Breaking News

A cry from a student at Damascus university

This observer has learned from time in this region that if one wants to learn what is happening on the ground politically and socially it is fine to speak with government officials, journalists, long tenured academicians, NGO's, and people on the street. But I have learned that one of the best sources of objective information comes from university students. As explained to one official the other day, if ones sit with half a dozen graduate students one is sure to witness and benefit from a spirited, challenging exchange with varying points of view and few expressed without having to justify to the others one's positions or interpretation of events.

It is for this reason that when this observer gets the chance he heads for a college in Damascus.

Today in Syria, from the streets and cafes to the Universities, a main subject of discussion and one that is nearly universally judged immoral and illegal are the US-led sanctions that in effect, are targeting the civilian population.

Partly as result of these brutal sanctions, today four million people in this country need of some type of humanitarian aid and as of today, there are 637,958 registered refugees inside Syria who are in need of emergency help, a 57,000 person increase from last year at this time.

The fighting here has obviously contributed to the continuing crisis faced by the civilian population. For example, the increasingly dangerous situation means that the World Food Program has evacuated its staff from Homs, Aleppo, Tartus, Qamisly and other areas. The reason is that the past three months saw a sharp rise in the number of attacks on WFP aid trucks, which have also been hit by fuel shortages. Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency has just reported that the number of refugees fleeing the violence in Syria has leapt by nearly 100,000 in the past month. Both the Syrian Arab Republic Red Crescent Society and other NGO's-foreign and domestic- are stretched beyond their limits and are struggling with approximately 10,000 more people in the areas they are able to assist every month being added to those in desperate need of help.

Virtually all the NGO's here attest to the fact that if the US-led sanctions are lifted or even suspended until the spring, it would be a humanitarian gesture consistent with American claimed values. To continue to allow the dying and suffering under the weight of these sanctions suggests that we in America have learned nothing from the results of similar sanctions imposed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The deeply inhumane US-led sanctions prevent businesses from re opening, investments from being made, financial transactions, re-supply, and other necessary economic activities which means the basic necessities such as mazot fuel to heat homes, is very hard to come by as well as bread in many areas. These shortages are the direct and foreseeable results of the sanctions and rebel sabotage, as to a lesser extent of Lebanese, Turkish and other smugglers buying up the supplies and spiriting them across the borders to cash in on black market price gauging.

As a result of the sanctions, food prices have soared beyond the means of much of the Syrian civilian population. Too many of the young, old, infirm, and impoverished are dying monthly, according to Nizar, an English literature major, as a direct and foreseeable consequence of these sanctions.

The single rational foreigners visiting Damascus hear from Washington, and what the Obama administration is telling EU countries that are becoming concerned, is that the sanctions are vital to achieve regime change in Syria and when the government falls--to be replaced but who knows what or who-- the US will then lift the sanctions and remove its boot from the throats of Syria's students and civilian population.

Nizar takes another view. "If terrorism is the killing of innocent civilians for political goals, then your government, the world's claimed expert on terrorism is very guilty of massive terrorism and doesn't need to lecture anyone on this subject because this is exactly what they are doing with their sanctions in my country."

The fervent wishes of the US-Israel and certain other governments to the contrary, regime change is not likely to happen anytime soon in Syria according to most of the students this observer meet with, and it's the next four months that are critical they insist-starting today.

Syrian students follow local and regional events closely and a common view is that from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Jordan and even some on capitol hill in Washington, are coming multiple signals that all are in consultation via their intelligence services with Syria's government in order to reach a solution because they finally concede that, despite funding and aiding the terrorists panoply with guns, money and training, these countries, including Egypt, that the regime will survive and that the al Nusra type salafists would not be satiated by the fall of Syria but would quickly turn on Doha, Riyad, Amman, the UAE and other countries in the region.

