The situation in the Middle East, especially after the derailing of the so called Arab Spring, has taken a very dangerous turn, marked particularly by a sharp rise in Muslim fundamentalism. This trend has culminated in the emerging of the so called “Daesh” or ISIS and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In this whole process the Christians are ending up paying the heaviest price; and their very presence in the region, dating back to the time of Christ, is now in real jeopardy.
I shall offer first a brief description of the situation of the Christians, as it is probably known by many of you. Secondly I will suggest what we feel ought to be done, in order to help reverse the process and maintain, as much as possible, the Christian presence in the region. Thirdly I shall offer some solutions for the tragedies of the Middle Eastern region.
First: The situation of the Christians in the world today.
1 - The attacks on the Christians in the world today are now well documented facts, and they are a threat to the Christian presence in many countries and particularly In the Arab region, namely Egypt, Syria and Iraq, and under the umbrella of the so called Arab Spring, Christians are being attacked and compelled to leave their countries, where they have been living, as original and authentic citizens for the past 2000 years. This exodus is depriving the region of a great human, cultural, scientific, economic and national wealth. At the same time this is offering a distorted image of Islam by presenting it to the world as a religion that rejects diversity, persecutes those who are different. Over and above this distortion we witness an open incitement to a Sunni Shea sectarian conflict, leading to thousands of innocent victims on both sides.
This is a very painful situation and more painful still is the silence of the official regional and global stands, and more particularly painful is the silent attitude adopted by Islamic authorities, both spiritual and political, and the lukewarm international stand towards the events that have been taking place.
2 – The great tragedy nowadays is what has been happening to the Christians of Iraq, and more specifically to the Christians of Mosul and the thirteen villages of the plain of Nineveh, over and above what is happening to the Yazidi and other minorities. All of those were uprooted from their homes by Daesh and, very frightened, had to leave only with the clothes they had on their backs. They desecrated their churches, their shrines and their mosques, and they planted booby traps in their homes and mines on their roads. The Christians we are talking about are Chaldeans, Syriac, Assyrians, Armenians and Evangelicals. They were around one hundred and fifty thousand, now sixty five thousand took refuge in the Irbil [Erbil] district, and sixty thousand in Dahouk.. We wish to express our deep gratitude to all those who hosted them in Kurdistan, in their churches, parish halls, schools, private homes as well as government buildings. We thank also the Patriarchates, dioceses, religious orders, governments, institutions and individuals who offered them material as well as social and spiritual assistance of any kind. It is urgent now, as winter is approaching, to provide public houses for them and help provide educational facilities at both school and university levels.
Second: Some suggestions as to what could be done
1 – Put an end to the terrorist organizations. Islamic States cannot remain as silent observers, simply looking at the “Islamic State” and all the terrorist organizations, Daesh and others, as they are causing great harm to Islam itself. Both Sunni and Shea religious leaders ought to issue Fatwas that condemn attacks on Christians and prohibit the violation of their churches, homes and possessions.
2 – Create a military force under the hospices of the United Nations and the Security Council to put an end to the invasion by the terrorist organizations. We consider that the International Community bears some responsibility for the growth of the terrorist organizations and for the dramatic situation that the countries of the Middle East are experiencing. Everyone knows that those countries are victims of international struggle motivated by political, economic and strategic interests, related to the gas and the petrol in those countries.
3 – Over and above the two obligations mentioned, pressure should be applied by the Arab and International Communities on those who are financing those organizations or helping them with arms or training them, in order to cut off the sources of violence and terrorism. By saying this we are adding our voice to what His Holiness Pope Francis has been advocating.
4 – Support the Christian presence in order to protect inter religious dialogue as well as peaceful coexistence among cultures and civilizations. Christians and Muslims have lived together for fourteen hundred years. The Christians have always played a determining role in the educational, cultural, social, developmental, economic and national revival. They helped spread the culture of diversity, openness , respect and cooperation with those who are different. They helped also develop the concept of citizenship, and they promoted freedom and human rights. They lived in their countries with wisdom and prudence: they respected political authorities, obeyed the laws of their countries and honored their Constitutions. They tried to live as ideal citizens and this is why they gained the confidence of rulers, kings and presidents who opened for them possibilities of cooperation and work. If we consider today the attacks perpetrated by all the terrorist organizations on the Christians of Iraq we see that, despite the fact that Christians never took sides in the international and local, military, ethnic or racial conflicts, they still were victims of those conflicts that raged and are still raging in that country.
5 – Finally we have to note that despite everything, Christians remain attached to their lands, their countries and their freedom, as original citizens of those countries. They are committed to their gospel values and to the teachings of Christ, which guide their relations with the others and more particularly with their brother Muslims who are sharing the same citizenship with them. Christians are committed also to a communion in the formation of a national identity based on cooperation and equality among all the components of society, and on the rule of unity within diversity, away from any religious or ethnic discrimination. They are also committed to the witness through an untiring effort to promote peace, stability and human rights , and to promote particularly the freedom of expression, freedom of religion and conscience. They are also committed to respecting the freedom of the others who are different, and they consider diversity to be a source of richness and a means to complement and enrich each other.
All that will serve as necessary foundation for the building of democracies in the region.
Third: Proposed solutions for the tragedies of the Middles East.
1 – In order to find solutions for the problems of the Middle East one ought to deal with the causes. That is the only way to reach a just global and lasting peace. We all should work towards reconciliation among the various components of those countries and among denominations of the same religion. Fundamentalists and mercenaries should not be used in conflicts and they should not be financed nor armed. Those commit crimes against humanity and against God and they cover their crimes by claiming that they are acting in the name of God.
2 - Arabs and Muslims ought to ask questions about the failure of the Arab Spring, and how it came to be replaced by sectarian strife, and how the terrorist organizations developed and declared war against the regimes. They should ask themselves how those organizations sided up with the opposition and made the innocent citizens pay the price for those conflicts. Does this not reveal the fragility of those governments, of the countries and their geopolitical boundaries?
3 – In order for the countries of the Middle East to enjoy a just, global and lasting peace, they ought, with the help of the international community, to endeavor to separate religion and state and establish the secular State, according to the example of Lebanon which, along with separation, he pays homage to almighty God and respect to all religious as well as to their creeds and personal law. He promotes the freedom of religion and of conscience.
