At least 44 people have been killed and scores of others injured in bombings carried out at two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt. ISIS has claimed responsibility for both attacks, while the US government, which essentially has served as ISIS’s air force in Syria, has somewhat hypocritically condemned them.
The first attack occurred in Tanta, a city located in the Nile Delta between Cairo and Alexandria. The bomb went off at the St. George Church, where worshipers had gathered for Palm Sunday services. At least 27 people were killed and 78 wounded.
A few hours later, a second bomb exploded–at the St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. Here at least 17 were killed and some 48 wounded.
“So sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt. U.S. strongly condemns. I have great…confidence that President Al Sisi will handle situation properly,” said President Trump.
Mark Toner, the State Department’s acting spokesperson, called the bombings “barbaric attacks on Christian places of worship,” and assured reporters that “the United States will continue to support Egypt’s security and stability in its efforts to defeat terrorism.”
But US efforts to overthrow the President Bashar Assad in Syria would suggest that the US government has little concern about protecting Christians in the Middle East. The church bombings come just three days after the US launched Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase in Homs province in western Syria, and this wasn’t even the first attack carried out by US forces against those defending their homeland from terrorist invasion.
On September 17 last year, US coalition aircraft struck a Syrian airbase in Deir ez-Zor province in the eastern part of the country, killing at least 62 Syrian troops. The Obama administration claimed the attack had been an “accident,” but Assad said it was intentional and had lasted for an hour.
Perhaps hardly surprising, then, that Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, commenting on the attack, spoke of the “terrifying conclusion” which the world must draw from it:
“If previously we had suspicions that Al-Nusra Front is protected this way, now, after today’s airstrikes on the Syrian army we come to a really terrifying conclusion for the entire world: The White House is defending IS,” Zakharova said.
And that was back in September.
So let’s see…that’s two US attacks on two Syrian airbases in less than seven months. And in both cases Islamic State militants, almost as if they had been tipped off in advance, launched offensives immediately afterwards.
All this to overthrow a man who heads up a secular government that has protected Christians.
“After the explosion, everything became dark from the smoke,” said one witness of the attack in Tanta.
“Deacons were the first to run out of the church. Many of them had blood on their white robes,” said another.
In claiming responsibility for the attack, ISIS stated: “The Crusaders and their tails from the apostates must be aware that the bill between us and them is very large and they will be paying it like a river of blood from their sons, if God willing.”
One analyst, in comments to RT, expressed suspicion at the timing of the attacks.
“I talked to some people [after the attacks], and they were all criticizing the terrorists and were wondering why this happened at this time: when tourism in Egypt is improving, when the country is stabilizing, there is international support of Sisi’s regime. So, whoever is doing this [the bombings] is standing behind terrorism. It’s simple to say that they are terrorists, but who is behind the terrorists? This is the issue.”
One who seems to be under no illusion on that score is Archbishop Atallah Hanna, of the Greek Orthodox church of Jerusalem.
“These misguided American policies in the Middle East are a major reason behind the mass exodus of Christians from the region that has occurred over the years,” said Hanna.
“Who created the terrorist groups and who is providing them with money and arms? Who has been destroying Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya? Who caused the displacement of the Palestinian people? All catastrophes that Palestinians have suffered and are still suffering from were abetted by American and Western governments,” he added.
Unlike the Christians of Egypt, those in Syria seem to have had a peaceful Palm Sunday.
If the Assad government falls, it will, needless to say, be a disaster for Christians in Syria. But there are indications this is precisely the objective the US now intends to pursue.
The Washington Post on Sunday posted a pro-war propaganda piece informing readers the Trump administration has “demanded” that Russia drop its support for Assad. Not requested politely. But demanded.
The story quotes a top national security advisor, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who strongly implies that Russia had advanced knowledge of the alleged chemical attack, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley are also quoted.
“I think what we should do is ask Russia, how could it be, if you have advisers at that airfield, that you didn’t know that the Syrian air force was preparing and executing a mass murder attack with chemical weapons,” McMaster said.
“In no way do we see peace in that area with Russia covering up for Assad,” said Haley. “And in no way do we see peace in that area with Assad at the head of the Syrian government.”
Meanwhile, South Front is reporting that the US is now deploying forces at the Syrian-Jordanian border, and that a Navy ship loaded with US military vehicles has also docked at the Jordanian port of Al-Aqapa.
Palm Sunday in Occupied Palestine
While there haven’t been any church bombings, Palm Sunday in Occupied Palestine doesn’t seem to have been entirely uneventful.