Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Debate over US Action in Syria Divides Syrian-Americans

00 Allentown Protest. Syria. 31.08.13


As the international community and the US Congress debate the use of military force in Syria, Syrian-Americans found themselves sharply and passionately divided over whether such action would resolve the deadly civil war that’s raging in their homeland or virtually assure that the violence and turmoil would continue. In an action alert sent out Tuesday, the non-profit Syrian-American Council (SAC) said, “Congress must show the world that America isn’t afraid to act when a brutal dictator continues to disregard American warnings and defy international norms against the use of chemical weapons. American action must be decisive and strategic enough to end the war in Syria”. The group asked its members to call on Congress for “decisive and strategic” American intervention that’ll “pave the way” for a Syrian future that doesn’t include its current president, Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian Civil War has raged on since early 2011, with estimates putting the death toll at more than 100,000. Whilst the USA and several other nations provided humanitarian aid, they haven’t intervened militarily. However, according to an American intelligence report, the alleged chemical attack on civilians last month… forbidden under the Chemical Weapons Convention… killed more than 1,400 people including hundreds of children. The report builds a case that the Assad régime was responsible for the attack, and prompted calls for quick retaliation.

Doured Daghistani, a paediatric oncologist in Florida and a Syrian-American who came to the USA in 1982 and became a US citizen in 1990, said, “We know the régime owns chemical weapons and the regime is capable of firing them, so I’m very confident from the history that the régime did it, because it’s a sophisticated weapon. It was fired by missiles, and it killed an opposition area. Why rebels would attack themselves?” Daghistani said that his brother recently fled from Syria to Lebanon with his family, but their 94-year-old father, who has Alzheimer’s disease, remains in Damascus along with Doured’s sister, who cares for him. He said, “We can’t move them, and the last thing I want is for them to die with a chemical weapons attack, him and my sister. That’s just my nightmare”. Daghistani serves on the SAC board, which has been active, along with several other Syrian-American groups across the US, in organising rallies to call for American military intervention. He noted, “A hundred-thousand people have died, and, now, you have chemical weapons. It’s crazy! It’s mad! And it’s time to stop the madness”.

However, other Syrian-Americans are just as emphatic, insisting that the Assad régime isn’t responsible for the chemical weapons attack. Fr Anthony Sabbagh, who was born in Syria and who leads a largely Syrian-American congregation at St George Orthodox Church in Pennsylvania, home to one of the largest groups of Syrian-Americans in the USA, said, “I don’t think chemicals were used by the government at all. They didn’t even use it in the war against Israel when they were fighting. Our government must be smarter than that!” The church is raising funds to help Syrian refugees, and offers graphic details about Christians… including clergy… that they said were violently killed by rebel forces in Syria. Fr Anthony said, “Never, ever, did Bashar or the Syrian régime consider Christians to be the enemy, because we’re peaceful people. So is the régime, too. That’s proof for us that it isn’t the Syrian régime or even the Army that used chemicals against its own people. This is why England, our best ally, backed off”, in reference to a vote by the British Parliament last week not to support a military strike on Syria.

Moussa Abdallah, a member of the church who moved to the USA from Syria in 1979 and still has many family members in in his native land, said that he, too, doesn’t believe that the Syrian government is responsible for the attack, saying, “I believe and I’m quite sure who used the chemical weapons, it’s the rebels. I’m sure because I know my country, I served in the army, I know exactly what’s going on. Do you believe the Syrian government used chemical weapons before the inspectors came? Common sense, just put it in your head and ask yourself, would they do that? Like we are animals coming from the jungle?” He believed that Saudi Arabia supplied rebel forces with chemical weapons, and that Qatar provided protective masks that the rebels didn’t know how to use, so, the accidental explosion that resulted killed hundreds.

A call to action by the International Action Center (IAC), which opposes American wars abroad, including intervention in Syria, emphatically stated, “Hands Off Syria!” The group is organising roughly a dozen marches and rallies in various American cities in the coming days, including a march from the White House to Capitol Hill on 9 September, the day Congress returns from summer recess and will consider US President Barack Obama‘s request for a congressional vote approving military action in Syria. An IAC statement said, “President Obama is using the same tactics as President Bush did before the Iraq War. Ten years later, Iraq lay in ruins. A million Iraqis died, millions became refugees. More than 1.5 million American soldiers were deployed to Iraq”. Friends of Syria, a volunteer group that says it “spreads the truth to prevent war”, posted an online photo of the Twin Towers burning in New York on 9/11, with the stark message, “Who knew that 12 years later we’d have a president who wants to arm and come to the defence of the people who did this?” It’s a grim reference to concerns that al-Qaeda has joined rebel forces in Syria.

