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NATO attack on Serbian state TV wiped from record

The NATO missile assault killed 16 people, yet there was no international outcry such as what followed the Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015.

Shane Quinn

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On 23 April 1999, a NATO missile attack on Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) headquarters killed 16 employees of the state broadcaster. The forgotten war crime occurred during the Kosovo War (March 1998-June 1999), and was part of NATO’s aerial campaign alongside the US-backed Kosovo Liberation army, in opposition to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

In the aftermath of the attack there were no great public campaigns launched for the 16 murdered journalists and employees, no outpouring of emotion for those killed, no calls for solidarity and togetherness in the face of aggression. On the contrary the West justified this grievous blow against freedom of expression, praised it even.

Tony Blair, Britain’s then Prime Minister, welcomed the killings when speaking at NATO’s 50th anniversary summit in Washington. Blair said the missile attack was “entirely justified… in damaging and attacking all these targets”, and that those murdered were part of the “apparatus of dictatorship and power of [Slobodan] Milosevic”.

Blair felt that, “the responsibility for every single part of this action lies with the man [Milosevic] who has engaged in this policy of ethnic cleansing and must be stopped”. Apparently Milosevic “must be stopped” by wiping out state journalists or what Blair describes as an “apparatus of dictatorship”.

According to one of the main leaders of the Western world, Milosevic must bear full responsibility for a NATO fighter plane firing a US-made missile on a state broadcasting service’s headquarters. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised by Blair’s visions of justice, particularly when examining his key role in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the following decade.

Blair was not alone in praising this violation of international law. His Secretary of State for International development, Clare Short, said afterwards that, “the propaganda machine is prolonging the war and it’s a legitimate target”. Short is a Labour Party member and her official title today is The Right Honourable Clare Short. Defending these killings was neither right nor honourable one can assume.

NATO themselves commended the deliberate attack afterwards. NATO’s military spokesperson Air Commodore David Wilby declared RTS, “a legitimate target which filled the airways with hate and with lies over the years”. This followed on from a number of other NATO attacks on radio and television outlets in the country.

In the build up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, Cardiff University revealed that the BBC adopted the most pro-war stance of any British network. The official reasons for invading Iraq were based entirely on lies and misinformation. In this case was the BBC “the propaganda machine”, had it become “a legitimate target” too?

Pentagon spokesperson Kenneth Bacon also legitimised the war crime saying that, “Serb TV is as much a part of Milosevic’s murder machine as his military is”. Not to be outdone, the respected US diplomat and magazine editor Richard Holbrooke described the bombing of RTS as, “an enormously important and, I think, positive development”.

In the build up to the Iraq invasion American networks like Fox News were styling the illegal intervention as “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, with its correspondents and news anchors compelled to repeat that phrase. In addition a permanent American flag was fluttering in the top corner of the screen, and during the invasion itself the banner “war on terrorism” was unfurled.

Did this make Fox News and others like it, “a legitimate target which filled the airways with hate and lies”? Judging by the standards of Western elites, one would have to suggest so.

Meanwhile, a single person was charged for the attack on RTS: Dragoljub Milanovic, the Serbian network’s general manager, who received a 10-year jail term for failing to evacuate the building in time. Yet the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia concluded that NATO’s bombing of RTS was not a crime, noting that deaths were “unfortunately high, they do not appear to be clearly disproportionate”. Clearly disproportionate to the overall number of civilian deaths inflicted by NATO perhaps.

However, in January 2015 the Western reaction was somewhat different when 12 journalists from the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper were murdered by Islamic extremists – along with four Jewish men killed at a kosher supermarket shortly afterwards.

The British Prime Minister on this occasion, David Cameron, did not justify the killing of journalists and said, “We stand absolutely united with the French people against terrorism and against this threat to our values – free speech, the rule of law, democracy”. Cameron went on, “we should never give up the values we believe in… a free press, in freedom of expression, in the right of people to write and say what they believe”.

About two weeks later Blair, now a Middle East peace envoy, said of the thinking behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks, “this extremism is not natural, it’s taught and it’s learned and you have to un-teach it in the school systems”. Blair seems further unaware of his own role in creating “this extremism” by playing the junior partner role in invading Iraq, a crucial factor in the rise of ISIS.

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, millions marched to honour the dead with the slogan “I am Charlie” becoming famous. When the Serbian journalists and employees were killed just over 15 years before, there was no international motto of “I am RTS”.

