Father Daniël in Syria: ‘Fake News is Imposed With Great Enthusiasm in the West, While Channels of Truth Are Closed’

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By Bahar Azizi
Source

Living in Syria in the sixth-century Mar Yakub monastery in the city of Qara, 90 kilometers north of the capital Damascus, Flemish Father Daniël Maes has been a witness to the invasion of western-backed terrorists since the very beginning. To this day, he and his friends continue to support the Syrian people by not only helping them directly, but also by spreading the truth about what is truly going on in the country.

Each week, a newsletter written by Father Daniël is published, in which he describes his experiences and thoughts on the situation in Syria. With the help of much needed donations and NGOs such as Hand in Hand voor Syrië, Father Daniël and others have been working tirelessly with the Syrian people liberated from (formerly) terrorist-held areas.

Below, you can read his latest newsletter, as published on September 28th, 2018, and as translated by Sott.net:

Dear friends,

It seems unlikely that the planned military escalation by Western forces to protect the terrorists in Idlib and to risk a last chance to subvert Syria, will continue. The Abou al-Dohour safe zone basically ensures that citizens can escape the terrorist-controlled Idlib. This was largely guaranteed by the agreement between Russia and Turkey. And Putin seems determined to impose a no-fly zone over all of Syria! Well done. Meanwhile, the Syrians continue to work very diligently on the restoration of their country and society. After the fantastic course of the 60th annual fair last Friday, a ‘marathon of peace’ was organized to support those who work for the end of the war and the restoration of peace. This marathon was held in Hama, Homs, Lattakia, Tartous and Sweida.

At the same time, a limited bicycle race was organized in Damascus for 200 cyclists from the Ommayade mosque through the city.

In Qara there was one crossroad that was full of rubble for years. It was the place where the hardest fighting took place in 2013. Well, the debris is finally cleared up. And between the monastery and the Ante-Lebanon Mountains people have been working hard lately. The so-called Qara 4 gas source is now operational. It delivers 120,000 cubic meters of gas and 100 condensed barrels every day. We pray and hope that there will be a definitive end to this war and the Syrian people can fully develop their identity.

Father Daniël then goes on to sharing news about the community, his reflection on the root causes of the refugee problem, and a warning with regard to the “official fake news”:

Preparation

We want to have a quiet retreat in the community and some preparation has been made for this. On Monday, we visited Sadad and the Syrian Orthodox community with some sisters and a guest, with whom we now maintain a close contact. We visited the “martyress” of the village again, the old woman, who was all alone, was left behind by terrorists to die but recovered. She received a shed that is now being converted into a two-room house, which she proudly showed us.

We prayed together in the church and visited a number of villagers. The pastor abou Michaiel and the Christians count on us that we also continue to help them financially. It is mainly about the purchase of material for the reconstruction, they will do the work themselves. Tuesday and Wednesday were still preparation days to start with a real quiet retreat for the whole community on Thursday. Hopefully more about that next time. So, you won’t be getting a message about the war around us this time, we are committing to the struggle in ourselves right now.

Ministerial visit

This week we were again visited by the Minister of Supply together with his wife. They were with us before. He practically has the function of the patriarch Joseph in Egypt during the famine. He asked mother Agnes-Mariam to help find the means to offer more people work in agriculture so that they can provide themselves with their own food. In Aleppo we have been able to help 5,000 families. He also asked in India (mother Agnes-Mariam will briefly give a retreat in India) to find out whether material and prostheses can be shipped from there for disabled people.

From our monastery MSJM (Saint Jacques le Mutilé) about 1,000 people are now employed as paid workers in relief efforts throughout Syria. In the beginning we received a lot of opposition and suspicion. Meanwhile, there is a strong and good spirit with five responsible people, with mother Agnes-Mariam assuming the final responsibility. Now, big organizations are coming to us to work with us. However, the first and foremost impulse always starts with simple, sincere people who give their contribution with generosity. That is why we would like to express our sincere thanks to all our benefactors.

