Published on Jun 20, 2013
ABC 2: Jane Hutcheon interviews Syrian peace activist Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross who says foreign fighters are further complicating the situation in Syria.
Mother Agnes Mariam wrote the article below in April 2011, just one month after the beginning of the “Arab Spring” in Syria. Her conclusion then would be her conclusion today
A peaceful and constructive dialogue seems to be the only option for real reform, one that is socially and democratically put forward by the Syrian people.
In the Flood of Disinformation, the Situation in Syria
I was asked by L’Œuvre d’Orient for my opinion of what is happening where we live. You know that I work in Syria for the renovation of a monastery from the sixth century that had fallen into ruin. Our monastic community is dedicated to the witness and unity of the Church of Antioch, and we serve pilgrims and people seeking spiritual research. We receive about 20,000 visitors a year. This rush of people, along with our local network and the regional friendships of the community, permits us to have a quite objective idea of the situation that concerns us.
I do not often venture into the political domain. My interest lies in man’s final salvation which is his greatest good. This perspective is perhaps to my benefit in judging politics. So as not to rely only on my personal vision I looked for convincing research on the internet, and I came across some analyses that I found really striking and that confirmed my intuitions. These websites are situated in “the margin” of the official information networks. The big networks are of course corporations themselves and speak with unquestioned authority that nullifies any polemic outside the polemic they want to delineate; their sources are often dubious and opinion-based. The networks have, we must admit, the unstated agenda to benefit the western corporate interests that own them. We on the other hand do not seek to protect the regime or to take part with any faction. We only want to testify about what we live so that our testimony might serve to clarify a very complex situation.
It goes without saying that the Middle-East is living in a major upheaval. As Christians we are asked to read the signs of the times through which the Lord, as master of history, is working (cf. John 5:17, Mt 16:3). It is also important, in our responsibility as witnesses of Christ, to judge the situation in a spiritual viewpoint to be able to engage ourselves in the reality of the facts.
The media frenzy over a “newborn son” in the Middle East
The protests began in Egypt and were echoed in Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Libya and in Syria, not to mention Saudi-Arabia. In the world media these protests have been acclaimed as legitimate, spontaneous, and sui generis movements whose participants are focused, charismatic and even inspired. The protestors’ aims are so crystal clear that they need not be mentioned. What could be more noble and worthy of our sympathy than people marching for freedom, constructive change, and democracy? Who could object to an “uprising” against the decayed monarchies and obsolete regimes that are tyrannical and corrupt?
The media announces to us with a lot of bravura that in the ashes of the dying Arab world a son has been born whose name is Revolution. With America as his midwife, the United Nations and the Arab League his godmothers, presided by France and England, the newborn has been declared a legitimate child by the international community. His father is Arab anti-nationalism, and his mother is liberty. To be acknowledged as legitimate he had witnesses in his princely cousins in the Persian Gulf and Qatar. The kindhearted international community engages in protecting this newborn against all evil, even at the cost of an intervention or bombing which will always be strictly humanitarian.
Like a real look-alike of the Christ in the Koran (who speaks from the cradle), the newly globalized Middle East speaks the language of the international community while still lying in the cradle. He is the sign of the all-powerful virtual world that molds the ideas of men like a kitchen-chef mixes his sauce to the taste of the day. Consciously nourishing the newborn child, still nursed by the blogging, Facebook, and YouTube sites of the net, the sacrosanct satellite channels come running to him in his isolation. The little man has been liberated from his mother-vampire and he’s not left an orphan but discovers that he has newfound international parents. Thus we see the rise of a new Arab consciousness brought forth in a media frenzy which we didn’t see coming and which imposes itself by flattering us into embracing it. We zap through the TV-channels only to find the same speech, cunningly based on the normative dogmas of the so-called new world order.
What bothers us is not the phenomenon of protests against the regimes in our region. What is insufferably frustrating is to watch the satellite channels report misinformation that is in perfect coordination with the agenda of certain governments. The major channels seem to have been prepared to the year, the day and the hour. Al Jazeera, once booed by the coalition forces in Iraq, has been transformed into an international spokesperson for the all-too ambiguous liberal values of “uprising” and “revolution” of the new Middle-East. Al Arabiyah speaks in the name of liberty while paradoxically being based in the greatest theocracy of the Arab world, Saudi Arabia. Al Hurra1 was born out of the ashes of the regime of Saddam Hussein thanks the help of Washington. All of these western puppets together with CNN, BBC, France 24 are all reporting the same things in the same way in their international and Arabic versions. These mastodons use such internet pages as Facebook, Tweeter, YouTube and the written press on line. All of this gives the appearance of objectivity while the reality on the ground, the reality that we see here in Syria lies in stark, not subtle but stark contrast to what the news channels choose to highlight.
