Syrian Archbishop Darwish: Why did the West intervene in this conflict?

posted at 10:01 am on September 25, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Lee Stranahan is in Lebanon reporting on the plight of Syrian Christians, and interviewed Archbishop Issam Darwish of the Melkite Greek community of Zahleh e Furzol, which is part of the Catholic Church.  Archbishop Darwish spoke to Lee about the nature of the conflict in Syria, and the risk of having Islamist extremists take over what had been a reasonably tolerant country in terms of religious practice.  In this brief excerpt, Archbishop Darwish wonders aloud what the West is doing by intervening on behalf of the rebels:

Don’t forget that we can help Lee continue his reporting in the region by contributing to his fundraising efforts.

Meanwhile, the nature of the Syrian rebels became a little more clear yesterday:

Key Syrian Islamist rebel groups said late Tuesday that they do not recognise any foreign-based opposition group including the National Coalition.

“The National Coalition and the proposed government under (recently chosen) Ahmad Tomeh does not represent us, nor do we recognise it,” said 13 of Syria’s most powerful Islamist rebel groups.

The groups include members of the main rebel Free Syrian Army and more radical Islamists.

Among the signatories are Liwa al-Tawhid, the main rebel force in the northern province of Aleppo, and the jihadist Al-Nusra Front.

The radical but non-jihadist Ahrar al-Sham also signed on, as did the 19th Division, a significant but relatively new addition to the mainstream FSA.

That would be the SNC and the FSA that the US has insisted can control post-rebellion Syria and install a moderate, tolerant government in its aftermath.  What do they want in a post-Assad Syria? Three guesses:

“These forces call on all military and civilian groups to unite in a clear Islamic context that… is based on sharia (Islamic) law, making it the sole source of legislation,” they said.

Patrick Brennan puts this in perspective at The Corner:

It’s important to note that, when proponents of intervention in Syria claim extremist groups are marginal and say they represent at most, say, 30 or 35 percent of the rebels, that’s referring to al-Qaeda-linked and global-jihadist groups, which already had a testy relationship with the SNC (more skeptical observers contend it could be more like half and half).

The groups that just rejected the SNC do include those groups, but they also include much of the good half, or two-thirds, or whatever. They’ve always been Islamist, and we knew it, but the best hope was that their notional political loyalty to the SNC meant some acknowledgement of and some respect for the SNC’s democratic, secular goals, despite almost very group’s explicit belief that sharia should be the source of legislation, etc. But now they’ve rejected the group the West considered legitimate on the grounds that . . . essentially, according to their statement, the West considered it legitimate, and they want more pure adherence to sharia. …

A Syria analyst for Jane’s describes the rebellious signatories as including ”most core [Syrian National Council/Syrian Military Council] units,” and says, “The entire nature of the [Syrian] opposition may well have undergone a massive shift tonight, with very significant implications for” the Syrian National Council.

As Archbishop Darwish asks, what is the West thinking by sending weapons to the FSA under these conditions?

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The “West” is not intervening. OBAMA is intervening.

MPan on September 25, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Obama is the one intervening, not the West, it is just his huge over inflated ego. He is the one “who would not be mocked” remember?

Johnnyreb on September 25, 2013 at 10:08 AM

As Archbishop Darwish asks, what is the West thinking by sending weapons to the FSA under these conditions?

There is more to the West than a lazy stupid bastard. But the reason why we are arming Al Qaeda is because a certain rat-eared coward needed a wag-the-dog distraction from all his other failures and scandals.

Happy Nomad on September 25, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Something or another about “standing with them…”

Fallon on September 25, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Because Dog Eater needed a little shine added to his Spine of Steel.

Bishop on September 25, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Well, we know that the intervention wasn’t on behalf of Christians.

antipc on September 25, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Because Obama thought it would sound good in a speech.

HotAirian on September 25, 2013 at 10:12 AM

“We” are intervening because Obama never took calculus.

Dusty on September 25, 2013 at 10:12 AM

I’ve always rejected the notion that Obama is Muslim, primarily because he doesn’t have the discipline to follow any religion. His drug use and love affair with the Pakistani dude in college attest to that.

But he does seem to have a similar love of Muslim extremists, to the constant detriment of Christians. His antipathy towards the Catholic Church in particular, can’t be denied.

Maybe, as many of his ilk flirted with Communism without actually joining the Party, he’s a Muslim Extremist Sympathizer.

Or maybe it’s just a coincidence that EVERY foreign policy decision he makes gets Christians and Jews killed while empowering Islamists. Yeh…that’s it…coincidence.

Kenz on September 25, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Answer: Because Barrack Obama had great visions of his Muslim Brotherhood buddies taking over Syria (just like he helped them take over Egypt) to further his supporting the goal of a Islamist caliphate across the Middle East.

