Posted by Kendall Harmon

The destruction of the weapons would be one of the few positive developments in three years of war that has left tens of thousands of Syrians dead and forced millions from their homes. And it would allow the Obama administration to claim a success in its response to the use of chemical weapons in suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital, last August.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 23, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I feel as if I’m dead,” said Khalil al-Hariri, an archaeologist and the director of the Palmyra Museum, near the ruins. He spends his time waiting for government permission to resume his early-morning explorations, and worrying about the plundering, which he says is “destroying culture, destroying civilization.”

Officials at Unesco, the United Nations agency that works to protect historic places, have classified as endangered all six of Syria’s World Heritage sites, including Palmyra. But conflict keeps them from assessing the damage in person. In recent weeks, as the government consolidated control of the desert highway to Tadmur from the city of Homs, it allowed journalists to visit, among the first outsiders to arrive since armed revolt spread to the region in late 2011.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Concern is being expressed for the people of Kessab, an ancient Armenian christian village in Syria. Reports in recent days have claimed that Islamist rebels captured Kassab from government forces, causing residents to leave. Today's Zubeida Malik has been talking to one of the residents of Kessab, an Armenian christian who we are calling ''Panos''.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Father Frans van der Lugt, a Dutch Jesuit priest who became a symbol of suffering and compassion in the war-ravaged Old City district of Homs, was shot to death Monday morning by a lone gunman, according to members of his order. The killing came amid growing disputes between Syrian insurgents blockaded in the Old City — those who want to accept an amnesty from the government in exchange for laying down their arms, and those who do not.

After Syrian government forces isolated and laid siege to the rebel-held Old City for more than a year, a truce in January allowed the evacuation of 1,500 people, both civilians and fighters. But Father Frans, as he was known, insisted on remaining in the monastery where he had lived for decades, offering refuge to Muslim and Christian families alike and sharing their deprivation and trauma.

The killer’s identity and motives were not known, but the attack carried a heavy symbolic importance. Though he was European, Father Frans, 72, had come to be considered part of Syrian society and was well known in and around Homs, including among local insurgents in the Old City.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 7, 2014 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The National Council of Churches (NCC) has sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern about the plight of Christian communities in Syria, especially the depopulation of the Armenian community of Kessab, stating: “While Syrians of all religious communities are caught up in this horrible conflict, of particular concern to us are the Christian communities, which are often the most vulnerable.”

“One situation that has just come to our attention is the attack on the Armenian villages of Kessab. Though this attack comes in the wider context of the overall Syrian conflict, it nevertheless has brought death and destruction to the Christian communities there,” the NCC letter reads in part. The letter specifically urges the President to “safeguard the vulnerable Christian communities” and to “restore stability to the Armenian communities of Kessab.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2014 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Justin said: “We thank God for the extraordinary life and witness of His Holiness and pray for the Syrian Orthodox Church at this time of mourning and uncertainty. His Holiness will be sorely missed. We also continue to remember His Eminence Metropolitan Yohanna Ibrahim of Alleppo, who has been missing along with His Eminence Metropolitan Boulos since April 2013 and seek the mercy of Christ for his safe release.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

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Posted March 24, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the women's militia of an Al Qaeda splinter group recently raided a high school in the northern Syrian city of Raqqah, it found a range of violations of its strict interpretation of Islam.

Ten young women were deemed guilty of donning a face veil that was too transparent, having visible eyebrows or wearing a hair clip under her hijab, or head covering. Each student was whipped 30 times, said one opposition activist, who asked to remain unidentified because he is wanted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the militant group that until recently was affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Even as it is pushed out of many northern Syrian towns by other opposition forces fed up with its aggression and extremist tactics, the group, also known as ISIS, has created a stronghold in Raqqah province and is seeking to establish an Islamic caliphate ruled by harsh religion-inspired edicts.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted March 15, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

#WithSyria is a global coalition urging world leaders to end the violence and suffering of millions of Syrians. The Church of England has joined the campaign and opens the call to provinces across the Communion.

March 15th marks the third anniversary of the crisis. #WithSyria wants to make sure this year is the last. They said:

"After three years of violence, we must show our leaders that we will not give up on the people of Syria, that they must act to bring an end to the bloodshed and to get aid to all those who need it."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted March 6, 2014 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Radical Islamist rebels running the northern Syrian city of Raqqa have made the Christians living in the area an offer they can’t refuse: pay for protection, convert to Islam, or “face the sword.”

In a statement posted to Jihadi websites and signed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-designated emir of the future Islamic caliphate of Raqqa, as well as the founder of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] rebel brigade, Christians are urged to pay a tax in order to continue living under ISIS’s protection. The terms are simple: twice a year wealthy Christians must pay the equivalent of half an ounce of gold — about $664 by today’s market value. Middle-class Christians have to come up with half that sum, and poor Christians can get away with paying a quarter, or about $166.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted March 1, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted February 27, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With no progress to report at the end of the second round of Syrian peace talks, U.N. Syria envoy Lakdhar Brahimi on Saturday adjourned the talks and set no date for the next round, calling instead for U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"I think it is better that every side goes back and reflects on their responsibility: Do they want this process to take place or not?" Brahimi told reporters.

Brahimi blamed the impasse on the two sides’ disagreement over how to deal with the four points on an agenda that Brahimi said both the Syrian government and the opposition have agreed to: violence and terrorism, the appointment of a transitional governing body, what to do with current national institutions, such as the police and the army, and how to bring about national reconciliation and debate.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted February 15, 2014 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Aleppo, Syria's largest city, has seen thousands of different rulers in its 7,000-year history, including Alexander the Great, Saladin and Tammerlane. It also has seen dozens of sieges.

But no ruler and no siege have been more brutal than the present ones.

As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad tries to drive rebels and their followers out of Aleppo, his army, with complete control of the nation's air space, has attacked the city's civilian areas with aircraft, missiles, artillery, mortars and, in a new twist, "barrel bombs" dropped from helicopters flying at 7,000 feet.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted February 11, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to [Lindsey ] Graham, Kerry gave the clear impression that Syria is slipping out of control. He said Kerry told the delegation that, “the al-Qaeda threat is real, it is getting out of hand.” The secretary, he said, raised the threat of al-Qaeda unprompted. “He acknowledged that the chemical weapons [delivery] is being slow-rolled; the Russians continue to supply arms [and that] we are at a point now where we are going to have to change our strategy. He openly talked about supporting arming the rebels. He openly talked about forming a coalition against al-Qaeda because it’s a direct threat.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted February 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Syrian government and opposition forces try to make peace in Geneva, the group has issued a new report that accuses the regime of demolishing entire neighborhoods that were considered opposition strongholds.