4 – The human tragedy that has struck the Christians of Iraq, the Yazidis and others who were expelled from their homes requires the international community, in cooperation with the Iraqi central government and the government of Kurdistan, to take quick and effective measures to facilitate the return of the displaced from Mosul and the plain of Nineveh, to guarantee their security under the United Nations supervision, making sure that they are not dispersed all over the world where they will lose their identity, their ancient heritage and wipe out their glorious history.
5 – That same human tragedy happened in Syria which enjoyed peace in the past. The Syrian hemorrhage going on for the past three and a half years ought to be resolved through dialogue; and a peaceful solution for the conflict ought to be found. Hence our call upon the International Community to look with fairness on the conflict and consider the danger of the spread of terrorist organizations. The Syrians have waited for too long for international efforts which never unfortunately bore any fruits. The Christians of Syria, like other citizens, were subjected, under the very eyes of the world, to killing and displacement, which ruined the Christian Muslim coexistence. We do not forget the kidnapping of the two bishops, Youhanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi of Aleppo, which has lasted for over a year, with the total silence of the world. Text and image from the website of the Maronite Patriarchate.
His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, has sent an epistle imploring all members of the church and the Assyrian nation to hold a 3 day fast (Rogation) beginning Monday the 1st of September.
The purpose of this rogation is to beseech the mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ upon our Assyrian nation and all who are being persecuted in the Middle East, in particular Northern Iraq.
May God accept our rogation just as He accepted the rogation of our forefathers the Ninevites. Source
Article from the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star
The United States is indirectly responsible for the violence in Iraq that has seen more than half of the Christian population displaced, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako said Thursday, after a media report quoted him saying "America is behind ISIS."
“The U.S. is indirectly responsible for what is going on in Iraq as it said it would ensure democracy and the well-being of the people, but 10 years have passed and on the contrary we have gone backward,” Sako told reporters at Beirut's airport.
He was responding to a question following remarks attributed to him in the local daily Ad-Diyar in which he accused the U.S. of supporting ISIS.
“Iraq has been divided ... and the Americans left Iraq in the midst of a vacuum where there was no army to protect [the people] and ISIS and these jihadist groups have been present for four years,” he said, before boarding a plane to Iraq.
“There were about 1 million Christians in Iraq and more than half of them have been displaced. Only 400,000 are left while displacement is still rising,” Sako added.
Sako was quoted as telling Ad-Diyar that “America is behind ISIS, which is the crime of the century, and they want to brazenly displace Christians from their homes and churches.”
“The West watched us and it seemed they have ignored our suffering,” he said. “But we will not leave our land, whatever the sacrifices.”
Sako had also criticized Muslim countries for lack of support.
“Our Muslim neighbors did not help us,” he said, as he urged Muslim preachers to issue a religious ruling against the killing of all innocent people.
“Issuing a fatwa preventing Muslims from killing fellow Muslims is not enough,” Sako said.
He also slammed Wednesday’s meeting that gathered Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai with representatives of the five permanent members at the U.N. Security Council.
“They were not helpful. We don’t want statements,” he said of the meeting, which he also attended, in Bkirki, the seat of the Maronite Church.
A delegation of Hezbollah politburo [the Lebanese political and resistance movement] on Thursday visited the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Rouphael Sako I, "to voice full solidarity
with the Christians of Iraq and rejection of all forms of displacement and practices that do not comply with the values and instructions of Islam."
"We must all stand against this takfiri climate that
seeks to eliminate the humanitarian and religious pluralism in the East and to rule through carnage and terror," the delegation, comprised of Ghaleb Abu Zeinab and Mustafa Hajj Ali, indicated
during the meeting.
"We must rely on ourselves first, because the indifference of the international community and pushing people to migration are just another face to sap diversity in the region," the delegation added.Original article here.
“America is responsible for what happened to the Christians in the East. And the patriarchs did not beg Arabs nor others to instill [peoples’] rights,” Sako said. Original article here.
Extract of an article from the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star: Eastern Church Patriarchs meet with permanent U.N. Security Council members Rai and the patriarchs of Eastern churches raised the alarm at a meeting with envoys of the five permanent Security Council members and the U.N. secretary-general’s representative in Lebanon Wednesday during which they appealed for international action to stop the slaughter of Christians at the hands of militants from ISIS.
The Maronite patriarch led a delegation of church leaders who visited Iraq earlier this month to show solidarity with thousands of Christians who had fled the advance of the Islamist militants in Mosul. Full article here.
The General Consul of Palestine in Erbil, Kurdish Iraq Ambassador Nazmi Hazzouri on Monday 24th of August visited the headquarters of Chaldean cultural society in Ankawa and met with the coordination body for civil society organizations. After the meeting, the Ambassador and delegation went to one of the centers for the displaced and met with those who through tragic circumstances had to leave their homes and their property. He offered a message of solidarity from the Palestinian community. He also rejected and condemned terrorist crimes. News via ankawa.com, the Assyrian news outlet.
from the Russian Orthodox news outlet Pravoslavie
The “Jabhat al-Nusra” extremist terrorist group has already for a month been besieging the Syrian village of Muhradah also known as Mhardeh, 25 kilometres from the city of Hamah—the majority of its population being Orthodox Christian, report the news agencies.
The Christian village in central Syria, surrounded by takfirist militants on three sides, has been living under threat of physical destruction for a month now. The village was deprived of electricity by the extremists as early as July 24 when an “al-Nusra” shell hit the local thermal power-
station. 43 people, including women and children, fell victim to the subsequent shellings. Should there be another siege, the village is threatened with a local humanitarian catastrophe, experts are convinced.
According to the eyewitnesses who left Muhradah over the last days, the settlement is constantly attacked by missiles, tanks, and machine-guns from the “Jabhat al-Nusra” road blocks; over the last week alone the territory of the village was the target for 34 shells in the span of three hours. The residents have organized self-defense squads, holding back attacks of the takfirists’ forces, as well as “Ambulance” brigades to give necessary medical aid to injured people during and after bombardment.
According to the residents’ evidence, in spite of the continuous fire, the intensity of attacks mostly comes in waves.
On the days of especially massive shellings, the number of refugees to other towns of the governorate increases, but the larger part of the village’s Christian population of 20,000 people is remaining inside the besieged settlement—the men of Muhradah intend to defend their homes and shrines (there are five ancient churches in the village).
