SYRIA’S FATE June 11, 2012

Back in April 2011, at the height of the so-called Arab Spring, I published an essay on realclearreligion that made me few friends. Under the title “Death Warrant of Ancient Christianity,” I pointed out that while it was proper to criticize despotic regimes in the Middle East, we should be very careful indeed about trying to destabilize them without thinking through the consequences.

Under the Ba’ath regime in Syria, especially, minorities of all shades found a home in a way that is no longer possible virtually anywhere else in the region. Apart from Egypt – a land in increasing turmoil – Syria is the last bastion of those ancient communities of Middle East Christians, so that overthrowing that unlovely regime might be a catastrophe for those two or three million believers. The ethical issue is agonizing: is it proper to support the continuation of a heavy-handed dictatorship if that regime is a safeguard against far worse successors? The events of the past year have made that dilemma even more acute, as extreme Islamist groups have emerged as the primary military foes of the Syrian regime.

Worse, Western groups now call overtly for military intervention against the Ba’athists, in the hope of establishing – what? – the kind of stable social order and Scandinavian-style liberal democracy that now thrives in neighboring Iraq? It was wonderful recently to see the leaders of Russia’s Orthodox Church speak out so powerfully against any talk of intervention, precisely because they realize so clearly the deadly threat to Christian minorities.

As I wrote last year,

The West might like to see the Ba’ath regime crushed as thoroughly as its counterpart in Iraq, but as on that earlier occasion, the religious consequences of intervention could be horrible. Before planning to intervene in Syria, Western nations had better start printing several million immigration visas to hand out to refugees seeking political asylum, and demanding protection from religious persecution.

Just once in history, might it be possible for the West to act in such a way that acknowledges the existence of the Middle East’s Christian communities, and even tries to avoid ruining their interests? No, forgive me: the idea is too fantastic.

In light of this, I return even more forcefully to my original plea:

Any Western intervention in Syria would likely supply the death warrant for the ancient Christianity of the Middle East. For anyone concerned about Christians worldwide — even if you believe firmly in democracy and human rights — it’s hard to avoid this prayer: Lord, bring democracy to Syria, but not in my lifetime.





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  • Kevin Kosner

    You could not have gotten any more wrong…You are so mistaken in your conclusions on many levels..
    1- Chistianity teaches us to be human, kind and compassionate before all, we can not ask god to have Syria as an we can overlook the horrible trajedies being inflicted on civilians, children and helpless citizens by their own mad president for the sake of ” saving the christians of the middle east “. Remember : late justice is no justice…you can not delay justice for your convenience.
    2- Christians of the middle east, more especially in syria , have lived for decades with muslims with harmony and peace, Syria has never seen religious wars or conflicts between Christians and a matter of fact, Syria’s first Prime minister ( Fares Al Khouri ) was christian and was elected by the mostly Muslim syrian society…It was only until Assad ( Hafez Assad who is the current president Father ) took over Syria in a military coup that sectarian and relegious devide started to emerge as he favored his own Alawits ( mostly sheeat section of Islam ) over the majority in Syria who are Sunni Muslims…in his attempt to strengthen his position he tried to appeal to christians to side with him, Christians realy never bought the proposition and remained on the sidelines but were equaly subjected to the same Dictatorship practiced by Hafez Assad and later on by his son Bashar Assad ( whom he inherited the trown for no reason at all in a supposodly a democratic republic…this was registered as the first time in history that happened out of Monarcies )..
    3- Christians are an integral part of the ongoing Syrian revolution..they were killed , tortured and raped..several priests were assasinated and many churches were destroyed..apparently you ‘re not aware of this..I am a christian Syrian and I support the revolution whole heartedly …and with me at least 50% of the Syrian christians ( look at the opposition leaders and you can tell : Michel Kilo , George Sabra…etc ).
    So please..don’t fall for that the Assad regime try to spread as rumors to scare away the minorities of Syria…Syria is made uo of 43% Minorities..and none of those would accept an extremist Islamic goverment..nor would at least half of the Muslims…The Islamic extremists are drawn to wherever there is chaos…and they started to infiltrate syria lately but no body like them or support them..and the longer this drags on the more extremists will come…The US should stand by the people of Syria and its own declared principle of democracy and justice and not just sit and watch the syrian people get killed and massacared every day by the russian/Iranian backed Dictator…

  • Theophile

    Hi Phillip,
    Twenty some odd years back when George Bush said: “Until Saddam complies with UN security council resolution 678 and the preceding 12 resolutions we will continue to bomb Iraq”, it was painfully obvious to those of us who knew how to do simple math, that the USA was enforcing “one world government” resolution 666 and the 12(sounds like disciples) following. Now considering most Christians know the warnings of a “world dominant power” associated with the number 666, in Revelation, I have to wonder why not a peep from the pulpits about that. In 20/20 year hindsight, hows that working out for those Christian Iraqi’s? How can establishing a democracy(majority rule) in a Muslim majority nation, possibly be good for non Muslims?
    The part I found strange was, when I pointed out Georges slight of math back then concerning Iraq with Christian friends, family, and co workers, I was called anti American, reassured Saddam is a madman he must be stopped, and told I should support our troops.
    If Christian Americans didn’t care 20 years ago about enforcing one world government resolution 666, and didn’t care when Sabbath keeping Christians were Martyred along with over 60 of their children, by the US government in Waco Texas(with military equipment), I doubt they think too much about what might happen on the road to Damascus.

  • We must also remember that it was Asad’s government in Syria that took in over a million refugees from Iraq (during both Gulf Wars), the majority of them Christian, and continues to give them (meager) stipends and fund their education. If it were not for Syria’s current government, Iraqi Christians would have no where to go.