Syrian Update

Progress is being made in Belfast and, the pending election notwithstanding, also in Dublin and the West of Ireland with a number of women and other groups coming on board. The considerable practical experience groups like CAIN, the various conflict studies centres, ecumenics centres and the human rights centres have accumulated over the last very many years will be of good practical benefit, over both the shorter and longer terms.

Dr Ahmad al Khaddour is here with fellow cardiologist Mr Joel Dunning giving a very informative albeit rather technical interview and, 13 minutes into this next video, he gives a less technical but equally informative one to George Galloway and Putri Gayatri Pertiwi. In the former interview, Mr Khaddour urges his fellow-surgeons to take the road to Damascus. “The Lawless Roads” must be trod by at least some of us if peace is ever to return to Syria. The delegation will be urging academic, political, medical, religious and community leaders to take that most famous of roads with us in December.

Prof. Seham al-Danon, who is a leading member of Syria’s Druze community, is the deputy dean of the Faculty of Arts at Damascus University, where she is also Professor of Regional Geography. Prof. al-Danon was very seriously injured in a targeted rebel assassination attempt in June 2013, which necessitated both of her legs to be amputated. Though not nearly as badly affected as Aleppo or Homs Universities, Damascus University nevertheless has had 60 students, 5 lecturers and 15 employees murdered as well as a further 200, including Prof al-Danon, very seriously injured. Prof. Al-Danon continues both with her academic administrative duties and still writes and speaks on the role of culture in combatting extremism and in building peace and reconciliation.

Prof. Maria Saadeh’s professional page makes plain she is the type of urbane high achiever we would all like to have in our Parliaments. Yet the rebels revile representative Syrians like her and Prof Danon, from their dress to their independence as modern women and their determination to shape the modern world rather than be literally shackled to a kitchen stove.

Prof. Khaled al Assaad, age 82, former Director of Antiquities & Museums for UNESCO’s jewel of Palmyra, author of over 20 scholarly tomes on Palmyra and honoured by numerous European academic societies, has now joined Syria’s long list of martyrs

Joseph Louis Lagrange, along with Euler, the greatest mathematician of the eighteenth century, lamented Laurent de Lavoisier’s murder with these words “It took them only an instant to cut off that head, but France (Syria in Prof Assaad’s case) may not produce another like it in a century.”

All Saints’ Day in Ireland: Our plans for 1 November include a major link-up to Syria where good people like Prof. Assaad continue to be martyred every day of the year. The pastoral needs of relevant minority religions on the island of Ireland, most of whom are based near Waterford, will also be accommodated then.

Lord Molyneaux at Belsen: was mentioned in the last email. Please click these links &, especially the second one of his account of the Catholic Mass he attended at Belsen. It is probably the most harrowing thing you will ever read in your life. Syria is not dissimilar. However, as he said regarding that Tridentine Mass, good eventually triumphs. But it will only triumph if people bite the bullet, stand up for what they profess and not leave it all to octogenarians like the late Prof. al Assaad and his good friend, Patriarch Gregorios Laham, who will be with us all in late October.

Update: Syrian Delegation to Ireland

Syrian Delegation’s Main Aim: The previous email, (scroll down to view), gave details of the eminent Syrian delegation visiting the island of Ireland in late October. These eminent Syrians will propound practical ways political, academic, community and religious leaders and all others on the island of Ireland can help end Syria’s nightmare.
Ulster Says No: Because just 13 votes defeated the British government’s August 2013 Commons’ motion to bomb Syria back to the Stone Age, Ulster’s MPs, not one of whom supported the proposed bombing campaign, swung the Syrian scales to peace rather than to war, to life rather than to death, against ISIS rather than to it. Countless Syrians are alive today, thanks to those Ulster MPs and to their constituents who lobbied them and Syria is eternally in debt to them for that vote and for those that lie ahead. Securing those peace votes is a key objective of the visit.
Irish Death Squads in Syria: Ulster’s MPs notwithstanding, Ireland has the highest number of jihadists per capita from Europe in Syria. Though the most infamous of these murderers have also committed similar atrocities in Libya, their handiwork has left a very acrid taste in Syria. This visit allows us to make redress for their crimes.
The Late Lord Molyneaux, former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, very seldom spoke about his role in liberating Belsen, though his two obituary clips here where he describes it as “the work of the devil” are worth watching, as is his very unsettling piece here worth reading. Lord Molyneaux’s Belsen comments put today’s evil incarnate sweeping Syria, Iraq, Northern Nigeria and Libya very much into context.
Background Reading: Will Dalrymple’s superlative From the Holy Mountain contrasts how Syrian Christians fare in Syria to how they fare in those contiguous countries laying waste to Syria. Though Gerard Russell’s excellent Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms neatly summarises the belief systems of the Druze, Alawi and Mandaeans amongst others, it is particularly relevant in the case of the Yezidi who are suffering unspeakable horrors at the hands of ISIS’ devils incarnate for their own supposed Satanism, which is, in fact, only a Babylonian residue to which leaders as diverse as Saddam Hussein and Pope Francis made no particular objections on meeting them. Patrick Cockburn’s The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution is the only book worth reading on that grizzly topic. is a website run by Fr Dave Smith, a kick-boxing Australian Anglican priest who was on several trips to Syria with me. His photos are worth a look as they show us in Syria with those of all Abrahamic faiths and none, working and hoping for a better day. Hopefully, we will get more takers from the island of Ireland for our December visit, people who, like Fr Dave, can contribute in practical ways.
We Save Syria: The photo of little Syriac kids out trick or treating on Halloween 2014 a few weeks before the rebels kidnapped them is attached as a reminder of why we must help the Syriacs, Assyrians, Western aid workers and Yezidis being abused as sex slaves in rebel-held Syria this and every day. Little Sarah’s tribute to her murdered father is attached for the same reason. We will build on this key theme as the October approaches.
Next Steps: The basic outline and itinerary of the visit is in place and all that remains is to draw appropriate political, academic, pecuniary and publicity benefit for Syria from it and to form the basis for follow-up action. Since the last general email, another crucial meeting has been scheduled for Belfast, with others made in Cos Galway and Dublin as well. As things currently look, the visit, particularly in Ulster, will be a success and will serve as a prototype to replicate in Scotland, in England and much further afield as well.

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Syrian Delegation to Ireland

