14 June 2013
Speakers at a conference in Oxford last week gave strong indications that the two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped near the Syrian city of Aleppo on 22 April had been killed.
A senior regional source said he thought Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi had been murdered on the day that they were kidnapped. The pair were intercepted while on a humanitarian mission in Syria to negotiate the release of two abducted priests. Their driver, a deacon, was shot dead at the scene.
John Eibner, head of the Zurich-based religious rights agency Christian Solidarity International, told The Tablet: “With each day with no news and no hard information the likelihood of their survival diminishes.”
MODE OF LIFE PROJECT – THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
Of course, as Orthodox Christians we hold out hope, but the reality of what is transpiring is becoming quite evident. Without doubt, the scenario under which the Syrian conflict has developed and occurred is quite a surreal and unnecessary turn of events, and the fact that President Assad has held out long enough for the truth and the other side of the argument to be heard by the world causes people to call into question the wisdom by instigating conflict. Accusations that Assad would employ the unreliability of chemical weapons against a civilian populace in order to flush out rebel terrorists (most of whom are not Syrians) is ludicrous, because it would not guarantee him victory or the destruction of rebels. And yet the media went quiet when it was discovered that the ones who actually employed chemical weapons were the Western backed rebels.
But just as confused and bizarre this scenario has been, the circumstances surrounding the hostage taking of these two prominent hierarchs, was itself quite a surreal scenario, especially given its pin-point accuracy and foreknowledge of who was being abducted. It is interesting to note that Metropolitan Paul Yazigi is known to be the brother of the present Rou’m (Greek) Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, John the X who succeeded the late Ignatius of blessed memory. And as for the Syriac bishop Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo, who is man held in great esteem amongst Christian and Muslims alike in Syria, and was quite an influential voice calling for peace and dialogue. Thus, by the abduction of these two figures, it is possible to inflame and prevent the opportunity for the end of the crisis, and as far as one can discern, it seems that the powers that be in America, Europe, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states like Qatar, do not want an end to this conflict, but seem to be seeking to promote it as a pretext for military intervention. Of course there is no real sound reasoning for promoting the Syria conflict, apart from possibly the paranoia of some military and political leaders in Israel to whom Israelis certainly may not agree with.
Yet we also observe that along with these omitted points, is that the worldwide media tends to overlook or ignore certain facts regarding the abduction. Particularly in asking why were the two hierarchs in that very place where they were abducted. One of the key answers to this consideration was to enter into negotiations for the release of Christian clergy and their families by the so-called rebel insurgents. These insurgents who are predominately foreign and not Syrian, have been especially targeting the killing and abduction of Christian clergy and their families to deprive the indigenous Christians of the leaders who serve not only as liturgical celebrants and spiritual leaders, but are also their socio-economic leaders who administrate many of their institutions such as schools, orphanages and so forth. The “rebels” are particularly aiming at these figures in the hope to send the Christians into disarray and to enslave them, force their conversion to Islam, or flee the country, while promote sectarian violence that will dissolve the country. An example of similar circumstances took place in the Middle East’s recent history in the form of the Lebanese civil war. A war which produced results of such hideous consequences for the whole region and the world. (Interestingly that very bloody conflict was promoted particularly by Israel’s secret service agency, Mossad, as many documents are now starting to emerge from various national intelligence archives, some of which are being published on the internet. But we have not forgotten that the Israeli army invaded Lebanon, the question is, will the same fate occur to Syria?)
Suffice to say it, the present discussions such as the G8 summit and so forth, seem to demonstrate to us that Middle Eastern Christians will continue to be subjected to further privations, and their clerical leaders subjected to humiliation, torture, abduction and death, as those who continue to support the Free Syria Terrorist movement, which employs foreign jihadists, insist on their demands which serve ridiculous and incoherent strategic policies. Remember, Syria does not have mineral resources that could be exploited like Iraq or Libya. As for our two missing bishops, that will certainly means they will remain in captivity, if they have not been killed by their Chechen abductors. As to whom these Chechens belong to, or who employs or arms them, we will not know the truth for some years to come. All we can do is to send aid to Syrian Christians that remain and provide asylum and full support should they come to our own lands. Apart from that, all that is left for anyone to do is prayer.