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OSMTH-I on Christian Crisis in Syria, Egypt with refugee needs in Jordon, Turkey & Iraq
Kidnapping of Syrians

Since you have asked me to join this discussion I shall share my thoughts. As I write this I am in Erbil , Iraq preparing for a conference of Syrian Kurds and Syriac/Assyrian Christians from the Al-Hassake region of Eastern Syria. I am working with my partner and colleague Bassam Ishak, a Syrian Orthodox Christian from Hassake and a prominent Syrian opposition leader. 

We are taking an innovative approach to protecting the Christian community in Syria by bringing Kurdish and Christian leaders together to forge a new social contract as a basis for a future together. We are focusing on the one region of Syria where it is possible to do something. I have been involved with Syria since 1990. I have conducted Faith-Based Reconciliation processes inside Syria but found the Assad regime almost impossible to deal with. They protect the Christians only out of using them as a counterweight to the Sunni Muslim community. I met on several occasions with the Grand Mufti, Sheik Hassoun, preached in his mosque in Aleppo and had him hand deliver a letter to President Assad from me. 

I have been involved with the Syrian opposition leaders since November 2011 when I was in Cairo to meet with Mohammed Morsi. Last year Bassam and I conducted two conferences in Cairo for a broad coalition of senior, middle and grassroots Syrian opposition leaders including leaders from both inside and outside. The focus was on national healing and reconciliation. 

The Syrian conflict has evolved from a genuine revolution to a sectarian civil war. The choices for Christians are difficult. I believe the Assad regime is genuinely evil. It is the equivalent of one of the Mafia crime families. Torture of citizens is routine and pervasive. The security apparatus makes Syria a massive Level Six prison. On the other hand Syria or part of it becoming an Islamist state is a very real possibility which would be a chilling alternative. There are no good choices here. I pity Mr. Obama. He has no good choices. His caution is merited. 

Hope this helps. 


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