The so called Arab Spring, praised in the United States and the EU, proved to be a disaster for the Christians in Egypt, who became victims of several terrorist acts during the last year. It looks more and more like a disaster for the Christians in Syria too, where the Western-supported rebel forces are increasingly showing anti-Christian trends, acting according to their infamous unofficial slogan “Christians to Lebanon, Alawites – to graves.” The Pope, however, has been remarkably reserved in his support for his co-believers in Syria and Lebanon, being obviously afraid to go against the pro-rebel Western mainstream.
After his arrival to Lebanon today, the Pope limited himself to calling for a stop of arms sales to Syria, without being specific whether he meant just the Syrian government or the rebel forces too. “Without arms’ imports, the war cannot continue,” the Pope said.
The problem is that the Western governments also call for cessation of arms sales to Syria, but under the word “Syria” they mean the state, not the country. CIA and other American government agencies make no secret out of their military aid to the rebel forces, and the Turkish government does not shy away from openly supplying the rebels with deadly portable anti-aircraft missile-launchers. Once these arms find their way to the hands of Al-Qaeda’s fighters (and the Western press recently finally lifted the taboo on reporting these fighters’ presence in the rebel ranks), they can be used against civilian and military planes of al-Qaeda’s enemies – i.e. all the countries of the civilized world.
Unlike the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who was unequivocal in his support for Syria’s Christians during his visit in November 2011 to Damascus, the Pope remains very elusive in his statements. In Lebanon also, he tried to cater to both the pro-Assad and pro-rebel audiences, which divide this small country almost evenly by half.
“All the people of the Arab countries and elsewhere have the right to demand reforms, and we are with them,” the Pope said upon his arrival. “Christians and Moslems should unite themselves to bring about a foundation for a real Arab Spring.”
Despite the fact that talk about “reforms” is a little out of place in Lebanon where dozens of people have already been killed in conflicts connected to the crisis in neighboring Syria, and that such talk would be out of place 100 percent in Syria, a country in raptures because of terrorist violence, this phrase indicates the Pope’s tacit opposition to the mainstream Western thinking on the Middle East. Obviously, if the Pope dreams about some “real” Arab Spring, the current epic mess, so much praised in the Western media, is not the “real” Arab Spring. And from here, one needs to make just one step to the ultimate “sin” in the eyes of the existing Western “liberal gendarmerie” (an expression from the Russian nineteenth century magazine lexicon denoting intolerant supporters of “progress at all costs”) – namely, calling for a stop to outside intervention in Syria. This is exactly what a journalist from the French daily Le Figaro was getting at when he grilled with questions the Pope’s “second in command” in the Roman Catholic church, cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, one day before the Pope’s visit.
“The attitude of the Catholic church towards the regime in Damascus has often been viewed as too irresolute,” the journalist said. “What does the Holy See think about the Syrian conflict now?”
“From the beginning of the crisis, the Pope made every effort to condemn the violence and the loss of life. With the same vigor, Benedict XVI supported the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people,” Bertone responds, toeing the Western line. But then he makes an important addition which looks much closer to the Russian position than to the “pro-revolutionary” position of the US and the EU: “The Pope several times called on both sides to reject violence and to engage each other in a dialogue, resolving through reconciliation the difficult questions for the good of the country and of the whole region.”
One can point out here that the Russian side called for a “dialogue” and “reconciliation” from the very beginning of the conflict, so these are the words from the Russian vocabulary. The Western powers preferred expressions like “immediate resignation of Assad,” “exerting pressure” and “decisive blow,” discussing not the ways towards reconciliation, but towards more effective arming and financing the Syrian rebels.
There is no wonder that in this situation the Christian communities of Syria and Lebanon do not believe their “brethren” in the EU and the US. A supporter of Lebanese president Michel Suleiman, the only Christian president of an Arab country, said recently in an interview to Le Figaro that the West was “out of its mind” to “destroy one of the few remaining secular regimes in the Arab world” – Syria.
0The tragic plight of Christians in Western-“liberated” Iraq speaks for itself: even according to the America’s own State Department’s report on religious freedom around the world, out of 1.4 million Christians who had lived in Iraq before the US invasion in 2003, only about 500,000 remain. The Christian communities in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt are also shrinking – not without some “help” from the US foreign policy. In this situation, it is time for the Pope to take sides – not between communities, but between good and evil.