The report, "," was issued Thursday and said it found seven cases of "large scale demolitions" in neighborhoods in Damascus and Hama. The first one took place in July 2012 and the most recent was last November.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 30, 2014 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians have maintained a continuous presence in the land of Syria since the dawn of Christianity. Today, as churches and church-related humanitarian agencies, we are present with the people of Syria on a daily basis both inside the country and amongst refugees. In this communication, we seek to raise their voice.

Our concern is for all people affected by the indiscriminate violence and humanitarian calamity in Syria. Innocent children, women and men are being killed, wounded, traumatized and driven from their homes in uncounted numbers. We hear their cries, knowing that when "one member suffers, all suffer together with it" (1 Corinthians 12:26).

There will be no military solution to the crisis in the country. Endeavouring to be faithful to God's love of all human beings, and within the context of international humanitarian law, we submit these calls for action and guidelines for building peace.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 26, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week at the Vatican, Syria was at the top of the agenda. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences convened a panel of experts, including former Egyptian Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, to search for ways to end Syria's nearly three-year civil war. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the crisis with Vatican Secretary of State and Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin. And Pope Francis himself, in a speech to diplomats, renewed the call for peace in Syria that he made in September at a special prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square.

Few actions are more characteristic of the modern papacy than appeals for peace. Think of Pope Paul VI at the United Nations in 1965 calling for "No more war, war never again"; Pope John Paul II with leaders of other religions praying for peace at Assisi ; or popes giving annual Christmas and Easter addresses that highlight the most urgent crises around the world....

The pope as peacemaker is a role no more than a century old, and is the legacy of the man who held the office during World War I.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain and the US have warned they will rethink support for Syria's main opposition group if it fails to take part in peace talks next week, a Syrian source has told the BBC.

The official from the Syrian National Coalition said the UK and the US were adamant the group must go to Geneva.

The coalition will hold a vote on Friday on whether or not to attend.

Syria's opposition remains deeply divided nearly three years after the uprising began.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rahma and Ugbad Sadiq packed their school bags as they did every morning, and left the family home in Kolsås, Norway, where their parents immigrated in 1996 to escape war in their native Somalia.

But by 5 p.m. that day, Oct. 17, the teenage sisters hadn't returned to help prepare dinner. An email was waiting for the parents in their inbox.

"Papa, we're on our way to Syria. It isn't enough to stay in Norway while Muslim people are in huge trouble. We have to deal with them in their daily life to help them," it said.

Their mother fainted, hitting the floor, her husband, Juma Sadiq, recounted....

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted December 26, 2013 at 8:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church in the West cannot intervene in conflicts in places such as Syria and Egypt - unless it is invited to do so, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

"We would be delighted to play a reconciliation role if there is one we can play. If someone in a viable position on both sides says, 'Come and help,' we'll be on the next flight."

But he ruled out any peace mission under present circumstances. "Nothing can be done until people are willing to let something happen. If people want to fight, they fight. When both sides think they can win, they will go on fighting."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 20, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Intensifying sectarian and clan violence has presented new opportunities for jihadist groups across the Middle East and raised concerns among American intelligence and counterterrorism officials that militants aligned with Al Qaeda could establish a base in Syria capable of threatening Israel and Europe.

The new signs of an energized but fragmented jihadist threat, stretching from Mali and Libya in the west to Yemen in the east, have complicated the narrative of a weakened Al Qaeda that President Obama offered in May in a landmark speech heralding the end of the war on terrorism. The leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, raised warnings in an interview on CNN on Sunday when they said that Americans were “not safer” from terrorist attacks than in 2011.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted December 4, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christianity is at risk of extinction in some parts of the world due to growing persecution of minority communities, a minister has warned.

Baroness Warsi said Christians were in danger of being driven out of countries, such as Syria and Iraq, where the religion first took root.

Syria's civil war and the instability in Iraq has seen many leave.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastEgyptIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United Nations should seize this opportunity, make concrete demands for access by specific deadlines, and report any further resistance promptly to the Security Council. Unfortunately, Valerie Amos, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, has remained vague in public about the main obstacles to distributing humanitarian aid. Apparently fearful that blaming the Syrian government would jeopardize UN access to government-controlled areas, Amos has too often resorted to anodyne statements about the problem. One can only hope that, with the Security Council now behind it, the UN will find a more assertive voice.

Yet even if the disastrous humanitarian situation begins to improve, no serious effort is underway to stop the killing of civilians by conventional weapons. As front lines have hardened, the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths has dropped, but some two thousand of the recent average monthly death toll of five thousand have been civilians. What can be done to stop this slaughter?

The Obama administration’s primary answer has been peace talks. Kerry has revived efforts to convene “Geneva II” negotiations—a follow-up to the accord negotiated in June 2012 under UN and Arab League auspices that called on the warring parties to agree to a cease-fire and begin a political transition. Yet prospects for Geneva II are not encouraging. The rebel groups are not unified and say they won’t negotiate with Assad. Assad, in turn, says he won’t negotiate with most of the rebel groups.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 10, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Syria are accusing al-Qaeda-backed Islamists of having carryied out one of the worst atrocities of the war so far, and killed more than 40 members of the minority Christian community during their occupation of the town of Sadad, north of Damascus. The Syrian government announced last week that its forces had regained control of this strategic town.

In a report by the news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Agenzia Fides, the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, said: "Forty-five innocent civilians were martyred for no reason." It was, he said, the "biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two-and-a-half years".

The Archbishop said that he was shocked at the way in which the world was allowing the killing of Christians in Syria to continue. "Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers?"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 8, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[A family of Syrian refugees]...briefly described their life in Syria as farmers on fertile land that produced crops like barley, tomatoes and potatoes in good supply. Theirs was a good life, and they had been happy there.

But the good life disappeared. The people living in the area were soon surrounded by government forces commanded by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and supplies were cut off. The family’s teenage daughter demonstrated how troops intentionally trampled the crops, cutting off residents’ food supply.

The family fled to Jordan several months ago.

The family’s 14-year-old son described the chilling experience on June 1, 2012, when soldiers opened fire and bullets struck him in the leg and tore through the tendon of his then 6-year-old brother’s leg behind the knee. The older brother had thrown himself onto his younger sibling to protect him from further harm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When radical Islamists tore down a cross and hoisted a black flag above a church in the northern Syrian city of Raqqah last week, their action underscored the increasingly hostile environment for the country’s Christians.

Although Syria is majority Sunni Muslim, it is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse countries in the Middle East, home to Christians, Druze, and Shiite-offshoot Alawites and Ismailis. But the country’s conflict, now in its third year, is threatening that tapestry.

