Skip to comments.Another View of the Syrian “Revolt” (200 Christians killed in Homs by Free Syrian Army)
Posted on 02/18/2012 7:56:40 AM PST by Zhang Fei
In September 2011, I traveled to Lebanon with members of my church to attend a Christian Conference there in Beirut. During that trip I had the opportunity to travel throughout the country visiting the ancient cities of Byblos, Tyre, and Sidon. I also had the chance to visit the city of Zahle, which is the largest, all Christian city in the Middle East. Zahle sits on the western slope of the infamous Bekaa Valley where many large battles in the Lebanese Civil War were fought. Today, it is a fertile region known for its great wineries. In Zahle, I had a chance to meet with dozens of Christian leaders that were in town from all across Syria and many other Lebanese who have deep familial connections to Syria. The first thing I learned from them was that the only two countries in the Middle East where Christians are completely free to worship openly are Lebanon and Syria. The second thing I learned was that Syrian Christians are key supporters of the Assad regime. Thats when my conversations became interesting
At that time, the burgeoning insurgency in Syria was beginning to become a regular news item in the US, and I was desperate for some local perspective. I assumed that fellow Christians would be opposed to Assad for the same reasons I am; namely his support of terrorism, his affiliation with the repressive Iranian regime, and his family history of open warfare and conflict with Israel. As it turns out, while those high minded objections to Assad are perfectly rational and reasonable sitting in front of a computer in California, Syrian Christians have other things to be concerned about. For instance, surviving in a nation full of radicalized Sunnis that support Hamas, and Shia that support Hizballah. The Assad regime is of the Alawite branch of Islam, which is kind of a despised offshoot of the Shia sect and only accounts for about 10% of the population. The Christian community there is estimated to be 12-15% and so the Assads long ago forged a political alliance with them the basis of which pretty much boils down to, If you support me, Ill protect you from the angry Muslim hoards that surround you, and if not, well good luck with that. This is not unlike the arrangement that Christians made in Iraq with Saddam Hussein. Its not so much that the Christians support either Assad or Hussein as much as they dont actively oppose them since neither dictator was particularly concerned about whether his actions were drawing much affirmative support.
The Syrian Christians to a man told me that the freedom fighters where nothing more than Sunni Jihadists looking to take advantage of the various Arab Spring movements that had been successfully overthrowing stable dictatorships throughout the region in favor of radicalized Muslim groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda. They told me at that time that these groups were not only the main aggressors in the conflict, but that they were specifically targeting Christians for both religious persecution and for political retaliation. Several told me that in Homs the graffiti left by the insurgents often stated, Alawites to the grave, Christians to the cross. They told me that rather than the Syrian Army crushing this resistance movement as the Iranians had in 2009, they were actually trying to protect their core constituents from a murder and intimidation campaign that was beginning to mirror what al Qaeda had perpetrated in Iraq during 05-06. The clear strategy of the freedom fighters was to attack civilian targets and local police as a way of drawing the Army into a campaign of suppression that they could use to fight the media battle in the western press. Funny, that strategy rings a bell doesnt it?
Fast forward to today when I sent an email to one of these leaders to ask him again about his interpretation of events:
Greetings from Lebanon!
Glad to hear from you.
Izdihar is now in Damascus visiting her ill mother. I guess that she is in the process of preparing a full report for you and the church.
I am just sent you a prayer request in a separate message.
Violence has been escalating in Syria particularly in the last week. The media is playing a dirty game in this regard. Our relatives and friends in Homs are sharing with us that more than 200 Christians have been killed in the city. Most of them were shot by Islamiscts/Jihadists that claim to be freedom fighters. They committed unbelievable atrocities ranging from looting to rape and murder. Even our Presbyterian church in Homs was not spared as they control the street where the church is located. Many Christians and other minority groups left Homs if they were able. The army was playing a somehow passive role, but it seems that it decided now to act and face the so called Syrian Free Army. I surely do not quit the regime of committing big mistakes, but what is happening in Syria is far from being a revolt for democracy and human rights
Please let me know if you have any questions.
With best regards,
Hope you are doing well.