History instructs us those sanctions do not cause regime change and those affected are not the ones wielding power. It's the wretched, the poor, the huddled refuge seeking to survive, to paraphrase Lazarus' inscription on our Statute of Liberty who we are being ground into early graves by American government imposed sanctions. The political goals of the sanctions imposed on Syrian civilian are one thing. The reality, quite another. US sanctions, some still in place against Cuba, after more than 53 years were a failure, as were US sanctions in China, Vietnam Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya and now Syria, to name a few.

"They are all about unbridled vengeance, not rational consequences as offered in press releases from US government agencies" explained Samer, a business major from Aleppo.

feelings of shame, not just for the past 11 years of unnecessary, criminal wars of choice in this region but for the current and continuing sanctions crime against the Syrian people.

Sitting at our table in the student union refectory at Damascus University on 1/9/12, Rana, a passionate and, on that occasion indignant, history student majoring in American history and culture may have reflected accurately the views of many on Syrian campuses these days.

Rana wished out loud to us that she could tell Barack Obama face to face: "Mr. President, in 2013, we students and our families from Damascus, the city of Jasmine, which was inhabited as early as 8,000 BC, and whose livelihood, opportunities and hope you are destroying today for no sane reason, urge you to "tear down these sanctions', come to Syria, visit our campus, and engage in dialogue with us."

The Syrians are a great people. Rana, and her student colleagues, are a credit to Syria and to all humanity.

By: Franklin Lamb

 

B.N

The Potency of US Propaganda

The most significant problem in political discourse is not that people embrace destructive beliefs after issues are rationally debated. It's that the potency of propaganda, by design, often precludes such debates from taking place. Consider how often one hears the claim that the US is committed to spreading democracy and opposing tyranny in the Middle East in light of this fact from a New York Review of Books article by Hugh Eakin reviewing three new books on Saudi Arabia (via As'ad AbuKhalil):

"The US does more trade -- overwhelmingly in oil and weapons -- with Saudi Arabia than any other country in the Middle East, including Israel, and depends on close Saudi cooperation in its counterterrorism efforts in Yemen."

Indeed, President Obama has repeatedly touted what he calls "the strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia" and "the importance of our bilateral relationship" and often vows "to continue cooperating closely on a range of issues."

In other words, the single most repressive regime in that region is also America's closest ally. Eakin also notes that while Saudi leaders have exploited the rhetoric of the Arab Spring to undermine leaders it dislikes (primarily in Syria and Iran), its only direct action was to send its troops into Bahrain "to stave off a popular revolt and prop up the Bahraini monarchy" and use "its influence in the Gulf Cooperation Council, the alliance of autocratic Persian Gulf states, to pull together support for the beleaguered royal houses of Morocco and Jordan." About all of this Saudi bolstering of tyranny, Eakin says: "The White House has remained silent."

Actually, that's not quite accurate. The US has been there every step of the way with its close Saudi allies in strengthening these same tyrannies. As the Bahraini regime has systematically killed, tortured, and imprisoned its own citizens for the crime of demanding democracy, the Obama administration has repeatedly armed it and trumpeted the regime as "a vital US partner in defense initiatives" and "a Major Non-NATO Ally." The US continues to be a close partner of the Yemeni dictator ("elected" as the only candidate allowed on the ballot). And it stands as steadfastly as ever behind the Gulf State monarchies of Jordan, Kuwait and Qatar as, to varying degrees, they repress democratic movements and imprison dissidents.

There is, of course, a long-standing debate about whether there's anything wrong with the US supporting and allying itself with repressive regimes. A popular strain of foreign policy thought has long held that the US should be guided primarily by self-interest rather than human rights concerns: hence, since the US wants its Fifth Fleet to remain in Bahrain and believes (with good reason) that these dictators will serve US interests far better than if popular will in these countries prevails, it is right to prop up these autocrats.

That's all well and good, but then there should be nobody willing to believe US political leaders when they claim that they are engaging in military action or otherwise interfering in other parts of the world in order to subvert despotism and spread democracy. When President Obama stands up and says -- as he did when he addressed the nation in February 2011 about Libya -- that "the United States will continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice, and stand up for the dignity of all people," it should trigger nothing but a scornful fit of laughter, not credulous support (by the way, not that anyone much cares any more, but here's what is happening after the Grand Success of the Libya Intervention: "Tribal and historical loyalties still run deep in Libya, which is struggling to maintain central government control in a country where armed militia wield real power and meaningful systems of law and justice are lacking after the crumbling of Gaddafi's eccentric personal rule").

