The Assad Regime and Jihadis: Collaborators and Allies?

Almost every day on my Twitter feed, I come across allegations that the jihadis operating in Syria- in particular, the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) or “al-Qa’ida” more generally (by which Jabhat al-Nusra is meant as well)- are somehow in secret collaboration with the Assad regime, if not agents and creations of the regime.

Indeed, this theme appears to have been prominent at a Chicago Council event held yesterday. “For the first time in 3 years I hear something that makes sense from experts about Syria. Assad regime is helping al-Qa’ida. We might discover very soon Assad regime coordinating and supporting al-Qa’ida fighters,” tweeted Diana Rudha al-Shammary, covering the event live yesterday.

In a somewhat similar vein, Syria Report tweeted on February 3, commenting on the official al-Qa’ida Central (AQC) statement clarifying that ISIS has no links with AQC: “Their [ISIS’] leaders take orders from Assad’s intelligence.” On January 12,  @TaziMorocco, a person who regularly interacts with me on Twitter, commented: “Assad Air Force Intelligence officers in Damascus decided in 2012 to create and supply ISIS thugs in order to destroy the rebellion.”

Given the widespread nature of these allegations, culminating in the recent opposition-in-exile’s report claiming Assad-ISIS collaboration, I believe it to be worth addressing the claims. I will deal with each of the main lines of argument used to advance the thesis.

Usefulness to Assad’s Narrative

It is appropriate to state the following as a virtual preface. There is no doubt that the jihadi presence in Syria- whether in the form of ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, or the multiple muhajireen-led battalions- is useful to the Assad’s narrative on the rebellion as a foreign-backed “takfiri/Wahhabi” conspiracy against Syria.

It is also clear that the regime has tried to exploit this presence to compel the opposition-in-exile at the Geneva talks into accepting that Assad should stay in power, and that the regime and opposition should instead work together to crush ISIS et al.- an opportunity that Assad hopes could quell the entire rebellion and reassert control over the whole country, which has been and remains his goal.

However, it must be noted that it is not only these groups with global jihadi visions that serve his narrative, but also the Islamic Front (IF), which may well be the largest single rebel coalition on the ground, with some blurring between the national/transnational distinction. The IF’s main leaders, backed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, all engage in virulently sectarian rhetoric, labeling Alawites as “Nusayris” and Shi’a as “Rafidites” (e.g. see these remarks by Jaysh al-Islam leader Zahran Alloush).

The mere existence of such rhetoric and the IF’s prominence- regardless of what happens on the ground- are enough to provide considerable credence to the regime’s characterization of the opposition as sectarian. Further, the sectarian rhetoric of the IF has translated to results on the ground, most recently with reports of a massacre of Alawites in the Hama village of Ma’an after it was taken over by Ahrar ash-Sham in coordination with Jund al-Aqsa- a battalion with an ideology identical to that of ISIS but maintaining better relations overall than ISIS maintains with other rebel groups

Initially, the National Defense Force, which was mainly responsible for defending the village and was largely able to evacuate the village’s residents successfully, released a toll of 20 civilians killed by the rebels, including 11 members of a single family (the Khadur family). The incident has since been corroborated by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, with photos subsequently emerging of the victims.

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Figure 1: Ibrahim al-Naser and Fattoum Mayhob, 2 of the victims of the Ma’an massacre (H/T: @TahrirSy, who has provided further corroboration of the massacre).

None of this is to deny sectarianism exists on the regime side, as evinced by sectarian massacres perpetrated by forces fighting for the regime, whether by Alawite irregular militiamen (the Houla massacre) or foreign Shi’a militiamen (the Nabk massacre in rural Damascus province as part of the regime’s offensive to push through Qalamoun; like the Ma’an massacre, numerous members of a single family- the Masto family- were wiped out). The point is that Assad is a beneficiary not only of ISIS’ presence but also of multiple other rebel groups, but it does not follow that these groups must be secretly working with the regime.


Infiltration by the Regime

This section could also be seen as a prefatory note. There is also no doubt that ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra have regime infiltrators. One should note an interview back in the summer with one Abdullah Abu Mus’ab al-Suri, an assistant to ISIS’ northern amir Omar ash-Shishani, in which he affirmed: “Indeed the [Islamic] state has become greatly infiltrated by the Syrian regime; and that has led to harm to the reputation of the state and shaking of its security.”

However, infiltration is hardly a surprise, and does not show a group is a regime agent. Infiltration amongst both the opposition and regime sides is only to be expected in a time of war, as when the predecessor of Jaysh al-Islam- Liwa al-Islam- was able to infiltrate regime ranks and perpetrate the suicide attack in summer 2012 that killed the Defense Minister. On the other side, former regime officers- leaving aside what their real loyalties might be- can be found across the rebel spectrum.

We can now move on to consider more specific data points.

Oil Deals

It has been reported that Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS in particular have been selling oil and gas in eastern Syria to the regime. The Daily Telegraph’s report, relying on testimony from unnamed Western intelligence sources, should not be taken as anything ground-breaking: it was already reported as far back as May 2013 by The Guardian. Given the inability and reluctance of outsiders generally to get on the ground in Syria, Western intelligence sources do not necessarily have more access to information than social media activists and journalists, but are rather depending on the same sources, whether through open access online or through local contacts via online communication or other means, such as meetings in the Turkish border areas.

In any case, there is no reason to doubt that Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS have been selling oil and gas to the regime, but the picture is far more complex than just to conclude the two organizations must be regime agents. Broadly, competition for oil and gas resources in the east among rebel groups fall into three families: Jabhat al-Nusra sometimes aligned with IF groups such as Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham, ISIS, and the YPG.

All of these factions deal with the regime in selling oil and gas, not because they wish to bolster the regime, but rather because such a transaction is the simplest and most logical way to exploit these resources for profit and cement their hold in the eastern areas.

In eastern Syria, the regime’s ground forces presence has largely been reduced to strongholds in parts of the city of Deir az-Zor, parts of the city of al-Hasakah, and parts of the city of Qamishli (where its control was substantially reduced last year in the face of the YPG’s expansion). Though it maintains some air bases like Deir az-Zor military airport, which is currently under rebel siege, the regime lacks manpower to launch any kind of offensive to retake rebel or Kurdish territory. Seeking some kind of intermediaries to strike deals for oil and gas is therefore also a logical step on the part of the regime, which is now largely dependent on Iraqi oil imports via Lebanese and Egyptian third-party intermediaries. Given this dependency, the rebels and YPG have no reason to assume that selling oil and gas to the regime will harm their territorial control.

In any case, there is no evidence that any of the rebel groups have refrained from confronting regime forces in eastern areas: ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and IF groups have all participated in fighting against regime forces in the city of Deir az-Zor. The group that comes closest to seeking territorial accommodation with the regime is the YPG, for a nebulous and uneasy co-existence is maintained in Qamishli.
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Figure 2:  Documentary evidence of oil dealings between the YPG and the regime.