The following eminent Syrians are amongst the delegation visiting the island of Ireland in late October:
• His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem 11, the Supreme Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church, is the Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and a National University of Ireland (Maynooth) graduate. The Syriac Orthodox Church, which traces its roots back to Antioch in 37AD, uses the Liturgy of St. James the Apostle, Christianity’s oldest extant liturgy and includes Archbishop Mor Gregorius Yohanna Ibrahim, who was kidnapped and most likely murdered on the Turkish border along with Bishop Boulos Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church amongst its members. Because the Syriac Orthodox Church is in communion with the Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Malankara Syrian (Indian) and Armenian Apostolic churches, members of those esteemed communities in Ireland will be accommodated to meet His Holiness during his stay. His Holiness’ pastoral duties make him a frequent visitor to the Kurdish areas of North Syria and Northern Iraq, where countless Syriacs, along with Yezidis and others, have suffered unspeakable hardships at the hands of the rebels and he will brief Ireland’s Kurdish community in Leitrim and Dublin on developments there.
• His Beatitude Gregorios 111 Laham, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Alexandria and Jerusalem, is the Supreme Head of the Greek Catholic (Melkite) Church, which is also Syria’s (and Israel’s) second largest Christian community and the fourth largest church in communion with the Latin Catholic Church headed by Pope Francis, with whom Patriarch Laham regularly confers concerning Syria.
• The Rt. Rev. Bishop Louka H El-Khoury, Patriarchal Auxiliary, Patriarchate of Greek Orthodox Damascus. The Greek Orthodox Church forms Syria’s (and Israel’s) largest Christian community and members of Ireland’s esteemed Orthodox community will be similarly accommodated. Bishop Louka, who has been one of Syria’s most consistent and eloquent spokespersons for reconciliation and peace with justice, will brief relevant Irish Parliamentarians on Syria on 4th November.
• Prof. Maria Saadeh, Opposition Member of the Syrian Parliament, professor of architecture at Damascus University. Prof. Saadeh, who is an award-winning authority on Maaloula’s ravaged UNESCO adobe structures, has recently briefed Pope Francis and the United Nations on the situation in Syria. Though Prof. Saadeh is an MP for Damascus, she is from Saidnaya, the burial site of Abel (in the Cain and Abel story) and a place of joint pilgrimage for both Christians and Muslims for well over 1000 years. The gallant people of Saidnaya have withstood, with huge loss of life, well over forty full-scale assaults on them by rebel forces and the last of these onslaughts was only stopped by the last minute arrival of Lebanese reinforcements. Without their intervention, Saidnaya would have ended up like the nearby Aramaic-speaking town of Maaloula, with scores beheaded, dozens of nuns kidnapped and churches, monasteries, mosques and homes looted and destroyed.
• Dr Seham Danon, Professor of Literature at Damascus University, a leading spokesperson for Syria’s embattled Druze community and a prominent peace activist, whose legs were recently amputated following a rebel booby trap bomb attempt to permanently silence this brave woman and her fellow Druze, who are one of the pivotal communities in this whole conflagration. Prof. Danon’s quiet voice, through which reverberates the voice of millions of her compatriots, is one we have to hear and it is one we must not allow those who have invaded her homeland and attempted to murder her to muffle.
• Ms Awatef Danon, nurse and joins the delegation solely in her role as registered carer to her sister, Dr Seham Danon.
• Dr Ahmad al Khaddour, Cardiologist, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, professor at Damascus University, physician to the delegation, and delegation’s chief spokesperson on Syria’s medical and health catastrophes, where the war’s constrictions cause patients to die for the want of simple over-the-counter medicines that are freely available in any pharmacy in Ireland.
• Members of Lebanon’s Maronite community will accompany and support the delegation, as will members of the Irish diaspora in Lebanon and Syria.
Significance: This delegation is the most important visit of Syrian community and religious leaders to either Britain or Ireland since their Troubles began and it is also the most prestigious (inter-faith) visit of religious to Ireland since Pope John Paul 11’s 1979 visit. Even more importantly, this entire delegation speaks on behalf of all citizens of all religious persuasions and none in the Syrian Arab Republic in calling for peace, for reconciliation and for an end to the war on the Syrian people, as the Irish delegation going to Syria in December can freely attest for themselves.
Intra -Irish affairs: These eminent Syrians are visiting Ireland to help their stricken homeland and, pastoral duties apart, for no other reason. Given both the scale and the immediacy of the humanitarian disaster Syria faces, they have neither the desire nor the time to be embroiled in intra -Irish affairs except insofar as they directly impinge on the Syrian catastrophe.
All future emails will be directed towards the logistics and other practicalities of the visit. More general background information will be periodically posted here:
Some of the pertinent Irish dates are as follows:
• Wednesday October 28th and Thursday 29th: Two closed meetings, one for academics and the other for relevant charities, NGOs and similar bodies, and one open meeting in Queen’s University, Belfast.
• Wednesday October 28th and Thursday 29th: Possible additional meetings in Coleraine, North Antrim and Dungiven.
• Friday 30th October: Magee College Derry, with further meetings in Derry and Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula planned for around the same time.
• Saturday 31st October. To be decided between Derry/Donegal, Belfast and Clare/Galway.
• Sunday 1st November, All Saints’ Day: A number of religious venues have been suggested in Derry, Armagh, Antrim, Mayo, Galway and Dublin and plans are afoot to accommodate as many of them as is practicable in conjunction with the various Churches of the East as well as Ireland’s own more established Churches.
• Monday 2nd November: Talks proceeding with University College Galway as well as other venues in Cos Clare and Galway.
• Tuesday 3nd November: Talks proceeding with National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Patriarch Aphrem’s alma mater.
• Wednesday 4th November am: Irish Oireachtas (Parliament), Dublin.
• Wednesday 4th November pm: Trinity College Dublin.
• Tuesday 27th October, Thursday 5th November: We expect to have a number of smaller, practical meetings with Irish politicians and others who have helped immensely in the past and who we can depend on in the future, subject to their other considerable commitments. Places of academic status have been chosen to enable all politicians from all backgrounds and from all mainstream political persuasions on the island of Ireland (as well as England and Scotland) to converse with these Syrians to channel practical help to Syria.
These are the bones of the tour. Although there are other visits scheduled to relevant community centres, schools, churches, mosques, and shrines, the emphasis will be on solidifying practical deliverables in terms of establishing peace with justice in Syria. These key deliverables include:
• Allowing these eminent and irreproachable Syrians state the case of the Syrian people in the most appropriate forums the island of Ireland offers. Critical though this is, other practical deliverables are also essential.
• Getting political, academic, religious and NGO help to help highlight and alleviate the plight of Syria’s displaced, the vast majority of whom remain in areas protected by the Syrian Arab Army. Mechanisms are needed to streamline that help.
• Initiating WeSaveSyria, a zero overheads and zero expenses charity conduit to channel money and other resources directly to irreproachable conduits, such as those who are on this delegation, within the Syrian Arab Republic; all monies raised in Ireland during their visit will be transferred to them via Beirut before they leave Ireland. For activities after they leave, three major logistical sources will be approached after I return to Dublin on September 1st.
• Seeing what, if any, practical help can be given from Ireland for Syria’s Palestinians, the vast majority of whom live in areas controlled by or affiliated with the Syrian Arab Army. The only significant Palestinian area in rebel hands is that ISIS/ Nusra/Golan Brigades-controlled part of Yarmouk Camp, from where most Palestinians have now fled for their lives to be cared for by the over-stretched Syrian authorities. These Yarmouk Palestinians the Syrian authorities billet and protect in nearby schools and mosques need practical, quantifiable help and this visit will give those interested parties in Ireland a chance to help the Palestinians directly.
• Ditto for the embattled Armenians of Aleppo, Syria’s Stalingrad, and Kessab, whose numbers have been swelled by their fellows who managed to flee from the rebel hell holes of Raqqa and Deir Elzzor, both of which were recently home to sizable Armenian populations.
• Arranging for appropriate people from the island of Ireland to visit the Syrian Arab Republic between 10 December and 20 December 2015 to gauge the situation for themselves with a view to allowing relevant people and organisations on the island of Ireland help build a pathway to peace. Such people would include elected politicians, academics, religious and charity groups in a position to offer practical help. The visit, for the most obvious security reasons, will only be to areas controlled by the Syrian Arab Army so that the Irish, in this case, will definitely be “home by Christmas”.
• The invitation to relevant and responsible political, community and religious leaders on the island of Ireland will be made by Syria’s two Patriarchs and the rest of the delegation not only on behalf of all Syria’s Christian leaders but also in the name of His Grace, Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun, The Grand Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as Dr. Mohammad Hassan Al Kurdi, the President of Damascus University, and all of Syria’s other religious and academic leaders.
• Finessing in Ireland, in conjunction with Australian, Italian, French and other concerned peace activists who have recently initiated similar peace conduits from their own countries, systems that can help deliver peace to the people of Syria.
Finance: Although this ambitious task will not come cheaply and Syria’s financial udders are bone dry, the necessary funds will be forthcoming from private sources. This is not to say that money is not needed: tens of billions of euros, pounds and dollars are needed and it will take more than the several hundred people this email is going to to put any significant dent in that tab. However, if done properly, given our various impressive track records, hopefully much money and support will be raised over the medium term in Ireland by the appropriate people and organisations for Syria.
Prototypes: Because Ireland has, of course, produced a vast number of such prototypes over the years, ranging from the more traditional ones we all grew up with to impressive newer initiatives such as the Alan Kerins Project in East Africa, the Niall Mellon Trust in South Africa and Christina Noble’s most noble project in Ho Chi Minh City, together, we can make a significant impact on this Great Syrian Calamity.
Focus: Though finance is important, getting the desired result from this visit is infinitely more so and that is why we are trying to do so much in the little time window we have. Though this is one small united step for all of us to make, it can not only make a very significant contribution towards peace in Syria but it can also show to each of us that we, in our time, are, in the pivotal case of Syria, very clearly and very unequivocally making the right, the proper and the only moral stand that there is.
You: If you can help in any way in any of the areas mentioned above, please email me now so that this visit can be an even bigger success.