New York civil rights lawyer Floyd Abrams described the Charlie Hebdo shootings as, “the most threatening assault on journalism in living memory”. The perception of “living memory” appears to be a remarkably short one.

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my2CentsJetsVtranDarkEyesRADOMIR RISTIC Recent comment authors
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Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

Western governments, and all those who support them, have long ago abandoned all civilised standards of honesty, legality, morality or even plain decency. They lie and lie and lie – blatantly and unblushingly, in accordance with the principle of the Big Lie (which Goebbels and Hitler learned from Edward Bernays and his chums on Madison Avenue).

Seán Murphy
Guest
Seán Murphy

The Western hypocrisy is sickening. Blair should be behind bars.

AriusArmenian
Guest
AriusArmenian

…with Bush and Obama.

Mr. Costelol
Guest
Mr. Costelol

……Clinton…..

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

……all on trial for capital murder…

Vtran
Guest
Vtran

Unlikly … some say he has Rottenchild blood (not pure)

DarkEyes
Guest
DarkEyes

And he converted into a Roman Catholic. To be in time for his protection by pope, Jesuits and The Banksters.
That is why Mr. Tony the Phoney is still a “free man” and untouchable.

Hi Vtran, long time, nothing heard. Are you OK?

Vtran
Guest
Vtran

DE … thank you for the information

have some issues … banned as you know on FR (will return under a new ID …. but sits behind a number of other computer related tasks) … and health … damn immune system has collapsed, so picking up any “bug” doing the rounds ,,, need some time to “recharge” …

DE thank you for asking

DarkEyes
Guest
DarkEyes

You’r welcome. If you live in a state where medical cannibis is allowed to be used may be that might be of benefit for your health?

About the issues … yes I suspected it would be something like that.
Keep save, take care and become healthy asap, you hear.

Vtran
Guest
Vtran

going for a specialized type of acupuncture very soon ….. have great hopes

Thank you …. you take care too

SVESAMSHVATIO
Guest
SVESAMSHVATIO

NATO was actually too soft! NATO had prevented genocide of serbian terrorists over armless Albanian people with the help of the JNA, which which was usurped by the great-serbian genocidal criminals and dictator Milosevic.

RADOMIR RISTIC
Guest
RADOMIR RISTIC

Yeah… and Your Ustashas preemptively massacred a million Serbs during World War II. And for the same reason, the Serbian people was decimated during the First one – the so-called The Great War. The Turks preventively killed, assimilated or displaced Serbs (especially from today’s Kosovo) for five centuries. But, what else to say about ‘unarmed Albanians’ ?! You could not have met such a thing for centuries. Ah, did you hear that? And what else to say about ‘unarmed Albanians’ ?! You could not have met such a thing for centuries. And did You hear about the weapons stolen from… Read more »

Peter Bozich
Guest
Peter Bozich

Tony Blair unfortunately walks the earth a free man, how can this be ?
Now he is a middle east envoy, makes it even more insulting.
Thank you Russia for stopping this criminality continuing on into Syria, the neoconservative lunatics thought this destruction of Yugoslavia was the template for countries like Syria.
How can Tony Blair even show his war criminal face in public, he is a shameful blight on world history, a criminal who should be hung.

Mr. Costelol
Guest
Mr. Costelol

The British SAS were shooting Serbian policemen in the back during 1998 before the war to elicit a response by the state, which would inevitably be labelled “excessive” and cause for internationalization, as it was, a prelude to NATO’s war of aggression after General William Walkers false-flag.
The Bombing of RTS was the work of a British pilot.

Terry Ross
Guest
Terry Ross

Milosevic was fully exonerated of any wrongdoing..however this occurred posthumously to protect the reputations of his accusers.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

Don’t follow that logic….

Trauma2000
Guest
Trauma2000

Milosevic died in jail before being found innocent. He was denied medical treatment that most people would get in a maximum security jail. The findings of Milosevic’s trial found him INNOCENT. But those finding were buried on about page 1900 of a 2500 page report. A Spanish forensics team sent to Serbia to ‘exhume mass graves’ spent two years looking but said they ‘couldn’t find anything’ and then their statements were buried on 11pm nightly news and not follow up the next day. It was a whitewash. It was the first case that the International Criminal Court was supposed to… Read more »

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

Holy cow….I’m responding to Terry Ross comment which is daft and now get a lecture…like I dont know…oh well

Jets
Guest
Jets

Hi there, long time no hear (I’m well by the way).

