The Burden of Damascus – Isaiah 17 :: by Jan Markell

Is democracy breaking out all over? It sure is trying and with some success.  Currently headlines focus on the tiny nation of Lebanon and her Syrian “occupiers.”  Let’s look more closely at Syria.

The radical terror groups Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, under the encouraging eye of Syria’s Bashir Assad, have an interest in triggering Israeli military reactions against Syria. This seems beyond belief to be sure.

Walid Phares is an Islamic analyst with America’s and Israel’s best interests in mind. He works with many organizations, including Brigitte Gabriel’s “The American Congress for Truth.” Brigitte is a frequent radio guest of mine. Walid states, “By striking Israel (as they did in the Tel Aviv bombing a week ago), Syria aims to force Israel to retaliate in a limited way. They hope it will bring an entire breakdown of the Middle East peace process and new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Don’t they know Israel will respond in anything but a limited way?  Their belief is that the international community won’t allow an Israeli invasion in the midst of an Iraq war.”

They just might be wrong–dead wrong, and Syria might actually be engaged in some fatal speculation.

Would Syria ever use her massive chemical and biological weapons against Israel? What about the weapons of mass destruction moved there by Iraq just before the war?  Who else would be the target of Syria’s weaponry? The world clearly won’t let Lebanon be the target.

Syria should have been named as an original member of President Bush’s “axis of evil.” It’s another Baathist regime, formerly led by Hafez el Assad and now led by the son, Bashir Assad. It is one of the world’s worst human rights violators. In the 1980’s Hafez el Assad thought nothing of wiping out cities in Syria with political opponents in a manner similar to Saddam Hussein.  Syria has no intention of leaving Lebanon in spite of world pressure. She was told to pull out in the 1980’s, ignored the warnings, and got away with them.

One should not take lightly these new tensions, for Isaiah 17 speaks of “The burden of Damascus.” At some point in the future (because it hasn’t happened in the past) Damascus is going to get her just due for her evil. She will cease being a city.  Will it be because she taunted Israel to retaliate against her far greater than Bashir Assad ever thought?  With Europe and even the Arab world telling Syria to get out of Lebanon, will those allies even ignore such an attack on Damascus?  Is Syria becoming the goat of the Middle East, certainly not on the level Israel is, but a great embarrassment to the Arab world?

We are not privileged to know the timetable of many future events but we can watch various signs that are markers. It is no accident that in this very late hour of history as we know it, the nation of Syria is now gaining international attention and even scorn.  Some day she will cease being a city.  She is playing with matches to be taunting Israel and it is likely that even our own State Department would not stand in Israel’s way if a show of brute, retaliatory force were necessary. Bashir Assad has few friends other than Iran now that Saddam Hussein is off the scene. Her strategy of being the wrecking ball of Mahmoud Abbas could be a fatal flaw.

(Jan Markell is founder/director of Olive Tree Ministries. To learn more, visit her Web site,