Breaking News

The Independent, UK : “Washington hoped for a split in the Syrian elite”




Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, UK : “Washington wants Syrian government to fall, but is having difficulty riding revolutionary tiger. The Western powers have long hoped for a split in the Syrian elite, but so far there is little sign of this happening. “If you take defections as a measure of political cohesion, then there haven’t been any serious ones,” said a diplomat in Damascus.

Syria today resembles Iraq nine years ago in another disturbing respect. I have now been in Damascus for 10 days, and every day I am struck by the fact that the situation in areas of Syria I have visited is wholly different from the picture given to the world both by foreign leaders and by the foreign media. The last time I felt like this was in Baghdad in late 2003, when every Iraqi knew the US-led occupation was proving a disaster just as George W Bush, Tony Blair and much of the foreign media were painting a picture of progress towards stability and democracy under the wise tutelage of Washington and its carefully chosen Iraqi acolytes.

The picture of Syria most common believed abroad is of the ''rebels'' closing in on the capital as the Assad government faces defeat in weeks or, at most, a few months. The Secretary General of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said last week that the regime is “approaching collapse”. The foreign media consensus is that the rebels are making sweeping gains on all fronts and the end may be nigh. But when one reaches Damascus, it is to discover that the best informed Syrians and foreign diplomats say, on the contrary, that the most recent rebel attacks in the capital had been thrown back by a government counteroffensive. They say that the ''rebel'' territorial advances, which fuelled speculation abroad that the Syrian government might implode, are partly explained by a new Syrian army strategy to pull back from indefensible outposts and bases and concentrate troops in cities and towns.

At times, Damascus resounds with the boom of artillery fire and the occasional car bomb, but it is not besieged. I drove 160 kilometres north to Homs, Syria’s third largest city with a population of 2.3 million, without difficulty. Homs, once the heart of the uprising, is in the hands of the government, aside from the Old City, which is held by the FSA. Strongholds of the FSA in Damascus have been battered by shellfire and most of their inhabitants have fled to other parts of the capital. The director of the 1,000-bed Tishreen military hospital covering much of southern Syria told me that he received 15 to 20 soldiers wounded every day, of whom about 20 per cent died. This casualty rate indicates sniping, assassinations and small-scale ambushes, but not a fight to the finish.

This misperception of the reality on the ground in Syria is fuelled in part by propaganda, but more especially by inaccurate and misleading reporting by the media where bias towards the rebels and against the government is unsurpassed since the height of the Cold War. Exaggerated notions are given of rebel strength and popularity. The Syrian government is partially responsible for this. By excluding all but a few foreign journalists, the regime has created a vacuum of information that is naturally filled by its enemies. In the event, a basically false and propagandistic account of events in Syria has been created by a foreign media credulous in using pro-opposition sources as if they were objective reporting.

The execution video is a case in point (It shows two men being beheaded by Syrian ''rebels'', one of them by a child) . I have not met a Syrian in Damascus who has not seen it. It is having great influence on how Syrians judge their future, but the mainstream media outside Syria has scarcely mentioned it. Some may be repulsed by its casual savagery, but more probably it is not shown because it contradicts so much of what foreign leaders and reporters claim is happening here.”





Algerian Army Monitors Tunisian Camps Training Terrorists to Fight in Syria




TRIPOLI, TUNISIA,(ST) _Investigations  conducted by the Algerian  army on military camps where  armed militias in Tunisia  are trained  revealed that these camps are training terrorists who seek to  join terrorist organizations fighting in Syria and Iraq.

The Algerian newspaper El Khabar (News)  reported that preliminary information confirms that supervisors  for the training centers came from Libya to Tunisia  to train the armed militias and then dispatch them to Syria.

The paper added  that when   authentic information were received on monitoring  three training centers for training armed groups in Jandouba area in Tunisia, 60 Km from the Algerian borders,  commander of the Algerian  gendarmerie ( police)   Maj. Gen. Ahmad Busteila met  with officials in charge to discuss the matter and avoid access of terrorists to Algeria or use the Algerian land  as a corridor to implement  their goals.