Your daughter has probably heard a lot of Western propaganda. My neighbors are from Yugoslavia and so are many of their friends (I know most of them). There were hardline Muslim terrorists who indiscriminately killed women, children and elderly people. That set the the war machine in motion as I told my co-workers.

Say “Hi” to your daughter :-))

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

Hi YOU….Good to hear you’re ok!! :-)) Yes, she has. When she visited the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. She sat about 2 feet away from Milosevic…separated by Plexyglass wall. It was a very small room. She observed Milosovic so intensely that she expected him any time to give her “the evil eye” She found him to be extremely intelligent, far more so that the prosecutor and the judges combined. He had a wicked sense of humor and according to her would not be found guilty. She said that with a rather impish face as if to apologize for such a… Read more »

Jets
Guest
Jets

Hi G! My apologies for not replying to you any sooner. It has been a hectic year so far. Still a couple of months to go. Yes, our neighbors and friends are highly educated people and none of them is bloodthirsty (Slavic people!).I was working at the time as an IT-specialist at “the bank” in Diemen when the war broke out. All my co-workers were scolding on the people of Yugoslavia, but I set them straight. I told them about the Albanian people who were tolerated, but decided to have it their way and eat the cake too. That’s when… Read more »

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

Hi my friend, Don’t you worry about a thing. As long as you’re ok. How many more “events” are scheduled? The whole situation was created by the U.S. to break up Yugoslavia. They paid these Muslims. The so-called Srebrenica massacre involving Dutchbat never took place. Dutchbat was sent by the U.N./and the Dutch Government as peace keepers, armed with small weapons…Instead it was a war zone. Dutchbat, as you know were taken hostage. They were accused of the massacre of 8000 Muslims. I was in Nederland during the hearings….2 members of Dutchbat committed suicide. So far no apologies to these… Read more »

Jets
Guest
Jets

3 events and counting down :-))

I will e-mail you this week.

Got to go :-))

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

Cool. Look forward to it😁

André De Koning
Guest
André De Koning

Blair was just meeting (kissing each other on the cheek) with Juncker: like all war criminals, whether from the UK, US or Israel, there will always be people who will defend them and find a few reasons to clear all wrongs. It all depends on which side the propaganda machine is working overtime. When Ben Gurion was asked if he was satisfied to have brought terrorism to the Middle East, he smiled and said:”…to the whole world”. Whole families were shot to smithereens in Operation Cast Lead in Israel and the people were cheering on the mountain to enjoy the… Read more »

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

I thought it was Menachem Begin. Ben Gurion just waved his hands.

spoint
Guest
spoint

Perhaps, US-made missile, but Jew sent missile.

AriusArmenian
Guest
AriusArmenian

NATO is a terrorist war criminal organization.
Note the NATO – OTAN displays.
NATO unconsciously shows its duplicity.

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

After the end of WWII, the United States was one of the first states to sign the Geneva Convention on the rules of war, which prohibited the deliberate or indiscriminate attack of civilians and civilian objects, EVEN if the area contained military objectives. Failure to do so would cause a higher civilian death toll resulting from bombardment by the attacking force and the defenders would be held responsible, criminally liable for those deaths. The US sits its big a$$ on international law and spits on its own signature, when it fits it, but cry to heaven when it suits its… Read more »

samo war
Guest
samo war

NATO is wheeeeere ?

Punisher 1
Guest
Punisher 1

So then after doing the deed. If Serbia was to announce that their secret service had now executed Blair for war crimes against the Serbian people. That would then be seen as totally acceptable in the West? Now to be honest,yes,it would be for me. He should have been brought to that justice years ago. But in this case I’m just trying to mimic the West’s thinking on what is correct or not. I think I have it down now.

Mr. Costelol
Guest
Mr. Costelol

Blair is a frontman, he amongst others must be tried to expose his owners. The only ones who would benefit from his death are the UK deep state.

Punisher 1
Guest
Punisher 1

He can never be tried in a World Court. He and his supporters have far too much power for that to ever happen. Thinking about trying him,which I hear all the time,is purely “feel good” propaganda. It just allows him to escape justice while people daydream that he will be punished.

Mr. Costelol
Guest
Mr. Costelol

True, most courts, commissions exist to bury the truth. I was hoping for something more impartial, but it’s unlikely. Nevertheless, I’m certain the little weasel would spill the beans with just a few whacks across the chin – his owners are the ones that need to be hunted.

