What will be Syria’s Future?November 18, 2012
I just stumbled across a news report from August, where it was told, that the Russians are fleeing Syria in anticipation of an imminent massive Western intervention.
It is November now.
No Western intervention until today, but dark and cold times are ahead and the inflation in Syria is 40 percent. The FSA deliberately destroys crucial infrastructure and production sites and the economic sanctions by the West have taken their toll too.
There is another assault on Gaza and I’m outraged like everybody else but since Hamas sold out to Qatar and Fatah to the EU I have become speechless and don’t know anymore what so say about the Palestinian conflict.
I support the BDS movement, I don’t buy any Israeli or US American goods, I try my best to disclose the lies of Western media via this blog, what else can I do?
I don’t believe in the effectiveness of petitions and protest marches, until now they have not shifted public opinion. As Phil Rockstroh wrote in his latest essay: “I’m done with attempting to persuade idiots by intelligent discourse and fools by plying them with common sense.”
Protest gatherings can be nevertheless useful to connect with likeminded people, if no other channels of communication are available, therefore here a list:
It is sad to watch, how the Palestinians are betrayed by their leaders. The bureaucrats of the Palestinian Authority pocket their paychecks from the EU, knowing that they are expected to keep the population quiet and that they are obliged to take part in the pitiful spectacle of talks with the Israelis.
Such talks once were called “peace talks,” and they were part of an “Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” a half-hearted diplomatic effort that didn’t result in anything except the “Oslo Accords,” which Israel is considering to cancel if the UN General Assembly upgrades the status of Palestine to that of a non-member observer state. There was also a “Quartet” involved (UN, USA, EU, Russia), but that is history now.
The Israelis never took the “peace talks” seriously, they were not negotiating but instead just making fun of the helpless Palestinian representatives and they never missed a chance to humiliate them. For many years these talks were a running joke in diplomatic circles, but the joke has grown old and so there is not much talk anymore about the talks.
The PA sold out to the EU and Qatar, the Palestinian leaders even sold their presidency of the Arab League to Qatar, which was eager to use this body against Libya and Syria.
Hamas is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, both movements are backed by Qatar. When Hamas leaders left Damascus and backstabbed their Syrian friends, they lost the only true and persistent supporter of the Palestinian cause, they abandoned the only neighbor of Israel who never capitulated or deferred.
The people of Gaza chose Hamas as their representatives in a democratic election. They had not much choice, they only could choose between a corrupt and complacent Fatah movement or a corrupt and loony Hamas movement.
I don’t want to suggest, that the leaders of Hamas are lunatics. Many leaders of radical islamist groups are intelligent persons, ruthless opportunists who think they can ride the tiger and jump into safety when it gets too dangerous. It could well be that the leaders of Hamas are not the preposterous fanatics as they are portrayed in the West, yet their foot soldiers for sure are. The foot soldiers are mostly religious fanatics.
Religious fanaticism is the proverbial manifestation of irrationality and consequently religious fanatics cannot be expected to act rationally. If they would be rational thinking persons they would not be Salafis / Wahhabis / Takfiris, they would not be fanatic islamists.
Religious fanatics may be acting irrational, but they act predictable irrational and because of this predictability they are ideal pawns in the chess game of the Western powers.
I argued already in my blog post The truth is hard to face that Israel deliberately aided the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism. The main statement in this text was:
This resurgence will cement the patriarchal social structures, will strengthen or reinstall a feudal system, will perpetuate sectarian and ethnic divisions in Arabic nations. The resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism and the toppling of secular regimes (Iraq, Libya, Syria) which tried to modernize their countries based on socialist principles is the best thing that can happen to the neocolonial powers and will allow them to exploit the resources of Arab nations for a pittance as long as there is any drop of oil or water left in the ground.
Tony Cartalucci (blog Land Destroyer) wrote a useful compendium about this issue, I don’t completely agree with his political views and also not with some of his conclusions but in this case he certainly is onto something.