Our experience in Syria
As long as the information doesn’t directly concern us, it is easy to passively swallow international news that is currently being presented in the mainstream media. We have gradually become aware that the mainstream media channels are not giving information in a disinterested manner about Syria, but they seem to be collectively working to affect the course of events by sensational and intelligently orchestrated propaganda. It is as if there was a new brand of totalitarianism, one that manipulates public opinion on an international scale. It is easy to see that the information reported by the media is thin on fact and heavy on psychology—playing on emotions, preconceptions and images rather than on substance—while the facts that are presented have been subjected to a subtle filtering that skews their general meaning. The media seems to be “proof-texted,” that is, it is crafted so as to present a particular image of what’s they expect to be happening in Syria, and, what is worse, to orient us within a desired meaning for interpretation of the situation.
One new “source” of information for mainstream media has been video and text messages sent by portable phones. These cell phone messages are often the only source of visual or sound information that we see about what is happening in such and such a country. Our youth are being solicited by text messages or emails to send information to the satellite channels with the promise of a financial reimbursement. This type of source, the shaky phone video clip, also carries a strong emotional, psychological impact that the media desires to convey: ‘This pathetic clip is the best information we could bring you because Arab nations are so dangerous, backward, and repressive.’
Lured by the bait of money or 15 minutes of fame, a lot of images and videos are being transmitted whose content is unexplained and totally open to any and every interpretation. One of our foremen at our monastery showed me a video clip accompanying a popular Arabic song which had been filmed by local Syrian youth. Here we see a group of youth dressed in black and riding in convertible cars, they have guns to make themselves look like security guards. To our great shock this same video was later shown on Al-Jazeera as proof of the “arrogance of the Syrian secret police!”
We would take up a lot of time if we had to go back to all the fictions and psychologically charged ‘montages’ of the satellite channels who only report a part of the information and seek to impose their own view of reality. As is written on the excellent blog Syria Comment of Joshuah Landis2, the channels succeed in reporting the contrary of what the interviewed persons say. For example, the Colonel ‘Uday Ahmad testifies that he was driving with his brother in law, Colonel YasirQash’ur, on the highway close to Banyas the 10th of April 2011 when suddenly shots were fired at their army truck killing Qash’ur and eight other soldiers. To whomever wanted to hear it Colonel ‘Uday affirmed that they weren’t killed by the army but by unknown people who ambushed them, but in the report his words were edited as if he were saying the opposite.
On this same blog they make mention of the English newspaper The Guardian 3 who states that Syrian soldiers were executed by a firing squad because they refused to shoot the crowd. The Guardian refers to a video on YouTube. In this video the interviewer is harassing a wounded soldier to get a forced confession from him stating that he refused to shoot the people. “Question: when you didn’t shoot, what happened?” He replies: “Nothing, bullets were coming at us from all directions”. But in reality the soldier didn’t understand the question because he just said that he didn’t receive orders to shoot the crowd. The interviewer repeats his question in a different way asking: “Why do you shoot at us Muslims?” The soldier responds: “I too am a Muslim”. So the interviewer continues: “Why then were you planning to shoot us?” to which the soldier replies: “We didn’t shoot the people, we were being shot at out of nowhere.” Not only are those poor soldiers being cynically slaughtered by mercenaries but the media ventures into portraying them as murderers.
Foreign interference in the events
It’s necessary to really “detoxify” oneself from the disinformation being passed around and broadcasted by the mega-media. What zealous hatred for truth suddenly overwhelms their editorial teams to the point where they can lie to this extent, or simply omit the truth, in the arrangement of their emotionally charged images and sound. In a campaign in the name of freedom they begin by imposing on us a totalitarianism of opinion which is more effective than the worst dictatorial regimes of old. Since all the major channels are saying basically the same things at the same time, everything passes under the false flag of objectivity. Somehow it has been decided that the Arab people must revolt and blindly change their regime whatever the cost. It is clear that the desired result is a power vacuum, created by driving the inhabitants to panic at the supposed lack of security. At the same time the mainstream media adds fuel to the fire with images that provoke alarm and distress, and glorifies the “uprising”, as if revolution were a foregone conclusion. Can we imagine such distortion being used if Americans, for example, were calling for the resignation of their government on charges of corruption? Absolutely not. Therefore what passes as “news” on the Middle East crisis is so far removed from journalistic integrity as to be shameful. Such manipulation on the part of the media must be condemned and exposed.