In this context , the paper said that the Algerian army killed al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan terrorist in the Islamic Maghreb  in  an operation in the East of the country where also three other gunmen  were arrested , whereas  one Algerian municipal guard was killed.

The newspaper reported that preliminary investigations by a special  army squad after the elimination of  several militants in  the recent military operation to the east of the country proved that one of the terrorists  is a 30-year old  man holds a Libyan nationality and was one of the  most dangerous terrorists in the area..


Syria Times




The Turkish Administration supports Al-Qaeda

The political analyst and editor-in-chief of ULUSAL TV, Adnan Turkkan, said in an interview in terms of the situation in Turkey`s neighbouring country Syria that the influx of the Western-backed foreign militants into Syria comes as the Turkish government under Erdogan is set to deploy six Patriot missile batteries in different Turkish cities along its about 900-kilometer long border with Syria.

Also the Russian, Iranian and Iraqi governments are sceptical about the real reasons for the deployment of Patriot missile batteries at the Turkish-Syrian border by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization – but some call it North Atlantic Terrorist Organization).

NATO recently stated the questionable plan to deploy about six Patriot missile batteries to Turkey in order to “protect Turkey” from potential missile strikes by its neighbouring country Syria although the possibility of a Syrian missile strike against Turkey is next to nothing, virtually zero. Some believe that this stated reason of a missile strike by Syria against Turkey will never happen and that this is only a pretext by NATO.

The Netherlands will soon dispatch about 360 troops to the Turkish-Syrian border and also two Patriot missile batteries. The German and American government provide two Patriot missile batteries and about 400 troops each to handle and control these missile batteries in Turkish cities near the border to Syria.

Of course, some of these troops have already arrived in Turkey and also AWACS (AEW&C – airborne early warning and control) are already active over Turkish soil. The NATO missile batteries will become fully functional by the end of January 2013, also some source have already said that some of these Patriot missile batteries are already positioned in Turkish cities near the border to Syria and already functional.

According to a source of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty / Terror Organization), each of these Patriot Missile battery has an average of 12 missile launchers. The source of NATIO spoke on the condition of anonymity because the regulations of the Western alliance do not allow him to speak about these topics on the record.

PressTV has further information about the Patriot missile batteries which are deployed to Turkey by some NATO countries such as Germany and Netherlands

It is no real surprise that the German government is at the front line of the deployment of these Patriot missile batteries to the Turkish-Syrian border. The German administration under Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken the side of a war party against the secular and sovereign Syria since the beginning of the crisis in this country of the Middle East. After the German government had no much benefit from the war against Libya and other dubious events in Arab countries, they are now zealous in their attempts to gain some benefits after the fall of the Syrian government .

Furthermore, the German government is clearly among the war parties against Syria and is using propaganda to justify their non-democratic stances while they do not care about the Syrian population. The statements and acts of the German government and even the opposition parties confirm their criminal intentions and their inhuman machinations against Syria and the Syrian people.

The propaganda of German media has achieved the next level and since the beginning of the violence and crisis in Syria, they only prove their subordinate role and that the so-called “free press” in Germany is nothing else than a huge farce. In terms of the German government it seems obvious after the recent months that the leadership and even the opposition parties justify their statements and machinations by propaganda and lies in order to gain benefits and to please the real leaders such as the United States and Israel.

They want their share of Syria after the fall of the Syrian government and they do not care about the Syrian population. They condemn Salafists (Salafis) on German soil while they support these radical forces in the staged “jihad” against the Syrian secular government. There are so many hypocritical statements and acts by the German government which just confirm the statement of some who are saying that Germany has no own foreign policy and is instead subordinated to the orders of the United States and Israel.

Meanwhile, another Turkish opposition party has stated that the Turkish leadership under the Ottoman madman Erdogan helps foreign militants and religious fanatics to find their way into Syria and even helps them in their fight against the Syrian Arab army and the Syrian government in Damascus.