My mother, sister and her family live in the hot area of Homs district in a predominant Christian area called the Christian Valley. They are less than 2 miles from the famous Crusaders castle, Krak des Chevaliers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krak_des_Chevaliers)
I was on the phone yesterday with my mom and sister. I am sad to tell you that Jihadists armed groups have controlled the Krak des Chevaliers now. They are also issuing calls for Jihad from the mosque next to the Krak. I also just heard from the news that three police men from the town police station were slaughtered. All three police men are Muslims. I asked mom, sister and her family to come to Lebanon, but they insist of staying at home. People in the area are so worried and children are so scared. Your prayers are much appreciated. Thank you.
Today the Jihadists attacked the town church and kidnapped the priest. His destiny is still unknown.
The last days have seen unprecedented violence in Syria. Militant groups are using all means to force the UN security Council to intervene and it seems that the one way to do that is by raising up the level of bloodshed and chaos in Syria.
LORD, have mercy!
As you can see, all is not how it appears in the media. They are trying to create the same old binary conflict that they were wrong about in Egypt and Libya where the insurgents are good and the regime is evil. In reality its the devil you know vs. the devil you dont. I hate to say this as an Iraq War veteran, but there is no avoiding the conclusion that our invasion into Iraq was the catalyst for a Christian holocaust there. Thats not what we intended to happen, but that is what happened. The once vibrant and always peaceful Iraqi Christian community was systematically hunted down and killed by both al Qaeda and JAM with the bulk of the survivors fleeing to Syria.
Just like most people, my blood was up after 9/11 and I convinced myself that we had to go out and make a major impact on the dysfunctional Middle Eastern regimes that harbored and nurtured the scumbags that attacked us that day. 10+ years later, Im not so sure that we have a whole lot to say that anybody over there cares to hear. As a born again realist, it seems to me that in the absence of a clear freedom movement to get behind, we really ought to be trying to avoid chaos rather than contributing to it. I would exempt the Iranian uprising of 2009 as that movement was clearly inspired by the desire for freedom and positive engagement with the west. However, engaging ANY kind of military option to include arming the opposition would be a grave mistake the consequences of which would redound to the extreme detriment to the Christian community in Syria and undoubtedly destabilize the entire area most notably Lebanon and Israel.
Do you know how when you read an article in the paper that you had some personal connection to or personally witnessed and you always find that the reporters got something wrong in the story or missed a key factor? That happens in all of the stories that you dont have any personal knowledge about. I could probably speculate about the Obama administrations generally submoronic foreign policy or its craven opportunism, but in the end it doesnt matter which of these are at work in this situation. The first step is getting the truth out there whether it fits into the medias narrative or not.
The media pattern has been established. First they call it a fight for freedom just like the American revolution. When the radical islamists take control the media suddenly finds far more interesting things to report on elsewhere.
It is weird that Assad is pro-Syrian Christian but in Lebanon has been the enemy of the Lebanese Christians. In Lebanon, Assad is revered by hezballah.
Replacing one pack of Butchers with another pack of Butchers is not Democracy.
Muslims hate everybody, even themselves.
Obama sure stirred a hornets nest, but it doesn’t matter to him, he would kill Christians too if given the chance, although right now he just has to settle for killing their unborn.
Lebanon was a Christian country 30 years ago, but is now a Muslim dominated country. The Christians survive in Lebanon because of the mistrust between the Sunnis and Shiites. If the Sunnis and Shiites get on the same page the Indidel Christions in Lebanon are doomed. - Tom
The big point here is that you have radical Muslims (Hezbollah) fighting radical Muslims (Al Qaeda).
The way I look at it, Sunnis are responsible for 10,000 dead Americans whereas Shiites are responsible for about 300. Sunnis are also 90% of the world's Muslim population.
I think it's just that Assads long ago forged a political alliance with them the basis of which pretty much boils down to, If you support me, Ill protect you from the angry Muslim hoards that surround you, and if not, well good luck with that.
I believe the author fought in Iraq and ought to know.. he suggests Saddam had the same arrangement with Christians in Iraq. Now the powers there have no need for Christians, that's what I got from the article.
You can say that again.
This message must get out.
Thanks for the post.
Yeah, weird, eh? /s
Only an iron fist can subdue militant Islam. They are either at your feet or at your throat. If Bush II had understood that truth, the history of the last decade would have been much different. Obama's Middle East policies are the same as Carter's: intentional support for militant Islam contrary to U.S. interests.
