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 and until they can make a military 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 The Syria Crisis: cutting through the propaganda (11 July
2012) <>

* 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)

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