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Figure 3: Illustrating the complexity of intra-rebel relations over control of oil and gas resources: factions including Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar ash-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra appealed to the consultation council of ISIS and ISIS’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in late November to mediate a dispute over a recently captured oil field.

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Figure 4: Rebels do not only deal in oil and gas when it comes to exchanges between regime and rebel areas. In Aleppo, for example, rebel groups (not just ISIS) have been able to regulate what kind of goods can come for residents in regime-controlled areas in return for extorting profits from the regime. In this statement from July 2013, ISIS imposes its own regulations about what cannot be allowed to enter regime-held areas in Aleppo: gasoline, diesel fuel, anything forbidden according to Shari’a (e.g. cigarettes), and food in large quantity.

Fighting the Regime and Aerial Bombardments

Along with the oil-deals, this point forms a key part of the argument that jihadis are aligned with or working for the regime. The allegations here are more directed at ISIS than other jihadi groups, since it is undeniable that Jabhat al-Nusra is currently playing a leading role on multiple battlefronts, including the Qalamoun area, where regime advances have largely been halted, East Ghouta (where a number of battalions have recently pledged allegiance to Jabhat al-Nusra) Deraa, and Deir az-Zor.

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Figure 5: Katiba Junud al-Rahman, which pledged allegiance to Jabhat al-Nusra in East Ghouta in mid-January.

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Figure 6: Katiba Asima al-Ghouta, another battalion in East Ghouta that pledged allegiance to Jabhat al-Nusra in mid-January.

With ISIS, the reasoning goes that the group does not focus on fighting regime forces, such that it even leaves regime areas alone, and in return the regime agrees not to bomb ISIS-held territory.

This line of argument overlooks that ISIS has a record of fighting the regime on multiple fronts, including the Sheikh Said area of Aleppo province, Kwiris military airbase (where an offensive is ongoing under the leadership of muhajireen battalion Suqur al-Izz, in coordination with the Green Battalion, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra), Nubl and Zahara, Brigade 17 airbase in Raqqa province, Tabqa military airport, Qalamoun, Sayyida Zainab, Sakhna in Homs desert, the Qamishli area, and Latakia province. Besides these locations, one should also remember ISIS’ leading role in the capture of Mannagh airbase.

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Figure 7: Operation “And Don’t Separate”: a Nusra-ISIS-Green Battalion-Suqur al-Izz-Jaysh Mohammed-Ansar al-Mahdi joint operation announced this month on Kwiris military airbase.

It is of course true that ISIS is now fighting on fewer fronts against regime forces since the wider infighting with other rebels broke out, but that is only to be expected: remaining too thinly spread out would have cost the group even more territorial losses. Even so, following ISIS’ seizure of Raqqa city, Tel Abyad, Tabqa and Ma’adan, it is not true that ISIS has ignored the regime’s airbases in Raqqa province, engaging in clashes with regime forces around Brigade 17 in mid to late January before being cleared out by the end of month through airstrikes on the surroundings.

As for Tabqa military airport, this area has been subjected to mortar shelling recently by ISIS in collaboration with Liwa Owais al-Qorani, an independent battalion in Tabqa that has not pledged bay’ah (allegiance) to ISIS but rather, as a local anti-ISIS Raqqa contact explained to me, is subordinate to and “takes orders from ISIS.”

Coming to regime airstrikes, it is untrue that the regime has not hit ISIS strongholds, having struck Raqqa city as recently on February 7. The counter-claim is that since ISIS advertises itself on social media so much, why does the regime not strike these positions? However, this argument firstly presumes that the regime’s air force has any kind of precision in launching airstrikes. Second, as the regime’s record elsewhere demonstrates, targeting of civilian areas in rebel-held territory is part of its tactics.

In any event, one must ask what the regime would gain strategically by constantly bombing ISIS strongholds in Raqqa province, or ISIS strongholds elsewhere, for that matter, located far beyond the frontlines. As in the wider east of Syria, the regime lacks ground forces to launch an offensive to retake any territory in Raqqa province, and must depend on airlifts from elsewhere to maintain its remaining airbases. Hence, the regime is focusing its airstrikes where it has some real expectations of advancing: most notably in Aleppo city.

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Figure 8: ISIS fires projectiles at Brigade 17 airbase. Image from mid-January.

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Figure 9: ISIS engages in fighting around Brigade 17 airbase. Late January. The clearing out of the surroundings of Brigade 17 was reported by pro-regime Raqqa sources, who were also the first to report ISIS’ establishment of a “Khansaa Battalion” of women in Raqqa to enforce the wearing of the niqab, later corroborated by @TahrirSy.

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Figure 10: ISIS fighters (in cooperation with Liwa Owais al-Qorani) prepare to shell Tabqa military airport. Photo from February 7.

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Figure 11: Liwa Owais al-Qorani issuing a statement on January 10, giving an update on the situation in Tabqa. The spokesman affirms the group’s independence, and its support for implementing Shari’a and overthrowing the “Nusayri” regime, ensuring that the Shahada will be supreme. The spokesman then emphasizes that all Islamic factions are brothers in religion, indicating the group’s unwillingness to fight ISIS and its subsequent subjugation under ISIS’ command.

Simpler Explanations

Given how much ISIS in particular focuses on expanding itself within rebel-held areas and the intense infighting that has spread to a large number of localities, it might seem understandable why other rebels and activists, feeling a sense of ‘betrayal’ seek to explain events in terms of an ISIS-regime conspiracy. After all, there is also the regime’s prior record of facilitating the inflow of jihadis into Iraq to fight coalition forces during the U.S. occupation. That Assad wanted the rebellion to have a jihadi and sectarian face from day one is obvious, and the international community has been right to reject the regime as the solution to the jihadi problem and the corrosive sectarianism in Syria.

However, it must be emphasized that no conclusive evidence exists illustrating an active ISIS-regime collaboration; and for Jabhat al-Nusra, it is even more implausible. Much of the lines of argument applied to ISIS can also be applied to other groups outside the jihadi fold: most notably, the YPG and some of the IF. The YPG is frequently accused by other rebels of being a regime agent, but its agenda is quite clearly separate from that of the regime: namely, it is seeking Kurdish autonomy and is securing a PYD monopoly in Kurdish areas, in line with the PYD’s authoritarianism that is shared by most Kurdish political factions.

On the subject of the historical record, the duration of Assad support for the jihadis is exaggerated. As al-Qa’ida in Iraq vanished through absorption into the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) umbrella in 2006-7, the inflow of muhajireen into Iraq largely ceased as ISI became almost entirely Iraqi, particularly at the leadership level (cf. this article by Aaron Zelin on the sparks of a low-level jihadi campaign against Assad in Syria that was ultimately quashed in the period 2007-2010).