Our wars, our refugees

The continuing flow of refugees from the Middle East and Africa to Europe is a humanitarian drama for these people themselves and is also a threat to the countries in which they seek refuge. In this regard, two attitudes are mainly present. Some respond from a humanitarian point of view and want these people who are in need to be helped and taken care of. The others want to defend the identity of their country to for example prevent a Christian country from being flooded with Muslims who do not want to adapt and who create their own areas where the authentic population can not even visit.

However, what is missing too often is the question about the actual cause and background of the problem. When you return home and you see that the water is flowing out the front door, do you first look for buckets and mops to remove the water from your house? No. You first search for the cause of this flooding. And then you see, for example, that you have left the faucet of the sink open while the stopper was in. So the very first thing you do is close the tap.

There can be many causes that trigger a flow of refugees, but almost always they involve rich Western countries who want to master the resources of other countries. Under the pretext of “freedom and democracy” these countries are being disrupted, a change of government is being worked on, and puppets are being appointed to ensure the interests of the West. 

The most flagrant case is Syria where a war was orchestrated by “proxy groups” by Western powers and the Petro monarchies of the Gulf States. Before the war, Syria was a country that could support itself in terms of food and industrialization with a well-developed population that enjoyed a modern health system. The “strategy of the chaos” imported hoards of mercenaries of which the Syrian government can hardly get rid of after 8 years of war (2011-2018). The imperialist intervention, meant to fight this state that refused to obey, has driven 5 million people from their homes” . (Bruno Guigue, 23 september 2018: Link)

The US and the Western powers proclaim that they no longer have colonial policies, that they only want to ensure freedom and democracy, defend human rights and, finally, defend their own national security and interests. Those who claim their sovereignty must also recognize the sovereignty and interests of other countries. And that is precisely not the case. The military intervention by Western countries is not the solution, but the problem itself. It is the French troops in Mali, Niger (rich in uranium), Chad, Central African Republic that ensure that the countries remain dependent and poor.

It is NATO that destroyed Libya with active participation from Belgium and France. After the Belgian “aid” to Libya, there was hardly a bomb left in Belgium. No “mea culpa” came from any country for this total devastation (Jean-François Kahn, L’intervention and Libye, la pire erreur de ce début de siecle, Le Soir, 25/9/18; about this well-known French journalist see: Link). The invasions of Somalia (1992), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003) destroyed these countries. The aggression of Saudi Arabia with active support from the West against Yemen has killed 10,000 people since March 2005, causing a deadly cholera epidemic and famine for 8 million people.

Certainly, there are several causes of the refugee flow. However, the most important remains the neo-colonial domination of Western powers who shamelessly and with military force appropriate the richness of other countries. Subsequently, there is often a corrupt elite of the country itself who have allowed themselves to be bribed to betray their own people. Finally, there are Mafia bosses who set up an extremely lucrative business to get the refugees across. Let’s stop whining about the shortage of mops, pullers, buckets, and turn off the tap. These are our wars and our aggression against other countries that are making people flee. If we want to assert our sovereignty, we must also respect the sovereignty of other countries and their interests.

Ready for the battle for your mind!

The spreading of false, incorrect or misleading information, ‘fake news’, is a problem. The European Union is working diligently on a strategy to combat this ailment. The East StratCom Task Force was already set up for this purpose in 2015. Certain guidelines have been developed and at the end of this year we can expect more concrete actions.

However, there’s a catch. Let’s make it clear immediately. We are getting more and more into a situation where fake news is imposed with great enthusiasm by government leaders, politicians, official statements, authoritative media and acclaimed journalists, who conceal reality, while the channels of honest researchers who bring the truth, are closed expertly. The justification is then: We must defend European values. That free speech and the obligation to tell the truth are also values, is then forgotten. Or real news and truthful reporting are condemned as being a “conspiracy theory”. Or, as we now experience with the announcement of the criminal behavior of the Dutch government, which smoothly helps with the slaughter of innocent Syrian people, says that it should not come to light because it is a “state secret”.

The example we know best is of course Syria. A very harmonious, prosperous and particularly safe (albeit imperfect) society with a President who is supported by broad sections of the population is suddenly presented as a terrible dictatorship with a gruesome dictator. The CIA provided an abundance of false photos, films, reports, books, testimonies of inhuman torture (the American prisons remain an inexhaustible source for this) that were spread throughout the West. And everyone (including our “conflict journalist”!) “knew”, almost one day after another, how that terrible Syrian president strangled people all day, tortured them to death and carried out chemical attacks.