Nevertheless, many refugees consider the current situation to be critical. In their view, the inequality of forces threatens the village’s Christians with the fate of Sadad and Mosul. Original
An article from Vatican Insider a blog of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica
The Secretary of State says that “the majority of Muslims refuse those brutal and inhuman methods. Let us hope that the Islamic world speaks up against them. The international community should be present in the country. The Church has not been silent”
The events in Iraq “are not a clash between Islam and Christianity”, says Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who answered some questions on the international crisis for Vatican Insider last night, after
celebrating Mass for the 100th anniversary of the death of Saint Pius X. Less than a week ago, during the press conference on the flight back from Korea, Pope Francis explained that it is
legitimate to “stop the unjust aggressor”, specifying, however, that “to stop” does not mean “to bomb”, and that the decision about how to intervene must be taken by the international community
through the United Nations, rather than by a single country.
Your Eminence, what is your view on the events in Iraq?
“The Pope has already spoken up and I have no comment on his words. I think the situation is a source of great worry for Christians and for all the other minorities. We sincerely hope that the displaced can go back to their villages and that a new Iraq can be built through political inclusion, in which all minorities have a part to play and can contribute to the rebuilding of the country”.
Do you wish for an upsurge of conscience within the international community?
“The international community must definitely intervene. It must intervene by being present in this situation. It is impossible for a country in the conditions Iraq is in now to resolve its problems on its own.”
There are people who report on the events in Iraq as a clash between Christianity and Islam. Is this a correct view or is it an oversimplification?
“I believe it is an oversimplification. Recently, I have been reading some reports from the nuncio in Syria that explained how many Muslims are suffering for these events and are supportive of Christians. So this is definitely not a clash between Islam and Christianity. There are people within Islam, and I believe that they are the majority, who refuse these brutal and inhuman methods. Unfortunately, some factions make them their own but I believe that they are not condoned by most of the other Muslims. We hope that they will also speak up against this, to make a clear distinction between what can and what cannot be done, we hope that the Muslim world speaks up”.
There are those who accuse the Holy See of not intervening, of being too silent on the face of the tragedies in Iraq...
“Shouting is not always the way to resolve problems. There are other ways, other methods. Anyway, the Pope has spoken up many times, It is not fair to say that the Church has been too silent. And we are also trying to give concrete help to solve these problems”. Original article here.
Report via Iraqi News:
Najaf (IraqiNews.com) The Administration of the Holy Shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf announced that it is ready to host the Christian families who departed their houses in fear of being killed by what is so called the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.
The Deputy Secretary General of the Holy Shrine, Zuhair Shurba, stated to IraqiNews.com “The Holy Shrine can host many Christian families and provide them all their basic needs.”
“The Administration formed Dijla Operations Command to discuss supporting the families and provide the necessary aids for them,” he concluded.
Christian delegation visits Supreme Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf
Najaf (IraqiNews.com) A Christian delegation visited the Supreme Religious Authority Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in Najaf.
An informed source stated to IraqiNews.com “The delegation to discussed with Ayatollah Sistani the situations of the displaced Christians fled Mosul and the means of protecting them to urge them not to leave Iraq.”
Article from the Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald
She was born before the outbreak of World War I and has spent much of her life in war zones or fleeing conflict. But Yasmi Houmi, who turned 102 this month, has finally found safety.
Escaping the civil war in Syria, she arrived in Sydney in January as part of Australia’s humanitarian settlement program. With the help of a new hearing aid she banters affectionately with her long-time companion, carer and fellow refugee Aokil Yonan, 72, in the living room of their western Sydney home.
‘‘All my life I feel like I was running away,’’ Mrs Houmi said, as a friend translated. ‘‘I’m not scared any more.’’
Mrs Houmi grew up in a small farming town on the border of Turkey and Iraq. Her family passed unscathed through World War I but in 1933 was forced to escape the Assyrian genocide in which other Christian Assyrians were massacred.
Separated from her husband and two children, she later moved to Iraq. She survived the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War and the conflict that followed the US-led invasion of Iraq, although an explosion outside her home robbed her of her hearing.
In 2008, after their elderly neighbours were murdered, Mrs Houmi and Ms Yonan left Iraq for Syria, where the bombs of the civil war fell close enough to shatter their windows.
The pair applied for humanitarian visas with the Australian embassy in Jordan. Both classed as ‘‘women at risk’’, she and Ms Yonan have been supported in Sydney by Settlement Services International.
"Now I’m very happy," Mrs Houmi said. ‘‘I haven’t seen good people like here."
One of the oldest people ever granted refugee status in Australia, a frail Mrs Houmi has been in good spirits since she was flown to Sydney with a United Nations escort. Of the overseas residents granted humanitarian visas in 2012-13, only 231 people – less than 2 per cent – were aged 70 or over.
Australia’s humanitarian program was set at 20,000 places in 2012-13, up 6250 places on the previous year. More visas were granted to residents of Syria, where 2.8 million refugees are fleeing conflict, than any other country.
The president of the Refugee Council of Australia, Phil Glendenning, has called on the Australian government to increase the country’s refugee intake.
According to the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, in 2013 Australia hosted 0.2 per cent of the world's 16.7 million refugees, ranking 48th out of 187 host countries.
Mr Glendenning said the situation in Syria was tragic. “Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq – all of those countries are keeping their borders open because they believe these people need protection,
but there needs to be a sharing of the burden,’’ he said. Original article here
Video with English subtitles provided by the You Tube channel Eretz Zen.
Eretz Zen Reports: Patriarchs of several eastern churches in the Middle East traveled to the Kurdistan region and met with Iraqi Christian refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh Plain in the town of
Ankawah. They also visited Erbil and gave a press conference in which they appealed to the international community for help in protecting the Iraqi Christians and other minorities and preventing
them from leaving their land, thereby bringing an end to a people whose roots go back thousands of years in that part of the world. Blame was placed mainly on certain regional countries that
provide a breeding ground for ISIL-like ideologies to fester and grow due to their embrace of Wahhabism and financially support such groups. The West was also blamed for providing support to
Wahhabi groups during the Syrian war.
