The Fate of Syria´s Christian Minority (AMERICAN THINKER) By Ken Blackwell 06/05/12)
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Four years ago, Israeli "dove" Avi Primor cooed over the prospects
for a comprehensive peace settlement in the Mideast. The "key" to
peace, wrote Israel´s former ambassador to Germany, lies in
Damascus. Amb. Primor wrote that if Israel would only agree to give
up the Golan Heights she had captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, Syria
might yet come around to accepting the existence of the Jewish state
and break its dependence on the mullahs in Iran. Hope soared on the
wings of a dove.
Negotiations between Israel and Syria, although conducted through a
Turkish intermediary, seemed promising. The incoming Obama
administration, buoyed by the president´s Nobel Peace Prize,
celebrated the new direction in world geopolitics by sending an
ambassador to Damascus. No more refusals to talk. Now, we would see
action on a peace agenda.
Hollywood doves Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie shared the hopeful mood
and flew into Damascus for a visit to refugees from Iraq. They were,
of course, roundly criticized for their photo shoot with the
dictator´s fashionable wife, Asma al-Assad. Still, it´s worth noting
that Angelina is a U.N. representative for refugees. The couple was
at least urging the world not to forget the thousands of Iraqis who
had fled that war-torn country to find a precarious haven in Syria.
Tragically, the doves have flown from Damascus. In the last 14
months, as Western journalists celebrated an "Arab Spring" elsewhere,
a full-scale revolt against the Assad regime has broken out in
Syria. Bashar al-Assad clings to power as his troops engage
in "execution-style" killings of scores of women and children in
The New York Times recently reported on the endangered status of
those refugees from Iraq as well as Syria´s other minorities. All
are threatened with being caught in the middle of a civil war.
But the region´s minorities increasingly risk becoming expendable
collateral damage in the open-ended civil war in Syria. Many of
Syria´s ruling Alawites - and their Kurd, Assyrian, Maronite
Christian, Greek Catholic and Orthodox fellow minorities, indeed even
the prudent Druze - feel caught in a vicious zero-sum game.
The minorities listed -- fittingly -- in the middle of that group
(Assyrian, Maronite Christian, Greek Catholic, and Orthodox) are all
Christians. And their plight points up the fact that Christians are
being ethnically cleansed throughout the Middle East.
If the Western democracies succeed in toppling Assad -- as they seem
to intend -- what will be the fate of these Christians? Have any of
our State Department policymakers given any thought to this question?
Will these Christians sheltered under Assad´s shaky regime be
considered collaborators in his tortures and killings when he is
toppled? Past experience suggests that this is exactly what will be
their fate. The Copts in Egypt survived on the edge during thirty
years of Mubarak´s authoritarian rule. Today, their churches are
burned, and they are shot down in the flames.
The Muslim Brotherhood is rising in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and
throughout the Bloody Crescent. Boko Haram has taken jihad to
Africa´s richest and most populous country, Nigeria.
Will the Muslim Brotherhood come to dominate the Syrian opposition to
the Assad regime, as well? They will doubtless remember the 1982
massacre of their brethren by Bashar´s father, Hafez al-Assad. In
the Syrian city of Hama that year, resistance to the regime was
crushed. Estimates of that horror vary from 10,000 to as high as
30,000 killed by Assad´s brutal crackdown.
Human rights defenders stress that today, unlike that 1982 atrocity,
cell phones and video cameras will not permit Arab dictators to
slaughter their own people with impunity. Let us hope so.
Still, the flight of doves from Damascus raises the most serious
questions about U.S. foreign policy. Both Afghanistan and Iraq have
constitutions with so-called repugnancy clauses. These clauses say
that notwithstanding any other provision, nothing shall be done by
this government that is repugnant to Islam. These clauses were
insisted upon by State Department advisers in those countries eager
to check the box marked "constitution drafted."
Incorporating such clauses in the constitutions of fragile states
only assures the continuation of sectarian violence. Who may
determine what is repugnant to Islam? The clerics do, of course.
Which ones? The clerics with more guns, doubtless.
In Kuwait, liberated in 1991 by American blood and treasure, it is
now a death penalty offense to "blaspheme" against Islam.
Blaspheming against Islam can include saying "Jesus is Lord."
The Obama administration once celebrated sending a U.S. Ambassador to
Damascus. Now, they ask us to applaud as they withdraw the same
ambassador from that war-torn city from which the doves have flown.
Assad will fall, probably, but what then becomes of the Christian
refugees and other minorities in that cobbled-together country? Does
any of this look like a foreign policy Americans can support?
Ken Blackwell is a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights
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