The minorities listed—fittingly—in the middle of that group (Assyrian, Maronite Christian, Greek Catholic and Orthodox) are all Christians. And their plight points up the fact that Christians are being ethnically cleansed throughout the Middle East.
If the Western democracies succeed in toppling Assad—as they seem to intend—what will be the fate of these Christians? Have any of our State Department policy makers given any thought to this question?
Will these Christians who sheltered under Assad’s shaky regime be considered collaborators in his tortures and killings when he is toppled? Past experience suggests that this is exactly what will be their fate. The Copts in Egypt survived on the edge during thirty years of Mubarak’s authoritarian rule. Today, their churches are burned and they are shot down in the flames.
The Muslim Brotherhood is rising in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and throughout the Bloody Crescent. Boko Haram has taken jihad to Africa’s richest and most populous country, Nigeria.
Will the Muslim Brotherhood come to dominate the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime, as well? They will doubtless remember the 1982 massacre of their brethren by Bashar’s father, Hafez al-Assad. In the Syrian city of Hama that year, resistance to the regime was crushed. Estimates of that horror vary from 10,000 to as high as 30,000 killed by Assad’s brutal crackdown.
Human rights defenders stress that today, unlike that 1982 atrocity, cell phones and video cameras will not permit Arab dictators to slaughter their own people with impunity. Let us hope so.
Still, the flight of doves from Damascus raises the most serious questions about U.S. foreign policy. Both Afghanistan and Iraq have constitutions with so-called repugnancy clauses. These clauses say that notwithstanding any other provision nothing shall be done by this government that is repugnant to Islam. These clauses were insisted upon by State Department advisers in those countries eager to check the box marked “constitution drafted.”
Incorporating such clauses in the constitutions of fragile states only assures the continuation of sectarian violence. Who may determine what is repugnant to Islam?
The clerics do, of course. Which ones? The clerics with more guns, doubtless.
In Kuwait, liberated in 1991 by American blood and treasure, it is now a death penalty offense to “blaspheme” against Islam. Blaspheming Islam can include saying “Jesus is Lord.”
The Obama administration once celebrated sending a U.S. Ambassador to Damascus. Now, they ask us to applaud as they withdraw the same ambassador from that war-torn city from which the doves have flown. Assad will fall, probably, but what then becomes of the Christian refugees and other minorities in that cobbled together country? Does any of this look like a foreign policy Americans can support?