Faith of Our Fathers

Though Faith of our Fathers is usually associated with Irish Catholics, it was originally written in homage to those English who stayed in communion with Rome, “in spite of dungeon, fire and sword”, something Syria’s abandoned Christians could relate to.  Most of the photos below were taken in Maaloula on Easter Sunday 2014, shortly after the Syrian Arab Army retook it for the second time and when I visited together with all Syria’s Christian leaders. The photos show the destruction the moderate rebels did to it. Other photos are of the Greek Catholic Cathedral on Palm Sunday, the wrecked Syriac Church in the old quarter of Homs and some damaged mosques to show that the moderate rebels are equal opportunity destroyers.

The Arab words which a moderate rebels scrawled on the door of a Maaloula convent reads: We get closer to God by slitting throats.

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Syrians to Ireland: Fight, Flight or Freeze

As the Irish battle ship, the LE Niamh, continues to haul hundreds of drowning Syrians, Libyans, Nigerians and Eritreans from the Mediterranean, as the British Defence Forces go on full alert to stop the “swarms” of human beings “massed at Calais” to invade their green and verdant land, our plans for bringing Syrian Druze, Christian and Muslim leaders to the island of Ireland from 26 October to 5 November proceed.
These Syrians are, however, slightly different from those dying in the Mediterranean and further afield in that they and those they primarily represent are determined not to flee their embattled homeland for the white cliffs of Dover or even the relative Valhalla of Sweden. Instead of flight, they have chosen to fight the good fight. All members of the delegation have paid a very high price for their non-violent actions and some have been the target of repeated assassination attempts by the moderate rebels. I have seen others, even more eminent, given the runaround in London, similar to how they were most disgracefully treated In the USA and I ask: why is this? What is the real agenda?
Just what is going on? Just why, for example, has the Chilcot report still not been published? Why also must Ireland’s First Lady visit an elderly family friend imprisoned for protesting Ireland’s complicity in these awful crimes? Just why is Mahdi-al-Harati, the Dublin-based commander of the notorious Tripoli Brigade, a Libyan version of Hitler’s SS, allowed to operate without any constrictions in Ireland in much the same way that Staf van Velthoven, Waffen SS Officer and explosives expert in SS-Standartenführer Otto Skorzeny’s elite 502 Division, was some years previously (as was Herr Hitler’s all-time favourite soldier, the legendary Skorzeny himself)? Why has Harati not even been questioned about the mercenaries’ war crimes or, at the very least, his illegal trips to Syria, a country he has no family connections with and, as a West Dublin resident, he should have no quarrel with? Just why are Irish-based supporters of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual commissar of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood terror network, given unending positive media coverage in Ireland, when Qaradawi calls for the total extermination of the world’s 100 million Shias, as well as homosexuals, apostates and countless others?
Just why do Mary Fitzgerald and other Irish journalists give such a positive media spin to these deranged sociopaths? Is she the Irish equivalent of BBC’s Dr Saleyha Ahsan, who openly confesses to getting “a rush” when she watches Libyan ISIS executioners at work on the throats of their prisoners? Given that Ahsan also “starred” in Panorama’s totally discredited Saving Syria Children propaganda piece, just what is going on?
Why the great Irish silence on the fate of the 19 Yezidi women executed since the last email for refusing to be raped by the moderate rebels and why not a bleep about the hundreds more Christians and Muslims kidnapped over the last few days after the rebels stormed Qaryatain? Why the collusion? Just what exactly is going on?
This delegation will give us some small insight into what is going on and some indication of who precisely “we” are attacking and who “we” are aiding and abetting in Syria. In this connection, I am attaching a photo of myself near the Turkish border with soldiers of the Syrian Arab Republic I bummed a lift from; the soldiers had just pulled back from engaging with al Nusra forces some miles up the road when they found me in a heated altercation with their comrades. Though I attach other important photos of Syrian soldiers here along with previous emails, these soldiers, Sunni, Shia, Alawi, Druze, Armenian, Syriac and so on have repeatedly told me what soldiers in their position have always said from the dawn of time: they are fighting for their families, for their homelands, & for all that is good in them and from them. Many of these soldiers, when you meet them, look like they haven’t had a good night’s sleep in four years and most have not seen their families in all that time. For far too many of them, their return home will be in a cheap casket and all for what?
Syria’s social mix is almost as convoluted as that of Lebanon, another country which is in “our” crosshairs. Without, for example, the active support of Syria’s Sunni tribes, the Syrian government would fall in a day. However, because the tribes have seen time and again what the moderate rebels do to them and their families, they fight and die side by side with the Syrian Army regulars in such black spots as Deir Elzzor.
From their point of view, having seen untold numbers of their friends and families slaughtered (the moderate rebels summarily slaughter family members of Syrian soldiers, irrespective of sex or age unless they can ransom as well as rob them) these Syrian soldiers and their weapons have an understandably very blunt message for Irish and British passport holders who have the brass neck to join the invasion forces ravaging their Syrian homeland.
Just how do we get out of this mess? Neither the LE Niamh nor the entire Irish navy will solve all the problems of Syria, Libya, Eritrea, Nigeria and the various other countries we have lined up for dismemberment. The Irish, Fijian and Filipino UN peace keepers cynically put in harm’s way on the Golan Heights will not, on their own, bring “peace in our time” when forces infinitely more powerful than Hitler’s are aligned against them.
Peace will only reign when enough people and institutions, big and small, famous and not so famous, work for it and where the purveyors of the arms industry, as well as the post-modernists and other facilitators of the incendiary ideas, which fuel the fires of war, are called out for what they are in the language most appropriate for the particular arena. These arenas and conduits include academic forums, the media, and churches and mosques throughout the island of Ireland. To date, all of these venues and conduits, big and small, famous and not so famous, that have been approached have responded favourably, an indication perhaps that no matter how dark the night, a better morn is possible if people of good will work for it.
That better morn for the people of Syria and those other countries being shoved into the mince grinder will take much hard work and very many shoulders, big and small, broad and narrow. Your country may not need you but I certainly do to help in this noble initiative. If you can provide practical help, please get in touch.