This Turkish opposition party has accused the Turkish government in Ankara of assisting dubious foreign-backed mercenaries and Islamists in finding their way into Syria over the Turkish-Syrian border.

Some members of the big Turkish opposition party (the Republican People’s Party) said that Saudi and Libyan militants are freely entering the neighbouring country Syria via the Turkish-Syrian border. This information is not new but it is further evidence that these accusations against the Turkish administration under Erdogan are true.

Furthermore, these members of the Turkish Republican People’s Party also said that the Erdogan administration in Turkey is using the Turkish army for dubious operations. For example, they said that the Turkish military escorts and protects the Islamists and militants on their way to join the Western-backed terrorist groups in Syria.

It is understandable that more and more honest experts of the affairs in the Middle East believe that all this is an anti-Syria plot which is headed by the US administration with the help of some European governments. Of course, also the totalitarian dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the best allies of the West, have a main role in this alliance of state terrorism against Syria – because of economic and questionable religious reasons.

In addition, none of these members of the war party against Syria and the Syrian people care about the minorities in this country of the Middle East. They support radical Islamists, militants, religious fanatics and others although these fanatic groups are not only a threat to the minority in Syria but will also become a threat for the neighboring states of Syria and even for other regions of this planet.

The blather about human rights, democracy and freedom is just a pretext of these Western governments to justify their misanthropic acts in order to gain benefits. The sad point is that these hypocritical lies are still working and that the majority of Western people just do not care.

While it is obvious that the machinations of Germany, France, Britain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and especially Israel, Turkey and the United States fuel the violence and unrest in Syria and that these powers are not interested in a peaceful solution of the crisis in this country of the Middle East.

Adnan Turkkan, the political analyst and editor-in-chief of ULUSAL TV, which was already mentioned in the beginning of this post, also confirmed that foreign-backed terrorists are going through Turkey in order to penetrate into Syria. Mr Turkkan called them criminals and prisoners from Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The Turkish political analyst also stated that the Gulf States like Qatar and Saudi Arabia took all their prisoners out of their jails and sent them to Turkey to go to Syria to join terrorists there, which is already confirmed by a leaked document.

Furthermore, the editor-in-chief of ULUSAL TV also mentioned the number of 3,000 al-Qaeda (“Al-CIAda”) members at the Turkish border to Syria which are also causing tension in Turkey, of course. The Turkish government, headed by the Ottoman madmen Erdogan, is supporting these religious fanatics and terrorists in order to continue the proxy war against the neighboring country.




S. Arabia's Golden Gate for Arms Smuggling to Iraq, Syria Found




TEHRAN (ST)- Saudi Arabia is trafficking different types of weapons, ammunitions, bombs, military equipment and drugs to Iraq through a city in the Western province of al-Anbar, half of which is, then, sent to the terrorists fighting in Syria, sources disclosed on Wednesday. 

Informed sources who asked to remain anonymous told FNA that Saudi Arabia uses the al-Nakhib town in Ar'ar border which is the official border crossing between Saudi Arabia and Iraq to send the military equipments both to terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

The smuggled Saudi weapons and equipment which were used by the terrorists in military and suicide attacks in Iraq are now being transferred to Syria after tensions in the Muslim country intensified, added the source.

The al-Nakhib town with a population of over 5,000 is mostly resided by the members of al-Hezal tribe which is supported by all Iraqi Sunni tribes.

The city is on a regional crossroad, linked to Saudi Arabia from South, Jordan from North and the holy city of Karbala from Northeast. The city has always been at the center of the US attention for the establishment of military bases in Iraq.

Earlier this month, a criminal court in al-Anbar province sentenced seven people to death for their involvement in killing 22 Shiite Muslim bus passengers in al-Nakhib area in 2011.

Gunmen stopped a bus travelling from Syria to al-Nakhib, and drove the bus several kilometers away with 22 male passengers on board. The 22 men were later found shot dead, while other eight passengers, all of them women and children, were spared.