While the primary front in the war has pitted Sunni against Shiite, Christians are increasingly caught in the line of fire. The perception that they support the government — which is in many cases true — has long made them a target of rebel groups. Now, Christians say radical Islamist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an affiliate of al-Qaeda, are determined to drive them from their homes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The five permanent members of the often-divided U.N. Security Council reached agreement Thursday on a resolution to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, British and U.S. diplomats said, and the council was meeting to discuss it Thursday night.

The agreement by the permanent members, whose differences have paralyzed council action on Syria, represents a major breakthrough in addressing the 2 1/2-year conflict, which has killed more than 100,000 people.

Britain’s U.N. ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, tweeted that Britain, France, the U.S., Russia and China had agreed on a “binding and enforceable draft … resolution.”

Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/09/26/deal-reached-on-un-resolution-on-syria-weapons/#ixzz2g2ht7FGG

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2013 at 5:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since the war started in Syria, the country has slowly disintegrated. More than one-third of hospitals have been destroyed, according to the World Health Organisation. According to Save the Children, 3900 schools have been destroyed, damaged or are occupied for non-educational purposes since the start of the conflict.

Syria today is no place for a child and, outrageously, more than 1 million have already been forced to flee with their families to camps and host communities in neighbouring countries. Those are the lucky ones - thousands upon thousands have already been killed. Where is the outrage?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Southern Africa* Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationPovertyViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted September 26, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Soon after Mandela took office, Tutu chided him for increasing MPs’ salaries and for not closing down the apartheid arms trade. When Mandela accused him of being a “populist”, he hit back, typically, though, tempering his attack with an affectionate critique of Mandela’s colourful shirts. Tutu had made his point. The ultimate pastoral interventionist was not going to let Mandela’s stature inhibit him from speaking his mind. To the irritation of the ANC he would retain his independence.

As the ANC became rather accustomed to the perks of power, so his critiques sharpened. In 2004 he lamented that only “an elite few” had reached the “promised land”. Just four months ago, he said that he would no longer vote for the ANC, citing inequality, violence and corruption as among the reasons for his loss of support. When I ask for his current thinking on the party, he turns to “a lovely quote in Isaiah”.

“‘Look to the rock from which you are hewn.’ We were hewn from a rock of people who were ready to lay down their lives for freedom… We have very many good things that are happening but you long for us to remember why we were in the ­struggle and what kind of South Africa we would love to see. We have accomplished a part of the dream… and some things subvert that dream.”

Read it all (if necessary another link may be found there).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Southern Africa* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth AfricaMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For days, Christians with ties to Syria waited for news about the fighting in Maaloula, a village near Damascus that is famous for being one of three in existence in which the locals still speak ancient Aramaic, the language of Jesus....

During the siege, an American bishop of the ancient Antiochian Orthodox Church — based in Damascus for centuries — was called by Metropolitan Saba Esper of southern Syria, who in turn had just reached Mother Belagia, abbess of the famous St. Thekla monastery in Maaloula.

The Syrians wanted to know: Was anyone paying attention?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 16, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against apartheid in South Africa, continues to speak around the globe on justice and peace. Butler University and neighboring Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis announced Thursday (Sept. 12) that they would name a center for the 81-year-old icon.

Just before the announcement of the new center, Tutu spoke with Religion News Service about faith and justice, Israel and Palestine and Pope Francis’ recent selfie and lifestyle choices. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Southern Africa* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyPrison/Prison MinistryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 15, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States and Russia agreed Saturday on an outline for the identification and seizure of Syrian chemical weapons and said Syria must turn over an accounting of its arsenal within a week.

The agreement will be backed by a U.N. Security Council resolution that could allow for sanctions or other consequences if Syria fails to comply, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussiaMiddle EastSyria

2 Comments
Posted September 14, 2013 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a surprising turnabout on Monday, Syria welcomed a Russian plan to turn its chemical weapons over to the international community for destruction. The US said it would take a hard look at the idea, first floated by Secretary of State John Kerry in an offhand comment.

The swift moves raised the possibility that the Syria crisis could be resolved via diplomacy. But the international situation was fluid and it remained possible the nascent plan could fall apart.

The US would look at the proposal with “serious skepticism,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, because Syria had consistently refused to destroy its chemical weapons in the past.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussiaMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 10, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama on Monday called a Russian proposal for Syria to turn over control of its chemical weapons to international monitors in order to avoid a military strike a “potentially positive development,” that could represent a “significant breakthrough,” but he said he remains skeptical the Syrian government would follow through on its obligations based on its recent track record.

“Between the statements that we saw from the Russians — the statement today from the Syrians — this represents a potentially positive development,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News, according to a transcript provided by the network. “We are going to run this to ground. [Secretary of State] John Kerry will be talking to his Russian counterpart. We’re going to make sure that we see how serious these proposals are.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted September 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Good morning. Among the many hours of broadcasting about Syria in the past few days, one interview has stayed in my mind. It wasn’t with a politician, a pundit or even a proponent of just war theory. Last Saturday on PM I heard a telephone conversation between the presenter Jennifer Tracey and an unnamed man living in a Damascus suburb. He’d decided to stay on in Syria. He was well-educated, married and in his late twenties. Though no friend of the Assad regime, he was very realistic about what might replace it. Listening to him seemed at first to confirm that Syria’s problems were intractable. Then he mentioned something surprising almost in passing. His wife was expecting a baby....

Listen to it all (an MP3 of about 3 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted September 8, 2013 at 1:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leading a crowd in prayer for peace in Syria, Pope Francis said that war is ultimately caused by selfishness, which can be overcome only though expressions of fraternity and never with violence.

"Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation," the pope said Sept. 7 before an estimated 100,000 people in St. Peter's Square.

The pope had called the prayer vigil less than a week earlier, as the central event of a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East and the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 7, 2013 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prayer and action can come together in common cause. It is an invitation to release our imagination for creative peaceful solutions in refusing the seemingly obvious action of moral retaliation.

Let us look for ways that reconcile, build the common good and nourish relationships — not increase our alienation and cause others only to hunker down while they wait for their own opportunity for revenge. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “we must learn to live in co-existence, or else face the prospect of co-annihilation.” Jesus said, “the one who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.”

There is a better way. Our imaginations are better than this. We have not yet exhausted all of the options of a shared global life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of all her academic heresies, however, none was more upsetting to [Jean Bethke] Elshtain's colleagues than her support for aggressive military action against terrorist organizations and, a decade ago, her defense of the war in Iraq. Having written about the politics and morality of war since the beginning of her career in the 1970s, Elshtain insisted that America's conflict with al Qaeda was not a matter of international law enforcement, as some insisted. It was a war.