Russia blocked a vote by the UN Security Council to approve military force against Syria, a move that strained American-Russian relations. Dr Daghistani said that when former US President Bill Clinton was faced with evidence of genocide that killed tens of thousands in Kosovo, he acted “on his own, without the Security Council, without the UN, without the blessing of every other country on earth, to do the right thing at the end of the day, to save the people that were dying. So, why we care about Russia right now? Russia has their own Putin, he’s half-naked all over the place, he wants to show like he’s a superman, and they want to show like he can snap Obama’s hand into whatever he wants. Russia is nothing! Now, we care about Russia? It’s crazy!”

3 September 2013

Maria Young



Editor’s Note:

The anti-war people amongst Arab-Americans tend to be Christians (of all traditional “flavours”, by the way), whilst the pro-war people tend to be Sunni Muslims (although, truth be told, perhaps, not a majority of this cohort) and assimilated sorts who’ve converted to Sectarian Evangelicalism. That is, Orthodox (both Eastern and Oriental) and Catholics tend to oppose American intervention. I know of no major religious leader of such groups who advocate the use of American military force in the region. NONE. This will set up tensions in the AOCANA… the ethnic Arabs are solidly anti-war, whilst many of the konvertsy amongst them are neocons who support American warmongering throughout the world. We Russians support our Syrian confrères in the Orthosphere to the hilt. So do the Greeks, Serbs, Romanians, and other real Orthodox… there’s no hesitation… an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. This may drive a wedge between traditional Arab-American Christians and those who’ve assimilated into a more “American” pattern. It’s what I see. God willing, there’ll be no war… please, God, let that be so. America has spilt enough blood in its insane drive for global hegemony in the last twenty years… it has to end.




Metropolitan Philip Saliba on the Syrian Crisis

00 Syrian Christian Girls Easter


Editor’s Foreword:

Lest I be accused of anti-Semitism by some overheated Zionist nutter, I state here that I’ve presented Metropolitan Philip Saliba‘s words in their entirety. I refuse to censor anyone in the name of Political Correctness, no matter how powerful a particular faction may be. We’re all the poorer for kowtowing to such. I shall speak frankly… to disagree with a particular Jew or with the State of Israel isn’t anti-Semitism, and I’ll hold and express that without shame. Anti-Zionism isn’t racism… and that’s that.



We gather this evening to pray for the repose of the souls of the Arab martyrs who died in a vain war which history never experienced. When a revolution in Tunisia overthrew President Zin al-Abidin bin Ali, and when another revolution in Libya overthrew Colonel Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, the USA said, “This is the Arab Spring“. In the June issue of Word Magazine, which expresses the opinion of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, I wrote an editorial titled: Is this an Arab Spring or a tornado? This tornado extended to wounded Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, beloved Syria, and beautiful Lebanon, whilst Jordan stands these days on the edge of the abyss. After the Zionists’ gangs defeated all Arab armies during the first war between the Arabs and Israel, the great Syrian poet Omar Abu Risha, with much indignation, delivered a poem in Aleppo that said:

My nation, do you have among other nations a pulpit for the sword or pen?
I look at you with much sadness ashamed from your past which has vanished.
My nation, how many idols you glorified which did not have the purity of an idol?

This past which has vanished, and over which Omar Abu Risha shed tears, is the dawn of Islam when the Prophet Muhammad destroyed the idols of al-Kaʿbah. As our Lord Jesus Christ drove out the traders from the Temple saying to them, “My House is a house of prayer, but you have made out of it a den for thieves”. Are the Salafists and fundamentalists who slay children as if they are sheep and who stab men in the chest to take out the hearts of their enemies and eat them are Muslims? Oh my God, NO! They’re blasphemers, and if you don’t believe me, go to the Holy Quran and learn forgiveness and love. The Quran states, “Man is the brother of man whether he likes it or not”.

Advise them to read Sura al Imran, Sura al-Ma’ida, and Sura Maryam; then, maybe, they’d understand. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you and if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also”. He also said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. When we see rivers of blood streaming in the Arab streets, we can’t help but ask, “Are they really Muslims?” Moreover, when we see the Christian West supply Arab countries and Arab people with lethal weapons to kill each other we can’t help but ask, “Where are the Christians?”

Four months ago, gunmen abducted two Orthodox Archbishops from Aleppo, namely Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim and Archbishop Boulos al-Yazigi. Rumour has it that they’re imprisoned between the Syrian and Turkish borders and other rumours say that they’ve been killed and departed to the Heavenly Kingdom. What did these two God-loving Archbishops, who dedicated their lives to prayer, good deeds, and preaching love do to deserve such treatment? Why haven’t we heard anything from them or their captors after all these days? Real revolutions are made for creating a new world, not for kidnapping, murder, stealing, burning churches and mosques, kidnapping bishops, and shedding the blood of priests.

I don’t want to talk too long, however, allow me to conclude this message with some verses of poetry which were written by the famous and great Damascene poet, Nizar Kabbani, may his soul rest in peace, during the commemoration of the establishment of the Arab League in Egypt, which moved to Tunisia after President Anwar al-Sadat signed that shameful peace with Israel. I remember from this famous poem the following immortal verses:

O green Tunisia I have come to you as a lover,
And on my forehead there is a book and a rose.
I am the Damascene whose profession is love.
He sang and the earth and the forest became green.
I am tired my friend with my Arabism.
Is Arabism a curse and torture?
The Arab world is either a slain
Lamb or a butcher ruler.