Also on Monday, a senior Iraqi legislator warned against the plots hatched by Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia against his country, and called on his fellow citizens to be vigilant about such attempts.

Earlier this year, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki stressed that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are trying to carry out a Syria-like plot against Iraq in a bid to topple the country's government by sending terrorists to the country.

"Qatar and Saudi Arabia which are meddling to topple the Syrian government are now doing the same meddling to topple the Iraqi regime. Their goal is overthrowing the Iraqi ruling system and not overthrowing me," Maliki said in an interview with the Lebanese-based al-Mayadeen satellite network at the time.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia, two undemocratic monarchies which ironically call for democracy in Syria help the terrorists in the country financially and logistically.

Also earlier this year, another senior Iraqi legislator said that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have failed in their efforts to stir sectarian strife in Iraq and Syria.

"Saudi Arabia and Qatar have failed in (implementing) their intrigue which was aimed at stirring a strife among various tribes in Iraq and Syria," the Arabic Alsumaria news agency quoted Iraq's National Alliance MP Mohammad al-Sayhood as saying at the time.

He said that Riyadh and Doha intended to exercise the seditious plot in Syria after their failed to implement it in Iraq.

Al-Sayhood reiterated that the plot was masterminded by Israel and staged by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, adding that the same regional Arab states armed the Syrian opposition in pursuit of the same divisive plot in Syria.





The Guardian: Western intervention in Syria will do more harm than good




Regime change and ensuring that the Arab spring yields only the wizened fruit of governments as accommodating as Saudi Arabia cannot be sold on their own terms. Instead they are wrapped in the rhetoric of humanitarian intervention, tapping the sentiments of those genuinely moved by the suffering in Syria.

We've been here before. The war in Libya was purportedly to save lives. In fact, the killing intensified on all sides, including from Nato bombs. Estimates of the number dead reach 30,000. The outcome is not democracy and human rights. Amnesty International is the latest NGO to report the torturing to death of prisoners under the new regime and rival militias. The town of Tawergha, home to 30,000 largely black Africans, has been virtually wiped off the map. But the cameras have moved on, just as they did more than a decade ago following Nato's bombardment of Serbia and Kosovo. That, too, was supposed to save lives: the death toll spiralled; after the victory came ethnic cleansing in reverse.

That "ethical" war, which lacked the fig leaf of a UN security council resolution, presaged more to come. It lowered the threshold for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, by way of ongoing war in Afghanistan. Negotiation and a political settlement with the Taliban in 2001 were impossible, we were told. They were uniquely diabolical, closed to reason and killed their own people. Now, after tens of thousands dead, there are talks – in Qatar, where the Taliban have an office not far from the US's Centcom headquarters.

The Russian and Chinese veto of a regime change resolution over Syria at the security council has left western leaders exploring other options to the Libya model. But all of them rule out any political settlement between the government and armed opposition in Syria and are designed to ratchet up the conflict and tension in the wider region.

The "humanitarian corridors" proposed by French foreign minister Alain Juppé would mean troops on the ground. The kleptocratic Gulf Co-operation Council's proposal says everything about how hollow is the professed concern for the Syrian people and progress in the Arab region. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are posing as friends of a democratic Syria while shooting down their own pro-democracy protesters.

The Gulf states are already reported to be funding sections of the Syrian opposition and are trying to cohere it under a leadership that will be congruent with their western allies. With Saudi largesse comes sectarian poison designed to pit Sunni Muslims against Shia, and especially against Iran, which is singled out along with China in the Pentagon's latest doctrine as an obstacle to "securing US global leadership in the 21st century".






Syria: AFP / AP sell a Al-Qaeda camp as "Free Syrian Army" training camp.




Our comparison delivers evidence of al Qaeda in Syria and how the several agencies of the colonial powers have been trying to conceal it. (US Ambassador Robert Ford knew that al Qaeda was active in Syria since April 2011 – not to mention that there is a good reason why many call it al-CIAda).

