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Jasdev Singh Rai Headshot

The Road to Damascus, Laden With Bombs

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That beautiful Biblical narrative 'road to Damascus' when Saul became Paul, began serving Christ and humanity is fast becoming a road to 'war'. Ideologies and power politics are weeding their way into this 8000 year old ancient city with bombs and hate, threatening the survival of entire humanity. A city steeped in the histories of Abrahamic traditions is on the verge of precipitating an Islamic version of the Catholic-Protestant thirty year bloody war of seventeenth century (1618 to 1648) but also drawing in the extended Abrahamic family, Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Western Secularism.

Leading the assault on one side are aggrieved groups from the majority Sunni community of Syria, funded, trained and even led by Sunni Governments of mainly Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and secretly by the USA.

Not one to pass an opportunity to plant IHDs, Al Qaeda, joined by some other Sunni Salafi groups called Takfiri, have gate crashed, indiscriminately bombing Shia Muslims whom they despise more than Americans and Arab dictators. Other Sunni 'jihadists' are trickling in from far and near with Kalashnikovs.

Defending status quo on the other side are somewhat secularised Allawite sect of Islam assisted in the background by Shias, largely of Iran and Iraq. Having arisen after centuries of marginalisation and sometimes persecution, Shia resurgence is disturbing Sunni domination in Islam. Arab Kingdoms, Israel and USA want to weaken nuclear Iran through Syria.

Assad has pitted Kurdish nationalism against Turkey, complicating the sectarian divide further. He has also managed to keep Syrian secularists, minorities and significant sections of Syrian Sunni middle classes on his side with the bogey of Muslim Brotherhood Rising.

Both Secular and Christian west are not going to be left out in this family dispute. The restless Neocons of the 'American Empire' see this an opportunity to destroy the Iranian axis. Next stop China. They are providing 'intellectual' support for 'rebels' through think tanks, journalists, propaganda and grooming Syrian opposition leaders. The Neocons and Al Qaeda now have a common enemy!

Meanwhile the 'five angels', the permanent members of the Security Council meant to 'end the scourge of war' for coming generations, are busy leading us to Armageddon.

The USA and Britain are into this conflict in a big way. The CIA is probably in its element having got official 'presidential' assignment to knock off another national leader (Assad) and 'regime change'. The British, always in a state of war and no sign of kicking the habit, are pretending they are only supplying mobile phones.

Regime changes have been disastrous. Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. But this is no deterrent to powers with thirst for wars. The third Security Council member, France recovered its appetite for interventionism under Sarkozy.

The other two angels, Russia and China have different prerogatives. Smarted by the last three Security Council resolutions (Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya) which turned out to be different than what they were led to believe, they now completely distrust British-USA initiated resolutions at UN and won't sign up.

Moreover Russia wants to hang on to its only friend in the Middle East, Assad. China sees no more a need to introduce democracy in Syria than in China.

This biblical war offers hope to the powerful Christian fundamentalists in USA who have been itching for fiery end to the world, the 'rapture' to appear, for them to join the Lord and for all us heathens to roast on earth. They were betrayed in Iraq but are now cajoling their Government towards direct intervention in Syria and draw in Iran for a nuclear apocalypse.

Facing elections, Obama and Clinton are on a race to outdo Romney on warmongering. These days you cannot win an election in USA without bombing some country and show 'balls'.

We should not forget the 'enlightened' liberal secularists who are as pathologically evangelist and dangerous as medieval European crusaders. To non Abrahamic civilisations, western liberal secularism is the other side of the religious coin. They first call for 'do something' then get peptic ulcers when confronted with realities of war. Perhaps they can write a manual for the 'perfect war', a 21st century follow up to Aquinas' 'Just War'.

This Biblical drama would be amiss without Judaism's engagement. After all it was the first of the Abrahamic creeds. Israel is all set to enter Syria to 'secure' chemical weapons lest they fall into other 'extremists' hands. Israel will nuke Iran in the bargain. The repercussions are unimaginable.

Abraham does not feature in Indian or Chinese civilisations. Religious narratives tell us that he was a man who sought peace. The different creeds that have emerged from his progeny have done a lot of good. But some sections have always taken their passions to the extreme and are now hell bent on ending the world in one big free for all barbeque war. One extended family intent on mutual massacres in Damascus inspired by hate and universalism.

The world is not divided into a west and others. That is a racist myth manufactured by academia. Humanity is in fact divided into Abrahamic universalists and non Abrahamic pluralists. The former always on a crusade, whether it is religion, secularism, democracy, universal rights, communism or capitalism etc. This war is not about rational causes but exposes the deeper pathology that has long perpetrated the West and Middle East.

Will sense prevail? Certainly not at the UN whose 'five angels of peace' have long been 'angels of mistrust'.

It remains for the pragmatism of Muslims to avoid this Biblical Armageddon. 'Allah' willing, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Iran may yet sit around a table themselves and exhibit the wisdom of their ancestors who always drew back from the brink of all out schismatic bloodbath which has to date avoided a version of the Christian thirty year war. The rest of us hope they show greater pragmatism than the 'five angels'.