Terrorists, and states that support them, are not merely engaged in criminal activities; they are our enemies—in the same way that Nazi Germany and imperial Japan were our enemies in World War II. As she wrote in her 2003 book, "Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World": "With our great power comes an even greater responsibility. One of our ongoing responsibilities is to respond to the cries of the aggrieved. Victims of genocide, for example, have a reasonable expectation that powerful nations devoted to human rights will attempt to stay the hand of the murderers."

That did not mean that force is always justified or that no rules apply. Elshtain was a believer in, and a leading interpreter of, the tradition known as "just war theory." This tradition does not propose pacifism—the view that the use of force is inherently unjustifiable. On the contrary, just-war theory says that in the face of unjust aggression, nations sometimes have a duty to use military force. They are also obligated to fight with all legitimate means to win—to defeat the enemy and halt its aggression.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 6, 2013 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired Archbishop of Washington, has said he opposes US military intervention in Syria, saying that he is “not in favour of going to war to make peace”.

“We made the mistake in Iraq. I hope we don’t make the mistake again in Syria,” he told Catholic News Service on Thursday after visiting some of the nearly half-million refugees who had fled to Jordan, Syria’s southern neighbour.

When asked what was worse, either allow Syria to use chemical weapons and do nothing or go in with limited military strikes, he quickly responded: “Neither is the proper answer.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 6, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the war in Syria continues unabated, the majority of Syrians surveyed in June and July see bleak prospects for the conflict ending soon. Fifty-one percent of Syrians see the conflict consuming their lives for at least one or two more years, while 30% see it ending in less than a year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted September 6, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the House voted today on a resolution to attack Syria, President Barack Obama would lose — and lose big.

That’s the private assessment of House Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides who are closely involved in the process.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted September 5, 2013 at 6:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Syria’s bioweapons program, which U.S. officials believe has been largely dormant since the 1980s, is likely to possess the key ingredients for a weapon....This latent capability has begun to worry some of Syria’s neighbors, especially after allegations that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad used internationally banned chemical weapons against civilians in an Aug. 21 attack.

Top intelligence officials in two Middle East countries said they have examined the potential for bioweapons use by Syria, perhaps as retaliation for Western military strikes on Damascus. Although dwarfed by the country’s larger and better-known chemical weapons program, Syria’s bioweapons capability could offer the Assad regime a way to retaliate because the weapons are designed to spread easily and leave few clues about their origins, the officials said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeFranceMiddle EastSyria

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Posted September 5, 2013 at 9:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

he Vatican is ramping up its opposition to threatened military strikes against Syria as it draws attention to Pope Francis' plans to host a day of fasting and prayer for peace this weekend.

The Vatican has invited all ambassadors accredited to the Holy See to attend a briefing Thursday on the pope's agenda for the four-hour vigil Saturday night in St. Peter's Square, and bishops' conferences from around the world have announced plans to host local versions of the vigil as well.

Even the Vatican's often dysfunctional bureaucracy seems to be on message with the initiative, Francis' first major foray into international diplomacy since being elected in March.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 4, 2013 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Senate resolution would limit hostilities to 60 or 90 days, narrow the conflict to Syria's borders and prohibit U.S. troops on Syrian soil. McCain's amendments didn't change that scope, but made clear that the end goal should be "a negotiated settlement that ends the conflict and leads to a democratic government in Syria."

The vote was 10-7. Five Republicans and two Democrats voted against it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Realism is used to dismiss pacifism and to underwrite some version of just war. But it is not at all clear that the conditions for the possibility of just war are compatible with realism. At least, it is not clear that just war considerations can be constitutive of the decision-making processes of governments that must assume that might makes right. Attempts to justify wars begun and fought on realist grounds in the name of just war only serve to hide the reality of war.

Yet war remains a reality. War not only remains a reality, war remains for Americans our most determinative moral reality. How do you get people who are taught they are free to follow their own interests to sacrifice themselves and their children in war? Democracies by their very nature seem to require that wars be fought in the name of ideals that make war self-justifying. Realists in the State Department and Pentagon may have no illusions about why American self-interest requires a war be fought, but Americans cannot fight a war as cynics. It may be that those who actually have to fight a war will - precisely because they have faced the reality of war - have no illusions about the reality of war. But those who would have them fight justify war using categories that require there be a "next war."

Pacifists are realists. Indeed, we have no reason to deny that the "realism" associated with Augustine, Luther and Niebuhr has much to teach us about how the world works. But that is why we do not trust those who would have us make sacrifices in the name of preserving a world at war. We believe a sacrifice has been made that has brought an end to the sacrifice of war.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryMilitary / Armed ForcesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted September 4, 2013 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Syrian civil conflict is both a proxy war and a combustion point for spreading waves of violence. This didn't start out as a religious war. But both Sunni and Shiite power players are seizing on religious symbols and sowing sectarian passions that are rippling across the region. The Saudi and Iranian powers hover in the background fueling each side.

As the death toll in Syria rises to Rwanda-like proportions, images of mass killings draw holy warriors from countries near and far. The radical groups are the most effective fighters and control the tempo of events. The Syrian opposition groups are themselves split violently along sectarian lines so that the country seems to face a choice between anarchy and atrocity.

Meanwhile, the strife appears to be spreading. Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq is spiking upward. Reports in The New York Times and elsewhere have said that many Iraqis fear their country is sliding back to the worst of the chaos experienced in the past decade. Even Turkey, Pakistan, Bahrain and Kuwait could be infected.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptLebanonSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted September 4, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to it all if you so desire.

Filed under: * By Kendall* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchChildrenPoverty* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

McCain and Graham have jointly expressed concerns that a military strike should be part of a broader strategy in Syria, not simply a random attack to punish the regime.

After meeting with Obama Monday, they both said they believed the White House is developing a strategy that would weaken the regime of President Bashar Assad and boost Syrian opposition forces — though they said Obama has more work to do to explain this plan.

"We still have significant concerns," McCain said, "but we believe there is in formulation a strategy to upgrade the capabilities of the Free Syrian Army and to degrade the capabilities of Bashar Assad. Before this meeting, we had not had that indication."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted September 3, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Does the US have a “responsibility to protect” now that the use of chemical weapons by Syria has been confirmed? Watch our discussion with University of Notre Dame peace studies professor George Lopez, who says, “Is there just cause and right intention? Yes, there’s a grave public evil with a chemical weapons attack. But on criteria of last resort, proportional response, probability of success, this strike idea really falls short of the mark.”