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The ‘Gilets Jaunes’ Are Unstoppable: “Now, The Elites Are Afraid”

Now the elites are afraid. For the first time, there is a movement which cannot be controlled through the normal political mechanisms.

The Duran

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Authored by Christophe Guilluy via Spiked-Online.com:


The gilets jaunes (yellow vest) movement has rattled the French establishment. For several months, crowds ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands have been taking to the streets every weekend across the whole of France. They have had enormous success, extracting major concessions from the government. They continue to march.

Back in 2014, geographer Christopher Guilluy’s study of la France périphérique (peripheral France) caused a media sensation. It drew attention to the economic, cultural and political exclusion of the working classes, most of whom now live outside the major cities. It highlighted the conditions that would later give rise to the yellow-vest phenomenon. Guilluy has developed on these themes in his recent books, No Society and The Twilight of the Elite: Prosperity, the Periphery and the Future of Francespiked caught up with Guilluy to get his view on the causes and consequences of the yellow-vest movement.

spiked: What exactly do you mean by ‘peripheral France’?

Christophe Guilluy: ‘Peripheral France’ is about the geographic distribution of the working classes across France. Fifteen years ago, I noticed that the majority of working-class people actually live very far away from the major globalised cities – far from Paris, Lyon and Toulouse, and also very far from London and New York.

Technically, our globalised economic model performs well. It produces a lot of wealth. But it doesn’t need the majority of the population to function. It has no real need for the manual workers, labourers and even small-business owners outside of the big cities. Paris creates enough wealth for the whole of France, and London does the same in Britain. But you cannot build a society around this. The gilets jaunes is a revolt of the working classes who live in these places.

They tend to be people in work, but who don’t earn very much, between 1000€ and 2000€ per month. Some of them are very poor if they are unemployed. Others were once middle-class. What they all have in common is that they live in areas where there is hardly any work left. They know that even if they have a job today, they could lose it tomorrow and they won’t find anything else.

spiked: What is the role of culture in the yellow-vest movement?

Guilluy: Not only does peripheral France fare badly in the modern economy, it is also culturally misunderstood by the elite. The yellow-vest movement is a truly 21st-century movement in that it is cultural as well as political. Cultural validation is extremely important in our era.

One illustration of this cultural divide is that most modern, progressive social movements and protests are quickly endorsed by celebrities, actors, the media and the intellectuals. But none of them approve of the gilets jaunes. Their emergence has caused a kind of psychological shock to the cultural establishment. It is exactly the same shock that the British elites experienced with the Brexit vote and that they are still experiencing now, three years later.

The Brexit vote had a lot to do with culture, too, I think. It was more than just the question of leaving the EU. Many voters wanted to remind the political class that they exist. That’s what French people are using the gilets jaunes for – to say we exist. We are seeing the same phenomenon in populist revolts across the world.

spiked: How have the working-classes come to be excluded?

Guilluy: All the growth and dynamism is in the major cities, but people cannot just move there. The cities are inaccessible, particularly thanks to mounting housing costs. The big cities today are like medieval citadels. It is like we are going back to the city-states of the Middle Ages. Funnily enough, Paris is going to start charging people for entry, just like the excise duties you used to have to pay to enter a town in the Middle Ages.

The cities themselves have become very unequal, too. The Parisian economy needs executives and qualified professionals. It also needs workers, predominantly immigrants, for the construction industry and catering et cetera. Business relies on this very specific demographic mix. The problem is that ‘the people’ outside of this still exist. In fact, ‘Peripheral France’ actually encompasses the majority of French people.

spiked: What role has the liberal metropolitan elite played in this?

Guilluy: We have a new bourgeoisie, but because they are very cool and progressive, it creates the impression that there is no class conflict anymore. It is really difficult to oppose the hipsters when they say they care about the poor and about minorities.

But actually, they are very much complicit in relegating the working classes to the sidelines. Not only do they benefit enormously from the globalised economy, but they have also produced a dominant cultural discourse which ostracises working-class people. Think of the ‘deplorables’ evoked by Hillary Clinton. There is a similar view of the working class in France and Britain. They are looked upon as if they are some kind of Amazonian tribe. The problem for the elites is that it is a very big tribe.

