closing in on winning this multi year long, multi sided war that has displaced more than ten million of his own citizens both internally and internationally. The odds of him completely winning out and his opponents actually putting their guns down is almost 0 but lets say it happens. Is that a good solution? There are very good reasons that so many of his own people rose up against him in the first place. Outside of some ultra right wing crackpots who believe the entire Arab Spring was planned and orchestrated by Obama and his cronies, most people realize that it was the outcome of social inequity, injustice, and an angry oppressed minority throughout the region finally saying enough is enough. Assad does not deserve the title of leader. He is a bully, a criminal, a murderer, an egotist. He does not deserve a seat in the global community of leaders no matter how much Russia and Iran want to prop him up. So even if he does regain full control, the people of Syria are no better off than when this all started.
Now lets say there are some major reversals and he does end up being driven from power. What then? Right now most of the various rebel factions have formed a coalition recognizing it is necessary for their survival. How long will this coalition last after he is gone? You can measure that length of time in seconds. Some of these groups are fairly moderate but others are just as bad as ISIS. They are far worse than some of the Muslim groups that have taken advantage of the Arab Spring to rise to power in other parts of the world. (I’m looking at you, Muslim ‘brotherhood’) As difficult as it is to imagine, some of these groups in control could be far, far worse than the current regime.
So let us bend belief a little further and say the moderates do end up rising from the ashes and gain control. Let us stretch credulity and imagine that good people actually want to establish a good government out of the ashes. How many decades will that take? How many of the rising generation have already become part of the scarred victimized fertile field from which terrorists find such easy recruitment? How quickly will the international eye look elsewhere, deny their culpability in this, and leave that new government to its own devices with no money, no infrastructure, and no way to build a stable society?
This is just one facet of the many problems tearing apart this area. What of the refugees? How many will return? Who will pay for that? Where where those whose homes have been completely be destroyed live in the interim? How will they all be fed? What to do with the many who have no desire to go back? How much hurt and bitterness remains between once friendly neighbors who have taken up opposite sides in this conflict? What about the tens of thousands who have been injured beyond the ability to care for themselves and live productive normal lives? What do you do with all those citizen soldiers who committed war crimes on the threat of their own death?
Every day my first prayer is for a just peace for this region. What does that even look like? I can’t imagine what that will look like. Now I am not one to simplistically blame Islam for the troubles in this region. The issues are far more social, and economic, and political and even if you remove all culpability of that religion in this situation, you cannot deny that Islam is powerless to help bring a solution. A religion based on vengeance and retribution has nothing to offer Syria. What they need is someone who will teach people to turn the other cheek. What they need is someone who will bring forgiveness and reconciliation. The only hope for Syria is Jesus.
Your compassion for this area and the hurting people of Syria, who never asked for this, makes me realize more and more that the only possible solution for such ugly reprisals and the lack of value given to human lives–much like when Jesus came on the scene–is the Savior Himself. God Incarnate. Thanks for your insights and reflections. This gives me specifics to pray for.
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Amazing post…all of that (honest) information. Your prayer is a great prayer, and God is more than able to fulfill it, even though it looks like it’s impossible. You already know that is His area of specialization 🙂 I will pray the same along with you, and I hope many others. I pray for your safety as well. Thank you for bringing a comprehensive picture to us-those who are not there. God bless you.
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It is absolutely heart breaking to see it on the news, I truly can not imagine the sorrow you feel and you are right the only hope is Jesus. Praying with you that all the wounded and oppressed the world over will be delivered from evil, and we know who wins in the end and He will save the innocent. God Bless you with strength.
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Thank you BJ. I know that I don’t comprehend the problems in Syria and Turkey like you do so your insights are sincerely appreciated. It does seem hopeless from a human perspective but thank God that we have an advocate to call on. I also will hold Syria and Turkey up in nightly prayer. How many times have I had my back up against the wall where I thought there was no way a problem could be fixed and yet God saw fit to open a door that I was not aware of and fix it. Praying for God’s mercy is a powerful prayer. Fear that permeates all that is in us and around us is a terrible way to live. I also hold you up in prayer for your safety, strength and openness to God’s will.
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Thank you. This all came out of the question, What does a just peace even look like? I know that this side of heaven, we will never truly know in any situation, but we still need to pray and strive towards the closest that we grasp.
BJ thanks for sharing this. You wrote, “…you cannot deny that Islam is powerless to help bring a solution. A religion based on vengeance and retribution has nothing to offer Syria [or anywhere else]. What they need is someone who will teach people to turn the other cheek. What they need is someone who will bring forgiveness and reconciliation. The only hope for Syria is Jesus.”
This is profound beyond words, dear brother, but teaching people right behavior is not enough. You can not cure a heart problem by simply adjusting people’s minds. We need new hearts that are in tune with our Heavenly Father and that only comes by surrendering to Jesus Christ.
I am a Vietnam War vet and can tell you that all the millions of tons of bombs and shells dropped and bullets fired in indochina between 1951 and 1975 did not accomplish one thing, but the killing of millions of people. We were told that we were saving the world from communism by killing people. What a joke! Vietnam is still under communist rule as is China and much of that whole area. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to all the problems of the world.He is the one who said,
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-36, ESV2011)
In my experience, most of those who call themselves “Christian” don’t live by these words that, if followed, would bring peace to this world. Sad to say, most American Christians have banded together behind every war effort that this country has been involved in. In the eyes of God there is no such thing as a “just” or “holy” war. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, not the God of war.
“And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:7-8, ESV2011)
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I fully agree.
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