For the last three months, almost twenty thousand innocent Syrians, mostly civilians, have been murdered by the Russian aggression. What makes the picture uglier is that both results on the ground and the U.S. satellites' images proved that ISIS has never been the prime or even a secondary target for the Russians. The main objective has been saving an allied murderous regime of Assad from losing the war that it started against the majority of Syrians aspiring for freedom and democracy.
As grave and heinous as it is, the focal argument of this article is not about the atrocities committed by Moscow as much as it is about the latent, subtle and protracted consequences of the statement of Russia's Orthodox Church at the opening of their military campaign back in late September.
Under the allegation of fighting ISIS and in support of its country's ongoing military operations against moderate Syrian Islamic and secular armed opposition, Russia's powerful Orthodox Church, called the aggression a "holy battle". "The fight with terrorism is a holy battle and today our country is perhaps the most active force in the world fighting it," said the head of the Church's public affairs department, Vsevolod Chaplin, quoted by Interfax news agency."
As Muslims, we have been always been accused of dressing up our wars with religion, yet such accusations haven't corroborated with reality for decades. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Muslim world has been keen to strip the religious dress off their conflicts with others; it was the beginning of the rise of Arab Nationalism mixed with Socialism when there was no place for religion in that equation. Some may wonder how and why that change happened. The majority in the West and even in the Arab world were never aware that Arab Nationalism had never been, surprisingly, an Arab invention. Rather, it was an invention by the West, by both Great Britain and France par excellence. Reading the great memoirs of the likes of Thomas Laurence (A.K.A. Laurence of Arabia) and John Philby (A.K.A. Sheik Abdulla Philby), the master spies planted by the British Secret Service MI6 in the Middle East in the beginning of the 20th century, you will find that they were the ones who preached Arab Nationalism, a notion that was fiercely opposed by most Arabs who favored their Islamic identity. Needless to say, when the British and French created the notion of Arab Nationalism and promoted it, they were aiming at eliminating the bond that kept the Ottoman Caliphate State, which stretched from Eastern Europe to the whole of the Islamic world, intact. In the course of doing so, both the British and the French chose the Christian minority in Syria and Lebanon to herald in that new identity; a perfect choice in light of the hatred those Christians harbored for the Ottoman State. Consequently, all conflicts that the Arabs engaged in since the beginning of the 20th century had been secularly idolized.
Eventually, Arab Nationalism, after having served its purpose by dismantling the Ottoman State, turned out to be a Frankenstein in the eyes of its creators, the West. Ironically, during the time when the Arabs were secularly and nationally idolizing their conflicts, they could see what came across to them as signs of religious idolizing to conflicts by the West.
Memoirs of a War, tell it all!
The early signs of the West idolizing their conflicts as religious happened at the end of the World War I. Although the war was 100 percent European and took place in Europe, protestant British Prime Minister Lloyd George insisted on choreographing a final scene to end the war in the Middle East, and more specifically in Jerusalem, Palestine. So, the world had to wait for four months in order for the allies led by Great Britain to make the declaration of the end of the war in spite of the fact that the Axis countries led by Germany had already surrendered. The question is: why wait so long for the awaited declaration? The answer is: Britain wanted to prepare another basis from which the declaration had to come out.
In his Memoirs of War, Lloyd George says that the Old Testament and all its narrative about places in Levant that still bore their old testimonial names, always fascinated him and that he always dreamt of reliving the Crusades. Believing that the closing scene is the one that remains in the memory of the Public, he decided that the final scene of the war should be away from its theater: Europe. Against that religious imperialistic backdrop, the decision was made to initiate a military campaign against Palestine, to set the final scene of a war that was never fought in Middle East.
A prominent Historian like René Groused (1885-1952) described Britain's insistence on putting that final scene on a non combat theater of Palestine as a re-run and a remake of the Crusades that went as far as describing the troops of General Allenby, commander of the allied army invading Palestine, marching into the Jerusalem as grandchildren of King Richard the Lion heart who led the third crusade against the same city. However, in my estimation, the reasons for Britain's insistence to shift the end of a war fought by Europeans on European soil, to Arab soil were:
1.Britain assumed that final scene is what will rest in the collective mind of the Europeans. Consequently, declaring the end of the European war from Palestine should enhance the notion that if there was to be any conflict in the future, it should not be Christian European versus Christian European.
2.Enhancing the notion of redirecting the conflict to be Christian European versus Arab-Muslim, which was a remake of the "Truce of God", introduced by the Roman Church at the end of the first Millennium and the beginning of the second. "Truce of God" meant immediate stoppage of European wars among each other by moving their wars to the Middle East. Of course, Nazi Germany broke that rule in World War II but that was just an exception to the rule already set.
3.Delivering a clear message: Military imperial projects, like the crusades, may break but they never die.
4.Another message delivered was: if another conflict was to happen in Europe, it should not be Christian versus Christian. Rather, Christian versus Muslims, to flush out the Muslims from Europe especially if they become an entity. In that context, the war in Bosnia from 1992-1995 was an example of a failed attempt in that direction.
Now, going back to his Holiness Pope of Russian Orthodox Church and his blessings he sprinkled on his country's war in Syria, to ask some questions:
(A) Since 2011, the majority of Syrians have been demonstrating against more than 40 years of an absolute ferocious tyranny of the Assad family. During the first two years, Assad and his army, not even the police, had been murdering innocent peaceful demonstrators until they had to militarize to defend their lives. Now when the Pope of the Russia endorses what President Putin said that Moscow intervened on the behest of the "Legitimate" government of Syria to fight terrorism, would that mean ISIS and/or the legitimate opposition that was forced by Assad crimes to militarize to defend itself?
(B) When the Russian Pope describes the battle as "HOLY", does he mean defending the tyrant murderer is part of the Christian faith? See here.
(C) Didn't it occur to the Pope that crossing the floor to the forbidden terrain of politics and the war in Syria, will re-invoke all the horrible memories of the Crusades in Middle East?
(D) Does the Pope really know the potential consequences of such statement on more radicalization of conflicts in Middle East?
Having asked these questions to the Russian Pope, a question remains to the West. After replacing Arab Nationalism with the Islamic bond that held both Arab and Muslim worlds in one chain, then deconstructing Arab Nationalism, what do you expect Arabs would do? They would return to the Islamic bond. Yet, you blame them for what you pushed them to do. Well, Nations identities could be toyed with once, or twice, but definitely not forever.
This article was published on WWW.yehiaghanem.com