The middle-class reaction to the yellow vests has been telling. Immediately, the protesters were denounced as xenophobes, anti-Semites and homophobes. The elites present themselves as anti-fascist and anti-racist but this is merely a way of defending their class interests. It is the only argument they can muster to defend their status, but it is not working anymore.

Now the elites are afraid. For the first time, there is a movement which cannot be controlled through the normal political mechanisms. The gilets jaunes didn’t emerge from the trade unions or the political parties. It cannot be stopped. There is no ‘off’ button. Either the intelligentsia will be forced to properly acknowledge the existence of these people, or they will have to opt for a kind of soft totalitarianism.

A lot has been made of the fact that the yellow vests’ demands vary a great deal. But above all, it’s a demand for democracy. Fundamentally, they are democrats – they want to be taken seriously and they want to be integrated into the economic order.

spiked: How can we begin to address these demands?

Guilluy: First of all, the bourgeoisie needs a cultural revolution, particularly in universities and in the media. They need to stop insulting the working class, to stop thinking of all the gilets jaunes as imbeciles.

Cultural respect is fundamental: there will be no economic or political integration until there is cultural integration. Then, of course, we need to think differently about the economy. That means dispensing with neoliberal dogma. We need to think beyond Paris, London and New York.

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US Blunders Have Made Russia The Global Trade Pivot

Even if Europe is somehow taken out of the trade equation, greater synergy between the RIC (Russia, India and China) nations may be enough to pull their nations through anticipated global volatilities ahead

The Duran

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Authored by Mathew Maavak via ActivistPost.com:


The year 2019 had barely begun before news emerged that six Russian sailors were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Benin. It was perhaps a foretaste of risks to come. As nations reel from deteriorating economic conditions, instances of piracy and other forms of supply chain disruptions are bound to increase.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 107 cases of piracy were noted during the first half of 2018 vis-à-vis 87 throughout 2017.  The 2018 tally included 32 cases in Southeast Asian waters and 48 along African shores – representing 75% of the total. To put this figure into perspective, Asian behemoths India and China – despite their vast shorelines – recorded only 2 cases of piracy each during the study period. Russia had none. In terms of hostages taken, the IMB tally read 102 in H1 2018 vs 63 in H1 2017.

Piracy adds to shipping and retail costs worldwide as security, insurance and salaries are hiked to match associated risks in maritime transport. Merchant vessels will also take longer and costlier routes to avoid piracy hotspots.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report in 2016 sums up the perils ahead:

As over 90% of global trade is carried out by sea, the economic effects of maritime crime can be crippling. Maritime crime includes not only criminal activity directed at vessels or maritime structures, but also the use of the high seas to perpetrate transnational organized crimes such as smuggling of persons or illicit substances.  These forms of maritime crime can have devastating human consequences.

Indeed, cases of human trafficking, organ harvesting, and the smuggling of illicit substances and counterfeit goods are proliferating worldwide in tandem with rising systemic debt and suspect international agendas.

Australia offers a case in point. While it fantasizes over a Quad of allies in the Indo-Pacific – to “save Asians from China” – criminal elements from Hong Kong, Malaysia to squeaky-clean Singapore have been routinely trafficking drugs, tobacco and people right into Sydney harbour for years,  swelling the local organised crime economy to as much as $47.4 billion (Australian dollars presumably) between 2016 and 2017.

With criminal elements expected to thrive during a severe recession, they will likely enjoy a degree of prosecutorial shielding from state actors and local politicians. But this is not a Southeast Asian problem alone; any superpower wishing to disrupt Asia-Europe trade arteries – the main engine of global growth – will have targets of opportunity across oceans and lands.  The US-led war against Syria had not only cratered one potential trans-Eurasia energy and trade node, it served as a boon for child traffickingorgan harvesting and slavery as well. Yet, it is President Bashar al-Assad who is repeatedly labelled a “butcher” by the Anglo-American media.

Ultimately, industries in Asia and Europe will seek safer transit routes for their products. The inference here is inevitable: the greatest logistical undertaking in history – China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – will be highly dependent on Russian security umbrella, particularly in Central Asia. Russia also offers an alternative transit option via the Northern Sea Route, thereby avoiding any potential pan-Turkic ructions in Central Asia in the future.

Russo- and Sinophobia explained?

In retrospect, Washington’s reckless policies post-Sept 11 2001 seem aimed at disrupting growing synergies between Asia and Europe. This hypothesis helps explain the relentless US-led agitprops against Russia, China and Iran.

