Mairead Maguire: “We must each do all in our power to Resist and Stop this latest drive to war!”

I’m proud to call Mairead Maguire my friend, not only because of her historic work in Northern Ireland that earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976, but even more so on account of the way she continues to pour herself into the work of peace worldwide!

Let us join Mairead, and people who have a heart for peace around the world, in doing all we can to resist this latest drive to war!

Father Dave

meeting up with Mairead Maguire in Tehran

with Mairead in Tehran

From: Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate Co-founder Peace People –

USA/UK Committed Genocide Against Iraq People between l990/2012 killed 3.3 million including –750,000 children through sanctions and war

On September llth, 2014, President Obama, President of USA, on the anniversary of Sept., 11th, in his speech promised the world more war, and especially the people of Iraq and Syria when he promised that together with his coalition partners, they would kill every ISIS person in Iraq, Syria, or anywhere in the world they may be. He described ISIS as cancer cells and promised they would be all killed off.    His Speech was chilling and had the desired effect of reminding us all just how low morally and intellectually the American Administration, and their Coalition, have sunk.

For the President to ignore the fact that the USA/UK, NATO, have committed genocide against the Iraq people between l990/2012 killing 3.3 million including 750,000 Iraqi children through sanctions and war, not including subsequent wars by USA/Nato, against Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, and their attempted and well funded efforts through a proxy war to destroy Syria, is criminal.  The Iraqi war (as indeed is the war against Gaza by Israel) is a classic definition of Genocide. These past and current Foreign Policies of military aggression break all International Laws, to which the President makes no reference, and will only result in more killings and more hatred of the West.

That the US Administration plans to escalate military attacks in Iraq and Syria and to increase funding and training of ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria, is a betrayal of all those people in these countries struggling through peaceful and nonviolent ways to solve their problems without guns and violence.   If the US wants to stop ISIS, it can remove its funding and arms, which are coming from US allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and others and from the US itself, through intermediaries like the Syrian ‘rebels’.   It is the USA, and their allies, who have created the conditions, funded and facilitated the growth of these reactionary Jihadist organizations. If the USA/UK really wants to stop ISIS they should work with the Syrian Government, support the people who have been the main victims of ISIS, and support the Syrian peace and reconciliation movement who are working to stop the violence and bring real change in their country.

The USA Administration policy of air strikes against ISIS in Syria and increasing funding for the moderate rebels is illegal under international law, as it is illegal for the US to fund, train, weaponize and co-ordinate to overthrow the regime of a sovereign state.   Also the airspace of any country is its own and USA must get Syrian authorization to fly over Syria. (Illegally Israel continues to fly over and bomb Syria). Having visited Iraq before the second war, and Syria in 2013 and 2014 and witnessed that the people of both countries were brave and courageous and trying to solve their problems ( in Syria, a proxy war with thousands of foreign Jihadists) through peace and reconciliation. In Syria, they asked that there be no outside interference and aggression on their country, as this would make things worse, not better. Under International Law the US Gov. NATO and any coalition forces should respect the wishes of the people of the Middle East and Syria, and recognize it is for the people of Syria to modify or change their government and not for the US or Saudi Arabia or NATO. Ending militarism and war is possible and restoring justice, human rights and dignity for all the people, will bring peace and we must each do all in our power to Resist and Stop this latest drive to war and demand our governments withdraw from this Coalition of war with USA.


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Jon Stewart parodies Obama's war on 'Islamic State'

This is a powerful mixture of insight and humour from Jon Stewart, though the way he frames the parody does concern me.

Stewart rails against Obama’s ‘Team America’ pitch in selling another Middle Eastern war with a view to questioning whether it can possibly be successful. At the same time though he leaves unasked the more fundamental questions such as:

  • Does the US have any right to play the role of world police?
  • Is this really what is motivating the US to start another world war?

One of the classic strategies of those who market death is to encourage debate within a framework that already assumes the basic precepts that they are trying to sell. If the only question asked about Mr Obama’s latest war is whether it is winnable all hope for peace has already been lost.

Having said that, the question of whether the US can win such a war is still a valid one and deserves the sort of analysis Stewart subjects it to, and there is plenty of insight displayed here. The appearance of Emperor Palpatine (from Star Wars) is particularly apt, I think – highlighting the fact that the US neo-cons really are driving America to become the evil empire that Lucas so graphically depicted.

