Friday News: The Christian Exodus From The Middle East
The Vanishing Christian Population In The Middle East
Christians – from the Coptic Christians to the Druze – have lived in the Middle East for centuries. Yet, their numbers are rapidly declining as many flee persecution.
Reza Aslan writes in Foreign Affairs about the exodus from Egypt and Syria and how the eradication of Christians in the region by both secular and Islamist regimes is a benefit to no one.
“But it is important to note that the removal of the region’s Christians is a disaster for Muslims as well. They are the ones who will be left with the task of building decent societies in the aftermath of these atrocities. And that task will be made immeasurably harder by the removal of Christians from their midst. It is not just that the memory of these brutal actions will taint these societies — perpetrators and victims alike — for the indefinite future; it is also that Muslims are removing the sort of pluralism that is the foundation for any truly democratic public life,” she writes.
Is Environmental Decay Responsible For The Syrian Civil War?
Nayan Chanda believes so. In fact, Chanda argues that environmental decay is largely responsible for kick-starting the tensions and civil war that began five years ago.
Writing in the India Times, Chanda says a “deeper analysis” shows that “it was an environmental catastrophe hitting the country’s agricultural belt five years ago that set the Syrian conflict in motion” and that catastrophe is a warning to India, which has similar climate problems.
Chanda points to an essay in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a global security scholar, Shahrzad Mohtadi, has explained the deep connection between climate change and political uprising in Syria. While India “has weathered many challenges to its unity and is better equipped to cope with natural calamity today than at any point in the past,” Chanda contends that “ignoring the challenge of global warming and squandering non-renewable resources today will surely prove a reckless gamble in the future.”
Does the Assad Regime Serve Russia’s Interests?
While Vladimir Putin may continue to defend Syria in the United Nations, as well as on the New York Times editorial page, the regime of Bashir al-Assad may not be in Russia’s long-term interests.
“In fact, if the Russians, as good political realists, are pursuing their national interests, it seems likely that Assad will have to be sacrificed at some point for them to succeed. The reason is simple: in the absence of a military victory, his indefinite presence as head of state would only provoke indefinite conflict in Syria.
“Assad’s chances of re-imposing himself as a legitimate leader – after more than 100,000 dead and acknowledgment that he has chemical weapons, which he had previously denied – is negligible. If Russia seeks stability, Assad’s staying in power is the major obstacle to this,” argues Michael Young in NOW Lebanon.
Robert Farley echoes Young’s sentiments saying that Russia may soon regret its decision to assume “ownership” of Syria through its vigorous defense of Assad.
“As with all patron-client relationships in the international system, however, the Russian decision to take ownership of Syrian chemical weapons policy may prove less savvy in the medium and long run than in the short. China and the United States have both learned that tight patron-client relationships can put onerous responsibilities on the patron as well as the client. Russia may shortly be re-learning that lesson,” cautions Farley.