Our allies among the Syrian rebels have issued a memorandum to the State Department on strategies for the day after Assad falls. David Ignatius reports in his column today that the Free Syrian Army (SFA) has outlined a "Damascus plan" for "handling the power vacuum in case of a sudden Assad collapse." This plan is grossly flawed.
Not the least problem, as Ignatius points out, is that the plan relies on the United States - presumably using American troops - to take out not just Assad's stockpiles of chemical weapons but also the command and control for them. President Obama and his chief congressional supporters have ruled out American boots on the ground in Syria. Right? (See Andrew McCarthy's important observation regarding this pledge.)
Another crucial point in the rebels' strategic memorandum involves revenge killings. This is a major concern, as the Syrian conflict is at its core a civil war within Islam. The regime identifies with the minority Alawite sect that is allied with Hezbollah militias supported by Shiite theocratic Iran, while the rebels, largely Sunnis, are bolstered by al-Qaeda terrorists and other Sunni jihadist fighters and supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Sunni regimes. Christians, who account for 10 percent (or more, when Iraqi refugees are counted) of the population and who have not taken up arms in this conflict are viewed by the two sides as aligned with the regime. They are the most vulnerable, since they have no militias or army to protect them. more >>
An Al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebel group has attacked the small, historically Christian village of Maaloula on Wednesday.
Early Wednesday morning, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a government checkpoint entrance to the village. The fighter was believed to be a member of the Jabhat al-Nusra group, said Rami Abdul-Rahman, the director of the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights.
After the blast, Syrian rebels fought government forces, seizing the checkpoint and taking over a mountain top hotel. From there, they fired shells into the village below, damaging Christian churches with their blasts. The temple of the Holy Prophet Elijah was also damaged in a related fire. more >>
A two day conference addressing the current instability of the Middle East's Christians population has concluded in Amman, Jordan Wednesday. Jordan's King Abdullah and the King's Chief Advisor for Religious and Cultural Affairs, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, convened the event in response to the intense wave of violence that Christians, especially those in Syria and Egypt, have faced in recent months.
"[The Royal Family of Jordan] wants to gather opinions and information because they want to offer a concrete contribution to the solution of the problems regarding the plight of so many indigenous Christian communities in the Middle East," Archbishop Maroun Laham told Fides Agency.
The conference's two hosts and keynote speakers addressed how Christians are being increasingly marginalized, and how they have been left vulnerable since the Arab Spring. They also discussed the urgent need for Christians to be legitimately accepted by the rest of the Arab world. more >>
Five individuals have been executed by Islamists after declaring themselves followers of Jesus Christ outside of the Nigerian city of Jos last week.
The shocking incident saw Islamists stop a minibus and order its occupants to get out. After finding out five individuals were Christians, they were forced to lie down in a ditch, where they were then shot dead. Victims Pam Gyang, Felix John, Jimmy Tiger, Ishaku Gyang, and Dachung Monday, were all members of a Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) congregation in the nearby town of Foron, according to BosNewsLife.
Another man, Emmanuel Sunday, was caught up in the violence when gunmen also stopped him driving by on his motorbike and demanded to know if he was a Christian. more >>
Police officers in Germany raided the home Thursday of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich and forcibly took their four children, ages 7 to 14, because they homeschool.
"I looked through a window and saw many people, police, and special agents, all armed. They told me they wanted to come in to speak with me. I tried to ask questions, but within seconds, three police officers brought a battering ram and were about to break the door in, so I opened it," Dirk Wunderlich told the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been working to help the Wunderlichs.
"The police shoved me into a chair and wouldn't let me even make a phone call at first," he said. "It was chaotic as they told me they had an order to take the children. At my slightest movement the agents would grab me, as if I were a terrorist. You would never expect anything like this to happen in our calm, peaceful village. It was like a scene out of a science fiction movie. Our neighbors and children have been traumatized by this invasion." more >>
The British parliament has voted against joining any military intervention in Syria in a narrow 285-272 vote on Thursday night.
The move will be a blow to President Barack Obama, as Britain was seen as the closest ally to the United States in any potential move for military action in Syria.
However, despite the clear set back, the Obama administration has indicated that the U.S. would still be willing to take action against Syria on its own, even without an international coalition. more >>