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Who to punish, who to defend in Syria

By Fiona Hill - posted Monday, 9 September 2013

All Muslims promote conscious emulation of the 'golden' epoch of Islam's noble ancestors 'Al Salaf Al Saleh'(hence 'Salafi'), but Al Nusra and other fighters want it returned as a political reality.

Saudi Arabia is their closest model, where the Al Saud clan's alliance with 18thcentury reformer Mohammed Ibn Abd Al Wahhab's call to purge all 'foreign' elements from Arabia enlivened the 'Salafi' ideal.

Clearly not all Muslims find Syria's melting pot of religions and sects problematic. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) represents57 member States and declares that 'Syria is a place where all sects and races have coexisted for ages.' (OIC Newsletter 51, 26 December 2012)


But Al Nusra Front's fighters in Syria appear to place no value on Christian and Shia lives and investigation of a chemical attack in Syria in April 2013 found 'rebels' more likely responsible than the Syrian government.

Al Nusra Front is designated a terrorist organization by the USA and Australia.

An allied attack on Syria while it's regular armed forces fight, amongst others, a US designated terrorist organization, should trouble all countries in the region.

All our lives are diminished by the use of chemicals on anyone anywhere at any time. But an attack on Syria for a crime it's government may not have committed, on a date so near the anniversary of Al Qaida's game-changing attack on the USA, should trouble us all.

Calls for negotiation by the Syrian, Iranian and Russian governments have been treated with public contempt by the UN, Obama and his allies, and by fighters on the ground who refuse to sit down with 'the enemy'.

Yet when we consider the PLO, the IRA, and Mandela and the ANC, we recall that sitting down with 'the enemy' is the fastest route to halting violent 'terrorist' acts.


And when we consider the experience in Iraq, we are reminded that military attacks escalate guerilla fighting and that violence breeds more of the same.

As world leaders and luminaries like Pope Francis call for calm and diplomacy Australian leaders vow to follow the US decision.

But until we can be sure who will be punished and who defended, an attack on Syria does not deserve our support.

In an ideal world Australia's new Prime Minister will consider the welfare of all Syrian people before politics. Because like Alice, Australia needs to wake up to reality.

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About the Author

Dr Fiona Hill is a small business owner & member of Australian ‘Mussalaha’ Reconciliation in Syria (AMRIS).

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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