Alix Van Burren, a veteran reporter for the Italian newspaper Republica has sent a report from Damascus on the possible role of agitators paid by the ex-vice-president Khaddam4 in Banyas. On Sunday two people in the entourage of Khaddam were arrested. Human rights activists confirmed that they were distributing money and weapons to anti-government agitators. Haytham al Maleh, himself a member of opposition, was the most explicit one accusing the people of Khaddam who “play with the blood of innocent people” in and around Banyas. He also mentioned ‘leprous dogs’, loyal to Rifa’t al Assad, the dethroned and Mafiosi uncle of Bashar El Assad. These people, according to the Republica, are active on the coast between Tartus and Latakia.
Since the assassination of Rafic Hariri in Lebanon, his son Saad (who accuses Syria of having organized the murder) looks to weaken the Syrian regime, even to eradicate it by all means possible.
Last week we read in Wikileaks that Saad Hariri— who accuses Syria of having commanded the murder of his father Rafic Hariri—asked the United States to put an end to the current Syrian regime of Assad, stating that Khaddam and the Muslim Brotherhood5, helped by Hikmat Al Shebahi, could fill the resulting void.
For the last few years now we’ve known that weapons are passing through the mountains that surround us on the border with Lebanon. These contraband activities are very difficult for the border police to control because they are near to the pro- Hariri villages of ‘Arzal. Not later than yesterday a truck was intercepted which contained weapons, it passed by our monastery which is between the border and the village of Qâra. Since the sixties the Sunni fundamentalists have been trying to grow within the womb of Arab regimes. Held back by these regimes the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist jihadists have formed secret networks which these last years have been filled by unemployed youth. Some of them in our village are being enrolled to fight on the side of al-Qaeda in Iraq and have been killed. We’ve known that what were thought to be simple Egyptian workers, Jordanian residents, Lebanese or refugee Iraqis are in fact members of “sleeper cells” which are gradually equipping themselves for a scenario where the regime is brutally toppled. These networks are widely spread over several bases, and they are funded or trained by the secret services of certain great powers and some Arab countries.
Local and international media manipulate every news piece; at the very least they are lying by omission. They bring us to pre-conceived conclusions too swiftly for us to think and they deny the active implication of the regimes and background factions who operate the events in Syria and who are assisted by professional mercenaries.
Information that’s worthy to believe assures us that mercenaries are everywhere. The cousin of our mason-worker has been going to a particular restaurant for a week. An unmarked car passed by him and killed him at point-blank range. Yesterday in the cozy town of Deir Atiyeh, four kilometers from us, an armed group shot on a very exclusive restaurant and wounded several workers in a drive-by shooting. The presence of these mercenaries have caused the young people of the Christian quarters of Homs, Rableh, Qusayr, Dmaineh, Jousseh, to form “Popular Committees” to close roads and villages and to assure the identity of everyone who passes by. They testify that even the security forces accept to be searched. Our young people of Homs have chased down and caught trouble makers, these trouble makers were of foreign nationalities—Iraqi, Lebanese, Jordanian, or Egyptian. These foreigners were armed killers and they all had “Thuraya” mobile satellite phones of the same type.
But what gave me goose bumps was the eye witnessed account a teacher who gave her initials as GBAN. This person is credible, she is a member of our parish and a good friend of the monastery for the last few years, the following is her account to me:
Testimony of a teacher
“The protestors we saw on Palm Sunday were not from Homs. They didn’t know their way around in the city, some of them even asked us for directions. A lot of them were children walking around in scruffy sandals which they ended up losing in the streets. These adolescents explained us they “were making money”. Some of them were given 500 Syrian Pound (10 USD), others 1000 Syrian Pound (20 USD) to participate in the protests.
We heard our neighbors repeating to one another: “Where do these people come from and why do they speak on our behalf?” The people of Homs were afraid and stayed inside. The protestors were obnoxious, Hardabasht people. At 6.30 pm they stopped at the Greek-Orthodox Saint Anthony church in Bab El Subah where they spoke in a disrespectful way with the Fathers Wahib Bitar and Tohmeh Tohmeh who were praying the Palm Sunday prayers. They interrupted them and urged them to finish their prayers quickly. This has never been seen in Syria where the coexistence between Muslims and Christians is a point of pride.