The US is not committed to spreading democracy and freedom in the world. "Freedom" and "democracy" are concepts it exploits to undermine regimes that refuse to serve its interests. Indeed, there is virtually an inverse relationship between how democratic a country is in the Muslim world and how closely allied the US is to it.

Yes, all of this is obvious and not novel to point out. Still, it needs to be pointed out because of how often the US government succeeds in leading people to believe that these are its goals. It's just extraordinary that so many people are willing to believe and advocate that the US ever acts in the world with the goal of undermining tyranny when "the US does more trade -- overwhelmingly in oil and weapons -- with Saudi Arabia than any other country in the Middle East." That this blatant sham is so widely accepted is a testament to the potency of propaganda, bolstered by the willingness of people to embrace self-flattering claims.

Source: By:Glenn Greenwald(The Guardian)

B.N

 

 

Foreign Terrorists Wage War on Syria

Syria's conflict is Washington's war. There's nothing civil about it. Foreign terrorist proxies wage it.

by Stephen Lendman

Syria is Washington's war. It was planned years ago. America wants pro-Western puppet leadership replacing Assad.

All independent governments are targeted for regime change. Imperial rogue states operate that way.

Strategy used is longstanding. On January 4, Michel Chossudovsky discussed it. Current US proxy wars employ earlier tactics. Western-recruited death squads are used.

Using them "go(es) back to the Vietnam war."

"Terror brigades (commit) targeted assassinations (and) countless atrocities."

Since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011, Washington, key NATO allies, Israel, and other regional allies recruited, armed, trained, and directed death squads.

They're still doing it. They're imported from abroad. More on that below.

Washington prioritizes the "Salvador Option." Rules of engagement proliferated massacres, torture, and gruesome atrocities in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

In Vietnam, Operation Phoenix (OP) did the same things earlier. It became a template for future counterterrorism operations.

From 1968 - 1973, CIA operatives, Special Forces, and Military Assistance Command Vietnam-Special Operations Group (MACV-SOG) conducted covert missions.

Their mandate was to crush National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) resistance. Strategy was to terrorize people into submission.

B.N

 

Russian Naval Maneuvers off the Syrian Coast

MOSCOW,(ST)_ The  Russian Defense Ministry announced on Friday  that Russian warships will conduct naval exercises off the Syrian coast.

In  a statement quoted by  Moscow News agency, the Ministry explained that  Russian naval units of the Black Sea Fleet will carry out  the  maneuver  exercises near the Syrian coast, within the course of  arrangements to implement  a large training project in the Mediterranean Sea with the participation of units from other Russian fleets.

The Russian ministry added  that a tactical set of units of the Black Sea Fleet led by the cruiser "Moscow" will carry out maneuver exercises in the eastern Mediterranean.

The vessels participating in the training were fueled by tanker fuel Ivan Bobnov .


In the same context, a source at the Russian Army General Command announced that warships of several Russian fleets will carry joint exercises in the eastern Mediterranean.

"Landing a few units of marines and paratroopers, sailors from the warships of the Baltic and the Black Sea Fleets is considered one of the central tasks in these exercises." Interfax said.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry revealed arrangements by the  Russian Navy to carry out  unprecedented  maneuvers in both the Mediterranean and Black sea at the end of January of 2013, according to a Russian armed forces  training plan , with the  participation  of units of four  Russian fleets in order to train on  forming  forces outside Russia's borders , to draw and carry out its work plan  and enhance  fighting skills of the Russian Naval forces.