Pictures Below:

1.2 Syrian Army/National Defence units as we barrelled into Malloula, Easter Sunday 2014.

3. Syrian National Defence sleep out in a destroyed shop and fix up Maaloulah as time allows, September 2014.

4. Syrian National Defence troops with children in Maaloula, September 2014.

5. 6: Syrian children again relax under the protective watch of the Syrian Arab Army, Maaloula September 2016.

7. Lebanese car honourng two fallen Lebanese irregulars, the road to Damascus, April 2015.

8. Syrian Arab Army soldiers enjoying ice crea, Damascus, 2014.

9.10.11 With the Syrian Arab Army, Turkish broder, September 2014.

12.13.14:  With the Syrian Arab Army and Syria’s Christian leaders, Maaloula, Easter Sunday 2014.

15.  With the feared Shabiha. This dude showed me the strangulation marks on his neck from when the rebels tried to lynch him. He said only his strength saved him. These guys work out and pump crap into their muscles.

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Syrians to Ireland: The Unsung Heroes


Since the last email (go to & scroll down for previous emails and for the pictures referred to in this email), there have been further very solid offers of help, along Ireland’s Western shore in particular. That being so, though there remains a mountain of work to do, the delegation of Syrian Druze, Christian and Muslim leaders visiting Ireland from 26 October to 5 November will probably achieve the desired results: publicise Syria’s plight, highlight the effects of the diplomatic, political, academic and economic bullying of Syria, raise money to help save Syria, lay the groundwork for an Irish visit to Syria in December and arrange for a return visit to Ireland in 2016.
Friends in Vietnam, no strangers to foreign-imposed mass violence themselves, are designing banners for us and other unsung heroes are also beavering silently away for peace. As these photos show, so many ordinary Syrians (and Vietnamese) are doing extraordinary things to preserve all that is good, wholesome and holy in life. Thankfully, there is now a growing number of people on the island of Ireland prepared to do the same and to thereby affirm our own humanity in the face of this untrammelled evil of our day.
I attach only one photo: a copy of a drawing little Sarah did in memory of her father, who was murdered defending little Sarah and all that binds little children like Sarah to all that is good in life. Syria is awash with orphanages, where unsung heroes take care of smaller heroes like Sarah. Current storm clouds indicate Syria will have to build plenty more orphanages to house thousands more little Sarahs. Syria does not need more tiny orphans. Syria needs people to stop the attacks on it.
The other photos are: me with Aleppo native Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, former Vicar General of Jerusalem, in the Palestinian Embassy in Rome. Mgr Capucci has, amongst his many other achievements, which have seen him honoured by six separate Arab nations, raised money for some 50 fully-equipped ambulances to send to Syria. Though in his mid-90s, he remains a tower of indomitable moral strength.
Beneath his picture here are children and Iranian peace pilgrims (both Sunni and Shia) attending a Palm Sunday Mass in Damascus with Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios Laham who, though in his 80s, is doing everything humanly possible to achieve peace not only for his small charges but for all Syrians.
Next is a little Armenian girl in the front-line Syrian border town of Kessab holding up the Turkish licence plate of an ambulance we came across that was used to transport munitions for the moderate rebels, who ravaged Kessab. Salpi, the Armenian lady in the middle of the two soldiers, used to get her simple kicks from singing in the local Armenian church. The moderate rebels torched her church and they robbed everything, windows and doors included, from her house and those of everyone else in Kesab. Good people like Salpi continue to fight the good fight and so too do little Syrian Armenian children, even though the Western world has abandoned them.
The next four photos are from the part of Yarmouk camp the Syrian Arab Army with their Palestinian allies control: a heroic young girl helping to keep younger girls’ minds on the right path; lovely little Mohammad and his young mother and friend, enduring, living and partly living; refugee Palestinian women and children, smiling to maintain their dignity in the clean, crowded but spartan sleeping quarters the over-stretched Syrian Army billet them in; an older woman giving a young Maaloula refugee a shoulder to lean on; and some of the wonderful Damascus University students who helped myself and Kave (with silly red hat, part of the Australian Boxers for Peace contingent).
Although the Syrian delegation to Ireland may speak about the various entire families in Adra the rebels cooked alive in bakers’ ovens, or the young Druze women burned alive in Dara or the 86 year old Christian the moderate rebels shot through the face in Idlib because he ran an inconsequential liquor store or any of the countless other atrocities Irish and other foreigners have visited upon Syrians, they will also tell you about the good things that are being done and that can more effectively be done with your help.
Residents of Ireland should not allow themselves be fooled by the base propaganda that is being thrown their way. Those powerful forces who support “the rebels” are the same forces which plunged Iraq and Libya into the abyss and which cheer on the air force of Saudi Arabia, a country that is the antithesis of everything that is wholesome in life, as it blitzes the people of Yemen.
This October/November visit can work wonders not only in Ireland but further afield as well, where it is already serving as a template. Though I append Syria’s six demands in the previous emai, I can probably summarise them as follows: stop killing Syrians, stop facilitating the murder of Syrians, help Syria’s unsung heroes and, for God’s sake, cop yourselves on.
These are the messages the esteemed delegates will deliver to forums big and small, religious and secular, political and academic, formal and informal and let the cards fall where they will. Although Western stock markets continue to soar as “market impediments” are removed in the Arab and Slavonic worlds, someone, somewhere, somehow has to stand up for those unsung heroes who not only stand by Sarah and Syria’s other “market impediments” but for all that is decent as well.
If that someone is you, please email me directly.

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Ireland: Saving Syria’s Children

