Cats, Dogs and the War in Syria

October 18, 2013

Accumulating reports indicate that an ongoing siege imposed by Assad’s military on different parts of Damascus, the capitol of Syria, is creating a severe humanitarian crisis. According to different sources, due to the lack of basic commodities and food, Islamic clergy have issued a religious ordinance (Fatwah in Arabic) permitting the eating of cats, dogs and monkeys. According to one source, such an ordinance was formally issued by an Islamic preacher in a Palestinian mosque located in Al-Yarmuk, a Palestinian refugee camp located in Damascus.

A video published on the 14th of October, presents a group of Islamic clergy addresses the world calling it to interfere and stop the humanitarian crisis. The speaker on the video also says: “Haven’t you heard of the permission given to people in the mosques to eat cats, dogs and other animals killed in the war? Are you waiting until people will eat the dead?”

Reports regarding the humanitarian crisis on the outskirts of Damascus are evaluated as accurate. Thus far, no decisive evidence regarding the issuing of an alleged Islamic religious ordinance permitting the eating of animals has been provided. However, given the growing humanitarian crisis it is very possible that such a phenomenon does take place on the ground. A video also published on October 15th under the name of Al-Yarmuk Domestic Council presents Palestinians from the camp allegedly protesting against the Islamic ordinance allowing the eating of cats and dogs. This video has to be viewed carefully for a couple of reasons: listening to the slogans chanted by the crowd I couldn’t hear an outcry connected to that issue; written slogans carried by some protesters say nothing about that issue; I couldn’t find the video on the Al-Yarmuk Domestic Council Facebook page: and finally, looking at the Facebook page the headline of the page is “Al-Yarmuk – area destroyed, under siege” and most of the comments and information appearing on the page refer to the ongoing attacks of Assad and Hezbollah militants on the camp including aerial raids, rockets and artillery. It is clearly at present a situation of a severe humanitarian crisis in the camp.

About the Author
Avi Melamed is a Strategic Intelligence Analyst and an Expert on the Current Affairs in the Arab and Muslim World and their impact on the Middle East. He is the Founder and CEO of Inside the Middle East: Intelligence Perspectives (ITME), an empowering intelligence analysis praxis transforming students and practitioners into knowledgeable, media literate, critical thinkers. ITME’s goal is to ensure that the next generation of policy influencers will have be equipped with the knowledge, skills and tools to independently and accurately decipher the Middle East and accurately predict the direction of future events. He is a former Israeli Intelligence Official and Senior Official on Arab Affairs. In his public service, he has held high-risk Government, Senior Advisory, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities and communities throughout the region – often in very sensitive times - on behalf of Israeli Government agencies. His newest book, Inside the Middle East: Making Sense of the Most Dangerous and Complicated Region on Earth, (also available as an audio book) – a GPS to help you navigate the dramatically changing Middle East, offers a unique insight into the Arab world, challenges widely-accepted perceptions, provides a guide to make sense of the events unfolding in the region, and offers an out of the box idea that could lead to a positive breakthrough in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. As an Author, Educator, Expert, and Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Avi provides intelligence analysis, briefings and tours to diplomats, Israeli and foreign policy makers, global media outlets, and a wide variety of international businesses, organizations, and private clients on a range of Israel and Middle East Affairs. An Israeli Jew, fluent in Arabic, English and Hebrew, with a unique understanding of Arab society and culture, Avi has his finger on the pulse on the Arab world. He has a proven record of foreseeing the evolution of events in the Middle East and their impact on a local and regional level. Through all of his efforts, as an analyst, educator, entrepreneur, and writer, he is a bridge builder, and dedicates himself to enhancing the Arabic, English and Hebrew speaking audience’s comprehensive understanding of the Middle East and of each other. @AviMelamed