The young people of the “Popular Committees” were posted at the entry of the following areas: in Adawiya, Al nuzhat, Bab El Sbah, Al Zahra’ and Khaldiyé. They succeed in preventing the protestors to enter.
The protestors continued their way, breaking down shops, they knifed passersby and putting tires on fire. They were shouting vulgar and insulting slogans. Some people were killed, like a general returning to his car from a grocery shop. This man and several other people were shot from short range and they were cut up in pieces to cause the greatest fear among the people. The same procedure was used by the Salafists in Nahr El Bared against the Lebanese soldiers. The Salafists pierced the soldiers’ eyes and cut their bodies into pieces. Homs was in panic and thousands of people came together to acclaim the name of the President. But the foreign media didn’t give any importance to this incident. They attribute all positive prostests to “organized schemes” of the regime.
The next afternoon the protestors came back. Policemen noticed some snipers who infiltrated a building. They encircled the building to capture them. Some of them tried to escape but our soldiers shot them down. They were transported to the military hospital. I know the head doctor of that hospital, Dr Kasser Finar. He was devastated, telling us that these snipers were Syrians coming from isolated villages deep in the Syrian Desert.
Yesterday the Syrian army discovered a large quantity of weapons in the mosque of Mirei a Bab El Subah in Homs.
This evening the protestors gathered around the “Watch’s Square” which they surnamed “Revolution Square”. All night we heard them proclaiming frightening slogans: “The front of Homs proclaims the Jihad, people of Homs, to Jihad!” But no inhabitant of Homs joined them. Around 4 o’clock in the morning we heard heavy gun fire. The next day we were very relieved to see that this frightening mob had been scattered. Today Homs is like a sieged city. Police have forbidden motorcycles to enter the city. You can leave Homs but you cannot enter the city any more. We all saw that these so called protestors were not Syrians and that they were paid to march. They claim to be Salafists. We are not hesitant to believe them; we saw their actions with our own eyes. They are not from Syria, they come from an occult conspiracy, not for a constructive reform. May God help us.”
Testimony of M.S. Student of Qâra, residing in Homs
“On Wednesday, 19th of April I was in Homs. I live close to the Baath University, next to the president’s roundabout. A part from the protesters I saw well equipped jeeps having large machine guns fixed on the back. The man operating the machine gun was holding down the trigger, spraying bullets with live ammunition at all the shops in the commercial street which goes from the roundabout to the city center. The people walking in the street ducked down, some people were wounded. Youth of the “Popular Committee” with some policemen opened fire on the car which skidded off the road. We ran after the car and captured them. They were three. We were astonished to see their inexplicable behavior, they were like drugged. The one operating the machine gun had been struck by a bullet which penetrated deeply in his arm. But he was laughing really hard, insensitive to the pain. These people were arrested and transported to another place by the policemen.”
When gathering testimony’s from our friends in various neighborhoods of Damascus (Zamalka, Jobar, Abbasiyyin-Tijara, Koussour, Kassa3, Dweil3a, Zablatani, Souk El Hâl, Sa2ba-Gotta, allied to the Palestinian refugee camps which operate a large arms trafficking business) or Daraa, Suwaida, Lattaquieh and Jezzirah, we hear more or less the same scenarios. The people, adults and younger people, gather when leaving the mosques or on other occasions. They march out in a peaceful demonstration. Within the group there are a few select people who start to arouse the tension. The slogans become more violent and fanatic. At a certain moment these infiltrators begin to commit violent acts: break stores, burn cars, hassle passersby or police force. The whole of the protestors are not fully aware of the aggressions which take place at the protest. At a certain moment hidden snipers on the roof or people within the crowd start firing on the protestors and the police. Chaos erupts. The video sequences are shot at that very moment supposedly as evidence that the police force has shot on a peaceful crowd.
