11/26/2012, 00.00
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Syria, a "politically correct" civil war

by Piero Gheddo
The reality of the Syrian conflict is different from the image offered by the international media. The testimony of Sister Maria Agnese, founder of the "Movement of Reconciliation" (Mussahala), "we know the regime and its dictatorial aspect, its actions do not surprise us. But for an opposition officially presented as a promoter of human rights, democracy and freedom to act with even bloodier violence than that of the regime, is something shocking."

Milan (AsiaNews) - In the Syrian civil war, the protagonists are clear for Western public opinion: on the one hand, Assad's bloody dictatorship, on the other, the oppressed people who with heroic resistance rebel against the tyrant. The reality is quite different from what is presented to us, and it is not the first time that the Western media has made a major blunder, afterwards repented of by no one. Few remember that in the long "Korean War" (1950-1953), the Americans who helped the South not to be overwhelmed by the North and the Chinese were colonialists and imperialists, the Chinese who helped the North were heroic "volunteers" coming to the rescue of brothers. Today, it is clear who was right. In Cuba's civil war (1955-1959) the "bearded ones", Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, were the "partisans" against the "fascists" of the Batista regime, and the longest dictatorship of the modern world was born. In the Vietnam War (1963-1975) and the Cambodian War (1968-1975), the Viet Cong and the Khmer Rouge were the "liberators" of the peoples in revolt against the pro-American dictatorships. And I could go on recalling other cases, such as when the West hailed Khomeini to power in Iran (1979) because he had defeated the "American Satan" and freed his people from the tyrannical Shah Reza Pahlevi. But from Khomeini were born the "martyrdom for Islam" and the "jihad" (holy war) against the West that led to the collapse of the Twin Towers in 2011, and not only that.

Is the same pattern occurring in Syria? Nobody knows, but what is certain is that the story of the war being presented by the international media is now "politically correct" in the sense that the roles have been established and it is not easy to contradict them. World and Mission is publishing (December 2012) an article by Giorgio Bernardelli that can help shed light on what has been called "the war with the least direct information on the two sides in the field." The protagonist is a Carmelite nun Syrian (64 years), superior of the monastery of St. James of Qara (a town near Damascus), the most well-known voice denouncing the anti-Christian violence in Syria and founder of the "Mussalaha" movement that works for reconciliation, approved and supported by the Greek-Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham. Agnese Maria of the Cross does not take sides between the two warring parties, but uses uncomfortable words, complaining that the Islamist militias' violence against Christians shows a new aspect of Assad's opponents. Sister Maria Agnese (a Syrian of 64 years), threatened by the rebels and who has now fled to France, cites specific dates and events: "There are more than two thousand groups operating in Syria, most are linked to Al Qaeda", the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis. They have not come to establish democracy, but Qur'anic law in the name of Allah .... We know the regime and its dictatorial aspects, its actions do not surprise us. But for an opposition officially presented as a promoter of human rights, democracy and freedom to act with even bloodier violence than that of the regime, is something shocking."

Above all, Sister Maria Agnese cited the events of Homs (near the monastery of Qara), a city where thousands of Christians lived, who have fled the country and abroad; the last of them was killed in early November, an elderly man who had remained in his home to care for his disabled son. The truth of the Syrian war is gradually coming out. Without any doubt, the regime of Bashar al-Asad is totalitarian, murderous and allows no opposition whatsoever. It responded with unprecedented violence to the first popular demonstrations in March 2011, within the framework of the Arab Spring demanding freedom, democracy and development. But it is just as true that, in a year and a half of civil war, the Islamic extremists, at the grassroots level as a strategic guide and war tactic, have already taken power among Assad's opponents. In an appeal announced October 26, 2012, the leader of "Al Qaeda" and successor to Bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, returned to inciting Muslims "around the world to support their fellow Syrians in all possible ways," calling for the end of the Assad regime.

Christians do not support Assad's dictatorship, but neither would they wish for another Islamic extremist regime to be born in Syria. The small but great Carmelite Agnese Maria has personally lived through the plight of the Palestinian refugees and the refugees from the war in Lebanon, and for this reason founded the "Movement of Reconciliation" (Mussahala) which has a following in Syria. Today it is obliged to be the credible voice of the Syrian Christians and of many Muslims who condemn the anti-Christian violence. My denunciation, she underlines, "is not a pro-Assad plot, but a way of overcoming the violence and of giving voice to the Syrian people. To choose its future, it needs a minimum of security and stability, after assuring the cohesion of its social fabric severely affected by attempts at sectarian fragmentation, fueled by bloody attacks by both sides."



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