In any case, the regime also provided a safe haven for other Iraqi insurgents outside al-Qa’ida and ISI, and as Sunnis joined the political process in 2008-9, the regime initially hoped for an Ayad Allawi victory in the 2010 elections, reflecting its then growing ties with Turkey and an opposition to the U.S.’s preferred candidate Maliki, who has always loathed Assad. Indeed, Assad’s eventual switch of support to Maliki after intense lobbying was only ever a cosmetic change.

As for ISIS’ behavior, there are much simpler explanations that do not require resort to conspiracy. One need only look at its name to see what its agenda is and the problems therein: Islamic State. ISIS does not merely consider itself a group (jamaat) or faction (faseel). It believes foremost in the setting up of an Islamic state as the basis for a Caliphate that should encompass the entire world.

Not content with being reduced to mere organizational status, it follows that ISIS believes that it alone has the right to rule, and so it is ultimately not amenable to power-sharing or submitting to independent authority, even with other groups who share its ideology of Caliphate and world domination. That ISIS’ top priority is to set up its dream Islamic state in rebel-held areas where it is easiest to establish a presence hardly comes as a surprise. There is no need to explain what it does in terms of being a secret regime agent.

Ultimately, attempting to prove an ISIS-regime conspiracy without any conclusive evidence is unhelpful, because it draws attention away from the real reasons why ISIS grew and gained such prominence: namely, rebel groups tolerated ISIS. Back in the summer of last year, I noted how pace the claims of SMC circles, not all those even by the FSA banner were hostile to ISIS. The most prominent case-in-point is Colonel Oqaidi, who used to head the Aleppo FSA military council. Oqaidi constantly downplayed the idea that ISIS constituted a threat, describing his relations with ISIS as “excellent” in an interview with Orient News and deriding concerns about its conduct as “media intimidation.”

These words were spoken in appreciation of ISIS’ efforts to help capture Mannagh airbase. But the collaboration between ISIS and other groups did not end there. There was also the completely unnecessary fighting in the mid and late summer against the YPG whereby other rebel groups in Hasakah, Raqqa and Aleppo governorates threw in their lot with ISIS after clashes broke out between ISIS aligned with Jabhat al-Nusra and the YPG in Ras al-Ayn, culminating in the expulsion of the former two groups in mid-July.

The other rebel groups that assisted ISIS in the wider conflict here included Liwa al-Tawhid, Ahrar ash-Sham, Suqur ash-Sham, and FSA-banner groups such as Liwa al-Hamza, Ibn Taymiyya (both Tel Abyad area) and Liwa Ahrar al-Jazira al-Thawri (Hasakah province, to be distinguished from the Liwa Ahrar al-Jazira of Shammar tribesmen in Yaroubiya that aided the YPG in expelling ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra). Yet the end result of this fighting has been nothing more than a stalemate with each side consolidating their positions. The sole reason for the other rebels’ participation in the fight against the YPG is the dogmatic belief that the YPG is a regime agent, combined with general hostility to notions of Kurdish autonomy.

Perhaps most important to consider here is the extent to which other rebel groups- particularly those that now constitute the IF- attempted to resolve problems with ISIS via mediation and negotiation, rather than deciding that it constituted a menace and/or regime agent that needed to be uprooted.

Contrary to what ISIS members and supporters claim, there was no pre-planned ‘sahwa’ against ISIS. Till the very end of 2013, IF and its constituent groups tried to resolve problems with ISIS peacefully, with the most notable case being Liwa al-Tawhid’s mediation in Azaz between Northern Storm and ISIS. Despite the agreed ceasefire, ISIS took advantage of it and eventually took over Azaz, with Liwa al-Tawhid and other groups effectively abandoning Azaz to ISIS. Similarly, the ultimate spark of the current infighting was the Ahrar ash-Sham-ISIS dispute over Maskanah that saw Ahrar ash-Sham’s Abu Rayyan tortured to death, even as Ahrar ash-Sham had tried to resolve the dispute over the town peacefully.

Even after the infighting broke out, ISIS has been able to exploit rebel disunity in areas to take advantage. This was notable in Tel Abyad, for example, where some Ahrar ash-Sham affiliates refused to participate in fighting against ISIS on the grounds that the “Nusayri” and “Rafidite” enemy was the bigger priority. Together with Liwa al-Hamza’s tacit collaboration with ISIS, ISIS eventually took over Tel Abyad.

In Tel Hamees and the Qamishli area, Ahrar ash-Sham continued coordinating with ISIS, Liwa Ansar al-Khilafa (only in Qamishli area) and Jabhat al-Nusra as though nothing was happening elsewhere. A renewed offensive was also declared on Ras al-Ayn, but back in the rebel-held areas in the province, ISIS eventually turned on Ahrar ash-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, giving ISIS the upper-hand with many from Ahrar ash-Sham forced to pledge bay’ah to ISIS. In Damascus province, no infighting has broken out yet, and ISIS’ training camps have been left alone and the group carries out some operations against regime-held areas.

On a more general level, ISIS was even offered another chance for reconciliation as part of Sheikh Muheisseni’s “Ummah Initiative,” which all major rebel groupings except ISIS accepted. Sheikh Muheisseni’s earlier role was more limited to maintaining relations between ISIS and the other jihadi groups as well as Ahrar ash-Sham, such that he organized joint ISIS-Nusra-Ahrar da’wah events in Aleppo in the fall of last year.

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Figure 12: ISIS-Ahrar-Nusra joint da’wah meeting in Aleppo, organized by Sheikh Muheisseni in late October.

On the international level, there is blame to go around. While Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu is free to claim ISIS and the Assad regime are in partnership, he is overlooking Turkey’s own role in facilitating the inflow of foreign fighters into Syria, the majority of whom congregate to ISIS’ banner. In turning a blind eye for so long, there was no doubt hope that the jihadis in general would be useful proxies against the YPG, but Turkey must now face the consequences of rebel infighting.

When faced with these realities regarding prior rebel abetting of ISIS’ growth, it is then claimed that the rebels were ‘forced’ to turn to ISIS. This statement reflects cognitive dissonance, for in claiming they had to seek out ISIS’ help, it must be acknowledged that ISIS fights against regime forces. If they always knew ISIS was conspiring with the regime, why did they not uproot it while the organization was still relatively weak?

Conclusion: Lessons

The growth of ISIS has lessons for the rebels. How long will they tolerate Jabhat al-Nusra? Prior to the announcement of ISIS, the group was subject to far more allegations of collaborating with the regime, even as it maintained generally excellent working relations with other rebel groups, which I predicted would continue to flourish despite the announcement of ISIS and Jowlani’s declaration of an allegiance to AQC. That prediction has been vindicated, but even further, Jabhat al-Nusra’s overall standing has improved. Indeed, besides the leading roles in multiple battle fronts as I stated above, Jabhat al-Nusra is the leading faction in a number of Deir az-Zor localities and the leading authority throughout the province’s Shari’a committees.