Russia's Defense Ministry is being careful with its comments about sending the warships to the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, the press-service of the ministry announced that "the group of the ships of the Northern and Baltic fleets will conduct a training combat mission in the Mediterranean and in the Black Seas, in collaboration with a group of Black Sea Fleet - large landing warships "Nikolay Filchenkov, " "Caesar Kunikov "and escort ship "Smetliviy." The officials also explained that the group included Northern Fleet ships "Admiral Chabanenko", "Aleksandr Otrakovsky," "George the Victorious" and "Kondopoga", as well as support vessels "Nicholai Chiker" and "Sergey Osipov". Later, the Baltic Fleet patrol ship "Yaroslav Mudry" and "Lena" tanker joined them.


T. Fateh

Ottoman Empire: dreams of Turkey over Iraq, Syria

 

 

 

Some Iranian MPs stressed that the present Turkish rulers are dreaming of having an Ottoman empire in Iraq and Syria though the time will certainly not going back and said,” The US, having spent millions of dollars in Iraq, have not achieved its objectives in Iraq and that is the very reason it has led its international objectives in the conduit of the present regional changes and in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and some countries has developed wide range of plans for Iraq including disintegration of the country.

According to Taqrib News Agency (TNA) wide demonstrations of the people in Salah ad Din, Anbar and Mosul Provinces against Nouri al Maliki government proves that a new plot is being hatched by the alliance of some domestic, regional and international agents in the form of Shia-Sunni disagreements.

Last week the State of Law Coalition led by Iraqi Premier Nouri al Maliki announced,” Turkey and Qatar, leading the demonstrations in Anbar Province, are the agents that fan the sectarian disagreements among Iraqi nationals and waging chaos in the country.

Kamal al Saedi, a representative of the State of Law Coalition announced,” We have informed sources that Turkey is behind the recent chaos in Iraq.”

The important point on the recent changes in Iraq is the role that Turkey is playing in cooperation with Qatar and Saudi Arabia as the factors behind the recent unrest in Iraq, particularly in relation with the sectarian clashes.

Some members of the National Security Council and Foreign Policy Commission of the Parliament in an exclusive interview with Taqrib News Agency (TNA) explained their views on the reason for intervention of some regional countries in the domestic affairs of Iraq and the interests they are following amid the crisis in Syria and Iraq.

Turkey is dreaming of achieving an Ottoman Empire in Iraq, Syria.

Ebrahim Agha Mohammadi, member of the National Security Council and Foreign Policy in Iran Parliament noted the hopes of the west for a destabilized Iraq following Saddam Hussein and said,” Iraqi nationals maintained their unity though the alien forces kept on hatching plots in this country.” And added,” An example for that is penetration of the Zionist regime in Kurdistan and the struggles of the petrified Arabs for undermining stability and breach of unity in Iraq.”

He referred to the role of Islam in topple of Saddam Hussein, former Iraqi dictator and also ruling of the people in the country saying,” Arab petrified states try to prevent Islamic Awakening to enter countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia and in this line they spend their funds for hiring and deployment of mercenaries to Syria and Iraq.”

Iranian MP also noted the critical health situation of Jalal Talibani, Iraqi President and said,” The situation of Jalal Talibani is not known yet and the western and Arab countries are making the best of the situation to fan sectarian discussions in line with breaching Iraqi groups and disunite the people; therefore, whenever Iraqi President may pass away, under the pretext of appointing a substitute, they would discuss the topic of integration of Iraq on top of their agenda.”

Ebrahim Agha Mohammadi, criticized anti-Iraq measures taken by Turkey in alliance with Qatar and Saudi Arabia and stressed,” Present rulers in Turkey are dreaming of an Ottoman empire in Iraq, while it is certain that the time will never go back and Turkish officials will know their flaw.”

He added,” At the moment Turkish officials are following ways for a full adoption of the destabilized countries and intervene in the domestic affairs of Iraq under the same pretext.”

Member of Iran’s Parliament urged Iraqi nation to stay vigil against this Arab-western plot and said,” Iraqi people have to be aware that some countries, in a bid to prevent the spread of Islamic Awakening into their countries, are trying to destabilize other countries like Iraq.”