The Patriarchs included Beshara al-Rahi, Patriarch of the Maronite Church, Gregorios III Laham, Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Youssef III Younan, and Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church. They were hosted by Chaldean Patriarch, Louis Sako.
A thought provoking reflection on the death of American photo journalist James Foley from a contributor on social media going by the name Hayssam.
May James Foley, and all those who have lost their lives, rest in peace.
"Today the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group ISIL," Obama said"
Really Mr. President? Tens of thousands of Syrians were killed by those very same thugs, entire neighborhoods in major Syrian cities were transformed to rubble, the country's infrastructure devastated by none other than those championed by your administration and financed by US GCC clients... and all of a sudden "the entire world" is appalled just because ONE man was slaughtered? Allow me borrow this section from Shakespeare substituting "Syrian" for "Jew" and "American" for Christian":
"Hath not a Syrian eyes? Hath not a Syrian hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as an American is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?"
The Huffington Post reports: President Barack Obama spoke Wednesday on the execution of American journalist James Foley at the hands of Islamic State militants, warning the group that they have "no place in the 21st century."
"Today the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group ISIL," Obama said in a statement from Martha's Vineyard, where he is on vacation. "James was taken
from us in an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world."Full article here.
Levant TV reports: Father Shafik Abou Zayd of Oxford University speaks to us commenting on the Lebanese Maronite Patriarch’s visit to Iraq’s Erbil.
Father Shafik of the Melkite Church in London says the one-of-a-kind visit to iraq is liaised with the Vatican. Lebanon remains strong in the face of Islamist extremism in the region.
Extract from a speech of welcome given by Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch John X to Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ephrem II at the Monastery of Saint George al-Homeyra in Homs diocese via the Russian Orthodox news outlet, Pravmir.
"In this land, Christianity had its infancy and from here the spark of Christian love went out to Rome and all the corners of the earth. This land gave us Ignatius of Antioch, who was bound in the shackles of this present age just as many of us are shackled in these circumstances. However, these shackles did not restrain the determination of faith. These are the same chains and shackles that will shatter before Syria and her steadfastness, the steadfastness of her leaders, her army and her people. Through the work of her good children, Syria shall rise up and shake off the ruin that has come to us from abroad. She herself will bury in her soil all those who permit themselves to tamper with the eternal monuments of her life. We have said and we will continuously say: our salvation is in dialogue and in the political solution, in word and deed. To the outside world we cry out from here in this Valley: look honestly at what is happening in Syria and Iraq, particularly in Mosul, and in every place that has falsely and deceitfully taken up the mantle of “Springtime”. Look honestly at the tragedy of Palestine. Look at Lebanon, which is paying a high price. We have known this land as the birthplace of the alphabet, which is an image of the need to encounter the other. We have not known her to be a hotbed for takfirism, terrorism and kidnapping. We in this Middle East are fed up with language of solidarity and wishful thinking on the part of those who are entrusted with decision and action. We have had enough of slogans while our bishops Youhanna and Paul, our priests and our people are being kidnapped while the world watches. The smile of our children is more precious than the falsehood of the world’s slogans. The soil of this land where we were born, live and die is our treasure, our well-being, and our vessel for passage into true life."
I lift up my prayer in your name to the Mother of Light, Our Lady the Virgin. I lift it up with the candles of the Umm al-Zunnar Church and with all the refugees who have been separated from their families and their people by the present circumstances."
Full speech here.
The Russian Orthodox media outlet Pravmir reports
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi [Rai] traveled on Wednesday to the Iraqi region of Kurdistan at the head of a delegation of patriarchs, in a show of support to the persecuted Christians.
Al-Rahi was accompanied by Gregorios III Laham, Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Youssef III Younan and Ignatius Aphrem II, the Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church.
“We are heading to Erbil as a first step in the implementation of the statement issued by the patriarchs in their last meeting,” said al-Rahi at Rafik Hariri International Airport.
“The first and essential clause in the statement is our support for Christians who have left their houses because of the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations,” he added.
The clergymen are scheduled to meet with Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and the Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church Louis Raphael I Sako upon their arrival to Erbil.
Islamic State militants in Iraq have been waging a campaign against minorities in Iraq, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.
Pope Francis called Monday for collective action through the United Nations to “stop unjust aggression” in Iraq.
Last week as thousands from Iraq’s Yazidi and Christian minorities fled attacks by IS jihadists, Francis made a plea to the U.N. to do all it could to stop the violence.
The Vatican’s ambassador to the United Nations, Silvano Tomasi, had voiced support days earlier for U.S. air strikes, in a rare exception to papal policy promoting peaceful conflict resolution.
The delegation of Patriarchs was accompanied by a member of the Islamic-Christian Dialogue Committee Harith Al-Shihab, Chairman of Caritas Lebanon Father Paul Karam, Monsignor Joseph Pipe, Director of the Centre for Catholic Media and others.
From the Kurdish media network Rudaw: On a hidden phone and in secret phone calls, a Yezidi girl held with 200 others as war booty by Islamic State (IS/ISIS) militants near Mosul painted
a tragic picture of girls being singled out daily as sex slaves, and some committing suicide. Full article here.
The United States has launched dozens of air strikes in Iraq since early August to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces pushing back IS militants in the north. Original article here.
PRESS RELEASE– On 7 August 2014, at the heart of a Middle East soaked in blood, the Patriarchs of the East published a press release condemning conflicts and violence which overwhelm
the entire region, and most particularly the persecution of innocents and Christians. The religious fundamentalism, and those who feed it through financing its armed movements, affecting the
balance and stability in the region, is unequivocally denounced. The Patriarchs therefore send forth an urgency plea to the international community. Arabic original
Following a brotherly invitation by His Beatitude and Eminence Cardinal Bishara Butros al Rai, Patriarch of Antioch and of the whole East for Maronites, Their Beatitudes the Patriarchs of Eastern
Churches convened at the Patriarchal Palace of Dymane, on 7 August 2014. Among the attendants :
The Church leaders expressed their awe at the unprecedented, terrific incidents taking place in the area, by wars and internal fighting, in Iraq and in Syria, by the religious fundamentalism which erodes the social fabric and its unity in our countries, by the emergence of
fundamentalist armed groups and Takfiris who kill, murder, shatter and violate the sacred nature of
the churches, scorching their heritage and manuscripts, and by foreign mercenaries who fight at the side of those who assault the citizens and their dignity. The prelates feel deeply hurt by
the tragedies affecting their Palestinian brethren in Gaza in the wake of
arbitrary air strikes by Israel, void of all human considerations, targeting innocents, violating all legal principles. They are also anguished at the bloody incidents taking place at Ersal in
Lebanon where foreign terrorist groups have assaulted the Lebanese army and the internal security forces, killing several soldiers and kidnapping many others. The armed groups have beleaguered
the inhabitants of the town, using them as human shields, ordering them to evacuate their homes.