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Figure 13: Jabhat al-Nusra welcomes you to Abu Kamal. Emphasizing its loyalty to al-Qa’ida: “Tanzim al-Qa’ida wa al-Jihad fi Bilad ash-Sham.” Despite some hopes of Jabhat al-Nusra relenting on its bay’ah to AQC, the trends have gone the opposite way in light of the tensions with ISIS. Shari’a strictures are already being implemented in the area, including principles such as banning alcohol and qisas (retaliation).

Despite the clear AQC connection, many rebels and activists deny that Jabhat al-Nusra has any interest in an agenda that ultimately conflicts with their own, specifically in that the group like ISIS supports the establishment of a Caliphate. Of course that is not to deny the group’s pragmatism or that not all those who pledge allegiance are committed to the leadership’s real ideological agenda, but this agenda cannot be overlooked.

Sometimes, the denial of Jabhat al-Nusra’s agenda takes on bizarre forms. For instance, one Syrian Revolutionaries Front commander I spoke to in Idlib characterized the IF as “extremists” for the dominance of Salafi ideology and taking support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, such that they would become the “next ISIS,” yet he denied that Jabhat al-Nusra was similarly extremist.

One should also note the opposition-in-exile’s denunciation of the U.S.’s designation of Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization back at the end of 2012, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence’s analysis of the group as an ISI front in origin turned out to be correct. And what would rebels now say about American allegations that Iran is facilitating inflow of al-Qa’ida militants into Syria for Jabhat al-Nusra? One cannot imagine a positive reception.

The clashes of agendas- in addition to more mundane factors (e.g. control of resources)- are bound to produce tensions in the future, whether or not ISIS is ultimately driven out of Syria. There are many groups beyond ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra that support a Caliphate, such as the muhajireen battalions, many members of IF groups, particularly in Ahrar ash-Sham, where there is clearly an AQC-aligned faction: in fact, one muhajir in Ahrar ash-Sham claimed to me that most members of the group support a Caliphate, but a minority believe in an Islamic Emirate as a prelude to a Caliphate in the far future.

Besides some clear pro-Caliphate trends in IF, there are also many independent groupings supporting this political idea (e.g. Katiba Bayariq al-Sunna and Liwa al-Qadisiya al-Islamiya in Abu Kamal; Saraya ash-Sham in Homs governorate; and Harakat Fajr ash-Sham al-Islamiya in Aleppo province; to name just a few).

This conflicts, for example, with the new Jaysh al-Mujahideen coalition, whose agenda, as one religious sheikh from the organization told me, is within a strict national framework, supporting an “Islamic state: moderate Salafist.” It is also in conflict with the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, whose ideology is generally much more vaguely Islamist.

Who will be to blame when such further infighting breaks out? Useful as Jabhat al-Nusra and the hardline rhetoric of the Islamic Front may have been to Assad’s narrative, it will ultimately be the failure at rebel unity and the turning to more hardline forces in the first place that will be to blame.

Comments (34)


1. Ghufran said:

Not a single NC, SNC , and FSA source admitted that their supporters slaughtered civilians in Ma’an, Hama. Leaders in the rebel force and many SNC and NC figureheads have openly supported nusra’s actions in the past or provided political coverage for their crimes, some like the thug named Akidi called them ” brothers”.
When your heroes are terrorists or terrorists allies you can not lecture others, especially minorities, about freedom and justice, you can not have it both ways, that is why nobody believes the myth that there is a revolution in Syria today, what we have is a war with clear sectarian spirit, and for this dangerous deterioration of Syria as a country to stop the war itself needs to stop and all foreign fighters must leave Syria.
The nc says it represents all or most Syrians, nobody takes this claim seriously including many of the NC’s own allies !!

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February 12th, 2014, 12:17 am

 

2. Jamil Hanna said:

ISIS is a part of Alqaeda,all its equipments are being brought from Turkey mainly arms ,vehicles,fuel, medical services and paid by Gulf countries .The US,which is the leader of the attacking orchesta, allowed Saudi Arabia and Turkey to seek the support of Alqaeda to overthrow the Syrian regime.it is worthnoting that ISIS and Al Nusra are equiped with communication devices immune from any jamming by the regime.they are a standard of superpower communication.So please stop the illusions that the regime controls Alqaeda and respect our minds. Have not you seen brand new pich ups with ISIS and Nusra ?are they Syrian made or imported through Turkish harbors?

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February 12th, 2014, 2:28 am

 

3. Tara said:

Is Mouhammad al Mouhammad the Alawi handler of Mikdad , the vice president of the foreign ministry.

In Syria every Sunni working for the regime has am Alawi handler who could be the janitor.

Enjoy!

http://www.alarabiya.net/ar/arab-and-world/syria/2014/02/12/عدسات-الإعلام-تلتقط-تلقين-الرجل-خلف-المقداد-.html

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February 12th, 2014, 7:12 am

 

4. Syrialover said:

AYMENN AL-TAMIMI

I’m surprised that you appear to have completely ignored this February 10 memo from the Syrian Opposition in your coverage of the topic above:

MEMO | ISIS & the Assad Regime: From Marriage of Convenience to Partnership

http://syriageneva2.org/?p=242&lang=en

MY COMMENT: This report is based on testimony from FSA fighters and others on the ground. It is robust and has specific examples to support its claims about an ISIS-regime partnership.

The information from the opposition is not necessarily inferior or implausible despite the fact you may you may dismiss it as “biased”.

I accept some of what you say above and think it rings true. But your analyses of the philosophies and alleged alliances of this or that group are not what drives the calculations and actions of the regime and hardline ISIS. Real life wartime situations on the ground are not pinned easily into a thesis.

The real point – and this is what matters – is that even if the regime is collaborating with so much as 1% of one battalion of ISIS, that is ENOUGH to rest the case.

The opposition report includes the following:

- Non-confrontation (and even protection) between ISIS and the regime. This report lists examples. (But you offer theories explaining this away and provide “simpler explanations”)

- Named examples of ISIS emirs being former serving officers with the regime, and the sighting of the same faces in groups of regime and ISIS fighters.

- The discovery of Iranian, Russian and Syrian intelligence linked documents, weapons and other material in bases captured from ISIS. Leaked photographs and videos showing Assadist fighters posing as ISIS fighters.

- The assassination by ISIS of the strongest and most respected FSA commanders. The same torture and massacre techniques being used by the regime and ISIS.

- The widespread belief by Syrian civilian populations in contested territory that ISIS has not played an effective role in eliminating the regime in their area.

