West Michigan reacts to violence in Middle East

Posted at 11:03 PM, Oct 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-14 23:04:56-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Just hours after President Donald Trump announced economic sanctions on Turkey for its offensive against ethnic Kurds in Syria, Trump called the Turkish president requesting a ceasefire.

U.S. leaders say the sanctions on the Turkish economy will remain in place until the violence there ends.

This past weekend, Trump ordered all U.S. troops to be withdrawn from northern Syria, which drew criticism from his own party.

Without the protection of American troops, U.S. officials say the Kurdish fighters in the area are now cutting a deal with the Russian-backed Syrian government forces, to help push back against Turkey’s incursion, and prevent a mass slaughter and the possible resurgence of ISIS in the area.

The mounting conflict in the Middle East is affecting people in West Michigan as well.

Both sides agree the violence needs to stop.

“It’s not going to end. If it’s not calculated right, you end up in a mess, where we’re at today,” said Zane Shami, who is from Syria.

Adding, that is certainly the case for the ongoing war in Syria.

“I think pulling the troops out of Syria was the right thing to do. I think we shouldn’t have been involved to start with,” Shami said.

Shami thinks pulling the troops from Syria was the right move.

“There’s two sides to this fight. Having support for one side over the other side, knowing that both of the sides are wrong, don’t make it right,”  Shami said.

He says involvement in the conflict has only made things worse.

“(It) not only causes issues to the Syrian people, now Turkey is getting involved,” Shami said.

Ali Erhan is Turkish. He’s a professor at Grand Rapids Community College.

“It has been a very difficult week to watch,” Erhan said. “It has been disturbing to see how this has escalated.”

Erhan says this is a fight that’s been going on for decades. Adding that the country doesn’t want conflict with Syria.

“They need to understand that there are two sides to the story, and not listen to one side. This is going to be a key element going into the future for a future conflict,” Ehran said.

“It makes it look like Turkey is an invader and they are there to slaughter,” Ehran said.

Either way, Zane says the violence and partnerships with terrorist groups don’t help.

“I think if you look at this, two wrongs don’t make a right. One violence doesn’t solve another violence,”  Zane said.