Obama was even in collusion with Morsi (former MB leader of Egypt) and Turkey (Erdogan, like Obama, big fans of the MB) to run weapons from Libya to Syria. #Benghazi

Obama is the only western leader supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.
Obama = #closetMuslim

albill on September 25, 2013 at 10:17 AM

What Muslim country is better off since Obama became President?

albill on September 25, 2013 at 10:18 AM

My question is this, why did Israel support striking Assad?

He’s not exactly a friend of Israel, but he’s apparently better than he jihadist rebels.

I realize it’s a bad choice for Israel (Syria supports Hezbollah in Lebanon), but he’s not suicidal.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 10:21 AM

June 26, 2013:
Obama White House Hosts Sheikh Who Called for Killing American Troops in Iraq:

Notably, bin Bayyah lobbied the administration to “take urgent action” to help the Syrian “rebels” (i.e., the factions opposing the Assad regime, which are dominated by Islamic supremacists and violent jihadists – more accurately described as the Syrian mujahideen than as “rebels”).

As Emerson and Rossamondo observe, President Obama has since announced plans to arm the Syrian opposition.

albill on September 25, 2013 at 10:23 AM

My question is this, why did Israel support striking Assad?
mankai on September 25, 2013 at 10:21 AM

To cut off Iran from its influence in the area.

albill on September 25, 2013 at 10:24 AM

My question is this, why did Israel support striking Assad?

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 10:21 AM

I’m sitting here in my Succa in Israel and all I can tell you is that during the last half years or so, the overall picture is that politicians and generals were of both opinions but their bottom line remained that it’s not Israel’s fight unless Syria makes it so.

Shy Guy on September 25, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Because being a Nobel Peace Prize winner means that you must threaten to use military force at a moment’s notice.

Bishop on September 25, 2013 at 10:32 AM

The “west” wasn’t thinking. I have no idea what Obama thought he could accomplish by running guns through Libya to the rebels in Syria, but what he is accomplishing is creating a serious danger for us and Israel. perhaps that the point.

Frankly, I don’t see the USA existing in another 10 years. If Obama is following some scheme from the people in the background, then he may not be incompetent, just a puppet. Regardless, it will destroy the US.

Quartermaster on September 25, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Shy Guy on September 25, 2013 at 10:29 AM

I realize this is written from a distance, but it would seem to me that Assad is preferable to a bunch of suicidal jihadists.

It’s a lousy choice, but the push for the USA to strike Assad caught me off-guard.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Wherever The One and his minions “intervene” in the Islamic Crescent, the endgame is always the same. A radical Islamist regime’, sharia law, and immediate declarations of hostility toward Israel and the West.

We’ve seen this before, under Carter. It’s like the old story about the Russian boyars who carried peasant children on their sleighs in winter- to throw to the wolf packs to allow them time to escape.

It might be an apocryphal story in Russia (but who knows about the boyars?), but it was absolutely Carter’s policy toward Russia and Islam.

Today, The One is following it even more aggressively than Carter. In his case, because he dreams of a mystical Renaissance in the East, and then worldwide, once the enlightened mystical East has been cleansed of the influences of the evil, materialistic West. Starting with the erasure of Israel from the map.

You are dealing with someone whose bizarre worldview is still wandering a bazaar in Indonesia as an eight-year-old boy. and is romantically convinced that he is seeing Paradise, with everyone “being equal” and “having just enough but not too much”. And with no one’s ambitions going beyond their next meal, as the Doctor once observed. (Extra credit if you can name the episode.)

Socialism and primitivism are inherently reactionary philosophies, a revolt against everything we’ve tried to pull ourselves up from in the past four millennia. When you add mysticism to the mix, the result is a philosophy that will settle for nothing less than the death of civilization.

To The One, that is not merely a dream, it is an ideal.

clear ether


eon on September 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

When Assad and Gadaffi are the less worse option you know things are very bad.

rbj on September 25, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Maybe, just maybe, the West (oh come on, name their names will you) wanted to help the worst elements of radical Islam? Just asking.

Don L on September 25, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Well, we know that the intervention wasn’t on behalf of Christians.

antipc on September 25, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Are you suggesting that maybe the decision was that of Sibelius?

Don L on September 25, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Answer: The US is NOT thinking.
Reason: Our intelligence agencies are completely bolluxed up.

1) People in the driver’s seat with no foreign policy cred. Governor of Texas? Governor of Arkansas? Community organizer, for pity’s sake? And the people they pick are no better, chosen for politics.

2) Constant rotation every 2-3 years means no one every really understands the countries they are assigned to. HUMINT is all about long-term relationships.

3) Snowden/Manning have kicked off a round of witchhunting — which means that anyone who is in any way contrarian or unpopular is weeded out as a potential leak, leaving a crowd of yes-men specifically chosen because they believe and say what the administration wants to hear.

With such people in charge, we shouldn’t be doing ANYTHING requiring any degree of subtlety in foreign countries.