Father Dave

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Why are we worried about the Islamic State? Did I miss something?

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The war-drums are beating. Hysteria is spreading across the nation and reaching fever pitch! Al Baghdadi and his hordes of masked men are on their way to kill us all! Nobody is safe! First Syria, then Iraq, next … Australia? Poor James Foley is the sign of things to come. Soon white men everywhere will be losing their heads!

I must have missed something! Last time I checked the ‘Islamic State’ was not actually a state and the army of the non-state state barely warranted the title army.

I don’t mean to minimise the terrible acts of carnage that have taken place and I am thankful indeed that I’m not living in Northern Iraq at the moment but, looking at the big picture, Al Baghdadi and his crew are no more than a large band of mercenaries, drawn together from around the world through misguided religious zeal along with the usual lust for power and money. They have been funded by foreign investors and have managed to secure for themselves are large cache of arms and supplies. But they are a weed without roots! They are not a country with an ongoing flow of resources. They have no industry behind them, no government, no international trade agreements, and hence no future! They are a weed without roots. When the external funding dries up so will they! Like a weed scorched by the sun they will wither and blow away.

Oh, but have I forgotten that they’ve been enriching themselves by robbing banks and taking over oil fields?

Not at all! What difference does that make?

I appreciate that if me and a few mates rob a bank and run off with a fistful of money we can go to the next town and start spending that money, but if me and a few thousand mates completely empty a bank it’s not that simple. I can’t imagine that piles of stolen bank notes are going to going to be honoured by international bankers and if they’ve stolen thousands of ingots of gold who are they going to trade them with? Your gold is worth nothing unless you have someone to trade it with!

As for the oil fields, even if we assume that these mercenaries have within their ranks persons capable of managing the whole process of oil extraction and refinement, who are they going to trade with? Has Baghdadi been working on a pipeline agreement with Russia perhaps? Is the USA likely to start buying his oil if the price is right?

OK. I’m told that Baghdadi has already successfully traded some oil through the black market in Turkey (if selling your oil for $10/barrel when it’s sold on for $100/barrel can be called ‘successful’) but the UN has already made moves to crack down on this trade and that sort of black-market trade is never going to bring in the sort of income required to finance an army in the field, let alone a whole state! At any rate, how much effort would it take for the US and its allies to make sure that strict sanctions are put in place, completely curtailing the trading activities of this new state? Is it really cheaper and easier to bomb them all into oblivion?

Yes, there is another agenda at work here!

We cannot overlook the fact that ISIS/ISIL/IS was funded and nurtured from the very beginning by the West and its Gulf State clients. Recent publications on WikiLeaks make clear that back in 2007 Syria tried to persuade the US to join them in subduing these Al Qaeda affiliates but instead the US decided to use these militants against the Syrian government – funding them and training them in northern Jordan!

And we cannot overlook the fact that the US has been champing at the bit to once again take the reins of Iraq:

  • Malaki simply didn’t perform as a US client. He resisted the presence of US military bases and didn’t favour US companies in the reconstruction of his country.
  • Re-invasion gives the US a pretext for establishing an independent Kurdistan with a friendly government in the north of Iraq where most of the oil is.
  • Ousting IS from Iraq can’t be done without purging them from Syria as well, and once the US military is inside the borders of Syria it won’t take long before they are in Damascus, toppling the Assad government as they had been trying to do up till now through the very people they are now trying to destroy!

Yes, there are lots of questions that should be being asked here but there is little space for rational debate when you’re constantly bombarded with images of beheadings and crucifixions and hearing young idealists screaming on about killing the infidel! Nobody seems to notice what is missing in all this rhetoric – namely, an Islamic State spokesperson talking about how his government is attempting to set up a long-term trading relationship with Ecuador! No, there are no discussions about long-term trade relationships with anybody because those who are pulling the strings know full well that there is no long-term!

I appreciate that Mr Foley’s murder was horrible and tragic but the death of two thousand people in Gaza was two thousand times more tragic, the deaths of two hundred thousand in Syria is two hundred thousand times more tragic, and the death of a million Iraqis has been a million times more tragic. The US has blood on its hands in every one of these arenas. Indeed, the hands of the US and its allies (including Australia) are not just blood-stained but blood-drenched and still dripping! And how much more blood will now be spilt once the whole process of re-invasion begins again? How many more Iraqis will die? How many more Syrians? And how many more Islamic State sympathisers will be created as the world watches the Western imperialist powers pursue their ambitions at the expense of the more Muslim peoples?!