Something like that makes the blood of every right-minded person boil and that makes a heavy-handed military intervention more than justified. When someone dared to say that there was no “popular uprising” in Syria and certainly no “civil war”, that Syria had not committed any chemical attacks at all, he was dismissed as unreliable, fake news. And so the US, Israel, NATO and allies could continue to send their most fanatical terrorists to destroy the country and take away oil, gas and sovereignty. In our own Flemish press I never read one balanced article about the situation in Syria.

In the end it is about the loss of credible journalism. For England, this is now greatly described by David Edwards and David Cromwell, Propaganda Blitz. How the Corporate Media Distort Reality, Pluto Press, 2018, foreword by John Pilger. They show how the liberal media give half-truths and whole lies or sometimes represent reality in reverse, in the service of large interest groups. And the writers of this work are not even journalists but a former professor and an oceanographer. It will become increasingly difficult to discover reality, but it is not impossible. The Australian journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is now imprisoned at the Embassy of Venezuela in London but in reality deserves a monument to what he has made public. There are undoubtedly many more people than we suspect, who are aware of the prevalent lies.

Anyone who has any insight into the ever-recurring anti-Russia, anti-Iran, anti-China, anti-Brexit… hysteria on the one hand and on the other Western unlimited war propaganda, justified by the most unlikely pretext to dominate the rest of the world, will soon find more reliable sources. It is also necessary. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities of this dark world …” (Ephesians 6, 12). And by our attitude, we are always either on the side of the murderers or on the side of the innocent victims. We are called to be people of peace and not silly servants of hatred and war, which we conveniently want to package in a message of peace.

Syrian refugees leave Lebanon’s Ersal for Syria

Published Thursday, August 7, 2014

At least 1,700 Syrian refugees have left the eastern Bekaa town of Ersal, where troops have been battling jihadists for days, to go back to Syria, a nun helping them return said Thursday.

The departure appeared to be the first time a group of refugees has left Lebanon en masse to return to Syria, and comes after days of fighting in the border town that has killed 17 soldiers and dozens of militants.

A Lebanese security services official confirmed that the group had left Ersal and was headed to the Masnaa border crossing to leave the country, putting the number of refugees heading out at 1,500.

The Syrian nun facilitating their return, Sister Agnes, who is close to the Syrian regime, told AFP that “1,700 men, women and children have left the Ersal area for Syria”.

“They are mostly from the Qalamun region, particularly from Qara,” she said, referring to a Syrian area just across the border from Ersal, which was largely recaptured by regime forces earlier this year.

Sister Agnes, who heads a convent in Qara, said some of the 47,000 Syrian refugees in Ersal had contacted her around a month ago requesting her help in returning to Syria.

“The formalities were complicated because of the presence of some men who had not done their military service,” she said.

But the Syrian government “has put no obstacles in the way of their return.”

The nun, who has mediated between regime and rebel forces on several occasions inside Syria, said Lebanon authorities were also facilitating the departure of the refugees, some of whom had entered the country illegally.

She said another 3,000 refugees in Ersal were still hoping to leave and return to Syria.

In the neighbouring town of Labweh, an AFP correspondent saw the refugees packed into some 20 trucks, carrying their belongings as they headed towards the border.

The presence of the refugees in the area, and claims that some of the jihadists had emerged from Syrian refugee camps in Arsal has raised tensions in the region.

(AFP)

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Nun helps broker agreements between rebels, government

Paintings of Mary and Christ are seen in the damaged Um al-Zenar church in Homs, Syria, May 9. (CNS/Reuters/Khaled al-Hariri)

May, 20, 2014, National Catholic Reporter

For Syria’s three-year armed conflict to come to an end, all foreign fighters and the external powers that support them must first leave the country, said Mother Agnes Mariam, a Carmelite nun in Syria, during a public lecture April 29 at Saint Mary’s College of California. That departure, she said, would allow the Syrian people the safety to resolve their political differences through non-violent negotiations.