This is our tragic condition today. May the peace and the mercy of God and His blessings be upon you.

28 August 2013




Still More on the Missile Event

00 Iskander missile 02


On Tuesday, an official from the alliance told RIA-Novosti that NATO has no information about the launch of “ballistic targets” in the Mediterranean; it’s looking into those reports. Earlier on Tuesday, Minoborony said that its early warning systems detected the launch of two “ballistic targets” in the Mediterranean. The Pentagon, the UK and French Defence Ministries, and the Israel Defence Forces all told RIA-Novosti that they had no information about such launches. A French Defence Ministry spokesman said, “The Defence Ministry can’t confirm these media reports. This is all I can say”. A Minoborony spokesman said that a radar in Armavir detected the launch at 10.16 MSK (23.16 2 September PDT. 02.16 EDT. 07.16 UTC. 17.16 AEDT). The targets’ trajectories ran from the central to the eastern Mediterranean. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reported the launch to President Vladimir Putin. The Minoborony press service wasn’t immediately available for further comment. The Russian Embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus said that it didn’t have any information about the launch.


An Israeli Defence Ministry official in Tel Aviv said that the Israeli military launched the two “ballistic targets” detected Tuesday in the Mediterranean by the Russian military as part of a joint US/Israeli test of its missile defence system, saying, “The launches we’re talking about were a test of the Anchor target missile that’s used for testing our missile defence system”. The launches were part of joint tests with the US military, and that radars in Israel successfully tracked them. A diplomatic source in Damascus told RIA-Novosti that the targets fell into the sea. A RIA-Novosti correspondent reported that the streets and residents of the Syrian capital appeared calm.

3 September 2013




Clarification of Missile Event in Mediterranean



On Tuesday, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin that Russian missile detection systems registered two launches of ballistic missiles in the Mediterranean region, apparently, from the eastern coastline. Minoborony said that the launches took place at 10.16 am MSK (23.16 2 September PDT. 02.16 EDT. 07.16 UTC. 17.16 AEDT); the early warning system in Armavir in southern Russia detected them. The event comes amidst growing expectations of Western military action in Syria. The Syrian Embassy in Moscow said that it had no information on the nature of the ballistic launches.


Minoborony reported that the Russian early missile attack warning system registered the launch of two ballistic targets in the Mediterranean Sea, saying, “A crew of the radar division of the system in Armavir detected the launch”. The flight trajectory of the two ballistic targets extended from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea fired towards the Sea’s eastern coastline. The launches took place at 10.16 MSK (23.16 2 September PDT. 02.16 EDT. 07.16 UTC. 17.16 AEDT); the early warning system in Armavir in southern Russia detected them. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reported the event to President Putin, which came amidst growing expectations of Western military action in Syria. The Russian embassy in Syria said that it saw no sign of missile attack or explosions in Damascus after Aramvir detected the launches. A spokesman for the Russian diplomatic mission in Damascus said, “I know nothing about this”. The Pentagon denied any knowing of the alleged Mediterranean missile launches. Israel also said that it was unaware of any ballistic missile launch in the eastern Mediterranean. A military spokesman in Jerusalem said, “We aren’t aware, at this time, of such an event having occurred”.


RIA-Novosti cited a source in Damascus as saying that the two ballistic “objects” that Russia detected near the eastern coast of the Mediterranean on Tuesday fell into the sea. Meanwhile, the UK Ministry of Defence said that they were “aware of the launch”, but had nothing to do with it.


According to a Syrian security source quoted by Lebanon‘s al-Manar television on Tuesday, Syria’s early warning radar system didn’t detect any missiles landing on Syrian territory. On Tuesday, Russian radar detected the launch of two ballistic “objects” in the Mediterranean Sea, but RIA-Novosti reported that there was no sign of a missile strike on the Syrian capital Damascus.


An US official told the CBC that no American ship or aircraft launched missiles in the Mediterranean Sea. Also, the NORAD press service told Interfax that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has no information on the launch of ballistic missiles in the Mediterranean Sea.


Interfax reported that missiles detected by the Russian early warning system could’ve been launched from an American vessel in Mediterranean for weather reconnaissance.


Israel said that it carried out a test of a missile, used as a target in a US-funded anti-missile system, in the Mediterranean on Tuesday. The Israeli Defence Ministry said hat it conducted the test at 09.15 local time (23.15 2 September PDT. 02.15 EDT. 07.15 UTC. 17.15 AEDT), about the same time that RIA-Novosti reported that Russian radar detected the launch of two ballistic “objects” in the Mediterranean.

3 September 2013

Voice of Russia World Service








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