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GOD'S TEARS OVER SYRIA

By Thomas Cromwell

The United Nations estimates that at least 93,000 Syrians have died in the civil war that is drenching that country in blood and tears.

There is no way to measure suffering, but the Syrian people have undoubtedly paid an extraordinarily high price in human misery under the Baathist regime of the Assad family. Only Saddam Hussein's Baathist Iraq created a worse human rights record in recent Middle East history.

Perhaps most heart-wrenching in a UN report issued on May 15 by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to the Security Council is the victimization of children in the Syrian conflict. They have been used as human shields and suicide bombers. And regime forces have tortured children believed to be helping the rebels.

"Child detainees, largely boys and as young as 14 years old, suffered similar or identical methods of torture as adults, including electric shock, beatings, stress positions and threats and acts of sexual torture," the report  said.

Can any human behavior be more base or bestial? Can any human behavior tear more dreadfully at God's heartstrings?

The Syrian civil war is now unequivocally sectarian. The pro-Shia Alawite-dominated regime is supported by Shia-majority Iran, Shia Hezballah from Lebanon, and elements from Shia-majority Iraq. Arms are provided willingly but old Cold War patron, Russia.

The opposition is dominated by Sunnis, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These backers can provide funds, but not the weapons to give the rebels a military edge of their deeply entrenched government foes.

So all eyes are looking to the United States to step up and provide the arms needed to give the rebels a fighting chance against the Syrian government forces. But President Barack Obama is eying polls that show little US support for escalating military engagement in Syria.

Obama is no doubt wishing Syria would simply go away, especially now that Washington is convinced that Assad has crossed Obama's 'red line' by using chemical weapons. But Syria will not go away, and if he doesn’t stand by his own words, Obama will be doing the sort of damage to America’s international reputation that he constantly accused President Bush of.

The people who are supposed to be able to explain Syria to us (the foreign policy experts) can only mumble that it is a very complicated situation. And so it is. Unlike the Middle East disputes that can be analyzed in the framework of the familiar Arab-Israeli conflict, Syria is becoming an intra-Muslim Armageddon without any possible virtuous outcome. How to explain that in political science speak?

A sectarian war is a nice way of saying a war in which both sides are bent on destroying the other in the name of God. Could any war be more abhorrent to God?

We look at Syria in puzzlement and dismay.

God must look at Syria with exquisite anguish and unending tears.


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