When the gilet jaunes (yellow vest) protests rocked France weeks ago, it was only a matter of time before some pundits blamed it on Russia. US President Donald J. Trump cheered on; just as “billionaire activist” George Soros celebrated the refugee invasion of Europe and the Arab Spring earlier.  If the yellow vest contagion spreads to the Western half of Europe, its economies will flounder. Cui bono? A Russia that can reap benefits from the two-way BRI or Arctic trade routes or a moribund United States that can no longer rule roost in an increasingly multipolar world?

Trump’s diplomatic downgrade of the European Union and his opposition to the Nord Stream 2gas pipeline matches this trade-disruption hypothesis, as do pressures applied on India and China to drop energy and trade ties with Iran.  Washington’s trade war with Beijing and recent charges against Huawei – arguably Asia’s most valuable company – seem to fit this grand strategy.

If China concedes to importing more US products, Europe will bear the consequences. Asians love European products ranging from German cars to Italian shoes and Europe remains the favourite vacation destination for its growing middle class. Eastern European products and institutions are also beginning to gain traction in Asia. However, these emerging economies will suffer if their leaders cave in to Washington’s bogeyman fetish.

Even if Europe is somehow taken out of the trade equation, greater synergy between the RIC (Russia, India and China) nations may be enough – at least theoretically – to pull their nations through anticipated global volatilities ahead.

In the meantime, as the US-led world crumbles, it looks like Russia is patiently biding its time to become the security guarantor and kingmaker of Asia-Europe trade.  A possible state of affairs wrought more by American inanity rather than Russian ingenuity…

Dr Mathew Maavak is a regular commentator on risk-related geostrategic issues.

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Historic Eastern Christianity: An Uncertain Future

The survival of historic Eastern Christianity, particularly in Syria, is critical for several reasons.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Elias Samo via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The survival of historic Eastern Christianity has never been as urgent as it is today. Christianity saw its beginning in Greater Syria which was subdivided by France and Britain after WWI into modern day Syria, Lebanon, Palestian/Israel and Jordan. The land that housed, nurtured and spread the teachings of Jesus Christ for over two millenniums, now threatens children of that faith. The survival of historic Eastern Christianity, particularly in Syria, is critical for several reasons:

  1. Greater Syria is the homeland of Jesus and Christianity. Abraham was from modern day Iraq, Moses from Egypt, and Muhammad from Mecca; Jesus was from Syria.
  1. Paul converted to Christianity and saw the light while walking through ‘The Street Called Straight’ in Damascus.
  1. Jesus’ followers were called Christians for the first time in Antioch, formerly part of Syria.
  1. One of the earliest churches, perhaps the earliest, is in Syria.

The potential demise of historic Eastern Christianity is reflected in the key question Christians ask: should we stay or emigrate? The urgent question – in the face of the ongoing regional turmoil – precipitated with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and escalated since the Arab uprisings in 2011. Historic Eastern Christians’ fears were further magnified when Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Archbishop Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church, both of metropolitan Aleppo, were kidnapped on April, 22, 2013; with no traces of their whereabouts, dead or alive, since. For many years, I was deputy, friend, and advisor to the Archbishop Ibrahim, which provided me an opportunity to meet many Christians. I have, over time, noticed the change in their sentiment, with more considering emigration after the uprising and the kidnapping of the two Archbishops. Historic Eastern Christians survived the Ottoman Genocide in 1915 and thereafter; they multiplied and thrived in the Fertile Crescent despite some atrocities until the start of the misnamed “Arab Spring” in early 2011. Prior to the “Arab Spring”, historic Eastern Christians were victims of violence on several occasions. In the mid-1930s, the historic Assyrian community in Iraq suffered violent onslaughts and were driven to Syria. In the 1970s and 1980s, during the Lebanese Civil War, Christians were victims of sectarian violence. During the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Christians were victims of widespread sectarian violence which led to mass migration. The “Arab Spring” began with great hope for the right of the people to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. However, it was swiftly hijacked by Islamists and Salafists and turned into an “Islamic Spring, an Arab Fall and a Christian Winter”; bringing along with it a new massacre of Christians. Presently, Eastern Christianity is at the mercy of clear and identifiable domestic, regional, and international, historic and contemporary conflicts in the Fertile Crescent, namely:

  1. Jihad vs. Ijtihad: A long standing conflict amongst Muslims between the sword vs. the pen.
  2. Sunni vs. Shiite: A conflict which began following the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
  3. Arabism vs. Islamism: The former has territorial limitations, the later has no territorial limitations.
  4. Syria vs. Israel: It is an essential component of the Palestinian problem, not the presumed Arab- Israeli conflict.
  5. West vs. East: A throwback to the Cold War, or its revival.
  6. Historic Persian, Ottoman and Arab Empires animosities: Each seeking regional hegemony.

