In his 1996 movie Eraser, Arnold Schwarzenegger played John Kruger, a U.S. Marshal working for the Witness Security Protection Program (WITSEC) specializing in “erasing” high-profile witnesses by essentially obliterating all evidence of their existence.
I was reminded of that movie while reading the most recent reports about how DAESH (ISIS) is literally obliterating centuries of Middle East cultures, religions and civilizations, in the ever-expanding areas under its control.
I’m not referring to their obsessive destruction of historical sites and holy shrines of other religions, or to the fact that, at this moment, DAESH is feverishly placing powerful anti-tank mines and explosives in and around the beautiful site of the oasis city of Palmyra, first settled some 7,000 years ago and containing monumental ruins of what was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. Its imminent destruction will certainly be a loss, but…
No — the tragic “obliterating” that DAESH is doing so systematically and successfully is of living, breathing people and cultures. They are succeeding in a program of ethnic and religious cleansing on a scale that we have not seen since the Holocaust.
Syria, a “state” artificially created by the Western powers after World War I, included various ethnic (Arabs, Turkomans, Circassians, Palestinians, Kurds, Yazidis, Druze), sectarian (Sunni Muslims including Sufis, Shiite Muslims including “Twelvers,” “Seveners” and Ismailis, Christians of various denominations, Jews, Allawites, Alevis, Zoroastrians and more).
When the current civil war broke out March 15, 2011, it was essentially a majority Sunni rebellion against a dictatorship of the minority Allawites, a Shiite breakaway denomination supported by Iran and headed by Bashir al-Assad.
As the war dragged on, the Sunni rebel groups merged into two main organizations: the al-Qaida franchise Jabhat al-Nusra, and DAESH — formerly known as “ISIS,” “ISIL,” “Islamic State” and “al-Qaida in Iraq and Syria.”
While both adhere to, and demand, the most extreme interpretations of Islam and Sharia, and both use terror, rape, child torture and sex slavery and large-scale beheadings to force whole populations into total cowed submission, it is DAESH, as the largest, best-trained, best-led, best-equipped and best-financed terrorist organization, that sets the tone.
And the tone is horrendous.
DAESH and al-Nusra have declared an all-out war of extermination to annihilate any tribes, ethnic groups or religions in the Middle East that are not Sunni Muslim Arabs.
The prime targets of DAESH are every Shiite, Christian, Druze, Kurd, Yazidi, etc., based on the explicit instructions of the 15th-century Islamic scholar, Taki e-din Ibn Tamiya, who is considered to be the main authority of DAESH and Jabhat: “The Allawites and the Druze are apostates and must die. Take their women as concubines and their children as slaves. If the men beg for mercy or forgiveness, you must never give it.”
Slowly, systematically and with overwhelming numbers and weapons, they take over community after community, conduct a quick “selection,” immediately killing all the non-Arab or non-Sunni men, separate the women from the children and, after taking and brutally abusing their own “spoils of war,” sell them to the highest bidder in the sex-slave markets.
The results: DAESH is succeeding — beyond its wildest dreams. Syria is disintegrating.
The Allawites have abandoned all their towns around the country and are flocking to the Western mountains along the Mediterranean, the historic Allawite homeland. Weak, desperate, outnumbered and outgunned, they are hoping against hope that the Iranians, Russians and other countries will save them from a massacre. Wishful thinking, since right now Daesh and Jabhat forces are just a few miles away and advancing … and what’s left of the Syrian army is joining the rebels, and Russian generals are negotiating deals with both rebel groups.
The Druze, non-Muslim Arabs who live mostly in the southwest corner of Syria and practice a mystical, secret religion, declared “neutrality” in the civil war.
But recent bloody skirmishes with Jabhat and ISIS in the North, including killing men, kidnapping women and children and desecrating their holy books, artifacts and secret prayer rooms, have led them to issue a warning to the approaching DAESH forces in the North and South: “Don’t even think about it!”
Historically fierce and formidable warriors, the Druze will make DAESH and Jabhat pay dearly.
It is also more than reasonable to assume that because of longstanding excellent relations between the tight-knit Druse communities both in Israel and in Syria, Israel will intervene, with overwhelming power, on their behalf.
The Shiites outnumbered and weak, they still have sporadic security protection from Hezbollah and units of the Iranian revolutionary guard corps (IRGC).
A small minority, located in villages in southern Lebanon, they are petrified with fear not only for themselves, but mainly for the gold-domed tomb in Damascus of their worshiped protector: Sayyidah Zaynab, Mohammed’s granddaughter. DAESH has vowed to destroy it.
The Christians: The Sunni rebels have a popular battle cry since the beginning of the revolt: “The Christians to Beirut, the Allawites to coffins.”
Most of the Christians that lived in Syria six years ago have fled to Beirut and beyond. Those few that remained are subject to a special and perverted form of brutality and death — men, women and children.
Ancient churches are systematically desecrated and burned — often with the men, or whole families, still alive inside them.
For all intents and purposes, the 2,000-year-old Christian communities and culture in Syria and Iraq are all but extinct. DAESH and Jabhat al-Nusra will not stop until there are no more practicing Christians within the ever-spreading caliphate.
In a recent interview on Israeli media, a spokesman for the 2,000-year-old, 1.2-million-strong community lamented as to why no country or major force in the Christian world, with the exception of a few small organizations, has come to their aid … or rescue.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “obliterate” as follows: “… to remove from existence: destroy utterly all trace, indication, or significance of…”
If this does not describe what is happening to the Christians, Kurds, Shiites and other non-Sunni minorities in Syria and Iraq, together with thousands of years of their achievements and culture, then I don’t know what does. And again … the world is silent.
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.