After having assessed these horror events from all sides, and having considered the dangers which threaten all inhabitants of the region without exception, taking a cover of sectarianism never known before in history, and the effects which these conflicts may leave on the people living in the region, including their children the Christians who live in the midst of these turmoils, and believing in the role of the State in protecting these persons and their properties, the situation reaching a point where these persons are obliged to relinquish the land of their fathers and ancestors, without any valid reason, they published at the conclusion of their meeting the following statement :
We call upon all regimes and countries which support, arm or finance,
directly or indirectly, terrorist groups to stop what they are doing. Religious extremism, no matter where it comes from, will hurt any person who takes it upon himself and affects negatively
the one who does not counteract it.
The forced eviction of Christians from their homes, the seizure of their properties, the killing of unarmed civilians, the assaults on religious minorities, churches and worshiping places in Mossul, Sadad, Maaloula, Kassab and elsewhere is certainly a crime against humanity, a violation of human rights and humanitarian international law. The Attorney of the International Court of Justice should launch a counter investigation in order to bring citizens back to their homes, to restore their belongings and rights.
Would we accept that the progress in relations between Christianity and Islam be exposed to such regression which, through eliminating all positive elements, threatens to draw us generations backward ?
At the end of this statement-appeal, the Patriarchs of Eastern Churches declare that:
That’s why the Patriarchs insist on:
They also approach their children spread all over the five continents of the world to show solidarity with their brethren of this East in suffering, to help them materially, spiritually and morally, to enable them to hold on to their country in a a firm Christian hope, and to carry on their mission, by announcing the Gospel of brotherhood, justice and peace which the Lord – Man and World Saviour – has entrusted them with, who repeats in these difficult times “ Do not be afraid little flock … In this world you will have trouble. But take heart ! I have overcome the world.” (Luke 12:32 ; Jn 16:33)
We pray together for the repose of the soul of those who were killed during these tragic events, for the consolation of their parents, for the healing of the wounded. We pray also that security and peace prevail in the world, and in particular in our beloved countries, imploring the Lord to inspire leaders and persons of good will, so that they could jointly put an end to this dark and dreary juncture of our history, in order for our region to troubled region to restore its life and stability.
(1) Takfiris “(from the Arabic word Takfir wal Hijra, Anathema and Exile, a group founded in 1971) are Islamist extremists, who hold on to a violent ideology. The term “takfiri” means literally “excommunication”. The takfiris consider Muslims who do not share them their point of view as apostates, therefore “legal targets” for their attacks.
Article from the Syrian news agency SANA
Homs, SANA-Patriarch John X Yazigi of Antioch and All The East for Rome Orthodox called for boosting national unity and fraternity among the Syrians, Muslims and Christians, in the face of conspiracies, showing confidence that Syria will remain the land of peace and amity.
Leading a mass at Saint Panteleimon in Marmarita, Homs on Sunday, Patriarch Yazigi hoped peace would return to Syria and its lands is cleaned off terrorism, affirming that this requires all Syrians to assume their national duties.
For his part, Bishop Elia Toma of Wadi al-Nadara [Wadi al Nasara - The Valley of the Christians] said the visit of Patriarch Yazigi is exceptional, particularly because it coincides with the
first annual anniversary of the martyrdom of 13 citizens in the town,
considering the visit will alleviate the wounds of their families. Original article here.
After three years of western backed destruction by Islamist rebels the Christian districts of Homs old city in Syria were declared liberated in early May. The district had been home to 80,000 Christians of which all but a handful fled or were forced to leave by armed rebels who systematically looted and destroyed the district. All the churches in the district were left in partial or total ruin. Most important among them was the Syriac Orthodox Church of Um al Zinnar (St. Mary’s Shrine of the Belt) which is built upon an ancient crypt cave with signs of Christian worship dating back to 59 A.D. The Church housed a much treasured relic reputed to be a belt or girdle that had belonged to the Virgin Mary. Luckily this object had been removed, 3 years ago from the church and taken to a secret place of safe keeping and so unlike many of the ancient treasures that were looted this important symbol of the old city’s ancient Christian faith remained secure. On Thursday the 15th of August for the occasion of the Dormition (Assumption of The Virgin Mary) the relic returned in procession to its home church. Carried by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and accompanied by the governor of Homs province there was a large crowd in attendance to celebrate the occasion.
Article by Patrick Cockburn in the British newspaper The Independent
How far is Saudi Arabia complicit in the Isis takeover of much of northern Iraq, and is it stoking an escalating Sunni-Shia conflict across the Islamic world? Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: "The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally 'God help the Shia'. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them."
The fatal moment predicted by Prince Bandar may now have come for many Shia, with Saudi Arabia playing an important role in bringing it about by supporting the anti-Shia jihad in Iraq and Syria. Since the capture of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) on 10 June, Shia women and children have been killed in villages south of Kirkuk, and Shia air force cadets machine-gunned and buried in mass graves near Tikrit.
In Mosul, Shia shrines and mosques have been blown up, and in the nearby Shia Turkoman city of Tal Afar 4,000 houses have been taken over by Isis fighters as "spoils of war". Simply to be identified as Shia or a related sect, such as the Alawites, in Sunni rebel-held parts of Iraq and Syria today, has become as dangerous as being a Jew was in Nazi-controlled parts of Europe in 1940.
Iran's Press TV reports: The secretary general of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, says serious doubts exist about the West’s real intentions in confronting the ISIL Takfiri militants. Nasrallah said ISIL is creating a state of terror in the region and is sacrificing followers of all faiths for their evil cause. He stated that the US only intervened against them when its interests were threatened.