No! Just cut off their funding! The Islamic State are a weed without roots. Once we stop the flow of money the Islamic State will dry up and wither and disappear. We in the West have nothing to fear from Al Baghdadi and his band of mercenaries but we have everything to fear from the whirlwind that will eventuate if Mr Obama’s dogs of war are let off their leash!

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Supporting Syria – an address by Father Dave

An address given at the Imam Husain Islamic Centre on July 25th, 2014

It is hard to know how to talk about Syria as there are really two entirely different and competing narratives about Syria, and how you understand the different elements in the drama really depends on which of these narratives you adopt.

The popular ‘Western’ narrative – the one that has been propagated by the US and by most of the Gulf States, and the one which has been the dominant media narrative in this country – is one that Speaks of a ‘civil war’ taking place in Syria – one that started with protests against the tyrannical rule of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. These popular protests, the narrative goes, started out as peaceful but quickly turned violent due to the violent overreaction from the Syrian Army.

Those who adopt this narrative admit, of course, that the initially-secular uprising aimed at replacing the Assad government with one that was more democratic and representative was quickly eclipsed by a Jihadist agenda due to powerful insurgency groups such as ISIS (or ISIL and now just IS) and Jabhat Al Nusra, and it is questionable now whether the original ‘moderate’ rebels who represent the hopes of the broader Syrian population now have any chance of achieving their political goals.

This, as I say, is the first narrative, and the one that viewers of the major TV stations in this country (and across the English-speaking world) will be most familiar with. The alternative narrative suggests that there is no civil war in Syria and that there never was one.

The alternative narrative does not deny that the trouble started with a series of protests in Homs in March 2011, but it does deny that they were ever non-violent. These protests, it is said, were infiltrated from the beginning by foreign agents with an agenda for the destabilisation and destruction of Syria as part of a broader plan to isolate Iran and strengthen Israel and other US-aligned states in the region.

This is the narrative of the government and any number of grass-roots organisations and Syrians on the ground, such as Father Franz of Homs – the wonderful Jesuit priest of Homs who was shot in the head by a rebel assailant only a few days before we arrived in Homs!

According to the alternative narrative, there never was a broad dissatisfaction with the leadership of Bashar Al-Assad, and neither did the so-called ‘rebel government’ ever really speak for most of the people of Syria.

The legitimacy of the ‘rebel government’ indeed should be called into question despite the recognition it received early on from the US and its allies. When Denning and I were first in Damascus in 2013, we met with members of the democratic opposition. They said they didn’t know who these people were!  They said that these people had not been a part of the political process in Syria up to that point but were simply opportunists and upstarts.

As to the popularity of Assad, you need only look at the results of the recent elections. He received 88% of the vote – a remarkable majority by anybody’s reckoning.

You have probably picked up that I’m far more sympathetic to the second narrative than the first, though I’m not suggesting that I simply accept whatever I’ve been told by the government.

I don’t doubt that there is corruption in the Assad government. There is corruption in every government. Even so, even those who criticise the terrible corruption of the ‘Assad regime’, seem to acknowledge that Assad himself is not the main culprit. This again makes a mockery of the Western narrative that suggests that removing Assad will somehow cure the country’s ills.

Having said that about the political situation in Syria I don’t want to comment on it further. I am not an expert on political matters and indeed politics is not my focus. Our concern in our trips to Syria has been in dealing with people at the grass-roots, and this is where I hope we can make a contribution.

I remember vividly the first moments of my arrival in Damascus. I was embraced by a Syrian mother who was crying and hysterical – “they killed my son. They blew him up. They put a bomb in his pocket” she was saying.  She showed me a crumpled picture of her boy (who couldn’t have been more than 12 years old). “And why did they do it? Because we are Shia!” she said.

This was my first first-hand introduction to the sectarian violence of Syria – Sunni against Shia, Muslims against Christians, etc. – and it’s a key element in the dominant narrative that this sort of sectarian violence has always been lying just under the surface in Syria as it has been across the Middle East. The violent response of Assad’s army (so the narrative goes) lit the fuse that ignited all of these underlying sectarian tensions. I must say that whatever I don’t believe in the dominant narrative, I definitely do NOT believe that.

