5. Meeting with religious leaders: We attended in the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus a prayer gathering led by the Grand Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic, Dr. Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun and the Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham with the delegate of Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X Yazigi, and clerics of all traditions. The Assembly prayed for the peace and unity of Syria and the non-interference of outsiders in their country. They stressed the conflict in Syria is not a religious conflict, as Muslims and Christians have always lived together in Syria, and they are, (in spite of living with suffering and violence much of which is not of their own making), unified in their wish to be a light of peace and reconciliation to the world. The Patriarch said that from the Mosque and Christian churches goes out a great movement of peace and reconciliation and asked both those inside and outside Syria, to reject all violence and support the people of Syria in this work of dialogue, reconciliation and peacemaking.
The Muslim and Christian Spiritual Leaders are very conscious if the religious extremist/fundamentalists gain momentum and control Syria, the future of those who are not supportive of fundamentalists like moderate Muslims, Christians, minorities, and other Syrians is in great danger. Indeed the Middle East could lose its precious pluralistic social fabric with the Christians, like in Iraq, being the first to flee the country. This would be a tragedy for all concerned in this multi-religious, multi-cultural secular Syria, once a light of peaceful conviviality in the Arab world.
Following many authorized reports in the mainstream Media and our own evidence, I can stress that the Syrian State and its population are under a proxy war led by foreign countries and directly financed and backed mainly by Qatar which has imposed its views on the Arab League. Turkey, a part of the Lebanese opposition, and some of the Jordan authorities offer a safe haven to a diversity of jihadist groups, each with its own agenda, recruited from many countries. Bands of jihadists armed and financed from foreign countries invade Syria through Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, crossing porous frontiers in an effort to destabilize Syria. There are an estimated 50,000 foreign jihadist fighters terrorizing Syria. Those death squads are destroying systematically the Syrian State infrastructures (Electricity, Oil, Gas and water plants, High Tension Pylons, hospitals, schools, public buildings, cultural heritage sites and even religious sanctuaries).
Moreover, the country is submerged by snipers, bombers, agitators, bandits. They use aggression and Sharia rules to hijack the freedom and dignity of the Syrian population. They torture and kill those who refuse to join them. They have strange religious beliefs which make them feel comfortable even perpetrating the cruelest acts like killing and torturing their opponents. It is well documented that many of those terrorists are permanently under stimulants like Captagon. The general lack of security unleashes the terrible phenomenon of abduction for ransoms or for political pressure. Thousands of innocents are missing, among them the two Bishops, Youhanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, as well as many priests and Imams.
UN and EU economic sanctions, as well as a severe embargo, are pushing Syria to the edge of social collapse. Unfortunately the international media network is ignoring those realities and is bent on demonizing, lying, destabilizing the country and fueling more violence and contradiction.
In summary: the war in Syria is not a civil war as depicted but a proxy war with serious breaches of International laws and Humanitarian International laws. The protection of the foreign fighters by some foreign countries among the most powerful gives them a kind of an unaccountability that pushes them with impunity to all kind of cruel deeds against innocent civilians. Even war conventions are not respected, resulting in many war crimes and even crimes against Humanity.
During our visit to Syria, our delegation was met with great kindness by everyone and I offer to each one who facilitated or hosted our Delegation my most sincere feelings of gratitude. We witnessed that the Syrian people have suffered very deeply and continue to do so. The entire population of 23 million people are under tremendous threat of continued infiltration by foreign terrorists. Many are still stunned by the horrors and suddenness of all this violence and worried their country will be attacked and divided by outside forces, and are all too aware that geopolitical forces are at work to destabilize Syria for political control, oil and resources. One Druze leader said "if westerns want our Oil -- both Lebanon and Syria have oil reserves -- let us negotiate for it, but do not destroy our country to take it." In Syria memories of next door Iraq's destruction by US-UK-NATO forces are fresh in people's minds, including in the minds of the one and a half million Iraqis who fled Iraqi's conflict, including many Christians, and were given refuge in Syria by the Syrian Government.
The greatest hope we took was from Mussalaha, a non-political movement from all sections of Syrian society, which has working teams throughout Syria and is proceeding through dialogue to building peace and reconciliation. Mussalaha mediates between armed gunmen and security forces, helps get release of many people who have been abducted, and brings together all parties to the conflict for dialogue and practical solutions. It was this movement which hosted us, under the leadership of Mother Agnes-Mariam, Superior of Saint James' Monastery, supported by the Patriarch Gregory III Laham, head of the Catholic Hierarchy of Syria.
This great civil community movement building a peace process and National Reconciliation from the ground up, will, if given space, time, and non-interference from outside, help bring Peace to Syria. They recognize that there must be an unconditional, all inclusive political solution, with compromises and they are confident this is happening at many levels of society and is the only way forward for Syrian peace.
I support this National Reconciliation process which, many Syrian believe, is the only way to bring Peace to SYRIA and the entire Middle East. I am myself committed to this peaceful process and hope that the International Community, the Religious and Political Leaders, as well as any person of good will, will help Syria to bypass violence and prejudice and anchor in a new era of Social peace and prosperity.
This cradle of civilizations where Syria occupies the heart is an enormous spiritual heritage for humanity, let us strive to establish a non-war zone and proclaim it an OASIS of Peace for the Human Family.