Monday, December 24, 2012

In The News: Syria

Rebels Say Assad Regime Used Chemical Weapons In Attack

Rebel forces in Syria claimed Sunday that regime forces used chemical weapons in an attack on Homs, killing six people and injuring dozens more with poison gas.
Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera reported 10 people suffered serious injuries from the chemical attack, including blindness and paralysis, and over 50 more suffered other injuries.
Opposition activists posted a video online that they claimed shows a victim of the alleged chemical attack suffering from breathing difficulties.
Don't forget, any of these claims can lead to a large escalation of events, including getting the U.S. involved - true or not. With Russia in the mix, things could get ugly and fast:
The US has called the use of chemical weapons a “red line” that may invite international intervention. On Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Syrian government had moved the chemical weapons from many arsenals to just “one or two centers” to properly safeguard them.
The attack came on a particularly deadly day for Syria. Near Hama, another rebel stronghold, more than 60 people were killed in an air strike on a bakery. Opposition sources said over 180 people were killed around the country on Sunday.

Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria's more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.
The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago.
The depth and complexity of Syria's anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky. The possibility of Russian military casualties in such a campaign could have unpredictable geopolitical consequences.

 Turks and western officials say there are signs Assad sees chemical weapons as another step in the escalation of force, rather than a Rubicon-crossing gamble that could end his regime. The US, UK, France and Turkey have warned Syria that its use of such weapons would trigger military retribution. But any such a response would be fraught with difficulties.

Air strikes against chemical weapon depots would potentially disperse lethal gases over a vast area, triggering a humanitarian disaster. 
US and allied special forces have been trained to seize the air bases where the warheads are kept, but it is unclear what the next step would be. It would be physically impossible to fly the hundreds of warheads out of the country, while it would take thousands of troops to guard the arsenal for what could be many months. In the interim, those western troops could easily become the target of Islamist groups fighting the government in Damascus.

Sources familiar with the Moscow-Damascus defence relationship confirmed the presence of Russian air-defence crews inside Syria. Their deployment would be a consideration when western contingency plans for Syria were being considered, they said.
John Kerry, the nominee for secretary of state, has advocated greater support for the rebels, but stopped short of calling for direct US or Nato involvement. With no new secretary of defence yet nominated, it could take several months for the new team to recalibrate its approach.

The question really becomes - why is the U.S. supporting Anti-Israeli, radical Islamic rebels who are sworn to destroy Israel? And where does that place the U.S. in God's eyes? Not only that, but these rebels are also radically opposed to Christians.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Syria’s population of more than 22 million, say they are particularly vulnerable to the violence that has been sweeping the country since March 2011. They are fearful that Syria will become another Iraq, with Christians caught in the crossfire between rival Islamic groups.
During the Syria conflict, Christians have largely stuck by President Bashar Assad, in large part because they fear the rising power of Muslim hard-liners and groups with al-Qaida-style ideologies within the uprising against his rule. Many Christians worry they will be marginalized or even targeted if the country’s Sunni Muslim majority, which forms the majority of the opposition, takes over.
This week, the commander of one rebel brigade threatened to storm two predominantly Christian towns in central Syria — Mahrada and Sqailbiyeh — saying regime forces were using the towns to attack nearby areas.
The commander, Rashid Abul-Fidaa, of the Ansar Brigade in Hama province demanded the towns’ residents “evict Assad’s gangs” or be attacked.

A new study published on the eve of the Christmas holiday provides a chilling assessment of the future prospects for a once thriving Middle East Christian community and concludes Christians are suffering more persecution around the world than any other religious group, mainly due to “Islamic oppression.”
Civitas, a conservative-leaning British research organization, on Sunday published the report titled“Christianophobia.” Civitas described some of author Rupert Shortt’s disturbing findings:
Christianity is in serious danger of being wiped out in its biblical heartlands because of Islamic oppression, according to a new report from a leading independent think-tank.
But Western politicians and media largely ignore the widespread persecution of Christians in the Middle East and the wider world because they are afraid they will be accused of racism.
They fail to appreciate that in the defence of the wider concept of human rights, religious freedom is the “canary in the mine”, according to the report.

The study explains that Christians are more likely to face persecution than any other faith group and that they are especially threatened in Muslim societies. Shortt explains that this oppression is only magnified by already rampant anti-Americanism and “the false belief that Christianity is a ‘Western’ creed.” This, even though the religion was born in the Middle East.

He quotes research findings which show that “between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left or been killed over the past century” and that the threat has only been exacerbated by the rise of militant Islam in Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

Though the mainstream media rarely report it, one glaring exception to the institutionalized persecution the study describes is Israel, where the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on Sunday published statistics showing that Israeli Christians are both well-educated and prosperous. But even in Israel, they face intimidation from their Muslim neighbors.

