The battle in Syria is being fought by rebel fighters who lack many of the basics typically associated with warfare: helmets, a large supply of ammo, and military planning.
Abdul-Ahad describes the situation in Syria as fluid and complicated. A correspondent for the British newspaper The Guardian, Abdul-Ahad reported for the PBS Frontline documentary The Battle for Syria, which airs Tuesday.
"There is chaos, there is no military planning, there is no organization," he says. "Most of the skirmishes happen like a game of cat and mouse: The tank is the cat. When the tank moves down street, the rebels disperse, run away, try to ambush the tank, they go from a corner to a corner. Meantime, there is shelling mortars raining on them."
Abdul-Ahad says most of the fighters he has met — some of whom are jihadis, secularists or Salafists — are "just driven by the spirit of the Arab Spring, the spirit of the revolution ... fighting to topple Assad because they wanted a form of dignity. They were tired of being ruled like sheep, enslaved by one family, one ruling party."
I heard the last half of the interview today in the car. He came off as an intelligent and perceptive observer, whose perspective I found fascinating.
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (Arabic: غيث عبدالأحد ) (born in Baghdad, Iraq, 1975) is an Iraqi journalist who began working after the U.S. invasion and has written for The Guardian and Washington Post and published photographs in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Times (London), and other media outlets. Besides reporting from his native Iraq, Abdul-Ahad has also reported from Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan and Libya.
This is no longer about Arab Spring. It's a regional religious war of extermination between Muslim sects. We take sides in this at our peril, and the result of our intervention is that we'll be at war with both sides for a long, long time to come.