US, puppeteer of Iraq scenario

Mahdi Sanaee, another Member of the National Security Commission and Foreign Policy in Iran Parliament slammed the moves for hatching plots in Iraq and said,” Iraq has turned into a land for regional and international races.”

He added,” The present Iraqi nation is a democratic one though some countries have their political interpretations from the domestic changes of the country turning that into an excuse to penetrate into Iraq.”

Iranian MP also said,” On the other hand the US, having spent millions of dollars in Iraq, feels that it has not achieved its objectives in this country; therefore, it has led its international objectives in the conduit of the regional changes and in alliance with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan, have set wide plans for Iraq, including disintegration of the country, on top of its agenda.

Mahdi Sanayee highlighted the importance of vigilance of the Iraqi authorities saying,” Iraqi officials have to beware lest that some do not make the best of religious disagreements because the crisis would turn into an untamable fire.”

This Iranian official underscored economic growth of Iraq, relative stability and also domestic unity as the most important issues to be maintained by Iraqi authorities.

He rebuked Turkey for pursuing ways to hijack the changes in Arab countries and weakening of resistance and said,” Turkish officials think that past decade changes in the region and international arena have not been to their benefit while Turkey has always been following the ideal of neo-Ottomanism in the Middle East.

B.N

 

 

 

Analysis: Study shows rise of al Qaeda affiliate in Syria

By Nic Robertson and Paul Cruickshank

A jihadist group with links to al Qaeda has become the most effective of the different factions fighting the regime, according to a new analysis, and now has some 5,000 fighters.

The group is Jabhat al-Nusra, which was designated an al Qaeda affiliate by the United States government last month. It is led by veterans of the Iraqi insurgency "and has shown itself to be the principal force against Assad and the Shabiha," according to the study.

CNN obtained an advance copy of the analysis, set to be released Tuesday by the Quilliam Foundation, a counterterrorism policy institute based in London.

"The civil war in Syria is a gift from the sky for al-Nusra; they are coasting off its energy," the lead author of the report, Noman Benotman, told CNN.

Benotman, a former prominent Libyan Jihadist who was personally acquainted with al Qaeda's top leaders including Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, consulted Western and regional intelligence officials as well as jihadists in Syria, including "al-Nusra sources."

And at a time of optimism that the global threat from al Qaeda terrorism has crested, the study will fuel anxiety in Western capitals that a powerful al Qaeda affiliate may become entrenched in the heart of the Arab world, creating deep challenges in any post- al-Assad Syria, and a new threat to international security.

Al-Nusra, according to the report, is a Syrian offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq, aka AQI, the terror outfit founded by the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

AQI was rebranded the "Islamic State of Iraq" after al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. missile strike in 2006. Since the pull-out of U.S. troops from Iraq, ISI has regained strength, feeding off the continued political and sectarian turbulence in Iraq.

When designating al-Nusra a terrorist group in December, the U.S State Department cast the group as "an attempt by AQI to hijack the struggles of the Syrian people for its own malign purposes."

"AQI emir Abu Du'a is in control of both AQI and al-Nusra. Du'a also issues strategic guidance to al-Nusra's emir, Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani, and tasked him to begin operations in Syria," the State Department said.

Benotman says that while Abu Du'a still has significant influence over al-Nusra, the key player in the group is al-Jawlani, a veteran Syrian jihadist who he says appears to have almost certainly been a former close associate of al-Zarqawi.

Al-Jawlani's "leadership is uncontested because of his experience in Iraq," the Quilliam Foundation report found. According to Benotman, al-Jawlani has taken painstaking measures not to reveal his real identity - including wearing a mask to meetings with some of al-Nusra's senior operatives. He was also masked when al-Nusra released a video in January 2012 to announce its formation.

AQI had built up an infrastructure in Syria, establishing safe-houses in Syria from which thousands of volunteers - including many Syrians - traveled to fight in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi's Syrian commanders were also the key channel for financial contributions from the Saudi and Gulf region.