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February 12th, 2014, 7:30 am

 

5. Aymenn Al-Tamimi said:

SYRIALOVER:

Yes, I saw it and referenced it in passing in the piece. Some of the information in the memo is false (such as the claims of no fighting between regime forces and ISIS in Aleppo and Deir az-Zor; also, looking back, there was a regime airstrike at the site of the governor’s building in Raqqa in mid-January; the regime has also conducted air-raids on Azaz on past occasions, killing some ISIS members in the process: https://twitter.com/ajaltamimi/status/415236934470868992/photo/1). Other info is very dubiously sourced: relying on purported confessions of ISIS people detained by other rebels is as dubious as taking the confessions of people held in ISIS custody (e.g. Saddam Jamal of Liwa Allahu Akbar) as evidence of a grand conspiracy long in the works against ISIS.

One claim struck me as particularly odd in being used as evidence for a ISIS-regime collaboration: namely, the existence of the same ammunition etc. in ISIS storehouses as those found among the regime. That’s easily explicable on account of the numerous raids ISIS has led (usually coordinated with other rebel groups) on regime depots.

The question of former serving officers being within ISIS ranks is dealt with in the piece.

Just to update: ISIS has apparently since withdrawn from the Kwiris military airbase front.

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February 12th, 2014, 8:50 am

 

6. ghufran said:

UN statement on the massacre in Ma’an:

The Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said in a statement that Ban Ki-Moon “has learned with great shock of reports of yet another massacre in Syria. Dozens of civilians are said to have been brutally killed on 9 February in the Syrian village of Ma’an.”
“The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms all violence against civilians and calls for the perpetrators of this massacre, and all other crimes in Syria, to be brought to justice,” the statement said, adding that “such horrific incidents should be a reminder to all of the urgency of ending the conflict and launching a political transition towards a new Syria where all people and communities are guaranteed protection, rights and freedoms.”

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February 12th, 2014, 10:38 am

 

7. Syrialover said:

AYMENN AL-TAMIMI

It bothers me that you cast this in the style of an academic debate where you put forward a thesis, make statements as if they were scientifically measurable and question statements by others on the basis of evidence etc.

Your analysis is fed by the assumption that there is a clear precise definition of who is ISIS, and who is directly representing the regime. And that there are a set of perfect and irrefutable sources on what is happening on the ground.

Some of the things you question in the opposition’s report may prove to be factual, and some of the things you counter it with may prove to be false. And vice-versa.

I don’t need to go into the “fog of war” argument and the lack of clearcut and immutable information on the nuances of who is allied with what and who is responsible for attacking what and so on.

Your analysis sometimes feels like you have nailed jelly to the wall, with it likely to be quickly melted in a vortex of dynamic forces driven by personalities, unplanned responses to opportunities and threats, misinformation and a dozen other complex and chaotic factors that affect wartime situations.

Of course I thought about the captured weapons and documents issue, but I assume so did the opposition when writing the report and made an informed judgement.

Just as we have to accept that is what you are doing.

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February 12th, 2014, 10:38 am

 

8. Syrialover said:

As if to underline my point above (of defining who is what), here is a compelling piece that suggests in detail that Bashar Assad has painted himself into a corner with his own supporters.

And why Assad is now incapable of delivering either a military or political solution to save his life – which is literally what is at stake, threatened by blowback from his own supporters.

It rings terribly true.

Article: “One Day, it Will be an Alawite Who Finally Kills Assad” by Aboud Dandachi.

http://adandachi.com/istanbul/alawites-will-kill-assad/

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February 12th, 2014, 10:54 am

 

9. Aboud Dandachi said:

The very impressive Clay Claiborne has put together an exhaustively researched article detailing Assad’s past history and collusion with ISIS, and other numerous fabrications by the regime

http://claysbeach.blogspot.com.tr/2014/02/man-behind-curtain-for-al-qaeda-in.html?fb_action_ids=10201237261483694&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=403493989787644&action_type_map=%22og.likes%22&action_ref_map=

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February 12th, 2014, 11:19 am

 

10. apple_mini said:

You see, we thought this essay is solid based on facts and thorough analysis. And I believed it is enough to debunk those fancy claims and conspiracy theories.

Yet, it is funny to read more delusional and fanatic denials from those opposition mouthpieces. For they wanted us to believe first of all, their “analysts” a.k.a mouthpieces were well-informed and intelligent.

Yet, those mouthpieces do not show us any facts to support their claims. Only did they challenge us like the way Catholic churches did their inquisition by questioning our faith towards their “revolution” and their “revolutionists”

That is laughable but not original. So give us a break!

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February 12th, 2014, 11:29 am

 

11. Syrialover said:

Another head-clearing piece that needs to be read by all journalists and commentators, just like Dandachi’s piece on Assad and his supporters linked above.

This article explains why it is simplistic and flawed to see the conflicts in the middle east as sectarian.

Article: “The roots of modern conflicts do not lie in ancient struggles”

http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/the-roots-of-modern-conflicts-do-not-lie-in-ancient-struggles

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February 12th, 2014, 11:44 am

 

12. Syrialover said:

ABOUD DANDACHI

Congratulations on that item on Assad’s real in-house situation (#8) and other excellent pieces you have been writing. A welcome dose of sanity and well-informed realism.

And thanks for the link to Clay Claiborne’s piece on Assad’s collusions (#9).

Both you and Claiborne also deserve further high fives and a roar of applause for something else.

Claiborne for calling out ex-journalist Robert Fisk for writing pro-Assad garbage http://claysbeach.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/ex-journalist-robert-fisk-one-is.html

And you for exposing the laziness and stupidity of “journalist” Patrick Cockburn who was quick to climb aboard the Assad train http://adandachi.com/istanbul/the-telkelakh-truce-of-2013/

(Both writing for The Independent Newspaper which is mocking its own name by publishing Fisk and Cockburn)

Cockburn has a made a career of being negative and contemptuous about the Middle East and its inhabitants, despite having lived there for years and parading as an “expert”. Assad provides a perfect partner for Cockburn’s agenda.

Fisk has just become senile and ridiculous.

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February 12th, 2014, 12:11 pm

 

13. Syrialover said:

LITTLE APPLE, I know you are already anxious and fighting desperately to keep reality at bay.

But please steel yourself, focus and read Aboud Dandachi’s piece and tell us what you think:

http://adandachi.com/istanbul/alawites-will-kill-assad/

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February 12th, 2014, 12:16 pm

 

14. Mina said:

Soon we’ll hear that Asad is so good at infiltrating the djihadists’ cells that he has even managed to force them stop smoking!