That is all what I can say about Gaza, because as I told at the start of the text, the betrayal of the Palestinian people by their leaders has left me speechless. One last point: There were many honest, sincere, idealistic, committed Palestinian leaders, but the Israelis either killed them or let them rot in their prisons.
Yasser Arafat, the greatest leader that the Palestinians ever had, was besieged in his Ramallah compound for two years before Mossad killed him with radioactive poison in November 2004.
He is not forgotten!
1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza are suffering, 23 million Syrians are suffering, life for both populations is becoming more and more unbearable.
I wrote in my already mentioned blog post The truth is hard to face, that:
The destruction of Syria by a bombing campaign or by civil war will remove another active supporter of Palestinians from the scene, and it will also secure the conquest of the Golan Heights (annexed in 1981 in defiance of Security Council Resolution 497). The water reserves of the Golan Heights, especially the Banias River, are desperately needed for agricultural irrigation and for northern Israeli cities.
A destroyed and conquered Syria will not be able to launch dam projects and further reduce the water flow of the Jordan River. Israel will also have a free hand to start another war against a weakened Hezbollah and secure control of the Hasbani River, another contributor to the Jordan River.
The battle for Aleppo
The fighting in Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, has again flared up. The FSA is said to have captured three police stations on November 6 and the rebels have vowed to conquer the air force intelligence headquarter in Al-Zahrah.
FSA spokesperson Kassem Saadeddine said that the rebels control half of Aleppo city and most of the surrounding province. This statement has not much weight considering the fact, that the rebels already claimed in September that they control 70 percent of the city.
Fierce clashes took place between gunmen loyal to the regime, including the Berri tribe and others, and FSA fighters in the neighborhood of Bab Al Nayrab. The Berri tribe, an influential Sunni clan with some 5,000 members, has promised to take revenge against the FSA after four of its leaders were publicly executed at the end of July.
UN observers confirmed information that the FSA in Aleppo is in possession of heavy weapons including tanks — there was also a YouTube video showing an army T-72 tank destroying a rebel T-64 tank, but it has disappeared now.
Beheadings and summary executions are more entertaining and sexy than destroyed rebel tanks.
The street warfare isn’t winning the FSA any more friends. Aleppo’s residents have never really warmed up to the rebels, most of whom come either from religiously conservative Sunni Muslim villages or are foreign jihadists.
Three women and 4 children were injured when a FSA group, led by Khalil Abdo al-Shaghel, opened fire on a women protest march against the FSA at the al-Sheikh Lutfi circle in Aleppo.
The rebels know that they are not really welcome. “The Aleppans here, all of them, are loyal to the criminal Bashar, they inform on us, they tell the regime where we are, where we go, what we do, even now,” said Abu Sade of Liwa Suqooral-Sha’ba in an interview. “If God wasn’t with us, we would have been wiped out a long time ago.”
According to UN estimates, 200,000 of Aleppo’s 2.6 million residents have fled and taken refuge in schools and other buildings, leaving the rebels in control of depopulated neighborhoods.
The Kurds of Aleppo until now tried hard to keep the mostly Kurdish-populated districts al-Ashrafiyeh and Sheikh Maksoud out of the fighting. But these districts stand between the rebel-held rural areas north of the city and contested neighborhoods in the city’s center and south. Capturing them is crucial for the FSA to continue the offensive in Aleppo, which has been bogged down since July.
Nujin Derik, a woman who is leading one of the Kurdish militias, was captured by the FSA in late October and reported to have been killed. Yet on November 10 she reappeared and was welcomed with tears in the Kurdish town of Afrin north of Aleppo. The FSA posted a video on YouTube where she offered support for the rebel cause, this was obviously the price she had to pay for her survival and release.
On October 26 the FSA attacked al-Ashrafiyeh. When Kurdish civilians went out and protested against the rebels the FSA opened fire and killed 10 protesters. The next day the YPG (Kurdish Popular Protection Units) attacked FSA positions resulting in 22 casualties from both sides.