The delegation of Syrian Druze, Christian and Muslim leaders to Ireland is now tentatively scheduled to spend 26/27 October in Dublin, 28/29 October in Belfast, 30/31 October, 1 November in Derry/Donegal and 2 November in Galway before returning to Kildare, Dublin and environs. Go to & scroll down for previous emails.
This is a necessarily ambitious tour, aimed to allow interested people hear about Syria from esteemed Syrians, who are trying to extricate their compatriots from its ongoing nightmare and who need the pro-active help of all people of good will on the island of Ireland to have even the remotest chance of success. Though you can sign and circulate this petition a lot more than that is needed and that is where you come in.
The main Belfast, Derry, Galway, Maynooth and Dublin meetings are being organised in conjunction with some of Ireland’s (and the world’s) leading academic institutes on conflict and conflict resolution and because the schedule is so crowded, the six or so offers of meetings in the counties south of the Dublin Galway line most likely will not be taken up this time round. Because there are a core group of extremists, some of them with much Libyan and Syrian blood on their hands, operating with impunity from Dublin, because Ireland has Europe’s highest rate per capita of jihadists ravaging Syria and because of my brushes with these hard chaws in England, I do have to be a trifle coy, so please bear with that.
The title of this email is taken from BBC Panorama’s now notorious programme extolling those who collaborate with ISIS, Nusra and the mercurial Free Syrian Army under the figleaf of providing medical and other humanitarian aid: the actual programme is forensically fileted at some length here and, though the various attacks of those behind the show on me and others are dealt with here: the threats these fanatics and their oddball post-modernist supporters pose cannot be totally ignored.
Because the delegation will be in Ireland for Oíche Shamhain, I attach a photo of Syriac kids out trick or treating last Halloween. The moderate rebels subsequently kidnapped these little innocents, whether for ransom or to turn them into suicide bombers I do not know. Note also this short article: which juxtaposes the experiences of some of the kids I met in Syria with those of the ISIS cubs on the rebel side of the lines. Imperfect as that rushed note is, what some of those kids and their guardians told me is much too horrific to recount beyond murmuring that war is hell.
Yet recount we must. Although Féile will, to their credit, have a children’s festival finishing in Belfast on 31 October, Halloween, the delegation will have to be elsewhere for, though Syria needs the pro-active help of all the children of Belfast, Syria’s story is too shocking and upsetting to relate to even those of their guardians, who experienced the worst of the Troubles along Belfast’s various Murder Miles.
Instead of Belfast, Halloween may instead be spent in Donegal and Derry, with the members of the delegation recounting their own horrific stories and the fate of Syria’s survivors and looted treasures to select journalists and other reputable conduits. The gang rapes, the mass murders, the mutilations, the lootings, the sackings, the burnings, the systematic destruction, are all part of a coordinated plan to make Syrians either submit to demonic “rebel” rule or to perish and Syrian tongues with defter turns of phrase than mine will catalogue them so that, together, we might help end this grotesque nightmare.
November 1st is All Saint’s Day and it is hoped members of the delegation can speak in churches and cathedrals, such as St Eugene’s, to drive home the point that Syrians, Christians and Muslims alike, are being slaughtered on an industrial scale for base political reasons.
Although lighting candles may be now less fashionable in Ireland, Syrians are still into it. I attach a bog-standard photo of Syrian Muslim women lighting candles in the sacked Maaloula monastery the moderate rebels kidnapped 13 Greek Orthodox nuns from. Note the profusion of cell phones, taking souvenir selfies, evidence if it were needed, that almost all Syrians just want a normal life free from their demented “liberators”. Note also that the moderate rebels put Muslim women like these, who light candles in Greek Orthodox churches, to death as witches, wiccans or whatever.
I also attach a telling photo of myself and Fr Dave Smith, the Australian Anglican kick-boxing priest, from Syria’s far-famed Umayyad Mosque, which houses the remains of John the Baptist, who the extremists of his day beheaded. This particular photo is at the tombs of Saladin (right), whose Ayyubid army defeated the Crusaders and internationally acclaimed Sunni scholar Dr Mohamed Said Ramadan Al-Bouti (left), who was murdered along with 40 others in a suicide bomb attack on March 21 2013.
In noting the respect which the Syrian authorities afford both tombs, note also that these tombs are very pertinent for a number of practical reasons: after Saladin dispensed with the Crusaders, he slaughtered countless Alawi around Aleppo. Syria’s President is, of course Alawi (married to a moderate English Sunni who is barred by the UN from travelling home to London, where she was recently billeted in Buckingham Palace by Her Majesty, the Queen). The rebels’ Western supporters tried to pin Al-Bouti’s murder and that of his 40 followers on the Alawi, who may be loosely described as part of the wider Shia family, a cynically absurd accusation that makes no tactical, strategic, political or religious sense. The obvious fact that the moderate rebels murdered Al-Bouti by a suicide bomb (a militant Sunni rather than a militant Shia tactic), to weaken moderate Sunni support for the Syrian government (an ongoing rebel tactic, as hundreds of moderate Sunni preachers have been so dispatched and replaced by frothing foreign extremists and the proof of that particular pudding is in the unspeakable depravity of their “Free Syria” caliphates) and then blamed their own outrage on the Syrian authorities (they have done this on countless occasions and they even tried to pin the recent London gangland hit on Syrian Muslim Brotherhood mobster Abdul Hadi Arwani on the over-stretched Syrian authorities, who cannot spare the resources to neutralise some two-timing, two-bit punk in London). These tombs, these tangible monuments to tolerance, counter the incessant “rebel” propaganda we are incessantly drip-fed that Syria is only a simplistic white hat, black hat Hollywood set that should not concern us. The moderate rebels would, of course, loot and destroy the Umayyad Mosque were they ever allowed to over-run Damascus which, you may recall, was the game plan when Panorama produced the farcical Saving Syria’s Children.
Although Syria’s historical determinants need not be spelt out in massive details here, Syria’s Six Demands, as per the petition mentioned above and summarised below, can form the basis of a political plan of action by all Irish-based politicians, academics and others of good will.
**Syria’s Six Demands**
1. Call on the United Nations to respect and uphold Syria’s sovereignty.
2. Enforce UN Security Council resolutions 2170, 2178 and 2199.
3. Hold countries in breach of Security Council resolutions 2170, 2178 and 2199 accountable.
4. End unjust sanctions against Syria.
5. Mandate UNESCO to restore Syria’s looted Syrian antiquities in coordination with the Syrian government.
6. Restore full diplomatic relations with the Syrian Arab Republic.
Though these six simple demands should generate much useful dialogue, they can only be a start for those of us for whom concepts of peace, human rights and civilisation actually are something more than poison-tipped arrows in the quivers of the rulers of the darkness of this world, those purveyors of spiritual wickedness in high places as Ephesians 6:12 puts it. I refer here to those faux human rights groups who are paid to propound such Owellian crimes against the peace as “humanitarian bombing” “no fly zones” and “safe corridors” all of which are designed to further balkanise, fragment and emasculate the Levant and to pulverise Syria’s fragile social fabric, just as those of Iraq and Libya were destroyed before her, with countless more innocents consigned to watery graves and choreographed ISIS execution squads.
The treatment of the Nigerians, Eritreans, Syrians, Libyans and Iraqis at the hands of the proxies of “the rulers of the darkness of this world” demands an unequivocal response from all people of good will on the island of Ireland. Although we can, like Michelle Obama, send a meaningless tweet to “bring back our girls,” that will not bring those of “our girls” who have not been already turned into suicide bombers back. Only concerted action by people of good will throughout the world will stem the crimson tide.
This delegation offers us the chance not just to act on behalf of the people of Syria but to truthfully look ourselves, now and in time to come, in the mirror and to say that we at least tried as best we could to preserve humanity from its nemesis, those foreign-funded, foreign-trained and foreign-controlled proxy gangs who have turned large swathes of Syria, Libya, Nigeria and Iraq into hell on earth.
The road to Syria’s salvation will be a long, hard and tortuous one. But the longest and hardest road has to begin somewhere and this road to recovery and civilisation reborn has to be begin with you. This is your moment to stand up and be counted. To see how you can seize the day and help us stem this crimson tide, please email me. Syria, though defiant, is bankrupt. Unlike the Muslim Brotherhood and the other murder gangs attacking her, Syria does not have oceans of Saudi Arabian and Qatari cash to dispense and nor does it have the military muscle and diplomatic protection Turkey can call on as it ladles out death all along its borders. All Syrians can hope against hope for is that someone, somewhere, somehow will come to their aid and that Syria’s children will be saved from their liberators and those collaborating with them. This delegation is enabling residents of Ireland to be part of that improbable miracle. Please email me to see what you can do.
This email is not advocating that you be David or that you pick a fight in a lion’s den. It is not asking you to visit Syria’s killing fields. It is asking you to do something infinitely more important, to work for what you believe in. There is no point crying empty tears into the rivers of Babylon, Belfast, Ballymun, Ballyfermot or Ballybrit over the ruins of Nimrud, Palmyra or Maaloula unless you are prepared to do something about it. The people of the Syrian Arab Republic need lifelines of hope thrown to them. Though a respectable number of politicians and academic institutions on the island of Ireland have begun the process, many more are needed to tether Syria to a solid Irish mooring and to thereby begin the process of really saving Syria’s children.




