Mon Jan 28, 2013, 08:03 AM
UnrepentantLiberal (11,700 posts)
France fears Islamist rise in Syria unless opposition helped
PARIS (Reuters) - France's foreign minister said on Monday Syria risks falling into the hands of Islamist militant groups if supporters of the Syrian opposition do not do more to help it in a 22-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
Addressing the opening of a conference in Paris with senior members of the Syrian National Coalition, Laurent Fabius said the meeting must focus on making the opposition politically and militarily cohesive to encourage international assistance.
"Facing the collapse of a state and society, it is Islamist groups that risk gaining ground if we do not act as we should," he said. "We cannot let a revolution that started as a peaceful and democratic protest degenerate into a conflict of militias."
Western concern over the growing strength of jihadist militants fighting autonomously in the disorganized ranks of anti-Assad rebel forces is rising. This has hindered international aid to the moderate Syrian National Coalition opposition and may push it more into the arms of conservative Muslim backers, diplomatic sources say.
Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/28/us-syria-crisis-talks-idUSBRE90R0D720130128
16 replies, 1991 views
France fears Islamist rise in Syria unless opposition helped (Original post)
|Comrade Grumpy||Jan 2013||#7|
Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)
Mon Jan 28, 2013, 08:35 AM
NoMoreWarNow (1,259 posts)
1. oh come on, it's long been clear that a major part of the rebels are "islamists"
and al Qaeda types. And these groups are likely to gain power if the rebels take over-- just like in Libya.
Response to NoMoreWarNow (Reply #1)
Mon Jan 28, 2013, 10:14 AM
pampango (18,723 posts)
4. Juan Cole: Islamists are 'very minor in the revolution a a whole, representing a small percentage ..
As the above piece makes clear, it is worrying that some of the recent military successes have been won by the Jabhat al-Nusra or Victory Front, hard line fundamentalists who may have an al-Qaeda-like ideology. This group is very minor in the revolution a a whole, representing a small percentage of the actual fighters, but the US has designated it a terrorist organization in hopes of isolating it from the rest of the opposition. (So far, as the SA article makes clear, there is close coordination between the group and the moderate Free Syrian Army.)
Here are some pictures that would not support the "a major part of the rebels are 'islamists''
Response to pampango (Reply #4)
Mon Jan 28, 2013, 01:02 PM
leveymg (29,599 posts)
6. Foreign Jihadis are acknowledged to be the "most effective" part of the Syrian armed opposition.
U.S. blacklists al-Nusra Front fighters in Syria - CNN.com
Dec 11, 2012 – ... the radical Islamist al-Nusra Front has emerged as one of the most effective groups in the Syrian resistance, drawing on foreign fighters with ...
Foreign involvement in the Syrian civil war - Wikipedia, the free ...
There have been a number of foreign fighters that have joined the Syrian civil war ... includes some of the rebellion's most battle-hardened and effective fighters.
A Steady Stream Of Foreign Fighters Is Increasingly Vital To Syrian ...
Jan 10, 2013 – A Steady Stream Of Foreign Fighters Is Increasingly Vital To Syrian Rebels ... The most obvious example is, Jabhat al-Nusra, a highly effective ...
Response to leveymg (Reply #6)
Mon Jan 28, 2013, 03:34 PM
pampango (18,723 posts)
8. "Most effective", "highly effective" - certainly true. The only Syrians who are 'effective' fighters
would be soldiers who have defected from Assad's army. Obviously those civilians who have taken up arms are not 'effective' fighters. (Hard for me to imagine that I would ever be an 'effective' fighter if I were motivated to take up arms in a struggle such as the one in Syria.)
I was responding to a post with the contention that a "major part" (I took that to mean a numerical majority) of the rebels were "islamists and al Queda types". Cole says that is not true.
The government of Syria contends that everyone who takes up a weapon in opposition to Assad is a 'terrorist'. (A version of Bush's "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" mantra.) Juan Cole judges that, numerically, hard line fundamentalists represent a small minority of opposition fighters though he acknowledges that they are very effective fighters. I trust that Cole knows what he is talking about. And I don't trust the Syrian government propaganda that everyone who has taken up arms against the government is a terrorist.