SL is just as unconvincing as when people here associate Erdogan and democracy, which is supposed to appear instantly out of any kind of ballot box!
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/94082/World/Region/Protesters-jailed-for-insulting-Turkey-PM-Report.aspx

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February 12th, 2014, 1:16 pm

 

15. Tara said:

Mr. Tammimi

What say you about below? Are the Americans lying? Are they inventing the personality of جعفر الا وزبكي?. Does he not exist? Or is it you are not academically curious enough? Also with all due respect, any conflict of interest disclosure that the readers need to know about?

http://www.alarabiya.net/mob/ar/articles/68030

كشفت قوائم العقوبات المالية لوزارة الخزانة الأميركية عن دعم إيران لتنظيم القاعدة، حيث تبين أن شركات وأشخاصاً إيرانيين أو مقيمين في إيران، هم مسؤولون عن نقل الأسلحة والمقاتلين لتنظيم القاعدة في سوريا، وبعلم السلطات الإيرانية.

وجاءت سلسلة العقوبات الجديدة، التي فرضتها الخزانة الأميركية على أشخاص وشركات انتهكت العقوبات المفروضة على إيران، لتؤكد تنسيقاً محتملاً، أو سكوتاً على الأقل، من قبل السلطات الإيرانية على نشاط تنظيم القاعدة وتزويدها لجبهة النصرة بالخبرات القتالية عبر أراضيها.

وورد اسم أولمزون أحمدوفيتش صادقييف، والذي يعرف باسم جعفر الأوزبكي، في قائمة العقوبات كشخصية أساسية في تنظيم القاعدة ويقيم في إيران منذ سنوات، وهو عضو في اتحاد الجهاد الإسلامي، وتتهمه الخزانة الأميركية بإدارة شبكة للتنظيم مسؤولة عن نقل الأموال والمقاتلين الأجانب عبر تركيا لصالح “جبهة النصرة” في سوريا. الأوزبكي المقيم في مدينة “مشهد” الإيرانية، متهم كذلك بالعمل على تحريك المقاتلين نحو أفغانستان وباكستان عبر إيران.

وبحسب قرار الخزانة الأميركية، فإن جعفر الأوزبكي له علاقة بأحد المطلوبين الأمنيين في واشنطن، يعرف حركياً باسم ياسين السوري، والذي وضعت السلطات الأميركية مكافاة لمن يبلغ عن مكانه تزيد على عشرة ملايين دولار.

You do not believe the opposition.

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February 12th, 2014, 2:19 pm

 

16. Observer said:

First and foremost, direct or indirect collusion is actually the operational mode of the regime. It will ally itself with whomever to stay in power. It gave up its chemical weapons in two seconds when it suited it withdrawing any deterrent force against Israel’s nuclear weapon thereby sacrificying the deterrence that would have protected the Syrians from a nuclear attack.

Second, the regime bombed al Atareb one week after ISIS was chased out from it, it did not do so while ISIS was in the town and that was on Frontline yesterday.

It also left Raqqa in the hands of ISIS and is buying oil from them. Where is Iranian oil or Iraqi oil to help out and why are they buying from them when they have other sources.

These are but a few questions that will continue to point out to the depravity of the regime.

The closet regime insider reminds us of the minorities and their fate and the revolution being a false one and all of that garbage. The reality is that the regime is pure sectarian and the minorities supporting it are for the majority purely sectarian and they are all harcking back to the idea of a state where people are SUBJECTS not CITIZENS. Well this time is gone forever.

Last but not least, it is clear now that the opposition has imposed itself as a viable and serious and credible interlocutor in Geneva.

It is clear that the US has scored a diplomatic point when it pointed out Russia’s refusal to allow for humanitarian aid. REad RT Arabic today to see the defensive nature especially during Sochi.

It is also clear that the regime is running out of manpower and is not capable of holding territory or of conducting anything but terror operations.

The situation is a great trap for HA and Iran. The Prize of Syria is shrinking by the day for the supporters of the regime and the regime itself: Iran is willing to accept a statelet and Russia a base in Tartous. The Price for this shrinking Prize is getting steeper by the day and the situation that was described so far by Dr. Landis is one that is akin to the Somalia situation where you have nothing left but fragmented warlord run situation of which one has an anorexic wife and the other has a veiled one and so on.

I wonder why Landis did not include Frontline link from yesterday and the Le Monde Diplomatique article in the Feb edition by Al Alaoui from Stanford.

It clearly shows a bigger picture and a full collaboration with a variety of actors for the sole purpose of staying a family owned farm. Well the farm is devastated and the chickens do not produce any eggs any longer.

Cheers

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February 12th, 2014, 2:32 pm

 

17. ghufran said:

According to Ammar Al-Qurbi both Librahimi and the UN have abandoned the idea of Assad’s resignation as a condition to pursue an end to the war in Syria:
كشف “عمار قربي” أمين عام تيار التغيير الوطني أن الأخضر الإبراهيمي أقر في حديث مع وفد الائتلاف بفشل الجولة الأولى من المفاوضات، وتحدث عن مبادئ اساسية قال أنها تمثل روح اتفاق جنييف1 ومنها احترام سيادة سورية ونبذ التدخلات الخارجية المباشرة وغير المباشرة , وعلى ان مستقبل سورية يحدده الشعب السوري, كما ان الاتفاق يهدف الى وقف العنف ونبذ الارهاب ومكافحته.
واضاف القربي في بيان لـ “تيار التغيير الوطني” أن الإبراهيمي تبنى وجهة النظر الروسية المتطابقة مع النظام السوري التي لاتأتي على ذكر مصير الاسد او تتحدث عن عدم ترشحه للانتخابات وماشابه, واعتبر ان هدف المفاوضات النهائي الوصول الى دولة ديمقراطية تنبذ الطائفية وتحترم حقوق الانسان وحماية حقوق الطوائف الصغيرة كما اسماها,والمصالحة الوطنية والصفح، وقال بأن ذلك كله سيكون عبر اتفاق سياسي مع وفد النظام لانشاء هيئة حكم انتقالي تنهي العنف
However, Hadi Al-Bahra thinks that a transitional governing body must come first for the war to end:
لماذا يصر وفد المعارضة في جنيف على أن البند الأول المتوجب انجازه هو عملية الانتقال السياسي التي تبدأ بتشكيل هيئة حكم انتقالي كاملة السلطات التنفيذية:
- لأن انجاز أي بند أخر من بنود بيان جنيف الصادر بتاريخ 30-6-2012 يقتضي وجود جهة رسمية تتابع وتراقب وتشرف على تنفيذه وهذه الجهة هي الهيئة.
- الهوة بين وفد حكومة النظام ووفد المعارضة كبيرة وبالتالي لايوجد توافق على الرؤى السياسية حالياً, بالتالي وبعد انجاز هيئة الحكم الانتقالي يصبح انجاز باقي بنود بيان جنيف سهلاً لتحقق الوحدة الوطنية والجهة الواحدة المناط بها تنفيذ هذه البنود.
Mr. Bahra did not say how the NC, which is called “illegitimate” by most rebel forces on the ground, can guarantee any agreement it reaches with the regime.
So, to win US support, the NC presented a paper that combines both elements (transitional body and fighting terrorism):
قدم وفد الائتلاف السوري المعارض اليوم وثيقة سياسية لانتقال السلطة تتضمن في بنودها مكافحة الإرهاب ضمن الجلسة المشتركة الثانية بين وفدي المعارضة والنظام في إطار الجولة الثانية من مفاوضات “جنيف ـ 2″، وسط تواصل الخلاف حول جدول أعمالها.
My take:
the regime is unlikely to make any concessions unless Russia pulls the plug, and Russia is unlikely to do that until certain guarantees are given about terrorism and GCC support for terrorist groups in addition to ensuring that the new government will not be too cozy with the US at Russia’s expense.
Two major problems with the NC that make any breakthrough unlikely:
1.the NC has little influence over armed rebels
2. the NC does not have enough support among Syrians to claim that it represents most or all Syrians who oppose the regime.