The media does not specify why these protests occur precisely on these places. You first have to know that the majority of these protesters are young, middle-class, unemployed people. Besides some intellectuals, it is only a very modest crowd which is protesting. People will happily accept a bribe. Thus the Homs’ mosques publically proclaimed: “Jihad! He who wants money, let him come and claim it, we’re giving it away”. The places where these protests occur are not by chance. They occur in strategic places, specifically chosen and suited for these kinds of protests, i.e.: in Izraa or Maadamiyyé the protests took place close to the army posts. Other protests are being organized in religiously mixed regions to fire up sectarian tensions. Thus the protest in Homs passed by Bab Shah, the Christian neighborhood, and the Sunni participants yelled at the Christians: إسالم ومسيحييهبدنا ,نبيدالعلويةwhich means: “Muslims and Christians, we want to exterminate the Alawi people.” In Banyas and Jableh (Sunni villages encircled by Alawi countryside) the slogans were Salafistic, arousing the crowd to the Jihad against the Alawites living in the mountains. These realities seemed unthinkable two months ago in Syria. Not because they were forced but because the civil model of unity seemed to be well enrooted in the Syrian society.
It’s evident for impartial observers that this must be a well-thought-out scenario mounted by secret services and orchestrated by global media that have mastery of the use of key, psychologically charged concepts. This scenario repeats itself all over Syria to stir up the situation to topple the regime. Here, in our little villages of Qalamun (our province), these situations happen to a lesser extent. We want reforms, like all Syrians, but not in this manipulative way which is far from innocent. To understand what is at stake in the present situation in Syria and in the Middle East let us try to situate the events in their historical context.
The events in the past and in the present
First the past: It is inevitable to look back into the past to understand where we are situated in our long “Calvary” here in the Middle East. Into what fatal labyrinths our people were obliged to venture because of alliances and contra-alliances stemming from the Arab-Israeli conflict which to our great sadness hasn’t yet been resolved but has grown into a more and more complicated and purulent necrosis6. Since the creation of the state of Israel we find ourselves in a continuous geopolitical movement on the “grand chessboard” of world diplomacy. First there was pan-Arabism of Naguib and Nasser, the 67’war, then the “small-steps politics” of Kissinger who authored, for example, the sectarian partitioning of Cyprus and Lebanon, and then the fall of the Shah and the rising of the Islamic Republic. After that the invention of the Sunni fundamentalism with Osama Ben Laden and the Taliban exploding the WTC followed by the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan. We were promised a new Middle-East through “creative anarchy” following the dethroning of sinister Saddam Hussein. Here we are! In truth, virtually nothing has been realized, and so much has been lost. How much blood, how much destruction, how many dead! What instability, what misery, how many pipe-bombed-cars up until today! Let’s not forget the subtle and hidden demographic redistribution that, as in Lebanon6, Iraq, Cyprus, or the Balkans seeks to parcel up the geography into week sectarian entities where often the Arab Christians have no place. It is as if history were to be playing out following the hypothesis of the clash of civilizations of Samuel Hungtinton.
Now to the present: Behind the hubbub of protests, the sound of gunfire and pseudo-humanitarian slogans, we are witnessing a true uprising of a Shiite front opposing the Sunni front. To bring about an ultimate scenario between “religious” movements, the Muslim brothers or the Ayatollah, opposing groups have secretly been supported. Suddenly the great western nations are decidedly concerned with the human rights in our countries. Didn’t the west serve its own interests for decades by collaborating with the regimes being condemned today? But suddenly the world leaders became aware of the lack of democratic principles in our region, inciting Misters Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy to write a joint letter published in the Herald Tribune of April 14th 2011to consecrate, in pathetic terms, the principle of their “humanitarian” interference in Libya. This humanitarian interference has already killed dozens of civilians and it creates a frightening precedent: it eliminates the rights of the country and undermines the foundations of the independence of nations, even worse it undermines the very concept of what a nation is. The rapidity in which the international community, Arab League and UN, reacted against the Libyan regime is disconcerting. While the aim was to “protect” the civilians against the tyranny of Kadhafi, we see that the NATO attacks are actually meant to favor and accompany armed rebels. We are no longer talking about a peaceful protesters claiming for change but about a civil war where the international community takes sides with one party against another.
The humanitarian objection is the motivation for the Libyan interference. But why not grant this favor to all the destitute of the world? Why two weights, two measures? Why interfere in Libya in favor of the protestors while in Bahrain they interfered against the protestors? And what to say of the daily Calvary of the civilians in Gaza whom are used as cannon fodder for Tsahal in the Israeli use of force against the civilians?