One is reminded of the proverbial saying, “When the elephants fight, the grass suffers.” Certainly, Eastern Christianity is suffering and threatened with extinction.

Syria was a model of religious tolerance, common living and peaceful interaction amongst its religious, sectarian, cultural and ethnic components. Seven years of turmoil, in which various international and regional powers manipulated segments of Syrian society by supplying them with an abundance of weapons, money and sectarian ideologies, has heightened Eastern Christians’ fears. During the seven-year turmoil in Syria, the entire society has suffered; Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Yazidis, Kurds, Christians and others. Christians, being a weak and peaceful component of the society, have suffered immensely. Ma’aloula; a religious treasure for Christians globally, and the only city in the world where Aramaic – the language of Jesus Christ – is spoken, was attacked and besieged by ISIS. Numerous historic Churches were damaged, and many destroyed. Christians in Raqqa were forced by ISIS into one of three options: 1. Pay a penalty in pure gold – known as a ‘Jizya’ to keep their life and practice their faith – albeit in secret only; 2. Convert into Islam; or 3. Face immediate death. To top their pain, the kidnap of the two prominent Archbishops meant no Eastern Christian believer was safe.

Amidst all the doom and gloom, however, there remains hope. The survival of Christianity depends on the actions and reactions of three parties:

Eastern Christians: During the last hundred years, 1915-2015, since the Ottoman Genocide, Eastern Christians have been victims of a history of massacres, which meant that every Eastern Christian was a martyr, a potential martyr or a witness of martyrdom; if you fool me once, shame on you, if you fool me twice, shame on me. The ongoing regional turmoil has heightened their sense of insecurity. The answer to an age-old question Eastern Christians had on their mind: To flee Westwards or remain in their land, in the face of death, is increasingly becoming the former.

Eastern Muslims: There is a difference in perceptions between Eastern Christians and mainstream Muslims regarding the massacres committed against Christians. When certain violent groups or individuals kill Christians, while shouting a traditional Islamic profession: “No God but one God and Muhammad is God’s messenger”, it is reasonable for Christians to assume the killers are Muslims. However, for mainstream Muslims, the killers do not represent Islam; they are extremists, violating basic Islamic norms such as Muhammad’s sayings, “Whoever hurts a Thummy – Christian or Jew – has hurt me”, “no compulsion in religion” and other Islamic norms regarding just treatment of people of the Book; Christians and Jews. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Muslim elites to impress upon their fellow Muslims that:

a. The three monotheistic religions believe in one God and all ‘faithfuls’ are equal in citizenship, rights and duties.

b. Christians participated in the rise of Arab Islamic civilization. They were pioneers in the modern Arab renaissance and they joined their Muslim brethren in resisting the Crusades, the Ottomans and Western colonialism.

c. Christians are natives of the land and they provide cultural, religious, educational, and economic, diversity.

d. Christians are a positive link between the Muslims and the Christian West, particularly in view of the rise of Islamophobia. Massacres of Christians and their migration provide a pretext for the further precipitation of Islamophobia.

e. Civilization is measured by the way it treats its minorities.

The Christian West: The Crusades, Western colonialism, creation and continued support of Israel, support of authoritarian Arab political systems, military interventions, regime change, and the destabilization of Arab states made Muslims view Eastern Christians ‘guilty by association’. The Christian West helped Jews come to Palestine to establish Israel. Shouldn’t the same Christian West also help Eastern Christians remain in their homeland, rather than facilitate their emigration? Western Christians, particularly Christian Zionists, believe that the existence of Israel is necessary for the return of Jesus to his homeland. However, it would be a great disappointment for Jesus to return to his homeland, Syria and not find any of his followers.

Prior to 2011, Eastern Christian religious leaders were encouraging Syrian Christians in the diaspora to return to Syria, their homeland, where life was safe and secure with great potential. Now, the same leaders are desperately trying to slow down Christian emigration. Eastern Christians’ loud cries for help to remain are blowing in the wind.

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