The leader of one Kurdish group said that the YPD has been given an ultimatum by the FSA.
The Kurds are not the only adversaries of the FSA, the rebels also met resistance from Armenians and Christians who have formed local militias supported by the government.
Turkey and the Kurds
There is clear evidence of Turkeys direct involvement into the Syrian conflict,
Turkey has not only provided weapons and logistic support for the FSA, it has also sent military personal to advise and coordinate the FSA groups. The commander of the FSA in Aleppo is a Turkish officer. In addition to that Turkey has several times shelled positions of the Syrian army, describing these acts as a retaliation for stray gunfire and mortar rounds landing on Turkish soil, though the Turkish authorities never could present conclusive evidence that the Syrian army was responsible.
All this is a blatant violation of international law, this are clearly acts of war and the Syrian government cannot respond adequately because a counter attack would give the Turks the long wanted pretext to invoke article 5 of the NATO charter resulting in an US air campaign like it was unleashed against Libya.
Turkey has already asked its NATO allies to deploy Patriot surface-to-air missiles near the border and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the military alliance would “do what it takes to protect and defend Turkey.”
The Turkish attacks appear to have entered a new phase, targeting Kurdish areas along the Syrian border which until now did not see any fighting.
The Syrian government has handed over control of these areas to the PYD (Democratic Union Party) and their military wing, the YPG (Kurdish Popular Protection Units), which is in accord with the overall policy to strengthen or establish local militias which can defend their areas against the FSA. The PYD/YPD is the best armed and most active Kurdish group inside Syria and is closely linked to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which fights against Turkey since 1984.
Ras al-Ain, 600 km from Damascus, was the first Turkish target, the town is part of Syria’s northeastern oil-producing province of Hasaka, home to many of Syria’s two million-strong Kurdish minority.
Turkeys intelligence agency MIT transported 600 FSA fighters in private trucks from Hatay to Riha and positioned them in three groups on the border near Ras Al-Ayn. The fighters belonged to Ghurabaa al-Sham, an al-Qaeda group which has previously fought in Iraq.
On November 12 the gunmen first infiltrated the Arab neighborhoods of Ras Al-Ayn without entering the areas that were protected by the Kurdish militias. The Kurds still hold areas in the town and resist the FSA.
Some 9,000 Syrians fled the fighting in Ras al-Ain into Turkey, which accused Syria of bombing the city and causing many civilian casualties, but a Kurdish leader stated that the bombings were carried out by the Turks against the positions of the Syrian Army to pave the way for the FSA fighters.
A Kurdish activist described the situation with the following words:
“The FSA invasion of Ras Al-Ayn is threatening to tear up the ethnic fabric in the Hasakeh Province where Arab Sunni, Christians, and Sunni Kurds lived peacefully since WorldWar I. Not a single FSA fighter is from Ras Al-Ayn. Not one FSA fighter knows the significance of Ras Al-Ayn. It was in Ras Al-Ayn in 1915-16 that the Turkish hordes from the north perfected the art of massacring Christians. It was reported that tens of thousands of Armenians and Syrians perished in Ras Al-Ayn in 1916. Why did the FSA fighters have to follow south on the footsteps of the Turkish hordes? Don’t they know that they are telling the world that they are walking in the shadows of 1915? Is there no intelligent officer in the FSA?”
The FSA fighters may not know the significance of Ras Al-Ayn, the Turkish officers who transported them there know it for sure!
Turkey is now preparing for another battle in Qamishli, which has the largest Kurdish population in the region and Turkish Staff has rushed about a thousand Jihadist fighters into a camp near the city Nasibeen on the Syrian border.
The Syrian opposition has made several attempts to woo Kurdish splinter groups but until now was not overly successful.
In June the SNC elected Abdulbaset Sida as leader, who is a Kurd, but a Swedish expatriate who has no backing in Syria. The only Kurdish party from inside Syria which has declared itself an affiliate of the SNC is the Kurdish Future Movement Party under the leadership of Mashaal Tammo, who sadly was assassinated (allegedly by Turkish agents).
