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Syria: Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem calls for caution!

Mgr-Twal-Je-demande-a-la-France-d-avoir-un-role-plus-politique_article_main-300x206 (1)SYRIA – A strike against the Syrian regime, accused of having used chemical weapons in its war against the rebels, is almost certain.  This Western military intervention will be led by the United States, United Kingdom and France.  Damascus pledged to defend themselves. Russian and Iranian allies of the regime of Bashar al-Assad also warned against the danger of a destabilization of the entire region in the case of a foreign attack on Syria. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem appeals for caution for the sake of stability of the entire region.

While the Patriarch points out that the tone tends more and more toward the prospect of Western intervention in Syria, he raises his “prayer to the Holy Spirit to enlighten the hearts of those who have in their hands the fate of the people.”  Addressing these leaders, he reminds them, “not to forget the human element in their decisions.”  Noting that “Israelis are flocking to gas mask distribution centers while Middle East residents are beginning to amass food and supplies,” the Patriarch seriously wonders about the risks of an escalation of violence in the region:

  • “Why declare war when UN experts have not yet delivered the definitive findings on the chemical nature of the attack and the formal identity of its agents?  We witness here a logic reminiscent of the Iraq war preparation in 2003. Do not repeat the ‘comedy’ of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, when there were none.”  Today the country is still in a very critical situation.”
  • “How do you decide to attack a nation, a country?  By what authority?  While the U.S. president has the power to launch air strikes alone against Syria (Editor’s note: while informing Congress), but what about the Arab League and the UN Security Council?  Our friends in the West and the United States have not been attacked by Syria.  With what legitimacy do they dare attack a country?  Who appointed them as ‘policemen of democracy’ in the Middle East? ”
  • “ Has anyone seriously thought about the consequences of such a war for Syria and its neighboring countries?   Is there a need to increase the number of deaths, now over 100,000? It is necessary to listen to all those living in Syria, who cry out their pain and suffering that has lasted for two and a half years.  Has anyone thought of the mothers, children and innocent people?  And countries that will attack Syria, have they taken into consideration that their citizens, embassies and consulates throughout the world may be the target of attacks and bombings in retaliation? ”
  • “More broadly, have we measured the consequences for the Middle East region?  According to observers, the attacks should be specifically targeted and concentrated on a few strategic sites in order to prevent further use of chemical weapons.  We know from experience that a targeted attack will have collateral consequences – in particular, strong reactions that could ignite the region.”

For all these reasons and questions, Patriarch Twal calls for caution, hoping for “peace and security throughout this region of the world, which has already suffered too much.”  He added, “As Christians of the Holy Land, we remember in our prayers, the Syrians, as we see their suffering since they came to take refuge in our Diocese in Jordan.  The conflict has already resulted in the influx of more than 500,000 Syrian refugees in the Hashemite Kingdom.

Christophe Lafontaine