Having now got to know quite a number of Syrian people, I am convinced that sectarianism has never been a part of Syrian culture. Christians and Muslims, Sunni and Shia, have for many generations lived alongside one another without any great difficulty. Sectarianism is not a part of Syrian culture. Mind you, I’m told that the same was true of Iraq. I’ve heard Iraqis say that before the US-led invasion of 2003 they didn’t know whether their neighbours were Sunnis or Shia!

Indeed, if I can share with you something said to me last year by Dr Chandra Muzaffar – the great Malaysian academic and human-rights activist – he said to me last year “Dave, do you realise that the modern divide between Sunni and Shia only goes back to the Iranian revolution! What does that tell you? It tells you that this division is a creation of the West.” The US lost control of Iran when the Shah was deposed and so the B-plan was to weaken Iran through creating sectional divisions across the region.

This is the old ‘divide and conquer’ strategy that has been used by world empires throughout history in order to maintain control of nations in their dominion. The British used this strategy to control 650 million Indians (as it was at the time) with less than 65,000 British troops, and you’ll find plenty of material from Wikileaks demonstrating how the US has carried out a similar program of sewing dissension between Shia and Sunni across the Levant.

The great irony of this, of course, is that it means that these takfiri militants – so obsessed with killing the dreaded Shia as a part of their holy crusade – are actually doing no more than carrying out the will of their imperialist masters (the very group that they would claim they most despise)!

I said I wasn’t going to say any more about politics and obviously I haven’t kept to that commitment. The problem is that it’s very difficult to understand the suffering of individual men, women and children in Syria (and across the Levant) without having a grasp of the broader forces that are driving the violence. Even so, let me conclude my words today by focusing exclusively on the small contribution I and the Fighting Fathers hope to make in Syria.

When Denning and I travelled to Syria this year we took with us Australian boxing champion Solomon Egberime. Our plan was to see what the options were for running boxing training sessions for young people across Syria.  History shows that sport (and boxing in particular) has regularly played a very constructive role in helping bring communities together and heal social divisions – Ireland and South Africa being two outstanding examples.

Even if all violence in Syria stops tomorrow it will be many years before the country is fully recovered. My thought was that during this time we might be able to bring some high-level sports people from Australia into Syria to help with that rebuilding process by bringing some joy to the kids of Syria and by building links of friendship between our countries.

We were very well received in Syria. Our boxing champion, Solomon, turned out to be a terrific hit with the local young people and the Syrian Olympic Committee expressed complete support for our initiative. Having now returned to Australia, my hope is that we can gather together a team of high-profile professionals and return to Syria to run a series of training camps in places such as Homs, Damascus, and even Yarmouk, where there are so many orphaned children and where so many young people need to learn to laugh and play again.

I am having some trouble recruiting the high-profile professionals we need to accomplish this work and this is where I need your help. I don’t really understand why I haven’t been swamped with volunteers thus far. I know that Syria is a risky place to be at the moment but I figured that boxers are used to putting their bodies on the line, and isn’t it better to put your body on the line for the sake of the children of Syria than simply for the sake of a belt or some prize-money?

Perhaps it’s just a communication problem? I hope it is. Perhaps all we need is for our Muslim sisters and brothers to help me spread the word to the boxing community and beyond. That is my request of you today. Denning has put together a wonderful recruitment video and you can see it online at….  What I need from you, my sisters and brothers, is help in getting this video and website to those who need to see it.

So … if you happen to be Anthony Mundine’s nephew or Billy Dib’s brother or Mike Tyson’s girlfriend will you please see that your uncle, brother and boyfriend visit… and watch our video? I’d then be grateful if you could do this and then follow them up – needling them incessantly until they agree to come to Syria with us (promising, of course, that you will join them). ;)

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Why it's OK to arm MODERATE jihadists in Syria

Father Dave

Father Dave

Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:
All mimsy were ye borogoves;
And ye mome raths outgrabe.

(from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’)

I must admit that I was a little confused when I first heard that Barack Obama was looking for another 500 million dollars to arm rebels in Syria. It didn’t make any sense! Then I realised that he only wanted to arm moderate jihadists. Thank God!