This won’t stop people like Mccain from wanting to blunder in because they have an over-optimistic assessment of our competence.

pendell2 on September 25, 2013 at 11:33 AM

The time to intervene was two years ago when the uprising was clearly a popular revolt against Assad. Now after two and a half years of sectarian slaughter Assad has successfully turned it into a sectarian genocide, civil society has broken down and the animals are taking over. This is why Al Qaeda is dominant and Christians are been driven out.

This situation will not improve on its own. At some point we will have to intervene to restore order, drive out the terrorists and force a permanent cease fire. Not to do so means continuous war and instability which will spread around the region. Hezbollah and Al Qaeda will be the only winners.

Neighboring states will not tolerate this. This is the Mediterranean, not Afghanistan. At some point there will be an intervention, led by the US, there is no one else. The model here is Bosnia, the situation is exactly the same.

The problem is, the lib dems lead by Barry so effectively demonized the war in Iraq so they could win elections that even just and necessary wars are not possible any more.

breffnian on September 25, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Apparently the Archbishop is not familiar with the term “smart power”.

It is totally awesome.

tommer74 on September 25, 2013 at 11:53 AM

My question is this, why did Israel support striking Assad?
mankai on September 25, 2013 at 10:21 AM

To cut off Iran from its influence in the area.

albill on September 25, 2013 at 10:24 AM

This is a complex calculus. Assad was a stable dictator with no wish to martyr himself for izlam, yet he supported hezblahblah and allied with Iran.

With Assad out, the Iran/Syria/Russia/Hez axis is shattered, and that’s a huge accomplishment. The downside is that Syria’s military and CBW programs fall into the hands of ???.

Anyway, no one has more at stake in figuring this calculus than Israel. I certainly trust them more than the REB on this.

slickwillie2001 on September 25, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Arming al Qaeda will further the Sharia … … Arab Spring.

It’s all about Democracy … and Obama knows all about Democracy … because, uh, let me be clear, uh, al Qaeda only wants Democracy.

OhEssYouCowboys on September 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM

The stunning irony is that if Bin Laden hadn’t had the two towers and the pentagon dropped we would probably be allied with Al Qaeda to replace the existing regime in Syria with a counterweight to the Iranian puppet there. But since the murder of thousands of Americans have made AQ our irrevocable enemy, there’s nothing to do but let them kill each other.

pendell2 on September 25, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Judging by their actions, the people running America’s foreign policy don’t even like Christians.

Wherever America strikes, Christians get crushed. In Afghanistan, if a Muslim converts to Christianity he must be killed; that’s what the new American-installed constitution says. In occupied Iraq, with America pretending not to see (and it’s not only the government but the mass media that deserves blame for this), Christians got crushed. In Egypt, with the overthrow of the Mubarak regime pointing to bad times for Coptic Christians, the American government was all for it. Now America is the logistics sugar daddy for anti-Christian terrorists in Syria.

I’ve had it. I used to support American foreign policy, but now I don’t. Not at all.

I hope America stays safe, and all Western countries stay safe. But the main requirement for that is not more war-making with a covert anti-Christian agenda. It’s: turn off the mass immigration!

Without immigration, there wouldn’t be nearly as much Muslims could do to harm, intimidate and subvert us. With mass immigration, even if they didn’t resort to jihad the Muslims would still win, just on demographics.

As things are going, we’re going to wind up like Lebanese Christians, crushed by surging Muslim demographics and by the ice-cold hearts of the rulers of Western powers.

David Blue on September 25, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Obama is just doing his best to make sure that “the future does not belong to those who slander the Prophet”.

Antivenin on September 25, 2013 at 2:19 PM

The “West” is not intervening. OBAMA is intervening.

MPan on September 25, 2013 at 10:05 AM


And Obama always balances sending not just military grade, but actual military weapons, to those who hate us and want us dead with efforts to prevent American citizens from even owning military looking weapons they bought with their own earnings. How about Obama send all actual American patriots, after a background check and everything even, one of those rifles and a few thousand rounds of that ammo instead of sending it to terrorists.

deepdiver on September 25, 2013 at 2:22 PM

I am eagerly awaiting Ed’s call for the U.S. to stop being allies with all Islamists in the middle east and Asia to include Saudi Arabia and Turkey among others. If the U.S can be allied with Stalin in order to defeat Hitler heaven forbid that the U.S. would be allied with Islamists who would be willing to end Syria’s state sponsorship of terrorism.

The U.S. will always be at risk for being attacked by terrorists as long as state sponsors of terrorism such as Syria and Iran don’t have to pay a price. Meanwhile the U.S. spends hundreds of billions every year to defend the country against terrorist attack. Wouldn’t it be cheaper in the long run to destroy the state sponsors of terrorism?

philrat on September 25, 2013 at 6:50 PM