Unintended consequences. This is one of the great dangers of the ever-increasing, never-ceasing political activities of utopian do-gooders. Statists from across the political spectrum never seem to consider the secondary effects that emanate from their primary, stated objectives. This often has the result of taking a bad situation and making it worse. Case in point: the campaign to democratize the Middle East by overthrowing it’s dictators.
During the past decade the United States has had a strong hand in overthrowing the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, and Muammar Gaddafi. The Obama Administration is now attempting to do the same with Bashar Assad in Syria. To one degree or another, Islamic extremists have actually gained strength in each of the nations represented. Even in Iraq where Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations suffered significant defeats, jihadist groups are resurgent with “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” recently joining forces with Syria’s “Jabhat-al-Nusra” to form the “Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria.”
The West’s efforts to make the Middle East safe for democracy has had the net effect of making these nations more dangerous for our brothers and sisters in Christ. The sad reality is that the same brutal power and influence these “strongmen” used to restrict freedoms and amass wealth for themselves also included the ability to keep jihadist organizations in check. Now that these dictators have been removed, Islamist persecution of Christians has increased exponentially.
As I have commented upon before in this space, Islamists are currently engaged in a “religious cleansing” of Christians in Syria. Jabhat-al-Nusra, mentioned above, has been designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department and yet al-Nusra is one of several factions enjoying American support under the umbrella designation of “the rebels in Syria.” In fact, the AP reported last week that “an al-Nusra fighter blew himself up at a regime checkpoint at the entrance to the mountain village.” This village is the “ancient Christian village” of Maaloula which is presently a war zone. According to a nun in the village, the convent has become a place of refuge for 100 residents in need of shelter. Meanwhile, the convent’s 27 orphans were whisked away to enjoy the relative safety of nearby caves.
In an attempt to assuage the concerns of Americans who are deeply troubled at the prospect of allying ourselves with these “rebels,” Secretary of State John Kerry announced that only “maybe 15-25% might be, in one group or another, who are what we would deem to be bad guys.” Our allies in the region are attempting to funnel support to the “moderate” rebels, Kerry explained. Forgive us, Mr. Secretary, is these numbers do very little to lessen the revulsion felt over the notion of working hand-in-hand with these rebels in the form of cash, weaponry, missile strikes, and, more than likely, eventual “boots on the ground.” Secretary Kerry’s view is by no means the majority view as other intelligence experts indicate that it is the extremist elements that are beginning to outnumber and have greater influence than the so-called moderate ones.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of “Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians,” translates Arabic-language news sources in order to provide a fuller context to happenings in the Middle East. Reporting on the Maaloula attack, Ibrahim writes, “Arabic news agency Al Hadath gives more information concerning this latest terror attack on Syria’s Christians, specifically how the al-Qaeda linked rebels ‘terrorized the Christians, threatening to be avenged on them after the triumph of the revolution.'” Ibrahim continues, “Thus al-Qaeda terrorists eagerly await U.S. assistance against the Syrian government, so they can subjugate if not slaughter Syria’s Christians, secularists, and non-Muslims – even as the Obama administration tries to justify war on Syria by absurdly evoking ‘human rights’ of Syrians on the one hand, and lying about al-Qaeda’s presence in Syria on the other.”
Such a scenario is easily anticipated in light of the on-going brutalization of Christians at the hands of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islamists in Egypt. The persecution of Egyptian Christians continues to be one of the primary examples of the unintended consequences of “regime change” throughout the Middle East. We have every indication to believe that the situation would become even worse for Christians in Syria if “the rebels” are successful in overthrowing Assad.
Is this really the future we want to help create for the Christians of Syria? It’s not too late for our elected officials in Congress to hear from us before we commit ourselves to another war in the Middle East, a war that will certainly have devastating unintended consequences for our brothers and sisters in Christ. As always, “continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3 NIV).