But also corporate and state media in Germany keep the facts under wraps because of their close connections to the German Federal government and they try to sell every strange story for propaganda purposes.


The European, multilingual news television channel Euronews (headquarter in Lyon-Écully, France) reported on 19 December 2012 from a camp in the province of Idlib (Idleb) / Syria.

 Since the end of 2011 / beginning of 2012, there is more and more talk of radical Islamist fighters, even of al-Qaeda. Thousands of them are said to be involved in the Syrian civil war now. Pictures from one of their training camps. The accent of the instructor indicates his origin is from Algeria or Tunisia.

 “Many people of al-Qaeda came from Iraq in order to fight here under the name “Al Nusra Front” against the infidels. The majority of the suicide bombs, which have already hit senior representatives in Syria, go on their account. One of their regional commanders calls himself Sheikh Abu Ahmed".

This Abu Ahmed is likely to come from southern Iraq or the Gulf region according to his accent. He says: We are wholeheartedly against this regime. Since the Arab Spring began, we were the first in the service of the revolution.

AFP and AP

The agency AFP, which represents itself gladly as the “Marines of Journalism – First in, Last out” and supplies about 1,500 U.S. newspapers, is selling the story of the “rebel” camp in Idlib (Idleb), Syria, since the 17 December 2012.

For the agency AP, these Al Qaeda fighters from Iraq and the instructor from North Africa are suddenly deserted Syrian soldiers.

This reads then as follows at Associated Press:

In Idlib province, the brigade is made up of seven battalions with about 900 armed men, said the instructor, Abu Hamza, once a special forces commander who served 12 years in the Syrian military.

There it is – the fairy tale of the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA), which only consists of Syrians.

“Abu Hamza, 32, said that for the past month, he has been moving among rebel outposts to train the fighters. The tall, clean-shaven (SN: this should suggest that he is no Islamist) ex-officer said he hopes to pick the best for a future rebel commando unit.

For Monday’s drill, 16 trainees faced Abu Hamza in four rows in the backyard of a farmhouse near the village of Maaret Ikhwan, about half an hour’s drive from the Turkish border.

In order to eliminate any doubts that the camp has been really unmasked by Euronews, we have compared the cock-and-bull stories and we viewed all the available pictures from the trip to Maaret and noticed something amazing.

The pictures prove that it is one and the same training camp of al-Qaeda.

The people and the environment in the pictures from AP / AFP and Euronews are identical. This camp of al Qaeda is undoubtedly the same training camp which is sold by the NATO agencies as a training camp of the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA))

All participating reporters knew where they were. These Syrian “rebels” belong to al Qaeda. The intent to deceive is clear: The character of the war against Syria under the black of al Qaeda flag should be veiled.

The Proof

Here is the evidence with pictures that the sold as Syrian training camp is in fact the al Qaeda camp, which was revealed at Euronews. Note the people and their clothes, and the characteristic shape of the wall.

The result is clear: The scenery is the same. AP sells Al Qaeda fighters deliberately as Syrians.

The German State agency ARD is not different. By the way: Once before we have been able to uncover a propaganda lie by the use of Euronews. In 2011, the German ARD-propagandist Jörg Armbruster had concealed a massacre against Libyan injured in a hospital and he instead has blamed the Libyan army.

Why are AP and AFP (of all things) trying to sell Al Qaeda fighters as “Free Syrian Army” (FSA).

Al Qaeda is still a “terrorist organisation” with whom the civil rights in NATO can be curtailed gorgeously. This image is, however, a hindrance in the fight against the NATO opponents in the Middle East. Americans and Frenchmen as well as the British are among the driving forces behind the Al Qaeda gang in order to overthrow the Syrian governmentThe oil manager Moaz al-Khatib, “appointed” by Hillary Clinton by the use of a open blackmail, and who is even recognized by France as “legitimate representative” of Syria, has already called for an open support of Al Qaeda in Syria

The decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed.