There is no doubt about the accuracy of the quote by Prince Bandar, secretary-general of the Saudi National Security Council from 2005 and head of General Intelligence between 2012 and 2014, the crucial two years when al-Qa'ida-type jihadis took over the Sunni-armed opposition in Iraq and Syria. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute last week, Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004, emphasised the significance of Prince Bandar's words, saying that they constituted "a chilling comment that I remember very well indeed".
He does not doubt that substantial and sustained funding from private donors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to which the authorities may have turned a blind eye, has played a central role in the Isis surge into Sunni areas of Iraq. He said: "Such things simply do not happen spontaneously." This sounds realistic since the tribal and communal leadership in Sunni majority provinces is much beholden to Saudi and Gulf paymasters, and would be unlikely to cooperate with Isis without their consent.
Dearlove's explosive revelation about the prediction of a day of reckoning for the Shia by Prince Bandar, and the former head of MI6's view that Saudi Arabia is involved in the Isis-led Sunni rebellion, has attracted surprisingly little attention. Coverage of Dearlove's speech focused instead on his main theme that the threat from Isis to the West is being exaggerated because, unlike Bin Laden's al-Qa'ida, it is absorbed in a new conflict that "is essentially Muslim on Muslim". Unfortunately, Christians in areas captured by Isis are finding this is not true, as their churches are desecrated
Armenian news outlet Asbarez reports: Turkey—A senior commander of the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham) has told the Washington Post that Turkey’s support was instrumental in the success of his organization, which now controls great swathes of Syria and Iraq.
In an interview with the Washington Post on Aug. 12, the 27-year-old commander identifying himself as Abu Yusef explained that the Islamic State received most of its supplies from Turkey and had many of its fighters from Syria treated at Turkish hospitals. Full article here.
and they are forced to flee. A difference between al-Qa'ida and Isis is that the latter is much better organised; if it does attack Western targets the results are likely to be devastating.
The forecast by Prince Bandar, who was at the heart of Saudi security policy for more than three decades, that the 100 million Shia in the Middle East face disaster at the hands of the Sunni majority, will convince many Shia that they are the victims of a Saudi-led campaign to crush them. "The Shia in general are getting very frightened after what happened in northern Iraq," said an Iraqi commentator, who did not want his name published. Shia see the threat as not only military but stemming from the expanded influence over mainstream Sunni Islam of Wahhabism, the puritanical and intolerant version of Islam espoused by Saudi Arabia that condemns Shia and other Islamic sects as non-Muslim apostates and polytheists.
Dearlove says that he has no inside knowledge obtained since he retired as head of MI6 10 years ago to become Master of Pembroke College in Cambridge. But, drawing on past experience, he sees Saudi strategic thinking as being shaped by two deep-seated beliefs or attitudes. First, they are convinced that there "can be no legitimate or admissible challenge to the Islamic purity of their Wahhabi credentials as guardians of Islam's holiest shrines". But, perhaps more significantly given the deepening Sunni-Shia confrontation, the Saudi belief that they possess a monopoly of Islamic truth leads them to be "deeply attracted towards any militancy which can effectively challenge Shia-dom".
Western governments traditionally play down the connection between Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabist faith, on the one hand, and jihadism, whether of the variety espoused by Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida or by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's Isis. There is nothing conspiratorial or secret about these links: 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, as was Bin Laden and most of the private donors who funded the operation.
"The position of the American president Obama only to give military assistance to protect Erbil is disappointing. The talks about dividing Iraq are threatening. The Americans are not up to a
rapid solution to give hope specifically as they are not going to attack the ISIS in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plain. The confirmation that this terrible situation will continue until the Iraqi
Security Forces will fight along with Peshmerga against the ISIS militants is very depressing. The President of the Kurdistan Region said that the Kurdish troops are fighting with a terrorist
State and not minor groups! While the country is under fire, the politicians in Baghdad are fighting for power." Full statement here.
The difference between al-Qa'ida and Isis can be overstated: when Bin Laden was killed by United States forces in 2011, al-Baghdadi released a statement eulogising him, and Isis pledged to launch 100 attacks in revenge for his death.
But there has always been a second theme to Saudi policy towards al-Qa'ida type jihadis, contradicting Prince Bandar's approach and seeing jihadis as a mortal threat to the Kingdom. Dearlove illustrates this attitude by relating how, soon after 9/11, he visited the Saudi capital Riyadh with Tony Blair.
He remembers the then head of Saudi General Intelligence "literally shouting at me across his office: '9/11 is a mere pinprick on the West. In the medium term, it is nothing more than a series of personal tragedies. What these terrorists want is to destroy the House of Saud and remake the Middle East.'" In the event, Saudi Arabia adopted both policies, encouraging the jihadis as a useful tool of Saudi anti-Shia influence abroad but suppressing them at home as a threat to the status quo. It is this dual policy that has fallen apart over the last year.
Saudi sympathy for anti-Shia "militancy" is identified in leaked US official documents. The then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in December 2009 in a cable released by Wikileaks that "Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan] and other terrorist groups." She said that, in so far as Saudi Arabia
Reuters reports: The Islamic State militant group has executed 700 members of a tribe it has been battling in eastern Syria during the past two weeks, the majority of them civilians. Full article here.
did act against al-Qa'ida, it was as a domestic threat and not because of its activities abroad. This policy may now be changing with the dismissal of Prince Bandar as head of intelligence this year. But the change is very recent, still ambivalent and may be too late: it was only last week that a Saudi prince said he would no longer fund a satellite television station notorious for its anti-Shia bias based in Egypt.
The problem for the Saudis is that their attempts since Bandar lost his job to create an anti-Maliki and anti-Assad Sunni constituency which is simultaneously against al-Qa'ida and its clones have failed.
By seeking to weaken Maliki and Assad in the interest of a more moderate Sunni faction, Saudi Arabia and its allies are in practice playing into the hands of Isis which is swiftly gaining full control of the Sunni opposition in Syria and Iraq. In Mosul, as happened previously in its Syrian capital Raqqa, potential critics and opponents are disarmed, forced to swear allegiance to the new caliphate and killed if they resist.
WCA (World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) reports: here.s. Note: The Tur Abdin region of Turkey along the Syrian border is an ancient heartland of Syriac Christians. Report
The West may have to pay a price for its alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, which have always found Sunni jihadism more attractive than democracy. A striking example of double standards by the western powers was the Saudi-backed suppression of peaceful democratic protests by the Shia majority in Bahrain in March 2011. Some 1,500 Saudi troops were sent across the causeway to the island kingdom as the demonstrations were ended with great brutality and Shia mosques and shrines were destroyed.
