Syrian Church Leader: Christians Have No Support, West Has Betrayed Us
A Syrian Catholic Church leader recently condemned both U.S. foreign policy and Western media for ignoring Christian persecution and worsening the conflict in Iraq and Syria.
"Innocent people, especially Christians, have no support. The West has betrayed us," Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan told Egyptian Catholic magazine Le Messager last week.
"Western democracies have conspired against Syria and produced the destruction of the nation's infrastructure, the demolition of houses, towns, villages, monuments and archaeological sites," he added.
"This is the result of a foolish politics and of a conspiracy, under the pretext of bringing democracy to the region."
Younan said that Christians are being targeted and are unable to live "in this chaos that produces militias, armed gangs, terrorist groups and Islamic parties."
The U.S. and a broad team of international allies have been carrying out air strike operations across Iraq and Syria in a bid to contain the rise of the Islamic State terror group. Anti-terror operations in the region have been ongoing since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 that brought the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein.
Younan insisted, however, that Western leaders ignored complexities in the region.
"All Eastern patriarchs, myself included, have spoken out clearly to the West from the very beginning: Be careful, the situation in Syria is not like that of Egypt, Tunisia or Libya," the church leader said. "It's much more complex, and conflict here will create only chaos and civil war."
The civil war in Syria has stretched for over four years, being fought between the government of President Bashar Al-Assad, the Islamic State, and various other rebel groups opposed to both IS (also known as ISIS and ISIL) and Assad.
There have been great divisions among Western leaders as to who to back in the civil war – while American President Barack Obama has called for Assad to be removed from power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has continued to be a strong ally of Assad.
Younan further warned that Syrian Christians are now "trapped in a terrible situation" between "criminal gangs called ISIS and other terrorist groups who use Islam as an excuse to 'purify' areas under their control in the name of religion, and Muslims scholars who tell us that Islam is alien to these facts."
Christians have been heavily targeted by IS and other terror groups, with entire Christian cities being captured, or currently under siege, such as the town of Sadad.
Younan has been outspoken in his criticism of Western policies in the past, and has warned that the refugee crisis in Iraq and Syria has reached "biblical proportions."
"We are begging the West to stand for the rights of all citizens in Iraq and Syria," he said back in October.
"The situation is very devastating and tragic. For Iraq, this has been happening for two generations. For Syria, the war has been taking place for the last three years, with no hope on the horizon for Christians in the area."
Some Western Christian leaders, such as evangelist the Rev. Franklin Graham, have also condemned world leaders for being largely silent on the genocide and various horrific human rights abuses being carried out specifically against Christians and other religious minorities.
"It is genocide — and the world seems largely silent about it. Genocide perpetrated by the Islamic State against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities of Syria and Iraq. And their methods are unimaginably cruel and heinous," Graham has said.