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February 12th, 2014, 2:34 pm

 

18. Tara said:

Why does SC highlight and exaggerate the regime propaganda while casually mentioning any link or info in regard to tracing the Islamists operating in syria to the regime or to Iran. This reminds me with closet shabeehas. They admit the regime brutality but always present the regime as the better or the less evil choice. I personally am tired of pseudo intellectual analyses that while those analyses acknowledge some of the regime monstrous course, they never fail to come to a conclusion that the world is better off keeping Batta in power.

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February 12th, 2014, 2:56 pm

 

19. Khodor said:

Thanks for accepting me to be part of this discussion.

My name is Khodor and I’m a Syrian but not a Sunnah, I belong to a minority in Syria and I would like to leave at this point.

I work in a big international company in Dubai, and few weeks ago I went out with some coworkers for drinks after work. Of course the Syrian topic must be on the table in every outing, so we were exchanging thoughts till I said something like “minorities are on the fence”, but my American-born, Lebanese-origin, Sunnah-background friend snapped and shouted no minorities are supporting atrocities in Syria.

I countered back by asking of an evidence of her claim, and she referred me to this website. She mentioned that she learnt most of her knowledge about Syria from Joshua’s website. Of course that had me curious and I have been reading and reading through articles and comments on this blog since that time.

I have found that mainstream commentators on this website are quite biased and not fair at all. I have read very disturbing comments about minorities in Syria whether Kurds, Alawites, Christians, Yazidi, Murshidi, Ismalili …. And all these claims have no evidence to back them up.

If Sunnah people keep acting in such an attitude then definitely minorities are at risk of butchery.

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February 12th, 2014, 3:34 pm

 

20. Aymenn Al-Tamimi said:

Tara,

I mentioned the U.S. allegations of Iranian facilitation of support for al-Qa’ida in Syria in the main article. The purpose of mentioning it wasn’t to comment on its veracity. The question is, how many in the Syrian rebels would accept this implicit idea of Nusra as an agent of Iran or Assad? Given the positive turn in popularity for the group in light of ISIS, not many.

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February 12th, 2014, 3:51 pm

 

21. Observer said:

The closet regime insider is at it again.

The reality is that the Prize that Russia Iran and HA and the regime are fighting for is shrinking by the minute and the Price to keep an idea of having any Prize worth having is getting higher and higher.

Putin wanted a truce during Sochi the regime obliged for three days in Homs and now that the idea is to give humanitarian corridors is on the table Russia is embarrassingly trying to kill it lest a veto is needed and is being accused by Obama of being callous towards the population.

Once again the opposition is scoring points agreeing to fight terror not for the sake of the West but to show that the regime is just full of talk.

The regime wants desperately a ceasefire and it is losing manpower at an alarming rate and there is no more money

The minorities are finished. No one gives a hoot about any minority. The conflict is now a full blown sectarian one and a regional Sunni Shia war is the only outcome out of it.

Faddlallah said we are staying in Syria. This is music to the ears of Israel and talking about it is another HA mistake.

Now we hear Alalam tell us on how much the Iranians have a huge power ready to fight Israel and the US combined. The more bluster the more weak they look indeed.

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February 12th, 2014, 9:51 pm

 

22. apple_mini said:

Not only Aymenn Al-Tamimi has done an excellent job to present a provable and comprehensive analysis replete in its notes and citations, but also he is very level-headed.

I am impressed by his cool and prudent reply to Tara’s disparaging remarks.

Tara, not only you have shown us you are only capable of using sophism and quibble in debate, but also you have earned your “reputation” being one of the most notorious commentators here with sectarian mindset.

We have seen enough of your smattering and icky comments. But when you lambasted Aymenn Al-Tamimi by calling him “pseudo intellectual”, you have outdone yourself spectacularly.

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February 12th, 2014, 9:59 pm

 

23. Ghufran said:

The NC presented a paper that does not mention Assad:

GENEVA: The Syrian opposition today called for a transitional governing body to be set up that would oversee a total ceasefire under UN monitoring, and be empowered to drive out foreign fighters deployed on both sides of the civil war.
The confidential paper, seen by Reuters, was presented to international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi and a Syrian government delegation at a joint session held at peace talks in Geneva. It made no mention of the fate of President Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but opposition forces said that he had been ignored on purpose to make clear he had no role. The Syrian government delegation said today that negotiations must focus first on fighting terrorism and rejected parallel track talks on the opposition’s priority of a transitional government as a “fruitless” idea.
“The Transitional Governing Body (TGB) will prepare and oversee a total ceasefire by taking immediate measures to stop military violence, protect civilians and stabilise the country in the presence of UN observers,” the five-page document said.
It calls on all parties to “cooperate with the TGB in stopping the violence including the complete withdrawal of troops and tackling the issue of decommissioning the weapons of armed groups and demobilising its members or integrating them into the army or civil public sectors”. The Damascus delegation did not reply to the proposal, opposition spokesman Louay Safi told reporters. “At this point we have not heard any response. I would like to hear some positive response.”

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February 12th, 2014, 10:00 pm

 

24. Ghufran said:

Assad did benefit politically from the influx of jihadists into Syria but the allegations that Isis was made by the regime are weak at best and lack credibility, another irony is the late awakening of some on the opposition side who ” discovered” that Isis is a terrorist organization, but the same people are now trying to sell the lie that Nusra is better than Isis and that the Islamic front is ” moderate”.
The bottom line is that foreign fighters need to leave or be forced to leave and that the army and security forces need to be more inclusive to be trusted by the mass. As for Assad, the opposition needs to focus on reassuring his supporters and the fence sitters instead of following slogans that only raise suspicion about the opposition real intentions.
Principles of a cease fire, a peace keeping force and monitored elections are far more important than who is president, when there are checks and balances in the government the identity of the president becomes secondary.
The paper presented by the NC can serve as a basis for serious dialogue , what some boneheads on this blog say is not.