An alibi used by the US and Britain is that the Sunni al-Khalifa royal family in Bahrain is pursuing dialogue and reform. But this excuse looked thin last week as Bahrain expelled a top US diplomat, the assistant secretary of state for human rights Tom Malinowksi, for meeting leaders of the main Shia opposition party al-Wifaq. Mr Malinowski tweeted that the Bahrain government's action was "not about me but about undermining dialogue".
Western powers and their regional allies have largely escaped criticism for their role in reigniting the war in Iraq. Publicly and privately, they have blamed the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for persecuting and marginalising the Sunni minority, so provoking them into supporting the Isis-led revolt. There is much truth in this, but it is by no means the whole story. Maliki did enough to enrage the Sunni, partly because he wanted to frighten Shia voters into supporting him in the 30 April election by claiming to be the Shia community's protector against Sunni counter-revolution.
But for all his gargantuan mistakes, Maliki's failings are not the reason why the Iraqi state is disintegrating. What destabilised Iraq from 2011 on was the revolt of the Sunni in Syria and the takeover of that revolt by jihadis, who were often sponsored by donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. Again and again Iraqi politicians warned that by not seeking to close down the civil war in Syria, Western leaders were making it inevitable that the conflict in Iraq would restart. "I guess they just didn't believe us and were fixated on getting rid of [President Bashar al-] Assad," said an Iraqi leader in Baghdad last week.
Of course, US and British politicians and diplomats would argue that they were in no position to bring an end to the Syrian conflict. But this is misleading. By insisting that peace negotiations must be about the departure of Assad from power, something that was never going to happen since Assad held most of the cities in the country and his troops were advancing, the US and Britain made sure the war would continue.
The chief beneficiary is Isis which over the last two weeks has been mopping up the last opposition to its rule in eastern Syria. The Kurds in the north and the official al-Qa'ida representative, Jabhat al-Nusra, are faltering under the impact of Isis forces high in morale and using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army. It is also, without the rest of the world taking notice, taking over many of the Syrian oil wells that it did not already control.
Saudi Arabia has created a Frankenstein's monster over which it is rapidly losing control. The same is true of its allies such as Turkey which has been a vital back-base for Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra by keeping the 510-mile-long Turkish-Syrian border open. As Kurdish-held border crossings fall to Isis, Turkey will find it has a new neighbour of extraordinary violence, and one deeply ungrateful for past favours from the Turkish intelligence service.
As for Saudi Arabia, it may come to regret its support for the Sunni revolts in Syria and Iraq as jihadi social media begins to speak of the House of Saud as its next target. It is the unnamed head of Saudi General Intelligence quoted by Dearlove after 9/11 who is turning out to have analysed the potential threat to Saudi Arabia correctly and not Prince Bandar, which may explain why the latter was sacked earlier this year.
Nor is this the only point on which Prince Bandar was dangerously mistaken. The rise of Isis is bad news for the Shia of Iraq but it is worse news for the Sunni whose leadership has been ceded to a pathologically bloodthirsty and intolerant movement, a sort of Islamic Khmer Rouge, which has no aim but war without end.
The Sunni caliphate rules a large, impoverished and isolated area from which people are fleeing. Several million Sunni in and around Baghdad are vulnerable to attack and 255 Sunni prisoners have already been massacred. In the long term, Isis cannot win, but its mix of fanaticism and good organisation makes it difficult to dislodge.
"God help the Shia," said Prince Bandar, but, partly thanks to him, the shattered Sunni communities of Iraq and Syria may need divine help even more than the Shia. Original article here.
Wahhabism is an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam. It is a religious movement among fundamentalist believers, which originates in Saudi Arabia and promotes a Takfiri mentality which believes that all those including fellow Muslims who do not follow their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam are to be considered as kafir (infidel)
Above the political leaders of NATO member states, America, France and the United Kingdom with the King of Saudi Arabia, a strong regional GCC/Gulf ally and major arms purchaser from the West. Saudi Arabia, a Wahhabi state, arms and funds Takfiri fighters in Syria and Iraq.
Mr. Mark Arabo a Chaldean Catholic and prominent Californian businessman in a recent interview with CNN, has disturbingly promoted the export of Iraqi Christians from their native homeland under the pretext of concern. His views are contrary to the view point of his own Chaldean Church Patriarch Raphael Louis Sako who has expressly said that Mosul Christians should be able to stay in Iraq, not forced into exile.
It is worrying that under such a pretext this American businessman is promoting an idea that will obliterate one of the world’s oldest Christian communities. In his CNN interview Mr. Arabo called on the international community to follow France's lead and offer the Christians of Iraq asylum but seems oblivious to the fact that an earlier French offer of asylum for Syrian Christians afflicted by similar western backed rebels in Syria met with the condemnation of H.E. Cardinal al Rai the, Beirut based, Maronite Catholic Patriarch who denounced such offers of asylum for Christians believing it is part of a sinister geo-political plot to empty the entire region of its religious minorities for economic and political interest.
On June 20th last Mr Arabo in an interview with KPBS, a media outlet of San Diego University, made the disturbing comment “We're going to set up meetings with the State Department and from the beginning we've been very clear that we're hoping NATO and the U.N. come together to make sure they facilitate a mass exodus of Christians in Iraq.” Such misguided sentiments at best amount to treating an illness rather than finding a cure for the disease. While unacceptable it is understandable that this approach would be taken by a US citizen aligned to the American establishment because any cure for the disease of terror that afflicts the region would necessitate dealing with and sanctioning American regional allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar both of whom have long promoted sectarianism and from whose countries flow the ideology and funding that fuel the current destruction and terrorisation of the entire Iraqi community in the same way as it has already done in Syria.