She has been working vigorously with the Mussalaha Reconciliation Initiative, a Syrian community-based non-violent collective, to achieve such a resolution. Her work has included brokering agreements between members of Syrian rebel forces and the government of President Bashar al-Assad to deliver food to beleaguered citizens and to arrange for the evacuation of women and children from conflict zones.

Recently she has convinced some fighters to put down their arms in exchange for amnesty. Some of these men are now working with Mussalaha, which she helped start in Homs in January 2012.

Mother Agnes Mariam, superior of the Monastery of St. James the Mutilated in Homs, is now on an international lecture tour to call attention to what she sees as media misrepresentations about the Syrian war that has left 150,000 dead and 9 million displaced.

During her lecture at St. Mary’s College, she said that the initial legitimate expression of opposition to policies and practices of the Assad government has been hijacked by extreme Islamists who are supported by outside governments and are trying to impose their views on all of Syria. 

Her appearance at the Christian Brothers’ college, nestled in the hills of Moraga east of Oakland, was not without controversy. Some in attendance interrupted her with accusations that she is too partial to the Assad government.  “I am a nun, not a geopoliticist or a diplomat,” she said. “I do not take sides. But I have experience and a conscience.” 

Michael McAlpin, communications director at St. Mary’s, told NCR that a half-dozen people called with objections to Mother Agnes Mariam’s presentation. “While we were respectful of the perspectives of those individuals, we welcome speakers to stimulate insightful and provocative conversation on campus,” he said.

She spoke passionately against the terror currently wielded by Islamic fundamentalists, known as “takfiris,”who are trying to impose their interpretation of Shariah law through extreme violence including kidnappings and beheadings. “We are back to the barbarian era,” she said.

In April, Jesuit Fr. Frans van der Lugt was assassinated in Homs. The 75-year-old priest had lived in Syria for nearly 50 years and had refused to leave this war-torn city, instead staying to help the poor and homeless. He was beaten by unidentified armed men and killed with two bullets to the head, according to the Jesuits’ Middle East province. Van der Lugt, a psychotherapist, had worked in Syria since 1966 and had been offering shelter in his monastery to Muslims and Christians left homeless by the war.

In December, Islamist rebels abducted 12 Greek Orthodox nuns from Syria’s ancient town of Maaloula, where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken. They were released on March 9.

The takfiri movements, which include Al-Qaeda and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), are responsible for the vast majority of rebel violence, said Mother Agnes Mariam. The 61-year-old native of Lebanon insisted that most of these fighters are receiving armed support from other countries, especially the Gulf states and Western nations.  

Her conviction echoes that of Syrian Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo who, in a videotaped interview in late February on the Orantes website for Syrian Christians, said, “Unfortunately, the U.S., France, and England do nothing except add poison to things by aiding those who want to declare an Islamic state.” But, he added, peace is “always possible.” The first condition is for the “terrorists to leave.” When they are gone, he believes, “We Syrians can come to an agreement.”

That sentiment pervades much of the country, said Rick Sterling, an American peace activist who visited Damascus, Latakia and Homs last month with Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace laureate from Ireland, as part of an 18-person delegation. He told NCR that the delegation found a pervasive sentiment among Syrian religious leaders and citizens that many of the fighters are “stooges of foreign powers trying to destroy Syria.” Some of the fighters joined as a way to express their opposition to Assad, he said, but many are mercenaries eager to make money. In the process they become “indoctrinated into the extremes of Islam,” he said.

Maguire, in a published report on the trip, said the group met with Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios Laham and Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun. They are “sure that if other countries will stop the flow of arms, fighters and other interference in Syria, the Syrian people will be able to reach an understanding amongst themselves and rebuild Syria together,” she wrote

Meanwhile, the fighting continues with attacks and counterattacks in what Mother Agnes Mariam termed the “engineering of chaos.” It has left Syria with more than 40 percent of its pre-conflict population as internal or external refugees.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres has called the situation “unconscionable. … No effort should be spared to forge peace.”

Last week, rebels in Homs agreed to a ceasefire and began leaving the besieged city. For her work to end the violence throughout, Mother Agnes Mariam was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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