My impression is that most of the Syrian opposition would prefer that foreign fighters did not join the opposition if they thought they could win without them. But they are going up against one of the strongest militaries in the region and no one else has stepped forward to help (other than a flow of arms to to be use by relatively 'ineffective' fighters). Going up against Assad's army with soldiers who have defected and civilians who are learning to shoot a rifle must seem like a worse option to most of the Syrian opposition than accepting the help of 'effective' fighters whom you hope you can control in the event of eventual victory.
Many a successful revolution has found out that the most violent wing of the opposition could not be controlled. That fate may well await Syrians if Assad is eventually toppled. It is difficult however to convince people who have been living in a 'frying pan' for decades that they should just accept life under a dictator because getting rid of him may bring a 'fire' that they will like even less.
Response to pampango (Reply #8)
Mon Jan 28, 2013, 04:11 PM
leveymg (29,599 posts)
9. Foreign fighter influx rose sharply in early summer when Army defections slowed to a trickle.
Whoever's running and financing the opposition -- we won't go there right now, as it's not the point -- put a lot more money into recruiting foreign fighters and buying heavy weapons on the regional blackmarket (both largely Libyan) at about the time that the pace of defections from the Syrian Army slowed.
My thinking is that the opposition can't function militarily without a steady supply of fresh recruits to replace losses, which have been heavy. The supply of willing, experienced Jihadi foreign fighters in the region -- the veterans of insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kosovo, Bosnia -- may even be close to being tapped out, despite the high wages being offered.
This is why we're seeing France moving toward trying to rouse a stepped-up NATO invention. Unless the US is willing to into that part of the game (and I doubt it), there will have to be a negotiated settlement, and Assad may survive. Most certainly, most of Washington has finally recognized that it will make a bad situation immeasurably worse to destroy what's left of the Syrian state and military, as that will simply create a super-Benghazi. They'll probably try to forment a coup and/or assassinate Assad, at which time the spooks and regime changers can declare victory and get the hell out of this merciless meat grinder.
Response to leveymg (Reply #9)
Mon Jan 28, 2013, 04:59 PM
pampango (18,723 posts)
10. I agree. As the rate of defections has declined and fewer civilians join, the supply of fighters
shifts. Assad's military has proven to be very strong, even with some defections early on, which is no surprise. That was always Assad's ace in the hole. How do you get rid of a dictator who has one of the strongest militaries around and is not afraid to use it.
It is very unfortunate that the violence has gone on for so long and with the predictable result that the more violent wings of the opposition become more and more dominant. If there could have been a resolution early on the dynamic would have been much different.
I had not observed a France-led move to involve NATO. If the US does not participate (I agree that it is doubtful that it will) that idea will go nowhere.
Assad is not home free yet, but I agree that is looking more and more likely that he will survive with his powers intact. I suppose that counts as a victory for him if not for the majority of the Syrian people. One has to give him credit for opposing any negotiated opening of the regime that many thought was possible in 2011. The path he has chosen has been brutal for Syria but may turn out to be quite good for him.
Response to pampango (Reply #10)
Mon Jan 28, 2013, 09:21 PM
leveymg (29,599 posts)
11. The winners of the religious civil war in Syria are 1) al-Qaeda, 2) Israel, 3) KSA
The conflict was doomed to become another front in the Sunni-Shi'ia Jihad. Al-Qaeda and similar radical Sunni Jihadis have been the major recipients of billions of dollars poured into the Syrian opposition by Saudis and the Sunni Gulf Arabs. Just as importantly, they have had a safe haven in Syria as well as staging areas in Turkey and other portal countries where the CIA will not attack them.
The Israelis come out ahead by the weakening of Iran's main ally and by another notch in the neocon regime changers' belts.