Abouna.org the Jordanian based Catholic media out let reports: "The families that have fled Mosul "must be able to stay in our homeland, Iraq". Facilitating their exile through special visas is not the real solution, rather a political effort is needed that will "allow us all to remain in this nation that we love and to live in safety, equality and dignity with everyone"........The Patriarch thanked Paris.... "for their generous proposal", "it honors us and honors the countries that make it", but he stresses that "if we leave our homeland we will destroy the memory of our ancient history". Rather than a temporary, humanitarian solution to the emergency, a "political solution" is what is needed......"if France and other countries really want to help, [they should do so] encouraging these families to stay by sending them emergency aid to ease their pain and help the construction of housing in the cities where they can live in security". Full article here.
Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper reports:
The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and the Levant has strongly criticized France's offer to grant Iraqi Christians political asylum, describing the move as an attempt to empty the region from
the adepts of Christ.
The church charged that Muslim extremists persecuting Christians were being supported logistically and militarily by states through undeclared alliances. Full article here.
International Business Times reported on June 19, 2014
"As the American government is contemplating on whether or not to launch an airstrike on ISIS that is threatening to destroy Iraq, reports have now surfaced that way back in 2012, the US Army had trained members of the same terrorist group in Jordan. Full article here".
Following on from the impassioned speech given in the Iraqi Parliament by Vian Dakhil MP, a member of the ethno-religious Yazidi community, in which she stated that Yazidi “women and children had been taken as slaves and sold in the slave market” further confirmation, has immerged from Ms. Christina Patto, vice president of Assyrian Aid Society of Iraq, who reported to the Assyrian news outlet Ankawa.com that 100 families in Nineveh, while trying to escape, were captured by ISIS terrorists at Tel Afar airport and the women and girls were taken to be raped and sold as slaves. The news outlet coptstoday.com also published a report on the matter citing the Iraqi Red Crescent as confirming same.
International Business Times reported on June 19, 2014
"As the American government is contemplating on whether or not to launch an airstrike on ISIS that is threatening to destroy Iraq, reports have now surfaced that way back in 2012, the US Army had trained members of the same terrorist group in Jordan. Full article here".
Statment from the World Council of Arameans
Last night, two Aramean children and a mother were killed as a result of a shameless attack by ISIS terrorists against Baghdeda (Qaraqosh) in North Iraq. At the same time, in the middle of the night, more than 40,000 Aramean families – comprising at least 200.000 human beings – fearfully fled their ancestral homes, towns and villages in the Nineveh region. Another unprecedented humanitarian disaster is now unfolding in Iraq.
Most recently, thousands of Aramean families had already escaped the Mosul region to the Nineveh province, after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists rampaged the area. The Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of St. Matthew, including its fourth-century Monastery of Mor Matay, and other local dioceses have been closed.
The Nineveh plains are now emptied from its native Christians, who belong to the Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, Chaldean and Assyrian (Nestorian) churches in the region. This is the second
region that has been emptied from its Aramean population for the first time in its millennia-old history. Thus, an ancient civilization, cultural heritage and population have been destroyed and
erased from Iraq’s future.
The majority, if not all, of the local Muslim population apparently did not fear their lives to abandon their homes, while the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters suddenly retreated. The withdrawal of the Kurds is striking, particularly in light of a similar situation that took place a few days ago where thousands of Yezidi men, women and children were abandoned and sacrificed to ISIS by the Peshmerga.
All the developments that have been taking place in Syria and Iraq, once again reveal that there is a clear agenda to divide Iraq into three portions: a Shiite, Sunni (ISIS-controlled) and Kurdish part, whereas defenseless and vulnerable minorities like the Aramean Christians and Yezidis are forced out of their ancient homeland.
The World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”) condemns in the strongest possible terms this latest ISIS invasion. This is nothing short of genocide and ethnic cleansing. A new humanitarian disaster is unfolding and the international community simply does not seem to care.
The WCA President, Johny Messo, expressed his deep concerns as follows: “How many more crimes against humanity does the world wants to see before it finally speaks up? Where are the conscience and the sense of responsibility of the world leaders? Where are the principles of ethics and objective journalism by the mainstream media? We urgently call upon the international community, spearheaded by the United Nations, the European Union, Council of Europe, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to act immediately and without further delay. Not to speak is to speak and not to act is to act!”
Mr. Messo further explained: “Yesterday we arrived to Lebanon to discuss the deteriorating situation of our people in Iraq and Syria with the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch and today we would join His Holiness and the Patriarchs of the other native churches in the Middle East at a press conference this afternoon where a joint declaration would be issued. This morning, however, we were deeply shocked when His Holiness broke the news to us. We are all very troubled by this news.”
Before the USA and its allies invaded Iraq in 2003, the Aramean Christian population consisted of 1,4 million souls. Today, less than 400,000 Arameans have remained in their homeland. With the latest developments taking place, the future of this ancient indigenous population of Iraq is at the brink of extinction. In Syria, the same developments have been taking place. Similar attempts of genocide and ethnic cleansing were already successfully accomplished in Turkey in the last century, which saw its numerous native Armenian, Greek and Aramean populations dwindle to less than 100,000.
In all these cases, the foreign policies of Western countries have turned out to be utterly destructive to the many hundreds of thousands of native Aramean Christians who experienced persecutions, beheadings, crucifixion, kidnappings, expulsions and more. Simultaneously, Western governments and mainstream media have remained utterly silent and ignored the cries for help by the Arameans. Original statement here.
While Pope Francis called on the “international community to take initiatives to put an end to the humanitarian drama underway, to take steps to protect those involved and threatened by
violence and to ensure the necessary aid for so many displaced people whose fate depends on the solidarity of others” there can be little point now at this late stage,
the damage is already done and the Vatican was long been aware of the situation.
Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, the leader of one of the world's oldest Christian communities, has been at the Vatican pleading for the future of
his community in a meeting with the French prelate Mamberti.
Vatican City, July 19 – The seat of the Syrian Catholic Archeparchy of Mosul in Iraq has been burned down by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and the situation for Iraqi Christians has become dramatic, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan told Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti on Saturday. The Islamist militants have threatened to kill Christians unless they convert to Islam. “It’s terrible. This is shameful for the international community,” the patriarch said. Via agi news agency.
Full text of Patriarch's appeal in Arabic here
The French Moroccan prelate responsible for Vatican relations with foreign states, Dominique Mamberti, seen here in 2007 dining with Tony Blair
one of the principle authors of Iraq’s destruction.
Video via Eretz Zen You Tube Channel
ISIS massacre of Yazidis in Sinjar
See also: Another Minority being Destroyed