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February 12th, 2014, 11:27 pm

 

25. Ghufran said:

A leading terrorist and a number of foot soldiers and three women were captured by the Lebanese army.
أعلنت قيادة الجيش مديرية التوجيه أن مديرية المخابرات في بيروت أوقفت بعد متابعة دقيقة ورصد مكثّف، الإرهابي نعيم عباس وهو أحد قياديي ألوية عبدالله عزام. وبوشر التحقيق معه باشراف القضاء المختض.
Yabroud was identified as the source of most car bombs that entered Lebanon.
Abbas is a Palestinian, he is seen as a top leader in the terrorist group called Abdullah Azzam brigades.

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February 13th, 2014, 12:10 am

 

26. apple_mini said:

Ghufran, I believe the opposition and its backers have been trying very hard to sell us their conspiracy theory there is a collusion between ISIS and the regime.

Their sinister fabrication serves two purposes. First, by grouping all the bad elements conveniently with their nemesis, the regime as a single evil apparatus, the opposition is conniving to paint themselves and their “revolution” as “pure” as it can get. Turkey, GCC and the west get to chime in so they can send in more “legitimate” supports to the struggling opposition.

Secondly, by uniting all fronts to single out ISIS, the opposition and all other Islamists (including Nusra) have become “moderate”. Thus to make Syrians believe the future for Syria has been clear, getting rid of the regime and ISIS? Whom do they want to fool? Who committed massacre in Adaz and Ma’an?

The irony is that in Geneva talks, the regime sets fighting Islamists as priority. You would think the opposition would not object to that since that agenda by the regime would hurt the regime by the opposition’s conspiracy theory. Instead, the opposition is all about grabbing power from the regime by establishing a transitional government. The question is that what the opposition has to offer to join the “jointed adventure”?

Sometimes, I believe the fighters on the battleground might work out ceasefire easier on their own instead of through those hypocritical and quarrelsome negotiators.

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February 13th, 2014, 1:10 am

 
 

28. Observer said:

Well well, I just heard a repot on NPR about the atrocities committed against Muslims in the CAR by the Christian majority.
A report about a 19 second video of a Christian biting into the burned leg of a Muslim. So cannibalism is equally religious and human depravity is equally distributed.

The revenge killings came about after the coup d’etat led by a Muslim faction hungry for power not for religiosity but the perception is that the Muslims are to blame and once the regime fell, the killing started.

So in a comparison to Syria, the opposition has not insisted on iPad retard stepping down and has not insisted on complete dismantling of the state institutions including the security ones.

In this they showed that they have the welfare of Syria higher than the regime and they are willing to compromise for it. This will prevent revenge killing but again the ones with blood on their hands will pay. This is the problem for if they feel threatened they will eat iPad retard without roasting him and his family first.

Now if this regime fails to grab this straw, it may end up along with its supporters just like the poor Muslim of the Central African Republic.

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February 13th, 2014, 7:34 am

 
 

30. Observer said:

Here look at to the end.

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February 13th, 2014, 10:40 am

 

31. Alan said:

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February 13th, 2014, 11:37 am

 

32. Alan said:

Saudi Arabia and the Rise of the Wahhabi Threat
Al-Qaeda represents Wahhabism in its purest form – a violent fundamentalist doctrine that rejects all non-Wahhabi Islam, especially the spiritual forms of Islam. Wahhabism is an expansionist sect intolerant of Shi’ite Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism; in fact, Wahhabists seek to challenge and destroy these faiths. The Saudi-Wahhabi threat must not be underestimated; it requires our grave attention.
http://www.meforum.org/535/saudi-arabia-and-the-rise-of-the-wahhabi-threat
The Future

After decades of theocratic oppression, the vast majority of the Saudi people are restive for the following reasons: 1.) The Shiite minority in the southern and eastern provinces are tired of the violent persecution they have suffered at the hands of the Wahhabist clergy. 2.) The young people of Saudi Arabia want to live in a modern society where they can utilize their enterprising talents and energies to build a prosperous future. 3.) Lastly, non-Wahhabi scholars are already calling on the royal family to reject the officially sanctioned intolerant state religion and replace it with pluralistic Ottoman-Islamic traditions. Remarkably, thousands of young people are turning to Sufism as an expression of protest against the entrenched religious establishment.

The transition to a reasonably open Malaysian parliamentary model from its current medieval state need not be catastrophic. The Saudi monarchy could remain as a symbolic body with power concentrated in a representative legislature. Indeed, the position that a more strict Islamic system might emerge if the House of Saud is brushed aside is ludicrous. Proponents of this view often cite the emergence of an Iranian-style regime as a possible consequence. However, this is a specious historical analogy since the Iranian people never experienced the harsh strictures of Islamic law prior to the ascension of the Islamic Republic. The people of Saudi Arabia know this repression all too well and they are dead tired of it.

Conclusion

Saudi Arabia and its militant Islamic doctrines constitute a clear and present danger to the United States and the international community. The U.S. should demand a full accounting of Saudi complicity in the September 11th terrorist attacks. We should no longer accept the status quo and forcefully pressure the kingdom to cut its ties to terrorism.

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February 13th, 2014, 11:46 am

 

33. Observer said:

It seems my dear Tara that the iPad retard found a conscious for the NYT reported today that he sent a personal envoy to supervise aid delivery.
What happened is that Putin asked for it during Sochi. Then what happened is that the Local Committees driven by hatred shot and bombed the besieged and the convoy. The UN complained. The West wanted a UNSC resolution to enforce human corridors. It would have been a truly embarrassing moment for Putin to have to veto a humanitarian corridor resolution. So he leaned on the stupid regime and now they are delivering aid. To add to their stupidity, the detained men aged 16-54 and therefore broke any future possible trust building measures.

Also J’amuse when confronted with the fact that the regime is holding children and women; he replied that the children are spies and the women are suicide bombers.

This is the mentality of the regime. He threatened the opposition of death or permanent exile from Syria. He truly is showing a face thinking that he is a slave owner and a slave tormentor and that he owns the population and the land.

The more in Geneva the better.

How is it possible that some on this blog continue to defend this regime is beyond me. I think that their hatred and dehumanizing mentality for generations has taken the better of them. Especially the closet regime insider.

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February 13th, 2014, 7:27 pm

 

34. Weighing the Case Against Assad-ISIS Collusion | The Syrian Intifada said:

[…] Having made a case for seeing the regime and ISIS as at a minimum strategically colluding in Syria to weaken the moderate insurrectionists, it pays to assess a powerful case made to the contrary by Aymenn al-Tamimi. […]

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March 25th, 2014, 3:18 pm

 

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