Erdogan is occupying much of the northern Syrian territory with an assortment of armed gangs. Many consist of the remnants of the terrorist organisations, dominated by Al Qaeda, financed and armed by the US Coalition in their ten year attempt to topple the Syrian government and to balkanise Syria in accordance with their imperialist blueprint already rolled out in former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya – failed in Yemen and Syria.
Erdogan’s decision to reconvert this monument to secularism and co-existence in the region is horrifying to the Orthodox Christian communities inside Syria. It is very hard to address this subject without touching upon the diverse mosaic of faith and religion that coexist in Syria because it is this tapestry that all Syrians have defended for ten long and punishing years. This article is not going to further the divisions that Erdogan is trying to create. Rather it will demonstrate that Syrian Christians of all denominations and their fellow patriots of multiple faiths will defend their diversity and their pluralism with every fibre of their being.
Ironically, Erdogan said that he expected the world to respect the decision regarding this place of worship just as he respects the decisions of other nations. The irony lies in Erdogan’s sponsorship of the extremist gangs that roam the Syrian Christian towns and villages in Idlib, destroying and looting churches and uprooting entire communities in their campaign to erase Christianity from their caliphatist vision for Syria and the region.
The irony lies in Erdogan’s support for the same sectarian, armed militias, dominated by Al Qaeda who besieged and targeted the Syrian Christian communities of Al Sqeilbiyyeh and Mhardeh in northern Hama. These towns were liberated last year by the National Defence Forces and the Syrian Arab Army but not before the children and civilians of these towns had suffered from almost daily mortar attacks and the ever-present threat of invasion and inevitable massacre of the townspeople. I have recorded many of these attacks – here, here, here. So, Erdogan’s rhetoric bears no relation to the butchering of Christian heritage and eradication of their existence in the areas of Syria Erdogan controls via his proxy forces.Syria: the ‘resurrection’ of Hagia Sophia in Al Sqeilbiyyeh, northern Hama