Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

This is opportunism! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

The Reuters news agency has reported disturbing comments attributed to the Patriarch of the Maronite sect in Lebanon, Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, concerning the situation in Syria and the Christians in the region.

Al-Rahi was quoted saying: “How can it be an Arab Spring when people are being killed every day? They speak of Iraq and democracy, and one million Christians out of an original 1.5 million have fled Iraq.” This is strange talk, for who caused the Christians to leave Iraq? Al-Qaeda? If so, then al-Qaeda ran wild in Iraq with the support of the al-Assad regime and Iran – the sponsors of Hezbollah, al-Rahi’s neighbors. Perhaps al-Rahi is not aware that Osama bin Laden’s sons were based in Iran, along with Saif al-Adel and others! Is it not strange that the Christians of Iraq were better off in the era of Saddam Hussein rather than their situation today, under the pro-Iran al-Maliki government?

Yet the oddities of the Maronite Patriach’s words did not end here. He said that “Syria, like other countries, needs reforms which the people are demanding. It’s true that the Syrian Baath regime is an extreme and dictatorial regime but there are many others like it in the Arab world”! He added that “All regimes in the Arab world have Islam as a state religion, except for Syria. It stands out for not saying it is an Islamic state … The closest thing to democracy (in the Arab world) is Syria”! Such talk is provocative and in no one’s interest at all. Furthermore, what are the other extreme and dictatorial regimes in the Arab world that he is referring to? Does he mean Muammar Gaddafi? Where is Gaddafi now? He received his dues and is now subject to God’s judgment. Does he mean Saddam Hussein? Where is he now? Does he mean Ali Abdullah Saleh? Likewise, where is he now? Does he mean Hosni Mubarak or Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali? They have done nothing in comparison to Bashar al-Assad! If, according to the Maronite Patriach, democracy consists of merely removing the phrase “Islam is the state religion”, then this is a disaster. This means that the Patriarch does not care about the blood of the Syrians, and supports the tyrant of Damascus only because he does not say that the state religion is Islam. Even the Syrian opposition have become wary of al-Rahi, because they rejected the principle of limiting the presidency to Muslims, as stipulated by the farcical constitution put forth by al-Assad, a man who al-Rahi considers to be a supporter of reform!

Consequently, al-Rahi has committed an act of opportunism and a fatal error, tantamount to those committed in Iraq following fall of Saddam, when the variables there were not taken into account and the political process was curtailed. This is what al-Rahi is doing now, along with some of the Christians who roam the corridors of power in Washington, defending al-Assad under the pretext of protecting minorities! It is a fatal error because the Patriarch considered what previously happened in the region to be the “Arab Spring”, but when the Syrians revolted the situation turned to “winter”. This is the same stance adopted by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Hezbollah, and the al-Maliki regime, and it contradicts al-Rahi’s own words when he talks about what has happened to the Christians in Iraq, who themselves have been the victims of Iran and al-Assad! The question for al-Rahi is: Who has assassinated key Christian figures in Lebanon since 2005, was this the work of al-Qaeda too?

How said it is when a religious leader, of any religion, does not care about the lives of innocent people!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

More Posts