Most of these minority communities are being wiped out and will never return. It is a tragedy orchestrated by our own government.
Nasty conundrum. My prayers for Syrian Christians and Jews if any are left. I’ve a feeling the tragedy is only the beginning.
Thank you for posting. It just makes me sick how the killing of Christians is being covered up in the Ivory Coast, Egypt, and the rest of the so called Arab Spring movements.
My take on it is that Lebanese Christians wanted to be in charge of the country, the way they were when Christians were a majority in Lebanon. Hezbollah was willing to take Assad's orders. Assad has generally gone after people for power political reasons, but not religious ones. When you're a minority (Christian, Druze, Kurd, etc) being ruled by an Alawite is probably preferable to being ruled by a Sunni Arab, who comprise 90% of the Middle Eastern population. This is why the Druze and Christians in Lebanon have vacillated between supporting Assad and opposing him - on the one hand, they dislike taking orders from Assad, but on the other, they figure Assad won't bother them as long as they don't bother him*, which is more than anyone can say about Shiite or Sunni majorities.
* Given that Alawites are considered heretics or apostates by Sunni and Shiite alike - an offense that both denominations are urged to rectify by persecuting or killing any Alawite they can lay their hands on. Examples? Check out the Iranian policy with respect to Bahais and the Indonesian policy with respect to Ahmadis.
The founder of the Ba’ath Party was a Christian. Secularist Arab leaders have a history of protecting Christians, who often represented politically powerless but fairly well-educated mercantile communities who were useful to the ruling regimes, and if appointed to civil service positions, could be trusted to be loyal to the government when the Islamists could not be trusted.
Someone on Free Republic can probably verify this, but I've been told by Army officers that Saddam Hussein's personal bodyguards were largely Christian because Saddam believed he could trust the Christians not to kill him. Again, I do not know if that is true or not — and I am very much aware that being a member of the Christian minority in an Arab country may say nothing about personal faith but only about one’s ancestry.
However, I believe I've read that every synagogue in Syria is now closed, the Chief Rabbi of Damascus made aliyah to Israel long ago, and the only Jews remaining in Syria are those who remain there for business reasons having generally sent their families elsewhere for their safety. I don't know how Assad treated the Jews, but Saddam Hussein viewed himself as a new Nebuchadnezzar who would be the enemy of Israel. An attempt to restore a defaced synagogue in Libya after the overthrow of Qaddafi led to a riot and near-death of the Jewish doctor who tried to do so. Egypt also has a history of being rather hostile to its domestic Jewish population despite its foreign peace treaty with Israel.
13 posted on Saturday, February 18, 2012 12:36:43 PM by Kennard: “The semi-secular dictators protected Jewish communities as well as Christian communities, in Iran. Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria. They also fostered a degree of commerce and modernity relative to the theocratic alternative. Only an iron fist can subdue militant Islam. They are either at your feet or at your throat. If Bush II had understood that truth, the history of the last decade would have been much different. Obama’s Middle East policies are the same as Carter's: intentional support for militant Islam contrary to U.S. interests. Most of these minority communities are being wiped out and will never return. It is a tragedy orchestrated by our own government.”
You are correct. I wrote in haste, based upon my understanding of the Iranian Jewish community, which is protected by the Government. Libya, Egypt, Syria and Iraq, under their respective dictators, mistreated their Jewish population, resulting in the emigration of the entire balance of their Jewish communities.
Ironically, the threatened armed conflict between Israel and Iran could destroy the thriving 25,000-member Iranian Jewish community.
Thank you... I was actually hoping to be proved wrong.
The situation in the Middle East for Christians is greatly deteriorating, I’m afraid, and may go the way of the Jewish community.
I suppose that could be God’s plan for clearing out the “friendlies” so we (or Israel) can confidently use nuclear weapons on the Islamofascists, but I shouldn’t even be joking that way. Most of their people are sincerely misguided, too, and are suffering at the hands of radical extremists. I read a report some time back that Iran has a lower percentage of its people attending mosques than the United States has attendance at churches, which certainly indicates that a small group has taken possession of the nation which does not reflect the will of the people.
The whole mess is sad from a multitude of angles.
We're talking about the folks who have been trying to wipe Israel off the Map since 1948, right (at least with Syria)? I'm curious how we would react if this happened with Bush in office.