I mean … America has been leading the crusade against all forms of jihad and terror and Al Qaeda and all things radically Islamic, and while Uncle Sam’s ‘war on terror’ may have been a miserable failure in terms of decreasing the actual amount of terror in the world, at least we’ve always known who the good guys and the bad guys are, and I thought for a moment that Obama was going to arm those crazy extremists!

No! Thank God! It’s only the moderates that Obama is going to arm! The moderates are lovely people! They are an entirely different group from the extremists, and it’s only the extremists who are the bad guys!

Moderates don’t want to kill anybody, and if they do inadvertently kill somebody it’s because they didn’t get the chance to arrest the person and read them their rights first. Moderates prefer dialogue to violence and would sooner work things out with someone over a beer than have to shoot anybody! You won’t find moderate rebels eating the hearts of their enemies or … OH! You mean that heart-eating guy was one of the moderates?!

Here’s the truth people: the term ‘moderate’ when applied to the violence in Syria is a piece of meaningless fiction. Moderates live alongside the Jabberwocky, hidden somewhere in the borogoves!

I’m not even sure what the term ‘moderate’ is supposed to signify! I can’t imagine that it’s intended to mean that these people kill their enemies in a more moderate way – with a scouting knife perhaps rather than with a gun. It certainly doesn’t mean that they don’t commit atrocities. No party in the Syrian conflict has a squeaky-clean record in that regard. Is it meant to signify that these people make a principled distinction between civilians and combatants? Not a chance!

My guess is that the term ‘moderate’ is supposed to refer to the belief system of the killers in question. The ‘moderate’ rebels are the less ideologically driven fighters. While their ‘extremist’ counterparts are motivated by extreme religious zeal, moderate rebels kill people simply because it’s their job, or perhaps they do so out of love of country – a moderate love of country, at any rate.

I imagine that if I was an Armenian living in Kessab, I’d much sooner be murdered by someone who was going to kill me because he was being paid to do it rather than by some religious zealot who thought he was doing God’s will and …

Actually no … actually, I don’t think my killer’s motivation would make any difference to me at all, and I truly can’t see that it really makes a man more moderate if it’s his love of money that drives him to kill rather than a perverted love of God!

Besides this, I’ve spoken to a number of Syrians who actually fought with these extremists and each of the guys I spoke to had initially joined because they were poor and needed a job. I’m not at all convinced that all the religious extremists really hold extreme religious views. Conversely, I’ve got no reason to believe that there aren’t any number of extremely religious people amongst the moderates!

It’s all very confusing and the words do look increasingly meaningless. Indeed, from what I can work out, the only difference between the moderates and the extremists as identifiable groups is that the moderates are the group that the US and its allies support (at the moment) and the extremists are the ones that we don’t support.

The moderates are just as extreme in their violence as those we condemn and oppose, and I’m pretty sure that they are just as religious or irreligious as killers. The term ‘moderate’ then translates simply as ‘someone we support’, in contrast to the people of Syria who made it abundantly clear in their recent election that they don’t support the rebels at all – moderate or otherwise!

Perhaps the term ‘moderate’ is also meant to indicate that these fighters are friends to the US and her allies and will not turn and bite the hand that feeds them. If so, then we’re dealing with another fiction. Mr Obama would have to be completely stupid to believe that the jihadist rebels he supports today won’t turn on him tomorrow.

I don’t think Mr Obama is that stupid. Indeed, I think he knows full well that the moderates he supports today may become tomorrow’s extremists who will need to be targeted themselves by another group of moderates (who could quite possibly be today’s extremists if circumstances change)!

That’s it! I’m giving up on the term ‘moderate’. Instead I’m going to focus on making sense of the word ‘democracy’ as used in the sentence “Mr Obama is bringing democracy to Syria by overthrowing the candidate that 88% of the Syrian people voted for”.

No … I think I’ll go back to my poem:

Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:
Democracy ye borogoves;
And moderate rebels outgrabe.

Father Dave
Parish Priest, Professional Boxer, Community Worker, Agitator………

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Is the violence in Syria and Iraq really sectarian?

We’ve been sold this line for a long time – that the violence raging across the Levant, most obviously in Syria and Iraq, is of a sectarian nature. It is Sunni against Shia, Muslims against fellow Muslims and non-Muslim minority religious groups, and as such is something we ‘Westerners’ can’t be expected to understand.