Nada Bakos, a former CIA agent who for several years was the chief targeting officer tracking al-Zarqawi, told CNN that from the early days Syrians were amongst the inner circle of his network. "Some of these commanders are probably now part of al-Nusra," she said.

One Syrian among the inner circle of AQI was Sulayman Khalid Darwish. He's been reported killed in Iraq, but intelligence sources tell CNN his fate remains uncertain, raising the possibility he may now be playing a leadership role in al-Nusra.

According to Benotman, the ultimate aim of al-Nusra is the creation of an Islamic State in Syria and the Levant. To begin with, it set about recruiting fighters and training them, collecting weapons and creating safe havens.

The group suffered a severe setback in April 2012 after the arrest of an operative led to a significant number of members being detained in Damascus, but the group subsequently rebuilt its operations, placing greater emphasis on operational security, Benotman told CNN.

One precaution al-Nusra has taken is communicating through messengers rather than electronically, according to Benotman. "Their operational security is some of the best I've ever seen," he told CNN.

In addition, al-Nusra is "very selective about initiating new members, requiring "tezkiyya," or personal assurance, from two commanders on the front line stating that the recruit has the necessary skills, religious commitment and attitude to join the group," the Quilliam study says.

According to the U.S State Department, al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for nearly 600 attacks - "ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations - in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr."

Benotman says the group has also carried out executions of media professionals and assassinations of military officers and members of the pro-al-Assad Shabiha militia.

Al-Nusra also focuses on taking control of towns near major highways to control movement; it controls the highway between Aleppo and Hasakah, an important route to Iraq, according to the Quilliam report.

So far the group has only claimed one attack on Syrian government planes and helicopters which "would seem to demonstrate a lack of man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADs), consistent with the international effort to keep these weapons out of jihadist hands," according to the report.

Last month al-Nusra launched two of its most ambitious operations to date. On December 10, the group occupied parts of a military base near Aleppo and two days later claimed responsibility for a coordinated suicide and car bomb attack on the heavily guarded Interior Ministry in the capital.

Al-Nusra's signature tactic, like that of AQI, is using large car and truck bombs driven by suicide bombers. The group has launched several such attacks against security installations in Damascus and Aleppo, sometimes as part of a coordinated assault involving gunmen.

Benotman says that last Summer al-Nusra launched a recruitment drive for suicide bombers and began stockpiling trucks and explosives. He says that weapons shortages among rebel groups means that al-Nusra's campaign of suicide bombings has allowed it to punch above its weight.

Last week al-Nusra demonstrated the lethality of a new tactic - driverless car bombs operated by remote control, Benotman told CNN. He says the technology was used to destroy a gate at an airbase in Idlib and will raise fears that it could one day be used in an attack in the West.

If al-Nusra's fighting strength is some 5,000 members, as the Quilliam report estimates, that would be comparable to U.S. government estimates of AQI at the peak of the Iraq insurgency. But rebel commanders say that the group makes up less than 10% of the brigades fighting the regime.

While al-Nusra is mainly made up of Syrians, it includes a significant number of fighters from other Arab countries. In recent months a growing number have arrived from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, but Iraqis and Jordanians constitute the majority of foreign fighters.

In recent months, videos featuring "rebels" fighting in Syria have increasingly featured joint-operations between al-Nusra and other rebel groups.

According to the Quilliam Foundation report, al-Nusra often cooperates with other jihadist and Islamist groups such as Sukour al-Sham, which has several thousand fighters, and even with the"" Free Syrian Army"", in a number of strategic battles, though joint operations between these two groups have not been widespread.

According to Benotman, a significant number of Jihadists fighting with other "rebel"  outfits are wary of al Qaeda's hard-line ideology, but al-Nusra has sought to allay concerns by keeping its brand separate from al Qaeda, avoiding targeting civilians, and refraining from spelling out its true agenda.

"Preserving good relations with the other groups and treating them well and turning a blind eye to their mistakes is the foundation in dealing with the other groups, as long as they don't change," al-Nusra leader Mohammed al-Jawlani said in a December audio tape, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Al-Nusra and nine other local Jihadist brigades announced last month they were forming a regional unified command structure called the Mujahideen Shura Council in Deir el-Zour.