Why is Euronews still able to publish such reports?

The name “Euronews” deceives a little bit. Euronews is an international channel that also belongs to non-EU and Arab, African countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco and of which – apart of France (France Télévisions) – no major powers of the empire holds any shares. But among the owners are Ukraine, Russia, Switzerland, and Turkey.






Looming clouds of destruction

Prem Shankar Jha

History tends to repeat itself. But seldom has it done so as mindlessly as it is about to do in Syria. The United States and its European allies are about to provide “air and sea support” to the Syrian rebels in order to bring the 20-month civil war to a close. Their plans are far advanced: The USS Eisenhower , with eight squadrons of fighter planes and 8,000 marines, has arrived off the Syrian coast and a second aircraft carrier is on its way. Germany has transferred Patriot missiles to Turkey, which is stationing them on the Syrian border. The United Nations is withdrawing all non-essential personnel from Syria and, following a meeting between Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in New York, Russia has withdrawn its warships from Lattakia harbour. In its hour of need, Syria, the last secular, modern state in the Arab world, stands utterly alone and abandoned.

The pretext

Even the pretext for the intervention is in place. On December 3, Barack Obama formally warned Syria that “there would be consequences” if it used chemical weapons against its own people or indeed in any circumstances, even to repel a foreign invasion. All that is now needed is a video put up on YouTube showing the effect of Assad’s chemical weapons on ‘innocent civilians’. Doubtless the opposition will oblige, as it has been doing for the last 19 months. As a senior Indian diplomat remarked to the author last week, NATO is preparing another Gulf of Tonkin incident, the faked attack on a U.S. warship that triggered the Vietnam war.

NATO is considering declaring war on Syria out of the purest of motives. According to The Independent of London, the head of Britain’s armed forces, General Sir David Richards, “hosted a confidential meeting in London a few weeks ago attended by the military chiefs of France, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and the UAE, and a three-star American general, in which the strategy was discussed at length … The commanders’ conference was held at the request of the Prime Minister, according to senior Whitehall sources. David Cameron is said to be determined that more should be done by Britain to bring to an end the bloody strife which has claimed 40,000 lives so far and made millions homeless. One key concern is the onset of winter, with 2.5 million people inside Syria needing help and 1.5 million internally displaced by the fighting, according to the U.N.”

But such expressions of concern ring hollow when they come from countries that did not hesitate to invade Iraq after fabricating the same pretext they are thinking of using now in Syria, and declared an unprovoked war on Libya under a U.N. resolution obtained through fraud. The real reason for this lurch towards direct military intervention (albeit without ‘boots on the ground’) is the West’s belated realisation that a victory by the ‘opposition’ will bring to power not a moderate Sunni government controlled by Turkey but a government dominated by the violent and bigoted Takfiris that make up al-Qaeda.

This threat has not developed suddenly. Indeed the U.S. has been fully aware of the presence of al-Qaeda in the so-called Free Syrian Army since April 20, 2011 when Jihadis captured a truck (or Armoured Personnel Carrier) near Dera’a, and killed all the 18 or 20 soldiers it was carrying not by shooting them but by cutting their throats in the approved Islamic manner. A few days later, the U.S. ambassador in Syria, Robert Ford, called some of his colleagues in Damascus, including the Indian ambassador, and told them that al-Qaeda had arrived in Syria.

April 20, however, was only the beginning. All through the summer and autumn of 2011, and throughout 2012, videos posted by the rebels themselves showed that the armed opposition in Syria has been sliding inexorably into the hands of radical Islamists. Thousands of foreign fighters have poured into Syria from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and places as far apart as Pakistan and Chechnya. Syrian television broadcast interviews with numerous young men captured in Homs and elsewhere, who gave graphic descriptions of how they had been recruited by al-Qaeda to fight for Islam against a heretical regime in Syria. The rebels themselves have posted YouTube videos showing them executing captured Syrian soldiers and civilians in the approved manner.