In Iraq’s case, this narrative has now been coupled with one suggesting that the US pulled out of Iraq too soon. If only US army had held its ground in Baghdad all would be joy and peace!

Both narratives are equally ridiculous!

As Mahdi Nazemroaya makes clear in the Mint News interview below, trying to understand political alliances and conflicts in the Levant along purely sectarian lines is entirely misleading. Iran, Syria and Hezbollah didn’t form an alliance because they all share a common faith. If it was all about religious tribalism how did Russia squeeze its way into the mix?

These countries are allies because they share common political goals. Conversely, those countries in the region who are working for their destruction (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, etc.) do so to further their own political ambitions.

The sectarian whitewash is a propaganda technique aimed at masking the all too obvious motivating forces of money and power that are driving all the players in the region, from the US on down.

Perhaps one day soon the media will blame Australia’s treatment of refugees on the fact that it has a Catholic government.

Father Dave

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Iraq, ISIS and Syria – what’s going on?!

Father Dave in the Ommayad Mosque in Damascus

Father Dave in the Ommayad Mosque in Damascus

So many crazy things are happening in the hell that is flowing from Syria into Iraq at the moment that it’s hard to know what is going on. As Christians we need to make a meaningful response to all this bloodshed and violence but it’s so hard to know where to start. Let’s begin then by anchoring ourselves to one unambiguous truth – that the U.S. and NATO are NOT particularly concerned about what ISIS will do to Iraq, despite all rhetoric to the contrary.

Why can we start with this as our bedrock truth? Because the Lord Jesus gave us a guiding principle that allows us to cut through all the propaganda that clouds such issues: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). This is as true of countries as it is of individuals. It isn’t our rhetoric that indicates where our heart is. It’s our wallet!

If you want to know where the heart of the U.S. and NATO are don’t listen to their rhetoric. Rather, watch what they do and see where they invest their money! In the case of the ongoing violence across the Levant, there is no ambiguity. The U.S. has been continuing to pour money into their her allies in the region – Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and at least two out of three of the above are actively funding offshoots of Al Qaeda – ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra – and have been doing so for years!

Yes, there seems to have been a marked change in the policies of both NATO and the U.S. recently. While Britain had been portraying the ISIS team as the spiritual descendants of Robin Hood and his merry men engaged in ridding Sherwood Forrest of its evil prince, last week the Brits suddenly decided that ISIS was a terrorist organisation after all! Likewise, whereas the U.S. had been looking on happily as those merry rebels employed sophisticated American weaponry against Assad, now all the smiles have been replaced with looks of shock and horror as those weapons are turned upon Iraq!

But the shock is only apparent. The looks of horror are hollow. The rhetoric is empty. How do we know? Watch where they are putting their money! Are funds being withdrawn from ISIS’s main funding agencies? Are the Saudi’s being summoned to the Whitehouse to answer for their role in this new round of violence? Has anything of substance actually changed?

Some have suggested that this entire ISIS invasion has been orchestrated by the U.S. as another attempt to accomplish regime change in Syria. This is unlikely, I think. The U.S. no longer has the financial resources to roll out such an ingenious plan of destruction. Of course, even if ISIS’s latest movements were not supervised by the US they may have provided Washington with the opportunity to start reigning death on all the ISIS-controlled regions, including Syria. Happy days in the Whitehouse?

Well … I don’t think we are going to see the U.S. or NATO put troops on the ground any time soon. The outcry from their relative constituencies will be far too great to ignore and, again, who can afford this sort of foreign adventure at the moment? We may well see a token number of tomahawk missiles fired off in the general direction of ISIS and/or Assad – a sufficient number to satisfy the shareholders of the major arms manufacturers – but none of the major Western war-lords can manage another full-scale invasion right now.

Besides all this, regime change in Syria was never Obama’s end-game in the Levant any more than the defeat of ISIS is now. Iran was always the real target and this latest development may give the U.S. a direct shot at Iran!

