An Alliance for Change
As an ally of Turkey through NATO, the United States is in an ideal position to curb Turkey’s aggressions against Christians. But will it act soon enough?
By Andrew Crane
This story was originally published in the April issue of ICC’s Persecution magazine.
04/26/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – As you have read, Turkey’s government poses a serious threat to Christians. Not only has it attempted to stamp out Christianity from within its borders, but Erdogan’s greater vision for a recreation of the Turkish empire at the expense of Christians expands beyond its borders. The current Turkish regime stands as a major obstacle that Western Christians must address if they are to preserve Christianity in the land where Jesus’ first followers once walked.
The question now becomes, what can we do about it?
The United States has always served as a defender of human rights and is deeply committed to promoting international religious freedom. As a global superpower, the U.S. also is positioned in such a way that it is actually able to promote these values and influence human rights abusers better than any other in the world.
ICC’s advocacy department leverages the U.S.’s influence to affect change in countries with high levels of persecution. When a member of Congress, the Administration, or even an American NGO like ICC calls out a country for violating religious freedom, the abusive government often listens.
For Turkey, this influence is actually enhanced. Turkey is an ally to the United States and a fellow member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO is a collective defense alliance, meaning that its members are committed to defending one another in the event that one member is attacked, codified in Article 5 of its charter.
For example, the only time Article 5 has been invoked in history was by President George W. Bush, following the attacks on September 11th, 2001. In response, America’s NATO allies, consisting of Canada, a large portion of Europe, and of course Turkey, contributed to the coalition that led the counterattack against Al-Qaeda forces.
Outside of Article 5, NATO members also continually trade military equipment and conduct joint military exercises. NATO members even share intelligence with each other, the downsides of which were revealed last year when U.S. drone footage was reportedly used by Turkish forces to bomb Christian villages in northern Iraq.
Due to the nature of the NATO structure, the United States can use this alliance to its advantage by asserting that it would not commit military assistance to Turkey if it decides to call on NATO allies to do so. This would emphasize to the world that the United States would not send American troops to fight for a country that has continually demonstrated its disregard for human rights and religious freedom.
Advocacy like this starts from the ground up: as more Americans express their outrage over the treatment of Christians in the Middle East, members of Congress will pay attention and begin to make real policy changes that can stop Turkey’s transgressions. In this way, Americans have the ability to help Christians being suffocated by Erdogan’s government, simply by contacting their representative and senators to tell them about these issues and the suffering Christians there.
Together, Americans have the ability to be a voice for the voiceless and protect Christianity in its homeland. One tangible way that you can help Armenian believers is by signing our petition to bring justice to abused Armenian prisoners of war (POWs). These POWs have been captured and held hostage by Azerbaijan, a Muslim-majority country, with the help of Turkey.
You can learn more about this situation and sign the petition here.