Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 167 | Wed 11 Jul 2012
SYRIA: CHRISTIANS' PLIGHT LOST UNDER MOUNTAIN OF PROPAGANDA
By Elizabeth Kendal
Without a doubt, the greatest lie being told about the Syrian conflict is that it is being waged by President Assad against 'the Syrian people'. This is pure propaganda. In December 2011, just three months into the crisis, the Qatar Foundation conducted a major poll inside Syria to assess the level of support for Assad. (This was before al-Qaeda and other international Salafi jihadists started flooding in, making the crisis worse.) As an advocate of regime change in Syria, Qatar was embarrassed by the results and so buried them. When eventually leaked, the results revealed that 55 percent of Syrians supported President Assad and 68 percent of Syrians disapproved of Arab League sanctions. This makes perfect sense, considering that religious minorities make up 25 percent of Syria's population (Christians are 10 percent) and at least one-third of all Sunni Muslims would be nominal or secular urbanites who likewise do not want to live in an Islamic State. So the main division in Syria is not between Assad and the rest, but between Sunni fundamentalists (including foreign Salafi jihadists) and the rest, i.e. the majority of Syrians.
This is asymmetric warfare: a battle between two unequal forces. The jihadists who quickly hijacked the original protest movement are no match for the Syrian military. Consequently this battle would have been over long ago except that forces keen to counter the Iranian-Shi'ite ascendancy by means of regime change in Syria are arming, training and funding the jihadists. These forces are the US - Saudi Arabia - Gulf Arab axis plus neo-Ottoman Turkey. As noted by Robert D Kaplan and Kamran Bokhari (Stratfor Intelligence), Assad's removal will doubtless hasten Syria's (and Lebanon's) slide into chaos, not slow it. Despite what the US - Saudi - Gulf Arab axis says, this is exactly what it intends with the aim of crippling or at least tying up Iran's allies -- the Syrian Army and Hezballah -- ahead of a military strike on Iran. The US seems to have no long-term perspective and nobody seems to care about the plight of millions of Middle Eastern Christians.
Propaganda is critical in asymmetric warfare. The weaker force (the jihadists) cannot win on their own and need to have a power stronger than the other side intervene on their behalf. To secure a 'humanitarian intervention', the weaker force will inflate and falsify civilian casualty figures, and even create civilian casualties through the use of human shields and 'false flag' operations. ['False flag' operations are those in which the terrorists are disguised as elements of the other side.] The Houla massacre has since been proved to be a 'false flag' operation, committed by Free Syrian Army forces claiming to be pro-government 'thugs'. The dead families were pro-government, mostly non-Sunni, civilians. US-NATO will not intervene militarily as they did when they bombed Belgrade in 1999 and Tripoli in 2011 -- two cities full of civilians -- unless they can make an intervention palatable to voters back home. Hence the US administration's peddling of jihadist propaganda! But the US must find another way to contain or engage Iran, for their present strategy necessitates the totally unacceptable sacrifice of millions of Middle Eastern Christians.
According to church sources inside Syria, Christians are increasingly being targeted and driven out of their homes and districts. Some 138,000 Christians have fled Homs, where Christians have been terrorised and churches have been looted and occupied by rebel forces. At least 9,000 Christians fled the neighbouring western city of Qusayr after the leaders of a rebel faction issued an ultimatum that was repeated from mosque minarets. In areas under rebel control, intolerant, hard-line Sunni fundamentalism is making Muslim-Christian coexistence impossible. For the jihadists, neutrality is not an option, and Christians (and Muslims) refusing to support the jihad are being tortured, expelled and murdered. In a fatwa, Sunni cleric Adnan Arour warned Syrian loyalists: 'We will chop you up and feed you to the dogs.'
For more, see Religious Liberty Monitoring blog
The Syria Crisis: cutting through the propaganda (11 July 2012)
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --
* redeem this crisis to build up the Church both in numbers -- as people come to faith -- and in faithfulness -- as believers learn to look to and trust the LORD of hosts.
'In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.' (from Isaiah 30:15 ESV)
* stretch out his arm to guide Christians fleeing jihad and terror, leading them where to go, shielding them under his hand, providing all their needs and fending off those who would harm them.
* turn the hearts of US-NATO leaders who are supporting the jihadists; may they turn from this strategy -- give up on it, find another way -- and put human life before economic and geo-strategic gain; may they become a force for peace, not death.
'The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.' (Proverbs 21:1 ESV)
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
CHRISTIANS' PLIGHT IN SYRIA LOST UNDER MOUNTAIN OF PROPAGANDA
Syria's Christians are being targeted and forced from their homes. Terror has driven some 138,000 Christians out of Homs and at least 9,000 Christians out of the neighbouring western city of Qusayr where an ultimatum was announced from mosque minarets. For the jihadists, neutrality is not an option: Christians (and Muslims) refusing to support the jihad are being tortured, expelled and murdered. In a fatwa, Sunni cleric Adnan Arour warned Syrian loyalists: 'We will chop you up and feed you to the dogs.' The plight of Christians is being buried under a mountain of propaganda from the jihadists and the US - Saudi - Gulf Arab axis, which is seeking to hurt Iran through regime change in Syria. Please pray for Christians in Syria, including thousands of Assyrian-Chaldean refugees from Iraq.