The Saudis have shown that they are immune to any meaningful reprisals by the U.S. for 9/11 and follow-on al-Qaeda (Saudi factional paramilitary) attacks on western targets. Amidst the resulting general weakening of American power and influence, the Saudi/GCC have stepped into the vacuum and are far stronger than before, and are really the ones calling the shots. They have won the Global War on Terrorism.
Response to leveymg (Reply #11)
Tue Jan 29, 2013, 09:11 AM
pampango (18,723 posts)
14. An al-Qaeda 'safe haven' in Syria will also put them adjacent to Israel which has to cause some
sleepless nights there. Israel and the Assads (both Bashar and his father) have been enemies but they haven't had a shooting war in 30-40 years. I don't believe that Israel seriously expected an invasion from Syria in the foreseeable future. (In light of the recent performance of Syria's military, Israel probably fears it even less.)
Israel may have more to fear from Syria as a safe haven for al-Qeada than from a Syria controlled by Bashar. I'm not sure that have a "Somalia" on your border is preferable to having a continuing stalemate with a country governed by a regime that controls everything that happens, particularly when the apparent military effectiveness of that country's military has been called into question.
I sympathize with the plight of the Syrian people. I totally understand not wanting to live under a dictator. I sure don't want to live under one. But the dynamics that have unfolded in their effort to remove the dictator are likely to leave Syrians with as many or more problems than they had at the beginning.
It has happened before:
The French Revolution in 1789 let to the Reign of Terror in 1793-94;
The February Revolution in 1917 in Russia deposed the Tsar, but was followed by the October Revolution and, eventually, the purges and famines of Stalin;
The Spanish Revolution of 1936 ended in failure and decades of repressive rule by the fascist Francisco Franco.
The failure (though most led to eventual success) of previous revolutions against kings, tsars and dictators never seems to prevent people of later eras who feel that are repressed from attempting to overthrow their rulers.
Perhaps the next time people rise up against a dictator, the rest of us should evaluate the situation and, possibly, tell them "Sorry but we're going to have to side with the dictator and his military on this one. You people don't understand the trouble you may be causing for yourselves - and perhaps for us. You really are better off with a dictator because of where you live and who you live with."
We will not always be able to do anything effective to help people who rebel (Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 are examples) but we should not automatically tell them to "sit down and be quiet about their situation" either.
Response to pampango (Reply #14)
Tue Jan 29, 2013, 10:17 AM
leveymg (29,599 posts)
15. We know who the "winners" are, as well the victims are clearly the Syrian people,
Sunni, Shi'ia and Christian, alike. The Syrian Kurds probably make out a net positive, as they did in post-Saddam Iraq.
I think Turkey and the other neighboring countries, as well as Israel, will come to regret a dramatically weakened and destabilized Syria. It's simply a windfall for al-Nusra (al-Qaeda and similar Salafist militias), and we will see that the decision at Mrs. Clinton's State Dept. and Petraeus' CIA to give Jihadis safe-haven in Eastern Libya, Syria, Turkey and elsewhere will have further blowback here, as well.
One of the things the Obama Administration needs to do now is to forcefully interrupt the flow of money and arms to the opposition that fight under the black and white. If, after a short period those parts of the opposition don't withdraw, the USG should publicly identify and declare their funding sources terrorist, then neutralize them.
If we're going to continue to have a military and covert role in the region, it's not just Iran that needs to be contained. And, frankly, it wasn't Iran or the Shi'ia who attacked us on 9/11.
Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)
Mon Jan 28, 2013, 09:22 AM
leveymg (29,599 posts)
3. Islamicists wouldn't be a problem in Syria if France (and the US) hadn't "helped" there and in Libya
As for the "revolution that started as a peaceful and democratic protest" that is a myth. The twin uprisings in Syria and Libya started in Paris and London, sparked by exile groups trained and supported by western governments.
Amb. Stevens coordinated the opposition in Libya - that's on the public record. So is the role of US, French and UK funded exile groups and media operating primarily from Paris and London in simultaneously declaring "days of rage" in Libya and Syria, which were at first widely ignored until triggering events happened on the ground, again within days of each other.
