In FrontPage today I discuss one disastrous aspect of our support for the Free Syrian Army:
The Times of London reported Thursday that “the West and Gulf states are funding a new military offensive by rebel forces around Damascus in an effort to throw the Assad regime on to the back foot before a second round of Syria peace talks. The assault marks an attempt by the Free Syrian Army and its allies abroad to reassert control after months of rebel infighting.” The chief victim of this funding, however, may not be Bashar Assad, but the nation’s Christians.
The report notes that the Obama government “has established a training base for the FSA, say rebel field commanders. It includes $57 million in cash to pay the rebels.” The U.S. is also supplying weapons: “late last month, the US approved a supply of a big shipment of arms to rebels in Jordan.” This aid is supposed to go to the “moderates” of the Free Syrian Army in order to help them counter Syrian rebel forces that are aligned with al Qaeda.
On the ground in Syria, however, the distinctions between the various anti-Assad groups are often not easy to discern, especially since U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar have “channelled the lion’s share of funding and weapons to hardline religious factions such as the Islamic Front,” and the rebel factions are not fighting each other, but are all fighting against Assad. Another U.S. ally, Turkey, has likewise aided the anti-Assad forces.
All these groups are not just battling Assad; they’re also fighting against the nation’s Christians. This is true not just of the al Qaeda groups, but of the Obama-backed Free Syrian Army as well. In July 2013, Free Syrian Army fighters entered the Christian village of Oum Sharshouh and began burning down houses and terrorizing the population, forcing 250 Christian families to flee the area. Worthy News reported that just two days later, Free Syrian Army rebels “targeted the residents of al-Duwayr/Douar, a Christian village close to the city of Homs and near Syria’s border with Lebanon….Around 350 armed militants forcefully entered the homes of Christian families who were all rounded-up in the main square of the village and then summarily executed.”
In September 2013, a day after Secretary of State John Kerry praised the Free Syrian Army as “a real moderate opposition,” the FSA took to the Internet to post videos of its attack on the ancient Syrian Christian city of Maaloula, one of the few places where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken.
This is just the faction Obama is backing. The rebel factions funded by our “allies” Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey behave even worse toward the Christians.
Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham, who lives in Damascus, explained in October 2013 that the persecution was the result of the perception that the Syrian Christians supported the Assad regime: “Some people are saying that we Christians are the friends of the regime, but we are not, we are just ordinary Syrians, and we pray for all. Besides, even if we are for the regime, that is our right as free people.”
Back in May 2011, the Patriarch wrote to Western leaders asking them not to intervene in Syria: “Our Arab countries are not ready for revolutions, and not even for democracy of the European kind and model. I am asking the West not to encourage revolutions unconditionally here and there in the Arab world.”
This request went unheeded; yet now the reason why it was so sagacious is abundantly clear. Late in January a delegation of Syrian Christian leaders went to Washington at the invitation of the Westminster Institute and Barnabas Aid in order, according to a statement issued by the Westminster Institute, “to raise awareness of the humanitarian catastrophe that the Syrian conflict has become, and to explore concrete steps that can be taken by the United States to help end the crisis and to protect Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in Syria.”Pages: 1 2