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 31, 2013 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Update: A Washington Post article is there--read it all.

A NY Times article is now there.

A Statement says the House will consider the measure on Syrian military action the week of Sept. 9--check it out.

Final Update: the full text is now available--read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

19 Comments
Posted August 31, 2013 at 12:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Our biggest problem is ignorance; we’re pretty ignorant about Syria,” said Ryan C. Crocker, a former ambassador to Syria and Lebanon, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and is dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University.

The American strike could hit President Assad’s military without fundamentally changing the dynamic in a stalemated civil war that has already left more than 100,000 people dead. At the same time, few expect that a barrage of cruise missiles would prompt either side to work in earnest for a political settlement. Given that, the skeptics say it may not be worth the risks.

“I don’t see any advantage,” said a Western official who closely observes Syria.

In outlining its tentative plans, the Obama administration has left many questions unanswered.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 31, 2013 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many of the leaks about U.S. strike plans for Syria, a copious flow of surprisingly specific information on ship dispositions and possible targets, have been authorized as a way for President Obama to signal the limited scope of operations to friends and foes.

But a number of leaks have been decidedly unauthorized -- and, according to Obama administration sources, likely emanating from a Pentagon bureaucracy less enthusiastic about the prospect of an attack than, say, the State Department, National Security Council or Obama himself.

"Deeply unhelpful," was how one West Winger described the drip-drip of doubt.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMedia* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 31, 2013 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Two of the most powerful insurgent factions in Syria are al-Qaeda factions,” Evan Kohlmann, senior partner at Flashpoint Partners in New York, said by telephone. “Even were the Assad regime to fall and there be some kind of takeover by rebels, there’s not a clear understanding that everyone here will be able to agree and form any kind of government.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 30, 2013 at 9:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I don’t intend to repeat the powerful points that have been made on international law which is itself based on the Christian theory of Just War, and that has been said very eloquently. But I want to pick up a couple of points - first is, it has been said, quite rightly, that there is as much risk in inaction as there is in action. But as in a conflict in another part of the world, a civil conflict in which I was mediating some years ago, a general said to me “we have to learn that there are intermediate steps between being in barracks and opening fire”. And the reality is that until we are sure that all those intermediate steps have been pursued, Just War theory says that the step of opening fire is one that must only be taken when there is no possible alternative whatsoever, under any circumstances. Because, as the noble Lord Lord Alli just said very clearly and very eloquently, the consequences are totally out of our hands once it has started. And some consequences we can predict – we’ve heard already about the Lebanon and about Iran, particularly the effect that an intervention would cause on the new government in Iran as it is humiliated by such an intervention.

But there is a further point, talking to a very senior Christian leader in the region yesterday, he said “intervention from abroad will declare open season on the Christian communities”. They have already been devastated, 2 million Christians in Iraq 12 years ago, less than half a million today. These are churches that don’t just go back to St Paul but, in the case of Damascus and Antioch, predate him. They will surely suffer terribly (as they already are) if action goes ahead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted August 30, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The prospect of a U.S. military strike on Syria is putting pressure on political fault lines, and the tremors are being felt in South Carolina.

National security hawks like U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham see a lawless world in need of American leadership and, when the cause is just, its soldiers and bombs.

The Republican Party’s emergent libertarian wing, however, represented most prominently at the moment by Sen. Rand Paul, a possible presidential candidate, emphasizes the cost of foreign wars and their effect on U.S. public relations abroad.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesSenate* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 30, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military, which is coping with the scars of two lengthy wars and a rapidly contracting budget, according to current and former officers.

Having assumed for months that the United States was unlikely to intervene militarily in Syria, the Defense Department has been thrust onto a war footing that has made many in the armed services uneasy, according to interviews with more than a dozen military officers ranging from captains to a four-star general.

Former and current officers, many with the painful lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan on their minds, said the main reservations concern the potential unintended consequences of launching cruise missiles against Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 30, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Obama administration readies for a probable military strike against Syria, Religion News Service asked a panel of theologians and policy experts whether the U.S. should intervene in Syria in light of the regime’s use of chemical weapons against civilians. Would the “Just War” doctrine justify U.S. military action, and what is America’s moral responsibility? Here are their responses, which have been edited for clarity.

Take the time to read them all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 30, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A sharply divided British Parliament on Thursday rejected the immediate use of force as a response to suspected chemical attacks in Syria, putting Washington on notice that it would be deprived of the assistance of its most trusted ally if it launches a strike on Damascus in the next few days.

Hours of impassioned debate in the House of Commons culminated in a 285-272 vote against a government motion to condemn the alleged use of poison gas against Syrian rebel strongholds and to uphold military reprisal as a legitimate option against the government of President Bashar Assad.

The surprise defeat for the government of Prime Minister David Cameron does not completely rule out the possibility of British involvement in eventually punishing Assad’s government militarily.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US, Great Britain, France, Germany, Turkey, Jordan, Canada, Australia, the Arab League and Israel have all determined that a massive chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21 was conducted by Assad's armed forces. Over one thousand died in the attack, and thousands more were wounded.

But the White House and 10 Downing both faced an onslaught of questions laced with references to the botched intelligence assessments that led to the allied invasion of Iraq in 2003.

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron both acknowledged those concerns, but rejected the comparison as fundamentally flawed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeFranceMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 29, 2013 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Obama administration officials believe that they must respond quickly to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons, or else the regime will deploy them again in Syria's largest city, now a key stronghold of the opposition.

"Aleppo would probably be one of the likely targets," said a senior administration official.

The military strikes being considered by the administration are primarily aimed at deterring further use of chemical weapons by Syria as well as by other nations that retain substantial stocks of such weapons, such as North Korea.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted August 29, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read them all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted August 29, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama is considering military action against Syria that is intended to “deter and degrade” President Bashar al-Assad’s government’s ability to launch chemical weapons, but is not aimed at ousting Mr. Assad from power or forcing him to the negotiating table, administration officials said Tuesday.

A wide range of officials characterized the action under consideration as “limited,” perhaps lasting no more than one or two days. The attacks, which are expected to involve scores of Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from American destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, would not be focused on chemical weapons storage sites, which would risk an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe and could open up the sites to raids by militants, officials said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 28, 2013 at 5:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Opposition in the Church to military action in Syria is growing after the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey warned it could lead to a regional war.

He said that despite a sense of "moral outrage" at the use of chemical weapons by the regime, armed intervention would drag the UK into a war which could engulf the whole of the Middle East.