In early April, Chris Stevens arrived in Benghazi to coordinate the militias in Benghazi. The State Dept facility Stevens used in Benghazi was set up near the CIA compound in January according to the papers found in the wreckage of the mission published in The Washington Post. The State Dept part of the operation was in play from before the outbreak of any of the "Arab Spring" events across MENA. That suggests preplanning and an active US role in setting these events into motion.
For years prior to that, the US, UK and France were funding, training, and advising the very same leading exile groups that called for the uprisings beginning with the Feb 2 "Day of Rage" in Syria and similiar, simultaneous calls to arms in Libya that eminated from opposition internet sites in London and Paris.
Yes, we were involved in arranging the Arab Spring for many years before it 'happened' in early 2011.
That much is simply a matter of public record. One has to look back at the timelines and see the striking pattern of parallel events that unfolded in the two countries leading up to the civil wars in March.
It's a self-evident fiction that Syria regime change hasn't been US policy for a long time. The only question is what role the US took directly in the initial stages preceding the armed uprising. The timeline tells us that occurred in Daraa, a predominantly Sunni city on the Jordanian border with a well-entrenched separatist movement. The peaceful protests lasted for less than two months before the battle for Daraa started on 04/08/11 with killings on both sides. That was the key day of the triggering event for the armed uprising in Syria, on which more police were killed by snipers than demonstrators died.
Same chain of events happened, virtually simultaneously in Benghazi. The pattern in both countries, focused on these two cities, was broadly as follows:
Month One: The Twitter Factor - exile groups promote “Days of Rage.” Largely ignored.
Here are more specific parallel events in Libya:
A "Day of Rage" in Libya and by Libyans in exile was planned for 17 February. The National Conference for the Libyan Opposition asked that all groups opposed to the Gaddafi government protest on 17 February in memory of demonstrations in Benghazi five years earlier. The plans to protest were inspired by the Tunisian and Egyptian revolution. Protests took place in Benghazi, Ajdabiya, Derna, Zintan, and Bayda. Libyan security forces fired live ammunition into the armed protests. Protesters torched a number of government buildings, including a police station. In Tripoli, television and public radio stations had been sacked, and protesters set fire to security buildings, Revolutionary Committee offices, the interior ministry building, and the People's Hall. According to a report from the International Crisis Group, "much Western media coverage has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events, portraying the protest movement as entirely peaceful and repeatedly suggesting that the government's security forces were unaccountably massacring unarmed demonstrators who presented no security challenge".
On 18 February, police and army personnel later withdrew from Benghazi after being overwhelmed by protesters. Some army personnel also joined the protesters; they then seized the local radio station. In Bayda, unconfirmed reports indicated that the local police force and riot-control units had joined the protesters. On 19 February, witnesses in Libya reported helicopters firing into crowds of anti-government protesters. The army withdrew from the city of Bayda.
Who and what exactly are these western directed exile groups? Here's a breakdown of the exile organizations and media fronts attached to the London-based working group on Syria:
Let's Start A War: Anti-Assad Syrian NGOs Working Directly With British Government
In May 2011's article "The Siege of Syria," http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2011/05/seige-of-syria.html it was reported: "The coverage by the corporate-owned Western media exclusively relies on "activists inside and outside the country," the London-based "Syrian Human Rights Monitoring Centre" which apparently has no web presence, the Damascus Center for Human Rights http://www.dchrs.org/english/news.php?aboutus which boasts memberships with the National Endowment for Democracy and Tides Foundation-funded http://www.fidh.org/-Financial-Statements- International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, http://www.iccnow.org/?mod=supporters funded by the European Union, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, and Humanity United.