But the Obama administration has steadfastly chosen to believe that the jihadis make up only ‘a tiny fraction’ of the "Free Syrian Army", and has continued to provide FSA with logistical support, that is, satellite-based information about Syrian troop and VIP movements, and look the other way while Qatar and Saudi Arabia have provided it with guns and mounted pick-up trucks, mortars and RPGs.

This make-believe game had to end, and it did so when a Libyan ship docked in a Turkish port in September 2012 with 400 tons of weapons for the rebels in Syria. This shipment contained SA-7 portable anti-aircraft missiles and Rocket Propelled Grenades. When interviewed, the captain of the ship admitted that he belonged to an organisation that reported directly to the Libyan government. As if that was not disturbing enough, on October 10, the New York Times reported that most of the weapons that had been supplied by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia had gone to hard line Islamist groups in Syria.

Nightmare coming true

For the European Union and the U.S., this was a nightmare coming true. The EU had imposed an embargo on the sale of arms to any party in Syria and the U.S. had refused increasingly frenzied demands from the "FSA" for ‘heavy weapons’, because they did not want the missiles, which are capable of bringing down civilian aircraft, to fall into al-Qaeda’s hands. Now their own Sunni allies had connived to deliver SA-7s from Qadhafi’s stock in Libya to the "rebels". The nightmare became real on November 28 when a rebel group brought down a Syrian army helicopter with a heat seeking missile somewhere north of Aleppo, and western intelligence sources told the Washington Post the very next day that the ‘rebels’ now had at least 40 such missile systems.

At about the same time, it became apparent that the fight against Assad had passed into Takfiris’ hands. Writing in Foreign Policy in October, Aaron Lund listed seven Islamist umbrella groups with, if their claims are accurate, more than 30,000 fighters. All but two are overtly Takfiri, that is, prepared to punish any form of apostasy with death. In the remaining two the most powerful brigades, such as the Ansar-ul-Islam, are made largely of foreign jihadis. Mr. Lund concluded that “Jihadis still make up a minority of the Syrian rebel movement … but they punch far above their weight in terms of both military effectiveness and ideological influence.”

Another mistake

In September, therefore, the NATO powers found themselves on the verge of making the same mistake that the U.S. had made when it invaded Iraq. By destroying Saddam Hussein’s secular albeit despotic regime in 2003, the U.S. created the ‘Shia crescent’ that Israel held responsible for its setback in Lebanon in 2006. The Arab Spring and Osama bin Laden’s death lulled the Obama administration into believing that the threat from al-Qaeda was almost over, and that it was now possible to create a ‘Sunni crescent’ of moderate Islamic states that would safeguard Israel and western interests in the near east. Syria was intended to become the fulcrum of this Sunni crescent, but instead it is on the verge of becoming a jihadi state.

The West has decided to join in the attack on Syria in the hope that by hastening the end of the war, it will forestall the further rise of jihadis. But even had this been possible, the decision has come too late. The first indicator of Salafi supremacy within the armed opposition came in early October when western-backed FSA commanders who had formed a joint military command decided to celebrate by inviting Sheikh Adnan al-Aroor to be their guest of honour.

The West got its second shock on December 11 when the U.S. decided to declare Jabhat Al Nusra, the most ruthless and powerful jihadi group in Syria, a terrorist organisation and ban the supply of arms to it. No sooner had the news spread than 29 fighting brigades and civilian fronts of the armed opposition banded together to pledge allegiance to it and denounce the U.S. decision. A widely circulated statement on the Syrian opposition’s Facebook page read “These are the men for the people of Syria, these are the heroes who belong to us in religion, in blood and in revolution,” The Al Nusra Front is the Syrian offshoot of Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Had the NATO powers not been obsessed with the need to keep up the appearance of control, it would have realised long ago that hastening the collapse of the Assad regime would worsen the power vacuum that will follow and almost certainly trigger another vicious civil war, this time between the moderate and Salafi "militias" in the opposition.

(The writer is a senior journalist.)

Source:The Hindu

 Prepared by:M.D