For those who aren’t familiar with the war that’s been waged on Iran by the U.S. and her allies for the last 60-something years, here’s a bit of history:

  • In 1951 Mohammad Mosaddegh was elected Prime Minister of Iran and introduced a number of social reforms, including the nationalisation of the Iranian oil industry, formerly under the control of the British since 1913.
  • In 1953 M16 and the CIA organised a coup that removed the democratically elected government and installed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (the Shah) as Iran’s sole monarch. The Shah redirected control of Iran’s oil back to the Brits and the Americans.
  • The much-hated Shah was eventually overthrown in the Iranian revolution of 1979, establishing Iran as an Islamic state under the rule of Ayatollah Khomeini, resulting in the US and Britain once again losing control of their oil!

The history of the relationship between the U.S. and Iran since that time has been one of unrelenting aggression of the former to the latter. Sometimes this has been overt, as with U.S. support for Saddam Husain in the Iran-Iraq war (that cost over a million lives). Sometimes this has been covert, such as through CIA efforts to fan the flames of sectarian division between Sunni and Shia (with the fabulous results that are now plain for all to see). Always it has been economic, with sanctions having been in place since the first days of the Iranian revolution – sanctions that not only inhibit trade but prevent the sick from accessing medicines and teenagers from accessing Facebook!

Why has Iran always been such a hated enemy of the U.S. ever since the days when it was a model secular democracy? It’s all there in Matthew chapter 6. The Iranians have treasure, and lots of it, and the U.S. and NATO have always had their hearts set on it! Moreover, if left unmolested, Iran would quickly become the most powerful economic force in the Levant, and so it poses an economic threat (nb. ‘economic’ not ‘existential’) to America’s and NATO’s middle-eastern allies.

Understanding the economic threat posed by Iran to the traditional economic power-players of the region is the key to comprehending much of the violence that has taken place across the region over the last generation, and most obviously in the last three years. In truth, no one in the West would have been remotely interested in the antics of Bashar Al Assad had Syria not been Iran’s closest ally? Likewise Hezbollah’s activities in the region would have gone largely unnoticed had she not been Iran’s only other ally. Iran is the target. The rest are just the supporting cast, and this latest development with ISIS and Iraq opens up entirely new opportunities for US-Iranian violence!

But of course the rhetoric is all the other way. There is talk of Washington and Tehran working together! It seems that both great powers now have a common enemy and that circumstances have serendipitously pulled them together to fight against terrorism side-by-side. Don’t believe it!

I’ll wager that the U.S. is not going to support Iranian military incursions into Iraq except perhaps by clapping and cheering (in a very muted kind of way). I don’t think this new era of US-Iranian cooperation is going to cost the US partner anything. Conversely, we may see Iran bleed to death economically through involvement in another protracted war, with Washington mouthing regret while continuing to indirectly fuel the furnace!

Perhaps I’m wrong. I hope and pray that I’m wrong. I hope and pray that Iran and the U.S. and all the countries represented in NATO will enter a new era of cooperation and dialogue and friendship. If you listen to the rhetoric that seems to be highly likely. But I haven’t seen anyone take their hands off their wallets yet! Western money is still pouring into Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and through them into the pockets and cartridge-boxes of ISIS. Until I see a change in spending habits I’m not ready to believe in a change of heart.

Father Dave

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The Syrian people have spoken and they want to keep Assad!

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I did not vote for Bashar Al-Assad.

I didn’t vote in the Syrian elections at all because I am not Syrian! If I had been Syrian I don’t know if I would have voted for Assad. I really didn’t take a close look at the persons running against him, and why would I? I’m not Syrian!

As an Australian, it’s none of my business to decide who runs Syria! Why can’t the rest of the non-Syrian world accept this simple fact – that who holds public office in Syria is not our decision? Moreover, the Syrian people have spoken unambiguously as to whom they want running their country. Assad scored roughly 90% of the vote!

To those who have labelled the election as farcical and illegitimate, a few pointers:

Firstly, the voter turnout was incredible! Apparently 72% of those who were able to vote did vote and, according to my friends who went to Syria as neutral observers of the election, there was no evidence of coercion or fraud.

Secondly, while those who voted from within Syria were all from government-controlled areas, that actually accounts for about 90% of all Syrians still living in Syria. Government forces now control all of the major cities. It’s only the outlying rural villages that are controlled by the rebels now.

Moreover, the six million Syrians who have been displaced – either internally or as refugees in Lebanon and Jordan – are almost all from rebel-controlled areas. Syrians aren’t fleeing government-controlled cities. They are fleeing from the rebel-controlled areas to the government-controlled cities.

