Before midnight last Friday the world was alarmed by the massacre of over 123 people as a result of a spate of indiscriminate shootings and suicide bomb blasts in the center of France’s glittering capital, Paris.
As people enjoyed a casual Friday evening witnessing a concert and having dinner and drinks in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, gunmen and women, who claimed to be Islamists, with deadly automatic weapons, stormed the Bataclan Theatre and neighboring cafes, shooting people at random. In the end, 123 people were counted dead and over 352 people wound, 99 of whom are in critical condition.
As predicted by most political and security watchers, the Islamic State (IS), whose trademark is ruthless kidnapping, killing and indiscriminate destruction, immediately claimed responsibility for the massacre.
How long can the world be expected to put up with this Islamic State which, since it declared itself a caliphate in June 2014 after acquiring huge tracts of land in Syria and Iraq, has been noted for barbarity, mass killings, abductions and beheadings?
But before tackling this question, we must ask another: how did the Middle East become so terribly destabilized? Without claiming to be experts in international affairs, we can say without fear of contradiction that the root of the problem has been the shortsighted policies of some Western governments, notably the United States, which perennially and blindly backed some of the most oppressive Islamic regimes, such as Iran. The USA’s backing of the Shah of Iran for so long because of oil, led to the popular Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the invasion of the US embassy in November of that year, the taking over 60 hostages, leading to the fall of the Carter administration.
The second major American mistake was President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, against the better judgment of many other nations and tens of millions of his own fellow Americans. But no, GW had to invade Iraq, to avenge the alleged attempt by Saddam Hussein to kill young Bush’s father. And GW carried out his ruthless invasion under a false pretext, that Saddam had a stockpile of “weapons of mass destruction.”
One of the most painful consequences of that invasion was what happened to the Christian churches in many parts of the Middle East, especially Iraq and Syria. These churches had existed since the time of Peter and the other early Christian fathers. Remember, Saul, who later became the eminent Apostle Paul, was, shortly following the crucifixion of Christ, on his way to Damascus, the Syrian capital, to kill Christians. Saul was suddenly struck down by a voice from Heaven asking the very serious question, “Saul, Saul, why persecuteth thou me?”
The rest is history. Saul was led to a man named Ananias, who restored Saul’s sight, renamed him Paul – who went on to become the church’s greatest Apostle. Christians have had a presence in the Middle East ever since.
Say what you may of Saddam Hussein, but though himself a Muslim, he was committed to religious tolerance and vigorously protected the Christians in Iraq. Today the Christians have been run out of Iraq, and Syria, by the Islamic State. Does this make George W. Bush look like the anti Christ? Only history will tell.
Another problem that has caused the Middle East to be destabilized is America’s blind support of Israel and its ruthless atrocities inflicted upon the Palestinians. This is one of the primary causes of the hate and resentment Washington experiences throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world. Heaven knows when this will end, for America seems to believe that Israel can do no wrong. Washington has done nothing to stop the Israelis from occupying Palestinian land.
Perhaps the most serious cause of instability in the Middle East is Syrian President Assad who, because of his lust for power, has effectively destroyed his country and caused his own people so much pain, distress and anguish. It is he more than anyone else that has given rise to the ruthless and bloodthirsty Islamic caliphate.
Finally, we lay a lot of the blame for the power that IS now has at the feet of President Barrack Obama and his timid approach to the Syrian crisis. Surely the USA is the world’s most powerful nation and leader of the also powerful Western alliance. We firmly believe that Obama, backed his committed partners, Britain, France, Germany, the EU, could have nipped IS in the bud from its very beginning.
But oh! The problem of indecisiveness and the terrible consequences it is now wreaking.
How long will indecisiveness cause innocent people to suffer and die?
France and all other European nations, the USA and Russia must mount a joint response to terrorism from wherever it comes. Evil can be defeated, and defeated it must be.
But also, America and its allies MUST be more sincere and more proactive and decisive in their dealing with the Palestinian issue. There can be no real peace in the Middle East—or anywhere else—until the Palestinian problem is fully and decisively resolved.