And he voiced surprise that David Cameron is even contemplating a military response after slashing the armed forces to a "pitiful degree".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 28, 2013 at 6:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Most Rev Justin Welby insisted that MPs must ask themselves whether they are “sure” about the facts on the ground before acting amid a “really delicate and dangerous situation”.

Archbishop Welby, who spent several years promoting reconciliation in war zones in Africa and the Middle East, insisted that there were “numerous intermediate steps” between doing nothing and full regime change in Syria which could be considered.

But speaking to The Daily Telegraph, he acknowledged that there was no “good answer” to the crisis in Syria and that a simple solution “just doesn’t exist”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted August 28, 2013 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A U.S. attack on Syria would likely dash expectations of progress in nuclear negotiations with Iran and undermine new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani's call for improving relations with the West, diplomats said.

An attack on Damascus would likely give Iranian hard-liners, who oppose a nuclear compromise, the upper hand over moderate President Hasan Rouhani, who has made foreign policy and nuclear talks a priority.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIraqSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 27, 2013 at 4:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama is weighing a military strike against Syria that would be of limited scope and duration, designed to serve as punishment for Syria’s use of chemical weapons and as a deterrent, while keeping the United States out of deeper involvement in that country’s civil war, according to senior administration officials.

The timing of such an attack, which would probably last no more than two days and involve sea-launched cruise missiles — or, possibly, long-range bombers — striking military targets not directly related to Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, would be dependent on three factors: completion of an intelligence report assessing Syrian government culpability in last week’s alleged chemical attack; ongoing consultation with allies and Congress; and determination of a justification under international law.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

7 Comments
Posted August 27, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Monday condemned Syria’s reported chemical weapons attacks as a “moral obscenity” and declared that the Obama administration intends to move quickly to hold the Syrian government accountable.

Citing “undeniable” evidence that the government of President Bashar Assad used nerve gas against its population last week, Kerry said that the world must respond to the use of weapons that have long been outlawed by international agreement.

President Obama “believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people,” Kerry said in a brief appearance at the State Department.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted August 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The UN's disarmament chief negotiated with the Syrian government, as the BBC's Yolande Knell in Beirut explains

The Syrian government has agreed to allow UN inspectors to investigate allegations of a suspected chemical weapon attack near Damascus.

The team is to begin work on Monday. Activists say Syrian forces killed more than 300 people in several suburbs east and west of the capital on Wednesday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted August 25, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two days after the alleged chemical attack on the Damascus suburbs of Eastern Ghouta, chemical-weapons experts are dissecting amateur footage to determine exactly what might have caused the deaths of so many hundreds of Syrians. All agree this time, unlike in past alleged attacks, that the number of victims and the lack of marks from physical wounds on their bodies point to some form of chemical poisoning. But they are puzzled that the symptoms—insofar as they are visible from the videos—do not exactly correspond to any particular known substance, including the large quantities of mustard gas, sarin and VX which President Bashar Assad is thought to have at his disposal. “It is beyond doubt that something has made a lot of people ill and killed them,” says Dan Kaszeta, a chemical and biological expert who now runs Strongpoint Security, a defence consultancy. “But there is no obvious agent.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted August 24, 2013 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

UN officials say alleged chemical weapons attacks which Syria's opposition says killed hundreds near Damascus were a "serious escalation".

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson made the comments after briefing an emergency UN Security Council meeting about Wednesday's incident.

The Security Council also said that clarity was needed over the attacks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 22, 2013 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria have killed an Italian Jesuit priest who disappeared in the east of the country late last month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Paolo Dall'Oglio, a vocal supporter of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and some Islamist rebel groups, disappeared in the rebel-held city of Raqqa on July 29.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

3 Comments
Posted August 16, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...what had changed? Why did the town turn on itself? It started happening after foreign jihadis arrived, said Ilyas. ‘Syrian Muslims are not extremists. It’s outsiders who made this conflict sectarian.’ Ilyas was told to demonstrate his loyalty by carrying a weapon to fight the regime. Still clinging to the idea of a peaceful revolution, he refused, and was threatened by the foreign fighters. His friends in the rebel army couldn’t help him. ‘The FSA couldn’t mount any military operation without the extremists: they had the training, the weapons, the money.’

As the town’s native Sunnis suffered more losses, so their attitude towards the Christians started to harden. One local man formed an Islamist brigade (its ranks filled with foreign fighters) and last summer, he commandeered the mosque’s loudspeaker to announce that all Christians should leave. He was one of those who finally forced Ilyas from his home, last December. ‘I had known him ten years,’ Ilyas said sadly. ‘We used to walk arm-in-arm at the protests.’

Ilyas lasted longer than other Christians in Qusayr because he supported the uprising, but in Lebanon, I also met Samah, a mother of three who was one of the first to flee. At first, she said, their Sunni neighbours tried to protect them. ‘But after a while, the Christians were left with a choice: fight alongside the rebels, or leave Qusayr. Masked gunmen came to our house and shouted for our men to come out. We could see our relatives, already captured, sitting in cars.’Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The letter Friday from Gen. Martin E. Dempsey to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., cited the experience of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan and detailed the effort needed to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Mr. Dempsey said hundreds of U.S. aircraft, ships and submarines would be used by thousands of American troops to make airstrikes, launch missiles, maintain no-fly zones and train Syria's opposition forces. He said training alone would cost $500 million a year. Air action would cost $1 billion a month.

Mr. Dempsey said that such action would be "an act of war," which would entail risks to Jordan, a neighboring U.S. ally, and could backfire in terms of overall U.S. policy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted July 25, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted July 16, 2013 at 6:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Government deserves huge credit for its efforts in using its Presidency of the G8 to prioritise trade, tax and transparency. The Summit outcomes fall short of what many had hoped and campaigned for, but there has been progress nonetheless that needs to be celebrated. The Government's announcement that all Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories are ready to sign the Multilateral Convention on Tax Matters is a significant step forward and will help developing countries access more information and retain more of the money they are owed in order to combat endemic problems to their own development such as hunger and child malnutrition.."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria

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Posted June 20, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reports are beginning to outline the weaponry and where it will go. Weapons will likely include automatic rifles, light mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) – but not the shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles known as MANPADS (man-portable air-defense missiles).

The fear is that antiaircraft missiles could end up in the hands of more militant factions fighting in Syria, including Hezbollah and those with connections to Al Qaeda.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria

5 Comments
Posted June 15, 2013 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US position on Syria's civil war remains, in public at least, much as it has long been: The end of President Bashar al-Assad's rule via some sort of negotiated settlement between the rest of his regime and the patchwork of secular Syrians, mainstream Islamists, and jihadis fighting against him.