When it comes to education, Christian Arabs are among the most successful groups in Israel. In 2011, 64% of the community’s high school graduates were eligible for Bagrut matriculation certificates, generally a requirement for entry to university, while among Jews that figure was 59%, and only 48% among Muslims. The CBS statistics also showed that Christian Arabs enjoyed relatively high incomes, and were generally more prosperous than their Muslim neighbors.
But there is concern that the Christian community is shrinking – due to intimidation by their Muslim neighbors. […]
Many Christians have complained of being targeted by Muslims, whom they believe are trying to either drive them out of cities that have traditionally had large Christian populations, or to “persuade” them to convert. In 1999, for example, radical Muslims in Nazareth rioted as they attempted to wrest land from a major Christian shrine to build a mosque. Christians in Bethlehem, too, have complained of being persecuted by Muslims, and being encouraged to leave. In 1946, Bethlehem was 80 percent Christian and Nazareth 60 percent; those numbers are now 20 percent and 30 percent respectively, with the percentage of Christians in the city shrinking every year.

Also see:

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a rare condemnation of Gaza terrorists on Monday for war crimes - without the usual “balancing act” of blaming Israel.

The condemnation also comes at a critical time for Hamas, which claims it “won” the missile war by gaining implicit diplomatic recognition to a certain extent.

“Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim last month,” wrote HRW’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson. “There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas.”

“Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim last month,” wrote HRW’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson. “There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas.”
Between November 14 and 21, Gaza terrorists fired approximately 1,500 missiles at Israel, and more than half of them exploded in Israel, including 60 in populated areas. More than 40 people were either killed or wounded, not including two Gaza Arabs who were killed by their own misfired rockets, Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch interviewed witnesses, victims, and relatives of people killed and injured by rocket attacks in Israel, as well as Israeli officials from two communities struck by rockets, and a spokesperson for the Israeli emergency medical services.

It “found that armed groups repeatedly fired rockets from densely populated areas, near homes, businesses, and a hotel, unnecessarily placing civilians in the vicinity at grave risk from Israeli counter-fire.” 
HRW names the “armed groups" as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees’ terrorist branches.

The terrorist organizations publicly stated they targeted Israeli civilians as acts of “revenge.”


Dutch Treat said...

DEAR MARY: As the days leading to Christmas dwindle down to a few, I thought I'd take the time to write this poem to you. I wish to thank you for what you did for all mankind, by simply carrying out the task which God to you had assigned. You must have really been someone special to catch God's eye, even though in society you probably weren't ranked high. For of all the women who ever set foot on this earth, you were chosen to carry out our Messiah's birth. I imagine you were taken aback by the wonder of it all. Yet you dutifully obeyed God and answered His call. Your faith really showed through and must have been quite strong. For you praised God with a beautiful and magnificent song. Well today "The Magnificat" is still being sung, and to come from someone yet oh so young. Whil with child you were forced to travel far away from home, by order of Caesar Augustus the Emperor of Rome. Since you husband Joseph came from the line of David the King, you made your way to Bethlehem which must have been quite exhausting. I imagine the trip must have taken quite a long time, especially with all the hills that you had to climb. So you finally arrived in Bethlehem through thick and through thin, only to find that there was no room for you in the inn. It must have been somewhat discouraging with no place to stay, especially with a child shortly due on the way. Finding a place anywhere you must have been unable, until you wre finally offered the use of a stable. Although perhaps somewhat primitive it was all that was left to spare; but at that pariticular moment you probably didn't care. For at least you had a place with a roof over your head; and out of the hay and straw you were able to make a bed. While in that stable you gave birth to a son, who turned out t be God's holy and anointed one. He arrived in the world on a bright and starry night; and out of the darkness He's become our great light. For it was in that humble birth, that God Himself came down to this earth. WE can all learn from your experience Mary, one of faith and trust. For if we're to survive the ways if the world that surely is a must. For if we are faithful and to Him stay true, fromour darkest hours He'll surely see us through; and if we call on Him and our hearts in Him abide, somehow someway our basic needs He will for us provide. I hope to see you someday Mary when my days here are done. For then I"ll know for sure that my victory will be won. Then I can join that heavenly choir singing in perfect harmony; and together we can sing to our Lord throughout eternity. So thank you once again, and may we always recall, the vital rle you played in the greatest gift of all. With love, Dutch.

WVBORN56 said...

Another reason I believe the church will exit prior to Isaiah 17 is what we read in the article about citing 2.2 million Christians living in Syria. I am sure a large potion of them live in Damascus and I just don't see God allowing Israel to obliterate that city with so many believers living there.

Too bad the church there has had to align themselves with is kind of like the church here having to vote for the lesser of two evils. We just don't have much choice when it comes to voting these days.

Another nice poem Dutch! :)

Wishing everyone here a Merry Christmas!

Dylan said...

WV, kinda like Sodom and Gamorrah? "If there's any believers there I will not destroy the city" type thing? Makes sense.

Caver said...

Beautiful Dutch, just heart string pulling beautiful. Thank you!

Good point WV....hadn't thought of that angle before.

Joining in wishing this little family a very safe and Merry Christmas from the Caver family. Hope to see everybody under the Tree of Life in the very near future.

David said...

Chemical weapons used and what 6 injured or effected. I don't buy that. Chem. Weapons are designed to stay low to the ground and travel in a windward direction.......not likely in what was described.

Gary said...

Debka File is reporting that Syria's chemical weapons are under Russian control.

Caver said...

David, agree....neither chem or bio just stay localized like that before dissipating.

Gary, I would be weary of the "official" line. I believe we'll find that all sides and factions now have them and the means to deliver them. Time is gonna tell. That's a genie, I'm afraid, that's out of the bottle but nobody wants to be the first to say it or use them where it can possibly be attributed to them.