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High-Profile Syrian Delegation Visiting Ireland in late October/ November

Following last week’s important email – & scroll down- concerning the October/November visit to Ireland by Syrian Druze and Christian academic, community and religious leaders, there have been more positive developments: the date for one of the key Dublin meetings has been changed from 28 October to 4 November, thereby extending the visit into November; there have been further very significant offers of support, most notably from Derry, Donegal and the Midlands; a number of overseas journalists have expressed their desire to cover the events and we’ve also been proffered more thousands of dollars for medical aid. I also had meetings with Syrian professionals in London who have now returned to Damascus and who have conferred with the Beirut and Damascus coordinating teams.
So far, so good. However, as this recent important article makes plain, because the moderate rebels target clerics and other community voices for ransom, discretion is necessary. Priests, bishops and archbishops, of course, are not the moderate rebels’ only targets as the attached photos illustrate:
1. A Syriac girl makes her First Holy Communion in the Old City quarters of Damascus, 24 April 2015, the 100th anniversary of the Armenians and Syriac genocides. The moderate rebels gang-rape Syriac children like her in north-eastern Syria as they did in Qusayr before they were sent packing. The girl’s mother gave me a souvenir of their big day, which I passed on to a very supportive Irish TD, whose office had earlier been subjected to intimidation campaigns because of her principled stance on Syria. Also in the photo is my good friend, prominent journalist Kaouthar Bachraoui, who currently has about 15 fatwas, mafia-style hit contracts, taken out on her life by the Muslim Brotherhood moderate rebels and their allies.
2. The next photo is of me and Rianne, a chart-topping 5-year old Syrian Muslim who has a $1 million dollar bounty on his cute little head. The moderate rebels, who have already assassinated two of his three brothers simply for being his brothers, will pay $1 million to have him murdered because he sings songs for peace.
3. The next photo is of the White Hands, a largely unsung group of truly heroic women who work tirelessly in Syria’s Qalamoun Mountains offering help and sustenance to the countless victims of the moderate rebels. They should not be confused with the White Helmets, al Nusra’s Western-funded designated undertakers.
4. The next photo is of a Sunni tribal leader I interviewed who had been kidnapped by the moderate rebels; he described to me how scores of his fellow tribesmen were sliced up like streaks of bacon and strung up like macabre decorations on Christmas trees and that he only escaped by virtue of his position as a tribal leader. He is photographed with a number of Syrian and Palestinian women, one of whom acted as my translator and who had gender reassignment surgery some years previously. That is noteworthy as Tom MacMaster, the American agent provocateur based in Scotland, helped the moderate rebels’ cause gain huge traction by publishing his bogus Gay Girl In Damascus blog (which is now being released as a movie). The moderate rebels commandeered this transgender’s Ghouta home, turning her into one of the millions of internally displaced the Syrian Arab Army protects. The moderate rebels give all women like these excruciating deaths by burning them alive, tossing them off buildings, driving over them, burying them alive or whatever sadistic fashion takes their fancy on any particular day.
5. The final photo is from Yarmouk Palestinian camp. Sunni tribal chief Cheikh Mohammad Izzat Al Matroud, who is wearing a white top on the far left of the photo, organised our trip there as part of his tireless work for peace; the moderate rebels later lured him into a trap on the pretext of brokering a local peace deal and brutally killed this good, simple, big-hearted man. Note the toy car the girl on the right is holding behind her back: this was part of an aid consignment Iranian peace activists brought with them; whatever one may think about Iran or Iranians, they were exemplary on this peace mission, where they spent almost all their time either in churches meeting internally displaced Armenians and other Syrians or doling out aid; it was a privilege to be with them. The singer in the centre was part of the Australian peace contingent and, as can be seen, he went down a treat with the Palestinian nippers who have been starved of any vestige of normality by the moderate rebels. Fr Dave Smith, who was also on that delegation with us, has just completed his latest Syrian visit where he and his fellow Australian “Boxers for Peace” brought tens of thousands of much needed dollars to Yarmouk Palestinian Camp and other front-line Syrian communities.
Though there are countless other inspiring people involved in this campaign to save Syria, Syria and the Syrians will not be saved by amassing selfies. Because Syria needs practical peace-brokers and practical hope-givers at all levels, this Irish visit must reap huge peace dividends. A number of high-status venues and convenors have been secured, as have a number of more minor venues, all of which will allow Irish residents to contribute in practical ways to securing peace with justice in Syria and each of these must maximise its individual and collective peace potential.
Although assets will argue that we should emasculate our efforts by getting representatives of the various rebel gangs and their sponsors along, that is not our mission. Our mission is conceptually quite simple: it is to engender dialogue to foster peace. We can best do that in Ireland at the moment by bringing the best civil society team we can muster from the Syrian Arab Republic to state their case, warts and all. Should others, either concomitantly or at some other time, wish to showcase rebels of one hue or another, that is their prerogative. Should the media wish to present contrary views when the delegation is in Ireland, then that is their prerogative, notwithstanding the fact that most coverage to date has favoured the rebels, none of whom seem to be moderate, about half of whom are not Syrian and all of whom seem to be the vilest sectarians imaginable.
We, however, cannot squander time debating, discussing or arguing inane, irrelevant and tangential points or even explaining incisive summaries like this as there is too much work to be done, and too many lives to be saved. For my own part, I will be based in Dublin from early September to get this entire project to rights. The more help I get from all people of good will, the bigger the peace harvest will be. So far, however, so very good.





