—Seems to be the agenda of this ‘report’ from Martin Chulov, about ‘ethnic cleansing of Sunnis’ in Syria:
Almost everything in this report contradicts my idea about the situation facing Syrians in the areas where the Syrian army is regaining control of towns and cities – which they rightly call ‘liberation’. Many reliable sources within Syria report the current situation; following the liberation of Al Qusair from a year of occupation by foreign and local militants and jihadis, and a ceasefire and peace deal arranged in Tel Kalakh, a town also on the Lebanese border, the supply of weapons and supplies to rebels remaining in the Old city in Homs has dried up.
Homs, which became the heart of the revolution, and a place where early massacres were staged to try and force Western intervention, is now about to be restored to relative safety, so that displaced residents can return to their homes – if they are still standing. Patrick Cockburn has documented this well in a recent article:
At the same time, efforts are being made through all levels of society, to try to restore peace and security, and bring about reconciliation in villages and towns. In many cases it seems that young men who took up arms with the ‘revolution’ have now given up on it and returned to help Syria fight the foreign jihadis with their Sharia state ambitions, and their allegiances with Gulf and Western powers and agendas. NATO declared recently that these mostly ‘Al Qaeda’ linked groups are the only ones now fighting, yet today the US has authorised the CIA to ‘start’ supplying them with arms…
None of this is the picture presented by Chulov, and his assistants Mona Mahmood and Mowaffaq Safadi. Part of the reason for this extraordinary inversion of reality, where the Alawite communities are portrayed as threatening the Sunni, is the choice of ‘sources’. We hear from the likes of ‘Abu Ahmed’ from the Al Farouq brigade of Homs – the very fighters responsible for massacres of Alawites in a campaign of terror and harassment. We also hear from ‘activists’, unidentified except by their single minded viewpoint about the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah, which is oddly close to that of paranoids such as Avigdor Lieberman. More worryingly we hear the supposed views of ‘Alawite students’ – a distinction of religion that is quite foreign to Syrians, and rather suspect.
We need to realise that most members of the Syrian government are Sunni, reflecting the general population. Also quoted is Walid Jumblatt, an ex-leader in Lebanon who is strongly anti-Syrian. If Chulov had sought the opinion of Christian leader Michel Aoun, or Michel Suleiman, he would never have heard such silly talk as ‘religious cleansing’.
Is such a report just ‘careless’ – considering the assistance it gives to those seeking Western support to fight Syria’s army to the death?
If you read it… remember the opinion of Mother Agnes Mariam (asked yesterday) on what it says:
“It is exactly the contrary that is happening and it is documented even by the UN”
As someone who has worked to reconcile communities following the horrors of the past two years, she can speak with authority; she also speaks with surprising confidence about the national spirit, and desire for this restoration of security and neighbourhood unity.