We are far from acknowledging these protests—which take place in the Arab world in general and in Syria in particular—as being the “springtime” of a new political order. On the contrary we strongly advise a maximum of prudence. Beneath the popular level, we only see a miserable attempt to enroll us in a new fabrication which pleases the masters of the world. And the proof is substantial; we read in the Figaro of the 18th of April that the USA has financed the opposition in Syria. “According to the Washington Post, the Barada TV channel is closely linked to the movement for justice and development, a network of Syrian exiled opponents. Since 2006 the department of the United States has financed up to 6 million dollars to this movement. The American administration began to finance these opposition figures under the presidency of George W. Bush, the latter having broken all relations with Damascus in 2005. These finances have persisted under Barack Obama.”
We also read with regard to the events in Egypt, judged to be so spontaneous, that the majority of the commentators say that the USA and their allies were taken by surprise and that they were looking to make up for that in Libya:
“While Mubarak is certainly no angel, the opposition that is facing him appears to be co-opted by even more questionable forces.”7 Who are they? The article analyses them: “Freedom house, a major US foundation that prepares activists for revolution.”8 The strategy inscribes itself in the American administration, divided between neoconservatives and neoliberals. For the support and the organization of the protests they used the principle of Joseph Nye, a member of the Trilateral Commission who wrote in his book Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics: “When you obtain the admiration of your ideals from others who now want what you want you don’t need to spend a lot of energy in attracting them into your side. Seduction is always more effective than coercion.” Nye talks about the importance of NGO’s as possible collaborators in the administration of soft power. The alliance between the NGO Freedom House9and the American government has led to the rise of private forces that have an unhealthy influence in the foreign and national politics. What’s more, Freedom House and its allied NGOs use soft power to facilitate what the neoconservative Michael Ledeen calls “creative destruction,” that is to destroy and to rebuild every aspect of the society to make it inoffensive. To conclude we would say that Freedom House is but a single entity in a wider network of governmental organizations and NGOs which deviant elites use to conduct their destabilization campaigns aimed at remodeling the political, social, and economic landscapes of countries and to punish the nations who do not obey.
The concept of creative destruction is still active in Middle Eastern policy. The architects of our new revolutions can boast about the low cost they spent to set fire to some nations. Through propaganda these fires which have some virtual aspects, some sentimental aspects, which produce a snowball effect. This “soft power” in the Middle East—the use of propaganda and covert ops—may explode into a volcano that destroys everything. Because that is the real aim, is it not?
How to make a real reform
There are key-factors one has to detect to be able to analyze the situation and to find suitable solutions, avoiding to idealize the information given to us by these mass movements. That information is designed to manipulate, through the form of disinformation.
To make a constructive analysis one has to understand the Syrian socio-cultural life which is based on not only political, but human equilibriums. Even though the Baath party is ideological and essentially secular, like all other monarchical regimes, republican or parliamentarian in the region, the Baath party still has profound roots in the tribal network specific to the Middle-East. That network is a network of acquaintances; it survives thanks to a continuous readjustment of mutually beneficial relationships through the representatives of the bigger and smaller families. The functioning of that network is what determines a regime’s strength or weakness, just like in all other regimes in the area. The media for example didn’t broadcast the meeting of President Bashar El Assad with some notables of Darraa and a testimony of one of the participants. They were invited without any protocol and they were touched by the genuine interest of the President. That meeting was able to put the spirits of the people to rest and to create a chance for dialogue. That atmosphere of peace didn’t persist. Meanwhile the events in Homs, in Banias, in Jableh have aroused the tension with more and more impartial sources speaking of a real Sunni network encouraging the protestors. This results in repressive measures from the regime in which the foreign powers hope to see a possibility to punish Syria through sanctions or worse. The spiral of violence is fed by claims which are no longer aimed towards reform but towards vengeance between clans because of changes in the sectarian equilibrium.
Never will a foreign power be able to replace the mutual understanding and dialogue naturally found within a family, a region or a nation. I will inform you of the viewpoint of a blogger named Nour who wrote the following the 14th of April: “I think it would be naïve to think that these ‘revolutionaries’ within the Arab media are simply posting videos to disseminate information which they are incapable of verifying. They aren’t just amateurs who make mistakes all the time. This is a part of a campaign destined to incite people to violence and hatred. That is why I reject it completely, just as I reject the people who organize this charade. As for the real protestors, I have accepted some of their requests because they are valid and I assured them that they have the right to protest peacefully. But I condemn the use of violence (ALL VIOLENCE) of the security officers against the peaceful protestors in the strongest terms. I don’t support people who want to oppose the regime just for the simple fact to be in opposition with the regime. I do not support any dishonest and degenerate means to fight against the regime because the people using these means aren’t any better than the regime.”10
A change operated through violence will cost so much and it leaves us with a worst case scenario for the future. Even though the media and their notable guests seem confident in the future pressing forward after a regime destabilization, with violent change in Syria there is the unknown of the horrible power vacuum that awaits us then. From this perspective the violent and uncontrolled protests (we have to admit that intruders have come to put fuel on the flames) hurt the cause of true reforms which are necessary for the future of Syria.
