On Sunday 29 July the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Jim Middleton spoke to Prof. Vali Nasr about Syria’s prospects. Nasr confirmed that al Qaeda was indeed gaining ground in Syria. He expressed concern that in the event of regime collapse, it is not clear who would ‘prevent a massacre of the Alawites and the Christians and those Sunnis who supported Assad’. He also said it was not clear who would ‘prevent al-Qaeda from setting up shop in various little emirates across Syria’. Furthermore, Nasr warned that should the regime fall ‘in a bad way’ then the whole region — especially Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan — will be massively impacted and destabilised.
THE BATTLE FOR ALEPPO
The battle for Aleppo is a decisive one. With a population of 2.5 million, Aleppo is Syria’s second largest city after Damascus, and its commercial hub. Home to swaths of loyalist Sunni Arab and Kurdish business elite, Christians make up some 10 percent of the population of the city. Around half of them are Armenians, with the remainder belonging to the Syrian, Greek Orthodox and Maronite churches. Jihadists are pouring in for the battle. Syrian Sunni jihadists who have been fighting with al Qaeda against US forces in Iraq are returning home in droves. The West called them ‘terrorists’ in Iraq. In Syria it calls them ‘rebels’, ‘insurgents’ and ‘opposition’. Furthermore foreign jihadists are coming in from the Caucasus, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Algeria and Gulf Arab states as well as Europe, including Britain, Sweden and France. It is not uncommon to see the Islamist black flag flying on rebel vehicles or hoisted in rebel-held areas, yet Western journalists seem as oblivious to this as they are to the Islamist beards, chants and overt threats. Still holding out dreams of ‘democracy’ these journalists also seem oblivious to the long-term global consequences of Islamist sanctuaries in Syria.
It is reported that Aleppo’s Armenian community has hunkered down for the duration. Other Christians are doubtless doing the same. Some Christians, though, feel their only option is to take up arms to fight for the survival of their family. The battle has not yet reached the Christian quarters. However, a standard tactic in Islamist asymmetric warfare is to use women and children — and Christians wherever possible — as human shields and then exploit their deaths for propaganda in the West. Therefore we can expect jihadists will attempt to deliberately infiltrate Christian districts not only to kill Christians (whom they want to eliminate anyway) but also to draw the regime’s return fire into those districts. Indeed, only the LORD of hosts can prevent this.
SUDAN AND BURMA
Watching and listening to the news, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Syrian conflict was the world’s only war. On the contrary, regimes are waging war against predominantly Christian peoples in South Kordofan, Sudan and in Kachin State, Burma. The difference is, whilst the West is for regime change in Syria, it is against changing the brutal, Islamist, racist, Arab-supremacist regime in Khartoum, Sudan and the brutal, Buddhist-nationalist, racist Burman-supremacist regime in Burma. In each case, the Christians are on the wrong side of Western economic and geo-strategic interests! In each case, Christian peoples — children, parents, the elderly — are suffering immensely with hunger, tears, spilt blood and broken bones. However, this is being covered up continuously and without discernment by lazy, conformist media — apparently ignorant of historical and religious realities — who are echoing the official line. Surely God is NOT pleased.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT THE LORD OF HOSTS WILL
– by the power of the Holy Spirit draw his people close and increase their faith so they will hope in him (Psalm 33:18) and see answers to their prayers (Isaiah 30:19); may the devil have no victory over them.
– rise up to defend, shield and supply his precious people and vanquish their enemies. (Isaiah 40:10,11)
– raise his right arm against all jihadists and jihadist-allied forces in Syria, the regime of Omar el-Bashir in Khartoum, Sudan, and the Burmese junta in Naypyidaw; may those who seek to annihilate God’s precious children succeed only in securing God’s furious wrath. (Isaiah 31:4,5).
‘But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenceless! Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers! Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely. (Psalm 141:8-10 ESV)
With whole Christian communities facing existential threat, consider Psalm 33:8-19.
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
THE BATTLES RAGE IN SYRIA, SUDAN and BURMA
The battle for Aleppo is decisive. Jihadists are pouring in from around the world for this battle, fighting not for Syria, but for Islam. The Christians, who comprise about 10 percent of Aleppo’s 2.5 million population, are gravely imperilled. Whilst the fighting has not yet reached the Christian quarters, the jihadists doubtless know the propaganda coup they could score by drawing the regime’s fire into the Christian districts. Please pray for God’s protection. Meanwhile, wars continue to rage against Christian communities in South Kordofan, Sudan and Kachin State, Burma. In all these cases, the Christians are finding themselves on the wrong side of Western economic and geo-strategic ‘interests’. Please pray for God to rise up on behalf of his precious people.
To view this RLPB with hyperlinks, visit the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin blog
|Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. This prayer bulletin was initially written for the Australian Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (AEA RLC).
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