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High-Profile Syrian Delegation to Visit Ireland in late October
A high-profile delegation from the Syrian Arab Republic will visit Ireland in late October. The delegation will include two Patriarchs, a bishop from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchy of Damascus, a Greek Catholic priest from a heavily-contested front-line village, leading members of Syria’s Druze community, an Irish-trained surgeon in an overworked and under-supplied government-held hospital, an opposition MP in the Syrian Parliament as well as prominent members of Syria’s various Muslim communities. This will be the biggest, most important and most representative visit from Syria to either Ireland or Britain since Saudi Arabia and Turkey unleashed their jihadist hordes on Syria.
The delegation’s specific objectives are: having the voice of the ordinary Syrian people heard; garnering political, secular, religious and public support from outside Syria for their peace initiatives and raising money to allow as many Syrian children as possible survive the encroaching winter. Ireland and the Irish can and must play important and innovative roles in achieving all those objectives. Though they will also present a six-point plan to extricate Syria from the abyss, because such plans are only of import if we and our leaders act upon them, the delegation will concentrate as much on what we can do at the micro short-term as well as the macro longer-term level.
The situation in Syria remains grave on every imaginable level. On the military front, Turkey and Jordan continue to allow jihadists, Irish and British passport holders included, swarm into Syria at will and subject the Syrians, civilians and soldiers alike, to unspeakable horrors. On the diplomatic and media fronts, Syria’s powerful enemies continue to mute the voice of Syria’s representatives, even as they showcase the flesh-eating representatives of Syria’s supposed “freedom fighters”. The humanitarian situation could hardly be worse: children freeze to death in winter and die from dehydration in summer (the moderate rebels cut off the water supply as a war tactic and NATO sanctions bite hardest in winter), government hospitals have long ago run out of essential supplies (Syria was a major exporter of pharmaceuticals until Erdogan ordered the wholesale destruction and looting of Aleppo’s industrial quarters) and I have personally witnessed the teenage Palestinian mothers in Yarmouk cradling their malnourished infants as rebel mortars aimed at them bounce off the pavements a block or two away. To imagine the Apocalypse, picture modern Syria: a God-forsaken land, where the rebels, moderate and otherwise, continue to squeeze all human hope out of Syrians of all ages and all walks of life.
We Irish must not further collude in their demonic project to ethnically cleanse the Levant. Ireland must be a lodestar in offering Syria political and humanitarian lifelines and in inducing others to do the same. In these extermination wars of the Orwellian-named Arab Spring, there can be no shades of grey just as there could be no moral equivocation with Hitler and his henchmen or should have been with the Turkish and German perpetrators of the Armenian, Pontic Greek and Syriac genocides. Just as Hitler’s übermensch brooked no guff from their untermensch, so also do Syria’s supposed liberators, who continue to descend on Syria like vultures plucking at the limbs of a dying child, tolerate no dissent from their subjugated Syrian slaves and serfs.
Although Syria may well die, it is not dead yet and we must help resuscitate both her and the other peoples at the business end of the fake Arab Spring before they perish. It is our duty to ensure that, unlike Hitler’s time, Syria’s untermensch are heard, despite the unholy alliance of state actors, “pro-humanitarian bombing” NGOs and Muslim Brotherhood fanatics working to their own nefarious agendas.
The point of this delegation is not to waste valuable time arguing with Irish or British representatives and fellow-travellers of these heartless gangsters but to instead bear witness for the Syrian people. Although the delegation is composed mostly but not exclusively of Christians and Druze, they witness for all Syrians for, in the areas still held by the Syrian Arab Army, they live and die side by side with their Sunni Muslim compatriots, over two million of whom have fled for their lives to where the flag of the secular Syrian Arab Republic still defiantly flies. Tellingly, in Will Dalrymple’s superlative and much-recommended From the Holy Mountain, the Syrian Arab Republic was the only country in that entire region where Christians could live in peace and as full citizens and there is nowhere in rebel-held Syria where any vestige of secular or pluralist tolerance holds sway.
The Druze, whose belief systems, not unlike those of the Alawi, stem from a distilled blend of Islamic mysticism and Pythagorean thought, are further important witnesses for their priests, once consecrated, remove themselves totally from all worldly matters and devote their lives totally and exclusively to the aesthetic. Yet their unworldly priests, like the Mandaeans, Yezidis and so many more before them, have been summarily slaughtered by these invaders who include Irish citizens in their ranks and who have had prominent Irish journalists embed themselves with them and uncritically sing the praises of these sociopaths to what they hope is an opiated and uncaring Irish public.
Notwithstanding their crass propaganda, there is nowhere in rebel-held Syria that minorities can live in peace. There is nowhere in rebel-held Syria where normal school or university classes, as we would understand them, are held. The forced conversion of Druze and other minorities by the moderate rebels is designed to obliterate their communities, turn their historically-rooted cultures to dust and, as in their Nigerian “caliphate”, gang rape and pressgang kidnapped children into being suicide bombers and cannon fodder for their bellum internecinum.
This bellum internecinum, this war of extermination is not about religion, about this cult or that cult, this form of worship or that form of worship. It is much more fundamental that that. It is now about us helping a beleaguered people who have had unspeakable horrors visited upon them by the same dark forces that plunged Libya and Iraq into the abyss, and that stand silently by while the children of Gaza are pummelled into mushy pulp.
Ireland is not immune from this blowback. Not only have jihadists massacred Irish and British citizens on Tunisian beaches, blown up British and Irish citizens on London tubes, hacked the heads off Irish and British citizens in Iraq and slammed British and Irish citizens into New York’s Twin Towers but Irish soldiers peacekeeping with the UN on the Golan Heights have, along with their gallant comrades from the Philippines, come under sustained attack from these very same rebels and, were it not for the help of the Syrian Army and its air force, Ireland would have had another Niemba calamity on its hands in the Golan Heights. We cannot accept this barbarism, which must be actively opposed and extirpated from the face of the earth.
Surely we can agree on the need to have the voice of the ordinary Syrian people heard; to garner political, religious and public support from outside Syria for their peace initiatives and to raise money to help the children of Syria defy the odds and survive another winter. Our primeval humanitarian instincts must impel us to ensure that Ireland and the Irish can and must play important and innovative roles in achieving all these objectives.
Those who shill for the destruction of the Arab peoples will oppose this peace delegation. Prof. Gilbert Achcar of the SOAS will no doubt assemble the usual gaggle of post-modernist flunkeys and Syrian Muslim Brotherhood toadies to argue, as Al Jazeera Arabic incessantly does and as the odious Carole Malouf does on Al Jazeera English, that, as in Iraq and Libya, only the hard love of “humanitarian bombing” and a final solution, eine endlösung, to Syria’s Druze, Alawi, Ismaili, Armenian, Shia and Christian “problems” will bring peace.
That too is unacceptable for the truth, as the upright Arabs of this delegation will argue, could not be more prosaic. Though Syria, like every other Arab country, needs root, branch and nodal reforms, these obviously cannot be done, as our liberal war hawks argue, at the sharp end of a Saudi bayonet or a blunt Qatari club. No matter how much those in hock to the arms industry wish it, whatever reforms are needed to allow all the peoples of Syria achieve their potential and live lives of quiet peace will not be achieved by dismembering and pauperising their homeland to assuage Gulf despots or other dubious entities seeking their own Levantine lebensraum under one supremacist pretext or another. Those who propagate that line have countless dead Syrian, Libyan, Yemeni and Iraqi lives to atone for.
Though the delegation will be based primarily in central Dublin, it will address meetings and services in a number of counties including Antrim, Armagh, Cork, Derry, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Louth, Meath, Roscommon, Tipperary and Westmeath, with a number of other counties in the frame as well..
Although the impending Irish general election might superficially dent these plans, the quest for peace must go on. Indeed, one of the most striking aspects of the recent British general election was the total absence of foreign policy as an election issue – despite the complicity of successive British governments in the destruction of Libya and Iraq and their ongoing complicity in the campaigns of terror against the Yemeni and Syrian people, members of this delegation, their families, friends and congregations included.
Life need not be so. If you can help or if you require further information, please get in touch by email in the first instance. Though these plans are now quite advanced, there is still quite a lot of work to do to make this visit the success the Syrian people need it to be.
There will be a relatively small number of further general emails as October draws near. Though there are a number of other initiatives afoot – members of Ireland’s Muslim community have a peace protest on Sunday 26 July opposite the GPO, the Australian-based Boxers for Peace are again in the Syrian ring, punching above their weight in the noblest of causes, the Awareness Foundation are having a gala dinner in London on November 17th, and the British-based Aid to the Church in Need group are bringing Archbishop Jean Clement Jeanbart from Syria’s Stalingrad of Aleppo to London on October 13th, I am devoting my efforts for now on this joint Irish Syrian initiative, which will try to harness all people of goodwill on the island of Ireland behind this noble cause and this noble people.
Although much more than this Irish initiative is needed to solve this great calamity, we will at least help the Syrians amplify their voice and we might therefore help alleviate this horror for at least some of them and, if we achieve that, we can hold our heads high that we gave it our best shot with the best means available to us.
For my own part, I have been to Syria four times in the last year and what is seared indelibly into my soul is the silent sense of abandonment veering on hopelessness in the deadened eyes of the countless widows and orphaned children I met. I have seen at first hand Patriarch Laham’s reaction to the horrors they have unburdened on him and the stolidity, stoicism and sheer determination of this 82 year-old holy man to see this disaster through to the bitter end should be a clarion call to our inner selves to come to the aid of those of his compatriots who have survived thus far. Though I do not know how graphically he or other members of the delegation will address those unspeakable horrors, I do know that all of them will agree that we are all duty-bound to come to the aid of this great people before they perish.
In the years of “The Great Hunger” we Irish have been down this road before, as have others, not least the Armenians, whose genocide by the same supremacist forces now ravaging Syria began 100 years ago in 1915. In the years of “The Great Crime”, as the Armenians call their Holocaust, the Syrian people, along with the Lebanese, Iraqis and Palestinians were selfless in throwing them lifelines. Now it is our turn to return the favour. Let us arise!