That's the premise for a conference the US, France, and Britain have been pushing for in Geneva next month. But recent battlefield gains for Mr. Assad's forces, a Russian promise of a delivery of advanced air defense systems to the government (which would make a US-led air campaign more dangerous), and a divided political leadership for the opposition all make it appear very unlikely that peace will break out next month in Switzerland.

Put simply, the Syrian opposition has not come together in the way the US had hoped – not in its military composition, which now involves a lot of foreign travelers from a regional Al Qaeda affiliate, nor on the international diplomatic front, which is fraught with infighting and doubt about the worth of a conference far from the battlefield.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted May 29, 2013 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“On Saturday, May 11, Christians of all denominations will gather in prayer to petition God to grant his mercy on Syria and to bring an end to violence,” reads a message issued by the Syrian Christian community.

The prayer is focused on four main intentions: the return of peace, the liberation of all hostages, assistance for all children traumatized by the war, and humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees and displaced people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Israel’s reported airstrikes in Syria — and the threat of a retaliatory strike by the Syrian government — are likely to accelerate the decision-making of the Obama administration, which was already moving toward a sharp escalation of U.S. involvement in the two-year-old crisis.

Senior officials said the deployment of U.S. troops to Syria remains unlikely, but they have indicated that a decision will come within weeks on options ranging from the supply of weapons to the Syrian rebels to the use of U.S. aircraft and missiles to ground President Bashar al-Assad’s air power by destroying planes, runways and missile sites inside Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIsraelSyria

1 Comments
Posted May 6, 2013 at 10:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recent Israeli strikes inside Syria may have exposed weaknesses in the regime’s air defenses and could embolden the U.S. and its allies to take more steps to aid rebels fighting the regime there, said lawmakers on Sunday.

“The Russian-supplied air defense systems are not as good as said,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said on NBC’s "Meet the Press." Leahy, who heads the appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said the Israeli defense forces were using American-made F-16 Fighting Falcon jets to launch the missiles against Syrian targets.

“Keep in mind the Israelis are using weapons supplied by us,” Leahy said. “They have enormous prowess with those weapons.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIsraelSyria

0 Comments
Posted May 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, today issued the following statement:

“Canada condemns the ongoing violence in Syria in light of the rise in attacks on religious groups over the last few weeks....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryCanadaMiddle EastSyria

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Posted May 4, 2013 at 12:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The airstrike that Israeli warplanes carried out in Syria was directed at a shipment of advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Iran that Israel believed was intended for Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese organization, American officials said Saturday.

It was the second time in four months that Israel had carried out an attack in foreign territory aimed at disrupting the pipeline of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. The missiles, known as Fateh-110s, had been sent to Syria by Iran and were being stored at an airport in Damascus when they were struck in the attack, according to an American official.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsraelSyria

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Posted May 4, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nephew of bishop Yohanna Ibrahim, one of the two archbishops kidnapped in Syria a week ago, said he hopes Syrian Christians will not use the incident as an incentive to flee the country.

Bishop Ibrahim, head of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo, was kidnapped last Monday, alongside his counterpart from the Greek Orthodox Church, Bishop Boulos Yaziji, close to the Turkish border.The driver of the vehicle, Fathallah Kaboud, was killed.

Kaboud had been the personal chauffeur of bishop Ibrahim for a number of years. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

1 Comments
Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the latest reported attack on a high-ranking Syrian official, Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi survived what appeared to be an assassination attempt Monday in an upscale neighborhood of the capital, Damascus, when a car bomb exploded near his convoy, according to state-run media and opposition reports saying that a bodyguard was killed.

The reports said the attack had taken place in Mezze, a central district where many senior officials live. The prime minister was reportedly unhurt, thought state media said others had been injured. Video on state television showed a car reduced to a charred skeleton and, nearby, a bus with its windows shattered.

The assault fit a pattern of attempts to attack high officials.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted April 29, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, in conjunction with other Governments, to document the scale and nature of the alleged use of sexual violence as an instrument of war by the Government of Syria and other parties involved in the conflict in Syria....

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the extent of the use of sexual violence as an instrument of war in Syria....

To ask Her Majesty's Government what resources they are providing, either unilaterally or as part of international action, to ensure that victims of sexual violence in Syria are provided with the necessary medical and trauma support.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchSexualityViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 28, 2013 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Set amid the rolling plains outside Aleppo, the town of al-Safira looks just like another vicious battleground in Syria's civil war. On one side are lightly-armed rebels, on the other are government troops, and in between is a hotly-contested no-man's land of bombed-out homes and burned-out military vehicles.

The fight for al-Safira is no ordinary turf war, however, and the prize can be found behind the perimeter walls of the heavily-guarded military base on the edge of town. Inside what looks like a drab industrial estate is one of Syria's main facilities for producing chemical weapons - and among its products is sarin, the lethal nerve gas that the regime is now feared to be deploying in its bid to cling to power.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKMiddle EastSyria

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Posted April 28, 2013 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Security experts at Twitter were fighting a seemingly losing battle yesterday against the Syrian Electronic Army, a shadowy group that sparked panic on financial markets this week by faking a news report about an bomb attack on the White House.

The group, which purports to support the regime in Damascus, hacked the Associated Press news agency’s Twitter account and reported that explosions in the White House had injured President Obama, sending markets into a tailspin, and wiping $136 billion (£89 billion) off the [value of the top 500 U.S. stocks in seconds]....

Read it all (requires subscription) and there is a lot more there from the WSJ.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyStock Market* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted April 26, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of Europeans are fighting with rebel forces in Syria and intelligence agencies are concerned some could return home to launch terrorist attacks. One Belgian family says their son has joined rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad's regime.

A camera shakily films a group of rebel fighters preparing to pray, lined up in rows, their weapons at their feet. A young man walks into shot and takes off his rifle before briefly turning towards the camera.

"That's Brian," says Ingrid de Mulder, pointing at her nephew in the online video on her computer. "I'm 100% sure. That's him. No doubt."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgiumMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted April 26, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since the very first days of the Syrian conflict in March 2011, we have prayed as we watched in horror and sorrow the escalating violence that has rent this country apart. We have grieved with all Syrians - with the families of each and every human life lost and with all communities whose neighbourhoods and livelihoods have suffered from escalating and pervasive violence.

And today, our prayers also go with the ancient communities of our Christian brothers and sisters in Syria. The kidnapping this week of two Metropolitan bishops of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, and the killing of their driver while they were carrying out a humanitarian mission, is another telling sign of the terrible circumstances that continue to engulf all Syrians.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted April 25, 2013 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The White House said on Thursday that American intelligence agencies now believed, with “varying degrees of confidence,” that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons, but it said it needed conclusive proof before President Obama would take action.

