What Happened To Christianity in the Middle East?

Bombing Syria

In our recent rush to prove to the world that we are still running the show, the U.S. launched over one hundred cruise missiles on to three basically empty military establishments in Syria. Supposedly Bashar Al Assad used chemical weapons against the last hold outs of a failed western inspired coup. Though no real evidence has been produced to show the Syrian government used chemical weapons, nor did Bashar Al Assad have any real motive to use them. After all, he has for all intents and purposes won the civil war there, and just last week President Trump let us all know in a tweet (which is still strange to me) that we were pulling our military out of the country. As the bombs reigned down upon Syria Friday night, Neo-conservative Christians in America threw out many reasons for the military action. One in particular really bugs me, and it goes like this, “We have a responsibility to protect ancient Christian civilizations in the Middle East, therefore, Bashar Al Assad has to go.”

Before 2003 when America re-entered Iraq to spread freedom, Christian communities generally enjoyed peace with their Muslim neighbors in places like Syria and Iraq. Secular Shia governments, while not being “friendly” to Christians, nevertheless allowed Christians to live in peace. This was obviously not a perfect scenario for Christians. Of course they have under went injustice and persecution at the hands of many of their majority Muslim neighbors. I’m not trying to paint the situation to be like it is here in America. But Syria and Iraq are not America, so using ourselves as a measuring stick of such things is foolish. But what I want to discuss is, “what changed after 2003?”

Around 2003, with our arrival in Iraq, the American government started using a phrase with its citizens. The Bush administration would say often “that we were fighting them over there, so we won’t have to fight them over here.” Now I dispute that we would have ever really have had to fight them over here. Normal law enforcement practices and vigilance by citizens would protect the homeland. I’m not saying we would not have had “lone wolf” attacks. We obviously have had them, and we would have had them, even without the Iraq War. But the real truth in the statement is found in the first part, “that we were fighting them over there.” It was policy for us to use Iraq as a magnet to draw in Islamist fighters from all over the region. In trying to defeat Al Qaeda, we created a monster, ISIS. ISIS are Sunni radicals of the worst sort. They make up the bulk of the enemy forces we fought in Iraq, and in a strange twist, they also make up the bulk of the forces that we support in Syria. Moderate Rebels in Syria are ISIS fighters in Iraq. That’s the truth, weird as it sounds. What does all this have to do with the decimation of ancient Christian communities in the Middle East? Everything.

As a result of our using Iraq as a magnet for Sunni radicals so we could “fight them over there”, those same Sunni radicals, who are much less apt to live peacefully with infidels than their moderate Shia neighbors, slaughtered Christians, burned their villages, and took their daughters as sexual slaves. So when I hear a U.S. Christian say that we had to bomb Assad to save “ancient Christian civilizations”, I know that the only source of information they have about that region and our actions there, come from sound bytes and news crawlers that scroll across the bottom of their television screens. Bashar Al Assad is a bad guy, but the Sunni radicals moderate rebels that he is fighting against are way worse for Christians in that region. The cruise missiles we sent last night will only serve to help our enemies in that region, and will only hurt the few Christians that are left there. They will produce the exact opposite effect that many well meaning yet ignorant (mostly evangelical) Christians in America desire for their brothers and sisters there. Assad doesn’t love Christians, but the Sunni radicals he is fighting against will exterminate them if they gain power. And that is the reason that many of us are so skeptical that Assad was behind the chemical weapons attack there. For Sunni radicals, the end justifies the means. Sixty sunni hold outs murdered martyred for Allah will all inherit paradise. If their deaths can be used to further the cause of creating an Islamic State in the Levant…. well that is a bridge that those people will cross without hesitation. For Assad however, it was the only thing that would all but guarantee that Europe and America would re-engage on the ground there. So I ask, who really had the motivation to use chemical weapons in Syria? It was not Assad. But who really benefits if Assad gets pinned with a chemical weapons treaty violation? One thing is for sure, not ancient Christian civilizations in Syria.

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