Archbishop warns on 'horrible' repercussions of armed action in Syria

By staff writers
August 29, 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned of the "unforeseen consequences" in the Middle East region of US-led and UK-backed armed action against Syria.

The media comments from Justin Welby, who is also the spiritual leader of the 77 million strong worldwide Anglican Communion, come ahead of a debate at Westminster on UK involvement in plans for intervention.

The Archbishop declared: "The things which MPs will have to bear in mind in what is going to be a very, very difficult debate are, firstly, are we sure about the facts on the ground?

"Secondly, is it possible to have a carefully calibrated response, including armed force... that does not have unforeseeable ramifications across the whole Arab and Muslim world?

"I have had a lot of conversations with people in the region. I think the overwhelming sense is of a really moving and terrible sense of fear about what might come out of, what might be happening in the next few weeks – not predicated on people doing one thing or people doing another, just a sense that this a terribly, terribly dangerous time,' he told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

He continued: "Certainly when I was there in June (and I think it has got worse since then) I can scarcely remember a time of being in meetings where there was such a sense of apprehension. I mean it was tangible, this sense of ‘what will happen? What will be the impact on us?... The impact on people not directly involved in the fighting is beyond description and horrible.”

British Free Churches have also urged caution, while the Quakers and Christian peace groups have declared opposition to an attack on Syria and further military intervention in the Middle East, calling instead for nonviolent action and political and diplomatic alternatives.

MPs may have two votes before "direct" military action is taken by the UK in Syria, the government has conceded, according to the BBC. A Commons motion, to be debated today (29 August), states the second vote should be held after UN inspectors report on an alleged chemical attack. But there are fears that the US will initiate a strike before this happens.

* 'Syria: what lies behind the clamour for military strikes?', by Simon Barrow: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/18911

* More on Syria from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/syria

[Ekk/3]

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