The disclosure, in letters to Congressional leaders, takes the administration a step closer to acknowledging that President Bashar al-Assad has crossed a red line established by Mr. Obama last summer, when he said the United States would take unspecified action against Syria if there was evidence that chemical weapons had been used in the civil war.

The White House emphasized that, “given the stakes involved,” the United States still needed “credible and corroborated facts” before deciding on a course of action. The letter, signed by the president’s director of legislative affairs, Miguel E. Rodriguez, said the United States was pressing for a “comprehensive United Nations investigation that can credibly evaluate the evidence and establish what happened.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 25, 2013 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Militants in a rebel-held area of northern Syria have abducted two bishops travelling from the Turkish border back to the city of Aleppo.

The kidnapping was reported by Syrian state media and confirmed by a member of the official opposition leadership.

Yohanna Ibrahim is head of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo and Boulos Yaziji leads the Greek Orthodox Church in the city.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

3 Comments
Posted April 24, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Humanitarian agencies are running low on funds to help millions of people affected by the war in Syria, prompting one United Nations official to warn: “Our capacity to do more is diminishing.”

Syria's two-year-old war has fueled a humanitarian catastrophe in the region, U.N. officials say. The U.N.’s Security Council has demanded an end to the escalating violence and condemned human rights abuses by all sides.

“Our agencies and humanitarian partners have been doing all we can. The needs are growing, while our capacity to do more is diminishing,” U.N. Under-Secretary General Valerie Amos said in a video appealing for worldwide support of aid efforts.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsPovertyViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted April 24, 2013 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Israel’s senior military intelligence analyst said Tuesday that the Syrian government had repeatedly used chemical weapons in the last month, and criticized the international community for failing to respond, intensifying pressure on the Obama administration to intervene.

“The regime has increasingly used chemical weapons,” said Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, research commander in the intelligence directorate of the Israeli Defense Forces, echoing a recent finding by Britain and France. “The very fact that they have used chemical weapons without any appropriate reaction,” he added, “is a very worrying development, because it might signal that this is legitimate.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelSyria

1 Comments
Posted April 23, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaders at an Islamic summit on Thursday urged a dialogue between the Syrian opposition and regime just as a new initiative for talks proposed by an anti-government leader appeared to be unraveling.

Like previous diplomatic initiatives on Syria, opposition chief Mouaz al-Khatib’s call for talks made less than a week ago appeared doomed to failure. And with troops and rebels clashing for a second day around Damascus, frustrated Syrians dismissed the calls for dialogue as empty talk.

“All of this does not concern us,” said Iyad, a Syrian fighter on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, which has witnessed heavy fighting in the last two days.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted February 8, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Growing up as the youngest of seven children in the historic city of Hama in Syria, George Shalhoub led an idyllic life in which he says Muslims and Christians lived together peacefully.

“We lived in a neighborhood that is called the Christian quarter, surrounded by Muslim neighborhoods,” recalled Shalhoub, 63, founder and pastor of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Livonia. “We played in their mosques, and they played in the courtyard of our church. We were safe. We visited each other, and were part of each other’s lives. I never once felt discriminated against by the Muslims.

“It was the happiest time of my life.”

But over the last two years, the civil war has unraveled the threads that bind society in Hama and other places in Syria, leading to sectarian strife and bloodshed. Last month, Shalhoub learned that the daughter, son-in-law and grandson of his 95-year-old hometown priest, Rev. Rafael Basha, were killed.

The discovery added another layer of sorrow for Shalhoub, who often prays for reconciliation in his native land....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted February 8, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A proposal to arm Syrian rebels was backed by the Pentagon, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, but the White House decided not to act on the plan, reflecting the extent of divisions over the U.S. role in the bloody conflict.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Marine Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Mr. Obama's top military adviser, revealed publicly for the first time at a Senate hearing on Thursday that they supported a proposal last year by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA director Gen. David Petraeus.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria

1 Comments
Posted February 7, 2013 at 8:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Imagine you were forced to leave your home? Given no option but to pack everything into one bag and to leave Northern Ireland.
That is exactly the situation that more than 500,000 Syrians have been forced into.

Into Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan they continue to pour, in search of safety and shelter from the bombs and bullets that have killed 60,000 people. Three-and-a-half thousand crossed into Jordan last Wednesday alone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsPovertyViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted February 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to the Assad regime, Israeli warplanes have violated Syrian airspace and bombed a scientific research facility. According to Western security sources, the attack was against a convoy of sophisticated heavy weapons destined for Lebanon and Hezbollah. Israel itself is saying nothing; nor, officially, is the US. For all the obfuscation and confusion, however, what is chillingly clear is the danger of Syria’s vicious civil war spilling over into a regional conflict.

The situation inside the country is dismaying enough. More than 60,000 people have been killed in the near two years since the rebellion against Bashar al-Assad began. Although the regime’s grip is weakening, the fight only gets bloodier; and as many as four million civilians have been displaced – many of whom are now starving, freezing and dying from disease.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted January 31, 2013 at 8:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia has expressed concern at an alleged Israeli attack on Syria, saying such a strike would be an unacceptable violation of the UN Charter.

Syria's army said Israeli jets had targeted a military research centre north-west of Damascus on Wednesday.

It denied reports that lorries carrying weapons bound for Lebanon were hit.

Russia has steadfastly refused to denounce Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the 22-month conflict that has killed more than 60,000 people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaMiddle EastIsraelSyria

1 Comments
Posted January 31, 2013 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi warned the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be able to cling to power for now but the country is "breaking up before everyone's eyes," diplomats told Reuters.

Brahimi appealed to the 15-nation council to overcome its deadlock and take action to help put an end to the Syrian civil war. However, it was not clear whether his latest report, which diplomats said was his bleakest since his appointment last year, would persuade Russia to agree to support concrete U.N. steps to try to halt the bloodshed.

Read it all and please join me in praying for the situation in Syria.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted January 30, 2013 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Benedict XVI has made an urgent appeal to civil and political authorities to work for peace. The Pope’s heartfelt cry came on Monday during his annual address to Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See.

Speaking to representatives of the 179 States that currently have full diplomatic relations with the Vatican, as well as members of numerous international organizations such as the EU, the Order of Malta and the PLO, Pope Benedict emphasized that world leaders have a grave responsibility to work for peace. They are the first – he said – called to resolve the numerous conflicts causing bloodshed in our human family.

And the Pope went on to list urgent areas of concern starting with Syria which he described as being “torn apart by endless slaughter and the scene of dreadful suffering among its civilian population”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

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Posted January 7, 2013 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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