-- and jihad comes to Maaloula village (Syria)
In Aug 2012, US President Barak Obama went on the public record saying: "We have been very clear to the Assad regime -- but also to other players on the ground -- that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus; that would change my equation. . ."
"We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that's a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons."
President Obama's "red line" speech was little more than a piece of political theatre aimed at establishing a platform of moral high ground from where the US-NATO could safely (politically if not practically) launch a military strike on Syria. It also signaled to the rebels exactly what the US would require if it was to justify and legitimise a military intervention on their behalf.
If a US military strike on Syria eventuates, it will be nothing other than an act of naked aggression in pursuit of economic and geo-strategic ends. To call such an intervention "humanitarian" or "moral" is duplicitous in the extreme.
If the US-NATO was genuinely motivated by humanitarian and moral issues, then:
Why is there no red line in North Korea, the world's most serious and vile human rights abuser; a prison-state where citizens are being tortured, worked and starved to death on a daily basis by the world's most criminal regime?
Answer) North Korea has the world's most effective deterrent: nuclear weapons. [The effectiveness of this deterrent has been noted by other rogue regimes that are now racing to adopt it.]
Why is there no red line in Sudan, where genocidal jihad is eliminating the non-Muslim and non-Arab citizens from the resource-rich regions of Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile? Having used aerial bombardment, ethnic cleansing and aid blockades to create famine conditions, the Arab supremacist, Islamist regime in Khartoum is now using starvation as a weapon of mass destruction. So why is there no red line in Sudan?
Answer) Because the US doesn't want to risk upsetting Sudan's president -- the lying, cheating, racist, Islamist General Omar el-Bashir -- whom they consider to be an ally in the war on terror. [Actually Bashir is nothing of the sort. He is allied to Iran and together they are actively sponsoring Islamic terrorism throughout the Sahel.]
Why is there no red line in Burma, where the Christian Kachin suffer systematic persecution, torture, war, ethnic cleansing, aid blockades and violent racial and religious hatred at the hands of the Burmese military as it seeks to exert total control over Kachin land so the duplicitous regime in Naypyidaw can exploit it?
Answer) Because Burma has moved out of China's sphere of influence into the West's orbit, bringing with it massive economic and geo-strategic opportunities: such as cheap labour (cheaper than China), new markets for Western goods, and a new ally in the South China Sea. For such gains the Kachin can be sacrificed!
Why is there no red line in Indonesia, where occupation, colonisation, Islamisation, militarisation and brutalisation are facilitating the slow genocide of the predominantly Christian indigenous Melanesians of Papua?
Answer) Because the US and UK don't want to offend Indonesia and risk it drifting out of the West's sphere of influence into China's orbit. Indonesia is allied to the US in the war on terror and in the South China Sea. Indonesia purchases massive amounts of military aid from the USA – an arrangement which would be compromised if the Indonesian military was ever found to be abusing human rights (which is why it never will be, despite the fact that it systematically does). [In August, Indonesia signed a deal to purchase eight Apache attack helicopters from the USA at a cost of over $500 million. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is smiling, but human rights monitors are feeling ill.] Alliances, trade, mining concessions and military aid – for such gains the Papuans can be sacrificed.
Why is there no red line in the Central African Republic (CAR), where foreign armed, backed and funded Arabic-speaking Islamic rebels (locals and foreigners) have seized control of the French-speaking predominantly Christian state? Seleka rebels are out of control -- killing, raping and looting with impunity. A massive humanitarian crisis is unfolding. Why is there no red line in CAR?
Answer) Because in CAR, French and Western interests are being served by regime change. In Ivory Coast, France intervened with helicopter gun-ships to empower Islamists because Alassane Ouattara promised to serve France's neo-colonial interests. In Mali, France intervened with tanks to expel Islamists because they were threatening France's neo-colonial interests. In CAR France stood back and watched as Islamists seized power, presumably because the Islamist regime would serve France's neo-colonial interests. For mining contracts and a guarantee that economic exploitation will continue, the Christians of CAR can be sacrificed.
For details on all these situations, including the situation in Syria, see Religious Liberty Monitoring.
Humanitarian/moral interventions are a post Cold War phenomenon arising out of NATO's need for a reason to exist. While the UK's David Cameron referred to the prospective US strike on Syria as a humanitarian intervention, Obama and Kerry are making no such claims. Obama and Kerry want to bomb Syria to make a moral statement and to demonstrate strength supposedly from the moral high ground. A critical purpose of the strike will be to prove to the world that when the US makes a threat it follows through, no matter what!
A limited air-strike in Syria will deliver no strategic gains and advance no US interests. What it will do is trigger retaliation -- maybe retaliatory strikes on Israel and/or other US allies in the region along with the mobilisation of Hezballah and Iranian militant proxies around the world for terrorist attacks on US and allied assets, including tourists.
One consequence of a US strike will doubtless be civilian deaths, including those that will result from rebel invasions of government-held areas. Indeed, even as the Syrian regime prepares for US strikes, this is already happening:
Jihad comes to Maaloula village
On Wednesday 4 September, al-Qaeda-linked jihadists seized control of a mountaintop hotel and nearby caves in Maaloula, a regime-held Christian mountain village in the densely populated west of Syria.
"The siege of Maaloula, a village of about 2,000 where people still speak a version of Aramaic [the language of Jesus], began early Wednesday [4 Sept] in classic Islamic terrorist fashion when a Jabhat al-Nusra rebel blew himself up at a regime checkpoint near the entrance to town.
"That sparked a vicious gun battle with Syrian soldiers, and when it was over eight of them lay dead. . .
"The rebels took over the Safir Hotel and some caves overlooking the town and began shelling residents below.
"As the fighting raged . . . more than 80 frightened villagers took shelter in a convent that's already home to 13 nuns and 27 orphans.
"'It's a war,' a frightened nun who asked not to be identified told the Associated Press. 'It has been going from 6 a.m. in the morning.'
At the time of publication, Syrian government reinforcements were racing to Maaloula from Damascus some 40 miles away.
See: Christian village in Syria besieged by rebels with Al Qaeda ties
By Corky Siemaszko / New York Daily News,
Wednesday, 4 September 2013 (includes photos)
Christians who have long been accustomed to just asuming that Western governments hold the moral high ground and are making reasonable decisions based on ethical considerations, need to wake up.
We are living in days of ugly and amoral realpolitik. As such, Christians need to stand together in solidarity, looking out for the Body of Christ, not expecting Western governments to do it; for they won't (at least not unless it is in their economic, geo-strategic and political interests to do so!).
Having been complicit in Church decimation from Kosovo to Baghdad and Aleppo; and complicit through strategic silence in Church decimation from Kadugli to Laiza and Bangui, Western governments are fast becoming an enemy of the Church of Jesus Christ.
So now we must turn to another question: where is the red line for the Church? When will churches start getting serious about this situation? How many Christians have to die before the church falls to its knees and looks to their covenant God that the battle might be turned back at the gate?
The Church should have no illusions: there is only one worthy of our faith; only one worthy of our trust. We must stop trusting in economic leverage, military might, alliances with power and earthly "strongmen" – for they will only fail us. We have an ally and his name is Yahweh Sabaoth (the Lord of hosts). Strength to turn back the battle lies with him. (Isaiah 28:5-6)
Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)