Yet according to Benotman's report, al-Nusra has not yet formed any such coalitions with larger Islamist rebel outfits such as Ansar al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Deir Ezzor Revolutionary Council, three groups which previously joined together to form the "Liberation Front."

According to the Quilliam study, "the designation (by the U.S.) of al-Nusra as a terrorist organization has only served to reinforce jihadist support for the group.

Nada Bakos, the former CIA agent agreed, telling CNN the designation may elevate al-Nusra's status amongst Jihadists worldwide, increasing funding and recruitment for the group.

Benotman's study describes relations between al-Nusra and the FSA as mixed, with both realizing they need each other in the short term to topple al-Assad.

"Some FSA brigades threaten to work with al-Nusra if the West does not provide enough weapons while others see al-Nusra as trying to exploit the revolution for their own ends, instead of working for the good of the country. Jabhat al-Nusra and the" Free Syrian Army" are wary of one another, as they are already vying for popularity amongst the population," Quilliam says.

Bakos, the former CIA official says AQI and al-Nusra are likely replicating the flexible, decentralized, and resilient external operations networks established by al-Zarqawi in the region, and that makes them a force to be reckoned with. Benotman says the al-Zarqawi networks never really went away.

Analysts believe al-Nusra's hostility to the West could create an "over-the-horizon" threat to the United States and its allies if the group is able to secure a foothold in Syria and across the Levant.

In such a scenario al Qaeda aligned groups would be operating within touching distance of borders of Israel, improving their potential to launch a direct attack against the country, long a key proclaimed objective of the terrorist network's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The Quilliam Foundation report is sobering reading at a time when increasing sectarian tension and regime brutality in Syria are playing into al-Nusra's hands.

Benotman believes al-Nusra doesn't want a quick end to the al-Assad regime.

"The longer the conflict goes on, the stronger they will get," he told CNN.

 

ST

 

Voltaire: Mossad along with al-Qaeda attacked Yarmouk Camp

The clashes started on December 9 in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp (south of Damascus) have revealed new alliances, the French Voltaire network has reported.

It sees that the strategic objective of the attack was to involve Palestinians in the crisis in Syria, mobilizing them on a sectarian basis. But the refugees did not allow themselves to be manipulated.

"Elements of Hamas loyal to Meshaal allowed fighters of the Al-Nousra Front (Levantine branch of Al-Qaeda) to enter the camp where they mainly clashed with men of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ", the network said.

It now appears that the al-Qaeda fighters were not only made up of Muslim extremists, but also included Israeli Mossad agents.

They had specific plans to corner the leaders of other Palestinian factions and eliminate them. Not finding them, they allowed the other members of Al-Qaida to systematically loot the empty apartments of these leaders, according to the network.

After a week of heavy fighting, elements of al-Qaida, Mossad-included, retreated and the camp was declared a "neutral zone."

Around 120 000 inhabitants, out of 180000, had fled the camp at the request of the Syrian authorities that offered them temporary sheltersin Damascus hotels, schools and gyms.

Most are now backing home, While some proffered to go to Lebanon.

Countdown has begun

In a relevant context related to the crisis in Syria, Thiery Meyssan, the network's Editor-in-Chief, has said: "The countdown has begun. As soon as the new Obama administration will be confirmed by the Senate, it will present a peace plan for Syria to the Security Council."

While the French press persists in announcing the "imminent fall" of Syria," the reality on the ground has turned around completely.

As expected, General David Petraeus, the architect of the war on Syria, fell into the trap that had been set up for him and was forced to resign, Meyssan said.

In strategic terms, Meyssan sees the war is already over, asserting that the so-called Free Syrian Army has lost and has no chance of achieving victory.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the National Intelligence Council cynically announced that "international jihadism" will soon disappear. Other allies of the United States should now ask themselves whether this new equation does not imply that they too will be sacrificed.

Compiled by: B.Q