Dr Declan Hayes
I attach three photos from my various visits to Syria:
a. Elias, a Palestinian Christian from the little town of Bethlehem with me and a Druze community leader who had just voted in the Presidential elections in June 2013 in Homs.
b. With Syria’s (Sunni) Grand Mufti, whose apolitical son was brutally murdered by the moderate rebels for no other crime than being his son.
c. With Greek Catholic Patriarch Laham shortly before we and all Syria’s other Christian leaders, headed to the Aramaic speaking town of Maaolulah, very shortly after the Syrian Arab Army and Lebanese irregulars had just wrested it back from the rebels, whose atrocities have stained the town forever. The photos beneath are of Maaloula, residents who were systematically beheaded by the moderate rebels. The smaller photo is a plaque to three locals who were also summarily executed by the moderate rebels for refusing to join their cult.

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Syria’s Blood Fountains

Syria’s enemies, it seems, will not rest until the last drop of blood flows from the last dead Syrian. How, one might ask, did Syrians become so mired in their own blood and how may Syria be stopped from drowning in it?
Like most crimes, it is best to go back the beginning of this false rebellion when Lonely Planet travellers remarked on how safe Syria was to travel in and how William Dalrymple’s superlative From the Holy Mountain showed that it was the one country in that entire region where Christians and other minorities were regarded as equal citizens.
The Syrian economy seemed to be buzzing as well, with Syria’s President being a guest of the Queen at Westminster and meeting America’s leaders on matters of concern to their two communities and, perhaps, to the general international community as well. For those of us with no great interest in ancient Rome, ancient Christianity or ancient relics, there was nothing much to see in Syria and so we, along with our media, generally ignored it, just like we did with Ukraine, Armenia or a host of other countries before they got their colour-coded counter-revolutions imposed on them or as we ignored Iraq and Libya before Nato decided they had to be blitzed into the nether regions of Dante’s Inferno.
Syria’s colour-coded counter-revolution began inauspiciously enough with a handful of draft-dodgers apparently taking to the mattresses with whatever weapons they cold pilfer. As the media began to beef them up, amateur observers, myself included, gave them a couple of weeks at most before the Syrian Army obliterated them. Far from being crushed, Syria’s Contras became the darlings of the West and seemed set to take Damascus before the Syria Army stopped them in their tracks and, with the help of their Lebanese allies, sent them packing. Then, when we figured the Syrian Army had prevailed, the Contra gangs made spectacular gains in Northern Syria and attempted a full-scale invasion from Jordan while Israel helped Contra units attack Syria from the Golan Heights and the USAF allowed ISIS run riot in the East. Bafflement time again.
Clearly then, Syria has a formidable alliance of countries aligned to it. Equally clearly, this has not been made clear, for whatever reasons, in our media, which seems to concentrate on telling us that ISIS veterans pose a direct threat to our friends, families and neighbours in the sleepy suburbs that we live in and that we should concentrate on that direct threat to all we hold dear and not bother analysing why they are allowed to create more mega-lakes of innocent Syria blood as the fancy takes them.
We are told that the Syrian government, which cooperated up to very recently with their British and American counter-parts, is a global pariah, that we must wreck their economy and social fabric with sanctions, boycotts, threats, and that we must handsomely fund our humanitarian organisations to turn them into global pariahs because, like a naughty child in a playground, it is all their fault and they need some tough love so they know not to be naughty and break Nato’s rules.
To justify Nato’s amoral stance, we are told that the Syrian authorities have used chemical weapons on the Contras, that they have used barrel bombs, an apparently particularly brutal and brutally cheap form of aerial ordnance and that they are now using chlorine bombs, something, it seems, we are supposed to recoil from in much the same way Dracula would flee a crucifix.
One wonders if there is another side to all this? Syria’s enemies, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, are amongst the world’s vilest and most repugnant regimes and they and their media outlets have been rightly slated by all relevant scribes with even a token amount of decency in them. The Nato countries, Britain and the USA in the main, have already plunged two Arab countries, Iraq and Libya, into the abyss and, as their eagerness to bomb Syria in the wake of the 2013 chemical gas attack shows, they would dearly like to add Syria’s scalp to their gruesome collection. Because of their complicity in those monstrous crimes, British and American war hawks should be made curtail their genocidal gut reactions and sit the Syrian war out. The same goes for Italy, Libya’s former colonial power, and France, which has previous form in bombing Syrian civilians and which, along with Italy and the “usual suspects” of Britain and America, bombed Libya into rack and ruin.
What then of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar? Turkey should cede western Armenia to Armenia to Turkey, the Shias of the oil-rich sections of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia should be given their independence, and Qatar should not only be made cease to exist but its confiscated reserves should be used to fund Syrian reconstruction.
And what about Syria itself? Were Russia and Chinese ground troops allowed to finish off the rebels, guard Syria’s borders and vital installations, then Syria could once again have positive cash flows.
What then about the rebels? There are the brains and the brawn. The Muslim Brotherhood are the brains of the non-ISIS factions and they have to be corralled. Though ISIS brawn must be defeated in the field, their brains must first be identified before being splattered around whatever parts of Turkey, Qatar or Saudi Arabia they hole themselves up in?
And what about the rest, the Nato powers and how they are portrayed? Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nato has proved to be the world’s most lethal user and abuser of both soft and hard power. There is barely a war theatre in today’s world where either they or their arms are not to the fore in fomenting the crimson blood fountains they thrive on.
And, as Syria amply demonstrates, there is barely a media outlet where their cynical spin does not convince most of us that right is wrong and good is bad. We read about the moderate rebels like we read about the moderate Wehrmacht but all the evidence indicates that even the most moderate of them are a blight on humanity. We read about the Syrian Army’s atrocities but all the independent forensic evidence indicates that most of these supposed acts were, if not committed by the Contra gangs, were the work of the well-paid PR firms Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia employ on behalf of their respective rebel gangs.
And do, what is to be done? One thing we could do is to give the Syrians a voice so that their side can, at least be heard. But even that is denied them. They cannot get visas and, when those of them who have non-Syrian passports, manage to speak at one forum or another, Muslim Brotherhood fanatics, ISIS fellow-travellers or intellectually vacuous Westerners physically attack them just as the Brownshirts used the boot and the knuckleduster in their day. Yet we must persevere against the TV stations and newspapers which, for whatever perverse reasons of national security, wish to deny us the voice of truth only the victims of the rebels can supply.
I have no idea whether Martin Luther King Jr was right when he said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. But I do know one thing: in life, we have to pick moral sides and in many areas there is no grey. The Nazis’ atrocities cannot be batted away by the moral equivalence arguments that have held such sway in recent years. Nor can the crimes of the Syrian Contra rebels or of the countries who finance and arm them or of the media outlets which shill for them. They must be opposed and they too must be beaten so that Syria’s rivers of blood can be stemmed.