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.