Suddenly there are a dozen Kurdish websites of new emerging groups who call to support the FSA and there is also a new anti-governement Kurdish TV channel on one of the former Syrian satellite frequencies, now censored by the West. The cyber-propaganda war is in full swing.
The Kurds would be indeed ill adviced to join the FSA because if the Syrian state were to disintegrate, they would became fair game for Turkeys troops and incursions into Kurdish territory would be as frequent as the incursions that Turkey is allowed to make into northern Iraq.
The Kurds would be also ill advised to hope for help from the chiefdom of the Barzani/Talabani clans in northern Iraq. The clans devoid the budget of the region 50-50, but nobody dares to ask what they do with the money and any criticism of the two families leads to either disappearance or loss of all personal property. Every new business needs the permission of a clan member to start, and without a considerable percentage of clan ownership there will be no business.
In 2011 there were severe protests in Sulaimani with thousands of people demonstrating, but they didn’t result in any changes. The two clans are able to stay in power because of massive US support and because of an oil boom in the Kurdish autonomous region. The Kurds plan to raise output from 200,000 barrels per day to a respectable one million barrels per day by 2015, so any corruption and embezzlement will be easily financed by the incoming oil revenues.
Needless to say that the Barzani/Talabani leadership has made their peace with Turkey, which is now an important business partner. There is also a pipeline planned to enable the Iraqi Kurds to export their oil directly to Turkey, which would considerably strengthen the Kurdish position in the long-running dispute with the Baghdad government over the sharing of oil revenues.
Which groups constitute the Syrian opposition?
The opposition is composed of three main groups:
1. Wealthy people, industrialists, company owners, big real estate owners, bankers, etc. Nearly all of them are Sunni and they naturally oppose a socialist government which always tried to redistribute wealth and help the poor population (comprised of Alawites, Kurds, and rural Sunni). Most of these wealthy people have left Syria and transferred their riches to tax havens abroad, the ones who are still in the country bankroll internal opposition groups like the Local Coordination Committees. Many proponents of the SNC are typical representatives of this group (Riad Seif).
2. Sunnis in rural areas who are indoctrinated by radical clerics who preach hatred in the mosques. The clerics want the Ba’ath government to fall because they rightfully suspect that a secular socialist government will try to diminish their influence. The rural population only seldom joins the fight but many sympathize with the FSA and provide them safe havens in the areas of Idlib, Hama, and Homs.
3. Unemployed, uneducated young men, who feel alienated and pushed aside by society. Such persons are a problem in most countries and are the natural clientele for right wing fascist parties. They appear as skinheads, football hooligans, neo-Nazis, they are prone to become drug addicts, petty criminals, gang members. These young men are an easy pray for any pied pipers who preach radical and violent solutions. Such men are also an easy prey for the radical Sunni imams.
Most of these men grew up in insecure and strained social environments, most had a deprived childhood. Consequently nearly all of them are disturbed, traumatized, emotionally crippled persons who can be rightfully characterized as psychopaths!
These guys don’t need weapons or communications equipment, they need counseling, psychiatric treatment, drug therapy.
30,000 well armed and from across the boarder supported psychopaths on the loose, this would be a severe problem for every nation in the world.
Most of the FSA fighters are foreign nationals, but there are enough native Syrians to give the FSA detailed knowledge about the terrain and about important people.
The Syrian FSA members provide crucial information that allow to assassinate people which are important for the functioning of society like university professors, doctors, government officials, and engineers. Just last week the terrorists killed Abdul-Razaq al-Yousef, director of the General Organization for Road Transport branch in Idleb and Khaled Saad Izz Eddin, Head of the Hasya Industrial Zone in Homs.
The Syrian FSA members are aware of their importance. They felt alienated by society and they long for revenge. Every successful assassination makes them more confident, more cunning and insidious, more bloodthirsty.