In the 18th century the orientalist Sir William Jones, writing about British India, stated: “a liberty system imposed to a people who are invincibly attached to contrary values would really be a system of tyranny.” What we fear has well been predicted by the Russian President Mr. Dimtry Medveïev talking about the present situation: “These countries are difficult and it is very likely that hard times await them including fanatics taking over power. That would mean a long struggle for the region and the expansion of extremism.”11
We desire for them to stop adding fuel to the fire12.
I think that the solution lies in truth, love, solidarity and fidelity between the diverse elements of the Syrian family. For us Christians, it is in looking at Jesus, a Jew living under Roman occupation, who acts in transparency with his friends and his enemies that we find the inspiration to walk serenely in the midst of such a turbulent situation. Instead of demonizing one another let us try to understand each other. We all aspire for freedom, for concord, for democratic reforms to the benefit of humanity. Let us put our hands to action with justice and gentle kindness. Like the majority of the Syrians, we are opposed to the tendentious information which is insensitive to the real interests of the country.
Today, according to the observers, the zeal of the protestors has dropped by 85%. The repressiveness of the regime has not been condemned but rather the Syrian people are aware that the claims of opposition leaders served as a Trojan horse for the occult objectives of international powers. A peaceful and constructive dialogue seems to be the only option for real reform, one that is socially and democratically put forward by the Syrian people.
Easter reminds us that the saving Cross of Jesus Christ is the great revolution that alone builds the civilization of brotherhood, based on love of one’s enemies and the gift of oneself. Such is the power of the resurrection. We want to live it and to share it.
Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix
and the monastic community of the Unity of Antioch, Qara – Syria
1 Al-Hurra is an Arabic TV channel of the BBG, attached to the US Department of State.
2« Western Press Misled – Who Shot the Nine Soldiers in Banyas? Not Syrian Security Forces », From Joshuah
Landis, Syria Comment, 13th of April 2011.
3« Syrian soldiers shot for refusing to fire on protesters », by Katherine Marsh, The Guardian, 12th of April 2011.
4Abdel Halim Khaddam was the vice-president of Syria from 1984 to 2005. Today, while in exile in Paris, he is the head of a pro-Western opposition party supported by the USA. In 2006 he accused Bashar el-Assad of having ordered the assassination of Rafik el-Hariri, but his testimony proved to be false.
5The Muslim Brothers have very different characteristics depending on one country from another. In Syria they are influenced by Saudi Arabia.
6I can testify of the atrocities of the war in Lebanon having lived there my entire life. Daughter of a Palestinian who took refuge in Lebanon in 1948 I lived the drama of the Lebanese war which was a funded war and not a civil war.
7« Destabilization : Directed Discontent in Egypt and Beyond », by Paul and Philip D. Collins, 11th of March 2011.
8 It is confirmed by another article on the same website that young Egyptians are being encouraged by Freedom House to acquire knowhow on Facebook, on YouTube and in text messaging so that they might be used to facilitate the revolution. Freedom House equipped the activists with the access to the necessary resources to start a revolution, including the interaction with donors, networks, international organizations and the media.
9« Freedom House : quand la liberté n’est qu’un slogan », Réseau Voltaire, 7th of September 2004. 10Syria Comment, op.cit.
11Collins, op. cit.
12 The Syrians interviewed by mainstream media about the situation here always live outside Syria and speak— like Ahmed Chalabi did before the Iraq war—with a kind of comfortable, intelligent, and utopian view of what Syria should be like if they were king. We remember that everything Chalabi said about the need for democracy in Iraq made him the hero of the mainstream media, until everything he said turned out to be false. But the media washed its hands when Chalabi was demonized by the same media that had worshiped him—including the New York Times. And, most importantly, America did what it wanted and what Chalabi had hoped for: to invade Iraq in the name of freedom, and now millions are suffering or dead. We ought to question those who promise the same kind of “freedom” for Syria.