Humanity United in turn boast http://www.humanityunited.org/all/partners partnerships with the BBC World Service Trust, NED/Open Society/US State Department-funded Benetech, http://www.benetech.org/about/strategic_partners.shtml the Open Society Institute, and the NED-funded http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/middle-east-and-northern-africa/mena-regional Solidarity Center http://www.humanityunited.org/all/partners/page:8 which mobilized Egypt's labor unions http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2011/02/who-are-egypts-protesters_09.html just as the US-stoked unrest began to falter. < . . .>
The US National Endowment for Democracy's journal, Democracy Digest, would report in their August 2011 article titled, "Syrian military ‘strained’, http://www.demdigest.net/blog/2011/08/syrian-military-strained-as-clinton-meets-opposition-activists/ as Clinton meets opposition activists," (warning: link automatically plays very loud video clip) that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights made one of many joint statements with the above mentioned US-funded Damascus Center for Human Rights. Meanwhile, Reuters featured a photograph http://news.yahoo.com/photos/rami-abdelrahman-head-syrian-observatory-human-rights-leaves-photo-195213346.html of the Observatory's head, Rami Abdelrahman, leaving a meeting with the British Foreign Minister William Hague.
It is quite clear that the "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" based in London and receiving the entirety of their reports via "phone" & YouTube videos from Syria, is working in coordination with both US-funded NGOs and the British Foreign Minister. Considering that Hague similarly coddled Libyan opposition leaders in London http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2011/05/libyan-rebels-inspired-by-globalization.html while playing a key role in promoting the NATO attack on Libya and the subsequent installation of a BP oilman as "prime minister," < . . .>
Response to leveymg (Reply #3)
Mon Jan 28, 2013, 10:47 AM
leveymg (29,599 posts)
5. More on the Gulf/western governments propaganda machine that shapes public opinion on Syria
Here's a critical report from a year ago that described how western opinion about early events was shaped by exile media: http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/01/06/the-neocon-propaganda-machine-pushing-%E2%80%9Cregime-change%E2%80%9D-in-syria/
Of the three main sources for all data on numbers of protesters killed and numbers of people attending demonstrations – the pillars of the narrative – all are part of the “regime change” alliance.
The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, in particular, is reportedly funded through a Dubai-based fund with pooled (and therefore deniable) Western-Gulf money (Saudi Arabia alone has, according to Elliot Abrams allocated US$130 billion to “palliate the masses” of the Arab Spring).
What appears to be a nondescript British-based organization, the Observatory has been pivotal in sustaining the claims of the mass killing of thousands of peaceful protesters using inflated figures, “facts”, and often exaggerated claims of “massacres” and even recently “genocide”.
Although it claims to be based in its director’s house, the Observatory has been described as the “front office” of a large media propaganda set-up run by the Syrian opposition and its backers. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated starkly:
The agenda of the transitional council composed in London by the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights … It is also there where pictures of ‘horror’ in Syria are made to stir up hatred towards Assad’s regime.The Observatory is not legally registered either as a company or charity in the United Kingdom, but operates informally; it has no office, no staff and its director is reportedly awash with funding.
It receives its information, it says, from a network of “activists” inside Syria; its English-language website is a single page with al-Jazeera instead hosting a minute-by-minute live blog page for it since the outset of protests.
The second, the (Local Co-ordination Committees) LCCs, are a more overt part of the opposition’s media infrastructure, and their figures and reporting is similarly encompassed only within the context of this main narrative: in an analysis of their daily reports, I couldn’t find a single reference to any armed insurgents being killed: reported deaths are of “martyrs”, “defector soldiers”, people killed in “peaceful demonstrations” and similar descriptions.
The third is al-Jazeera, whose biased role in “reporting” the Awakenings has been well documented. Described by one seasoned media analyst as the “sophisticated mouthpiece of the state of Qatar and its ambitious emir”, al-Jazeera is integral to Qatar’s “foreign-policy aspirations”.
Al-Jazeera has, and continues, to provide technical support, equipment, hosting and “credibility” to Syrian opposition activists and organizations. Reports show that as early as March 2011, al-Jazeera was providing messaging and technical support to exiled Syrian opposition activists , who even by January 2010 were co-ordinating their messaging activities from Doha.