A Conversation with a Syrian

Iyad moved to Canada along with his wife and child five years ago.  A Syrian Christian, he has stayed in constant communication with friends and family back home during the civil war.  I sat down with Iyad to discuss his take on the Syrian conflict.

LS: You’ve been in Canada for a few years now.  How difficult is it for you to see the situation in your homeland?

IYAD: It’s bad.  As you know, the war has thrown Syria into Hell.  My people are caught between a government that has a history of aligning with Iran and Hezbollah, and Rebel forces that are groups of Islamic terrorists.  The innocent are caught in the middle.

LS: Estimates are more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed so far. 

IYAD: …caused by both sides.  I’ve watched media blame Assad for all the deaths, which is ridiculous.  Of course government forces have killed some insurgents, but the Rebels have a lot of blood on their hands. 

LS: About that – we’ve heard lots of rumors about atrocities caused by the anti-Assad Rebels such as the mass killing of Christians and other non-Islamic groups.  You must be especially worried about the safety of your fellow Christians.

IYAD: Absolutely.  You’ve seen the video of the jihadist eating the heart of a Syrian soldier. Look, the Assad regime and that of his father before him are not the most benign government.  I know the allegiances to countries like Iran.  I know the Russian influence.  But as a Christian, I was never the target of persecution for my beliefs in Syria.  I was allowed to practice my religion in relative peace.  What would happen under an al-Qaeda influenced Jihadist regime?  It would be the end of any non-Islamic religious freedom.  It would also almost assuredly mean death.

LS: Obama is pushing the claim of chemical weapons use as a reason to launch what he has called a ‘limited military strike’.  What do you make of the impending U.S. attack and its consequences?

IYAD: I’m against any U.S. or NATO intervention whatsoever, and a so-called ‘limited’ attack will only be done for Obama’s image.  There is nothing to be gained.  What is the target, the Syrian air force?  The government?  Chemical weapons storage sites?  How do you safely bomb chemical weapons?

LS: While some Western leaders have expressed support for Obama’s plan, citizens of those nations seem strongly against any action.

IYAD: I don’t blame them.  The evidence of an attack is questionable at best, so accusing one side of it is useless until more proof is shown.  So far, we’ve been told by authorities that the chemical used was Sarin, which is a nerve gas.  Then we’re told the French have found evidence of chlorine, which is not a nerve agent.  Were both used?  Neither?

LS: Do you believe the message being put out is fair to the situation, or is there too much spin from all sides for someone to get an accurate account of what’s really going on?

IYAD: A narrative is being played. There is a small town about 40 minutes outside of Damascus.  It’s an historic place populated by Christians who have been there for centuries.  I was told by members of my family that Rebel forces overran the town, gathered all the children, and took them away.  Only a few days later, after the alleged chemical attack, images of the dead were shown for the world to see.  The media and the U.S. claimed the video was proof of Assad’s chemical weapon use.  The townspeople have been trying to tell the world that the dead are their children, killed by the Rebels.  No one is listening.

LS: You see the U.S. siding with the ‘wrong side’, as it were?

IYAD: After Benghazi, do you trust Obama? No, they shouldn’t be taking sides.  We have a situation where the American president has strong links to the Muslim Brotherhood and by extension jihadists.  America is in bed with the same terror group that attacked New York on 9/11/01.  No wonder the American people are against action.  The fact is, this is a sectarian war that has no impact on the West.

LS: How do you see Syria in five years?

IYAD: An Islamic caliphate with a trail of dead Christians.

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