Tony Cartalucci presents a good overview about the FSA fighters on his blog http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com
As mentioned before, the FSA has not many friends among ordinary Syrians and one reflection of the popular mood is the suspension of the magazine Syria Today, a media enterprise which was always supporting the internal opposition. No, the magazine was not closed down by the government, but, as Editor-in-Chief Abdul Ghani Attar wrote: “Increased attacks by rebel fighters on urban centers have sparked a fierce debate within the opposition over the costs and benefits of their tactics.”
That waning public support for the opposition was the major reason for the magazines suspension is not acknowledged in the editorial, but hinted in other articles of the November issue.
Closing this post is a piece by Mohyeddin Sajedi, published by PressTV on November 12, 2012. PressTV is banned in Western countries, so it seems to be fair to make the piece available here.
Uncertainty looms large over Syria’s future
Under pressure from the United States, the main groups in the Syrian opposition finally agreed to form a coalition for power sharing in a future Syrian government. A segment of this coalition is the Syrian National Council whose expiry date the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had already predicted.
The main idea behind this coalition is to win international recognition for the Syrian opposition. The United States is planning to organize the next meeting of the “Friends of Syria” group in Tokyo where Syria’s opposition alliance would be recognized by at least 100 governments. Similar to what transpired Libya, such recognition would spell an end to the Syrian embassies in these countries. It is even likely that steps would be taken to expel the incumbent Syrian government from the United Nations.
The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) will set up a base in Cairo and form a transitional government that should be established in the “liberated” part of the Syrian territory. The agreement on the formation of a coalition in Qatar was a prelude to a military alliance between armed Syrian groups whose scattering has hindered the US efforts to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The US and some Arab governments will increase their arms supply to the armed groups, Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood will continue to remain the backbone of Syrian opposition, and the issue of al-Qaeda-linked armed Wahhabis would be resolved after the establishment of a new government.
Does such a plan deserve applause? Everything reaches a conclusion following a logical concatenation. Is that so for Syria? The first point is that some influential Syrian opposition groups have steered clear of the SNC. Although signatories to the Doha Accord have left the doors open for others to join the coalition, there are no further groups who are likely to join.
Another point is that the formation of a new coalition to sideline the Syrian National Council would mean that the United States has acknowledged the inaccuracy of its policy vis-à-vis the Syrian crisis and that it has to reconsider it by replacing the opposition leaders. The Doha Accord was drawn up jointly by former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and former Syrian parliamentarian Riad Seif. The pair is not on the same wavelength.
The US mistake was its wrong imagination that the Syrian government would be overthrown in several weeks like in Tunisia and Egypt or its leader would be driven out by a military operation like in Libya. Of course, the US had even no correct assessment of Tunisia and Egypt; otherwise, it would not have been wrong-footed by their revolutions. The US mistake about Syria gave rise to problems for governments like Turkey whose foreign minister Ahmed Davutoglu’s policy of “zero problems” foundered. For their part, Saudi Arabia and Qatar found the chance to push ahead with a Sunni regime in Syria to face Shiite governments in Iran and Iraq.
Nearly two years after the eruption of the crisis in Syria, the US and the West must have reconsidered their security and intelligence estimates about this country. Intelligence officers stationed at borders of Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon have let them get closer to reality.
However, the US mistakes go on. Informed sources in Qatar said that the Doha Accord would not have been adopted had the US not exerted pressure and Qatar had not threatened to divulge sleaze about some members of the Syrian National Council. In other words, US pressures has converged divergent segments in the Syrian opposition. If one day this pressure is relieved, the divergence between opposition groups would mean nothing but a new civil war in Syria.
Even if the National Coalition could reach its goals soon and establish the desired government in Damascus, a new civil war would break out the following day between the hardline Wahhabis and other armed groups in Syria. Such a possible civil war, as UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has warned, would make Syria another Somalia and seal a much ruined future similar to Afghanistan under the Taliban.
