As I mentioned in a previous post, I was at a conference meeting of an interfaith young adult network associated with Religions for Peace (the largest interfaith non-profit). With the potential for a US strike in Syria coming up just after our meeting, we’ve worked together to put forward a statement. We’re still rushing to finalize it, but here it is so far, in draft form:
As a network of young adult interfaith leaders in North America associated with Religions for Peace, we call upon the United States not to engage in military operations or strikes in Syria. We condemn the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime and are deeply concerned about the injustices committed, but the addition of a foreign violent actor will not help. Our deepest traditions and values, as well as our domestic and international histories, suggest that violence will only create further violence, suspicion, and fear. With numerous polls showing US citizens do not support military intervention and an already troubled reputation in foreign affairs, the United States does not need to join yet another armed conflict.
As our Jewish brothers and sisters embark on their High Holiday season, a season of introspection and awe, we call upon Congress and our President to listen to and reflect on the voices of the present and the past that have called for a just peace without violence. As we conclude celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, we ask our Congress and our President to honor the work of peacemakers like Dr. King and others by considering alternative ways of realizing a just peace through negotiation, reconciliation, and the nonviolent empowerment and aid of Syrian citizens.
As young adults representing diverse religions traditions – Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism – we recognize that there are narratives in many of our religions that call for conflict resolution through violence. As young people of a new generation we challenge this approach and its history of failure. The best of all our traditions calls us to see other human beings as equals, emphasizing universal human dignity and our interconnectedness. This perspective prohibits the betrayal of that human dignity with acts of reactionary violence. We join with other religious leaders calling for peace, including Pope Francis in his interfaith call for a day of fasting on Saturday, September 7 for peace and solidarity with the people of Syria.
We affirm the values of human dignity and shared security based on trust, reconciliation, and justice. We pray for the leaders of all nations to have wisdom and courage to seek a just peace in Syria and to address the root causes of injustice and conflict there and everywhere. We also commit ourselves to work toward this end within our religious and political systems and traditions.
Here are some further resources and information about the Syrian conflict that may be helpful. (I just found these today!)
http://greenshadowcabinet.us/statements/obama-should-seek-legal-prosecution-not-illegal-war This talks about the Chemical Weapon Convention and how it has procedures for penalizing and dealing with a state that uses chemical weapons. Why is the US pursuing its own actions instead of following established international law on the matter?
This points out that there are other accounts and stories of what happened in the Aug 21 chemical attacks in Syria, as reported by freelance journalist(s) who were there and interviewed doctors and rebels who were there. One of the questions it brings up is why would the Assad regime use chemical weapons in a struggle it’s basically winning, when this would only attract more international pressure and even attacks against them?
http://www.mintpressnews.com/witnesses-of-gas-attack-say-saudis-supplied-rebels-with-chemical-weapons/168135/ This is the article written by a freelance journalist in association with a group called MintPress News started by Mnar Muhawesh, a Palestinian-American shown in the picture below.
These articles at least shed some light on the weaknesses of American intelligence, past misuses of intelligence and omission of contradictory evidence, and the existence of alternative evidence not part of the US narrative.
They also bring up the point that Saudi Arabia may be supporting certain parts of the rebels with weapons and potentially the chemical weapons and that these rebels may be associated with Al Qaeda.
An Iranian friend of mine at school was telling me about how Saudi Arabia has wanted to overthrow the Assad regime, and how there’s a theory of the Shi’a Crescent that could explain some conflict in the Middle East. (I’m not sure if it’s actually true or even provable, but it’s a real theory in Middle East studies and has its own wikipedia page). The wikipedia page shows that four neighboring countries have Shi’a majorities, whereas overall Sunni Islam has a large majority. The idea is that Sunni countries want to disrupt this “crescent” of Shi’a dominance, and one way to do that would be to topple Assad at the head of a Shi’a regime. This paper is long, but the first few paragraphs of the conclusion are straightforward and interesting: http://lib.ugent.be/fulltxt/RUG01/001/786/448/RUG01-001786448_2012_0001_AC.pdf
So I’m no expert in foreign policy, but I found these articles to provide some additional information and I think that’s a good thing.