Thirdly, the voter turnout in countries like Lebanon was extraordinary! Millions of refugees cast their vote, and they voted overwhelmingly for Assad!  The Western media had no explanation for this so they simply ignored it!

Of course those who refuse to accept the outcome of the election are not Syrians but are more likely to be Americans.

John Kerry said that the very idea of holding an election during a civil war was outrageous. I guess he was relying on the fact that there are now no Americans still living who can remember the re-election of Abraham Lincoln who won his second term right in the middle of the bloody US Civil War. I can’t imagine Kerry thinks that the non-participation of the Confederates in that election (almost all of whom would have voted against Lincoln) delegitimised it, even though Confederates made up one third of the total population!

In truth, I don’t think we can take the U.S.A. seriously any more as an arbitrator of electoral fairness (if we ever could). We’ve recently watched Washing give its imprimatur to sham elections in both Egypt and the Ukraine, where empty voting booths in both cases testified to the vacuous nature of these attempts to give respectability to governments that had seized power by military coup.

No. The response of the US to the Syrian election is entirely reminiscent of their response to the election of Hamas in Palestine in 2006. There was really no question that the results were fair and representative of the will of the people. The problem, so far as Washington was concerned, was simply that the people had elected the wrong candidate.

Of course the problem in the case of Syria is that there was no US-preferred candidate on the ballot papers! If things had been different and if Obama had been given the green light to carpet-bomb Damascus last year we would ended up with Syrians being given a choice between a handful of US puppets, with none of the key rebel groups (let alone Assad supporters) being allowed to participate!

So this is where we are up to in what we call the ‘War on Terror’, or was it the ‘Battle for Democracy and Freedom’, or was it the ‘Civilizing of the pagan world’? No … I think that last one was either the Nazis or the crusaders (or both). Either way, it’s the same rampaging machine of imperial violence that has cursed humanity in every age, wearing, as ever, that same transparent veil of self-righteous moralism.

How do we stop this machine of death? That’s the question! I’m not sure, but I am sure that one of the initial steps will be learning to respect the rights of a people to control who their own elected officials are and, in this case, this means respecting the fact that the Syrian people have chosen to stick with Bashar Al-Assad!

Father Dave

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Understanding the war in Syria – a sketch video

This is an engaging attempt to explain the violence in Syria, if a little simplistic. I would question it at two points.

Firstly, I’m not convinced that the Syrian war ever did start as a purely democratic uprising. I suspect that (as the Syrian government asserts) it was infiltrated from the start by forces whose interests had nothing to do with the advancement of democracy.

Secondly, I believe the US is more directly involved in the destruction of Syria than this presentation suggests. The well-attested existence of US military training camps in northern Jordan, for instance, suggests that the US has a very hands-on approach in supporting  the rebellion and was not just drawn into the conflict unwittingly through its association with Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Personally, I believe that the Syrian crisis is simply another manifestation of the long-term project of the US and its Gulf-State allies to maintain economic dominance of the region through weakening Iran and its allies. So called ‘terrorists’ have always been employed by Western powers when it suited them. US support for Al-Qaeda should not surprise us.

The Syrian war is complex indeed, at one level. At its basis though it is simply another chapter in the ongoing battle of Empire to maintain its money and power. And as ever, the poor and the vulnerable pay the price.

Father Dave

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Boxing in the streets of Syria

It’s been a long time in production but here it is – the video that I’ve been yearning to share with you since returning from our peace mission: “Boxing in the Streets of Syria”

My plan is to use this video as the basis of our recruitment drive to see if we can capture the imagination of some high-profile boxers from Australia and from around the world – capture their imagination to the extent that they will be drawn to join us in running boxing training camps for the young people of Syria! :)

As you’ll see from the video, we were very well received by the Syrian people, and the children of Syria were enthusiastic beyond words! Sol Egberime – Australia’s greatest Junior Welterweight fighter – was an absolute natural with these young people. At one point, as we finished a session with a group of boys in Latakia and got back into our bus, the entire troop of kids followed the bus chanting “Solomon, Solomon …”, which brought our young champion to tears!

Will you do me a favour please and share this video with everybody you know? The persons we are most hoping to reach are high-profile boxers, but even if you don’t know any fighters at all, it may be that some of those you send it to do know some boxers and will pass it on.

Father Dave

Boxing in the Streets of Syria

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