TIME Magazine’s article, “Christians and Tyrants: Why the Middle East’s Persecuted Minority is Making Unholy Choices,” is an attempt to explain to impressionable Western audiences why Christians (and other minorities) have stalwartly backed both the military-led government in Egypt and the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria for now over 3 years.
TIME implies in title alone, that they’ve erred or compromised themselves by doing so. But as we will soon see, nothing could be further from the truth, and the support these minorities exhibit for their respective protectors now is a result of protection offered to them by secular leaders against foreign-backed sectarian extremists for decades.
TIME’s Tall Tale
TIME begins by describing the overrunning of the Syrian town of Raqqa. It claims that the Islamic State of Iaq and Greater Syria (ISIS aka Al Qaeda in Iraq ‘AQI,’ a US designated terrorist organization) overpowered “more moderate rebel brigades,” and subsequently subjected Christians to persecution under their rule.
Some 3,000 Christians fled, leaving only small number behind to be beheaded, flogged, and otherwise abused, tortured, and systematically exterminated. TIME claims Al Qaeda has even disavowed ISIS for its extreme violence, perhaps hoping readers don’t realize ISIS is in fact Al Qaeda, and that Al Qaeda’s other brands in Syria, including the al-Nusra front, is similarly abusing other minorities across Syria, including most recently in Kessab in the north, with NATO backing.
TIME then goes on to expand its deceptive narrative to include Christians across the Middle East, admitting that under Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, despite “nightmarish human-rights abuses” they “tended to protect Christian minorities and kept much of the region relatively stable.” The deception here is obvious. The so-called “human rights abuses” TIME refers to was in fact the long struggle Iraq, Egypt, and many other nations across the Middle East and North Africa fought against sectarian extremists, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood and the proto-Al Qaeda militant groups it spawned.
TIME claims that while most Christians have fled in the wake of Western meddling and the resulting chaos, those that have remained are “supporting authoritarian regimes in exchange for protection.”
In regards to this TIME claims, “…the Coptic Pope has tactically supported military dictatorship for decades and recently backed the leader of last year’s coup, former field marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, for May’s presidential election. In Syria church leaders have tolerated 40 years of Assad family rule for fear of an Islamist alternative. Such self-preservation puts Christian leaders in the camp of strongmen who frequently use violence against their own people. In backing these authoritarian regimes, those leaders and their supporters have failed to help their countries develop into states where justice, the rule of law and tolerance are applied evenly, not just to the ruling sect and its allies.”
Deconstructing the West’s Assault on Christians and other Minorities
“Strongmen who frequently use violence against their own people…” TIME claims.
Which people? Surely not the Alawites, Christians, Armenians, Druze, Coptics, Jews, or secular communities. So who? And why?
TIME never says, but the answer is painfully clear. These “strongmen” are using violence against sectarian extremists, heavily armed, well funded, and backed by the enemies of the states’ over which these “strongmen” rule. TIME’s obtuse narrative represents a larger pattern of deceit executed across the entirety of the West’s political landscape. They create violent opposition groups to infiltrate and destabilize nations they seek regime-change within, then spin the predictable and inevitable security operations launched to confront them as “violence used against their own people.” Such tactics were used in Libya, Syria, and now being spun end-over-end in Ukraine.
TIME, through quoting an “anonymous Christian” who left his sect because of its “support for Assad,” claims that, “if Syrian’s Christians had sided with the revolution in the fist place, standing , like Jesus, in solidarity with all those oppressed by the regime I don’t think we would be in this situation today.”
This is, however, factually absurd. It was decided, long before the “revolution” began, that sectarian extremists would be the armed “fist” leading regime-change engineered not by the Syrian people, but by the enemies of the Syrian state, namely the United States, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Israel. This was revealed by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh in a prophetic and quite lengthy 2007 report titled, “The Redirection” published by the New Yorker.
That TIME even admits in their most recent article that “the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria,” “seized Raqqa in May 2013 from more moderate rebel brigades,” tells readers that despite the United States and its allies funding and arming these “more moderate rebel brigades” with billions of dollars over the last three years, somehow ISIS is being paid and armed even better by “someone else.” Who is that, if the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and many others are busy funding and arming “moderates?”
The answer exposes both the lies of TIME Magazine and the larger lies regarding the narrative and agenda TIME is contributing toward.
The truth is that the US and its allies intentionally armed and funded sectarian extremists both within Syria and abroad, to invade, destabilize, and eventually destroy it in terms of a modern, functioning nation-state, and eventually build on the ashes of whatever was left. They did this with full knowledge that sectarian-fueled genocide would unfold.
In Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, “The Redirection,” this was alluded to. It stated, “Robert Baer, a former longtime C.I.A. agent in Lebanon, has been a severe critic of Hezbollah and has warned of its links to Iranian-sponsored terrorism. But now, he told me, “we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites.”
The same threat to Christians in Lebanon is now faced by Christians in Syria, even after many attempts over the past 3 years by the Western media to claim otherwise. And just like “Nasarallah and the Shiittes” in Lebanon would be charged with the protection of Christians and other minorities in Lebanon, President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and the military-led government in Egypt will be charged with their protection in their respective countries from Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.
While TIME and other outlets both political and journalistic across the West attempt to portray this as some sort of “unholy” alliance, the reality is that the groups backed, funded and armed by the West are intolerant, savage, murderous, and utterly uncompromising toward any who oppose them politically, militarily, culturally and ideologically, while those the West seeks to supplant have long since chosen tolerance, co-existence, and now in the face of adversity, cooperation.
To suggest that the Christians and other minorities in Syria have chosen poorly and at the expense of having their countries “develop into states where justice, the rule of law and tolerance are applied evenly, not just to the ruling sect and its allies,” fails to recognize the reality that these countries already exercise tolerance for virtually everyone within the state accept those attempting to violently subvert it and eradicate any climate of tolerance or co-existence.
There is no clash of civilizations. It is not a battle between Christians and Muslims. It is a clash between those of tolerance who have long lived in co-existence, and those who seek to overrun such nations through the use of sectarian extremists as an nearly inexhaustible mercenary army. Pieces like TIME Magazine’s “Christians and Tyrants” is a whitewash for what is a premeditated campaign of sectarian genocide carried out by a West who, ironically, often poses as the preeminent champion for human rights, tolerance, and peace.
While this may not be a “War on Christianity” for the sake of specifically targeting and eradicating it and the other minorities that it has co-existed with for centuries in the Middle East, it is a War on Christianity nonetheless. Understanding that and exposing that truth in the darkness articles like TIME’s “Christians and Tyrants” cast, is the first step toward ending this war.
Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”