It may sound incredible, but the US has suggested a Syrian regime led by an Alevite president, Sunni prime minister and Christian speaker of parliament. This model was earlier implemented in Iraq, but failed to settle the disputes, and now threat of civil war and disintegration looms large over Iraq. The aspired Iraqization or Lebanonization of Syria is an indication of narrow-mindedness, but maybe this proposal has been raised to disintegrate Syria and create rival ethnic and sectarian groups in the Middle East to clear the way for Israel to lead the region unchallenged.
The more interesting point is that the Syrian National Coalition does not provide any guaranteed outcome for its members. During the Doha meeting, the former leader of the Syrian National Council Abdelbasset Syeda admitted that he only had attended under pressure by some powers to bow to negotiation with the Syrian government. After the formation of the coalition, an upset opposition leader was quoted as saying that Moscow and Washington have agreed on the following three points:
1. Deployment of peacekeeping forces in Syria as suggested by Brahimi
2. Appointment of a new leadership for the opposition as it happened in Qatar
3. Talks with the Syrian government without any guarantee for the removal or resignation of Bashar al-Assad
Sit-ins in Damascus and Tartus
Hundreds of Syrian and Arab students studying at the University of Damascus on Saturday November 17 staged a sit-in in front of the United Nations building in Damascus to express condemnation of the unjust Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip.
Waving the Syrian and Palestinian flags, the participants stressed solidarity with the people in Gaza and denunciated the flagrant official Arab and international silence towards the Israeli criminality against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
The students chanted slogans which affirmed the unity of the Syrian and Palestinian people and condemned the conspiring stances of some Arab and foreign countries towards Syria and their silence regarding what is happening in Gaza.
“The Arab League has become a tool in the hands of the US,” the students said, noting that their sit-in is aimed at stressing the Syrian youth’s standing by the steadfast people of Gaza and their right to liberate every inch of their land.
They called on the international community to compel the Zionist entity to halt its crimes and aggression against the Palestinian people.
“The Syrian people will never forget that the Palestinian cause is their number one cause and will continue commitment to resistance as an only solution and option to regain the usurped rights of people,” said Zeina, one of the participants in the sit-in.
Iman, another participating student, expressed bewilderment at the stances of some Arab countries which have not cut their ties with an Israeli state that has been committing crimes and massacres against the Arabs.
Chairperson of the National Union of the Lebanese Students, Mais Sweidan, said the participation of Lebanese students in the sit-in is an expression of their solidarity with the people of Gaza and standing by Syria in the face of the conspiracy hatched against it.
In turn, Secretary of the Arab Student Organizations at Damascus University, Mutaz al-Qarashi, said the aim of the event is to protest the savagery of the Zionist aggression in Gaza and draw the Security Council’s attention to the real crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.
Mustafa Dakwan, Head of the Africa Students Union in Damascus, considered that the Arab and African nations are brought together by one fate and one goal against the international conspiracy, stressing that the students’ participation in the sit-in is an expression of their solidarity with the Syrian and Palestinian people.
At the end of the sit-in, the participating students, represented by the National Union of Syrian Students, handed a statement to the UN Advisor in Damascus, Khalid al-Masri, condemning the barbaric aggression of the terrorist Zionist entity against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the international and Arab official silence towards it.
Hundreds of students in Tartus voiced solidarity with Gazas population
Hundreds of students in Tartus province staged a sit-in at al-Mohafaza Square in solidarity with the people of Gaza against the Israeli aggression, condemning the international silence on the massacres committed by the Zionist occupation forces against children and women in the besieged territory.
The students denounced the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip and all practices by the Israeli occupation which has been besieging the strip for many years.
The participants roundly denounced the silence of the Arab League on the Zionist crime against the people of Gaza, describing the stance of some Arab regimes on the Zionist occupation as shameful.
They pledged not to forget or forgive the crimes of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people, as they also will not forget or forgive the conspiracy against Syria.