Moaz al-Khatib, Moderate Syrian Leader, Resigns, as Islamic Front and Nusra Move on Damascus. Will the US build a Counter-force?
Posted by Joshua on Sunday, March 24th, 2013
In this interview with Al-Arabiya, Syrian opposition leader Michel Kilo accuses the Muslim Brotherhood and Mustafa Sabbagh’s Qatari-backed faction in the Syrian opposition of catapulting Ghassan Hitto to the Prime Ministership of the interim government in a non-consensual manner: “Qatar wanted Hitto…and the Qatari-backed group in the National Coalition agreed on Hitto and imposed Hitto without any political or consensual considerations that considers Syrian interests in terms of a national cause…” Kilo argues that the Hitto election sidelined Muaz al-Khatib and led to his resignation. Here is my article on these tensions.
This was particularly true after Qatar invited Hitto to represent Syria in the Arab Summit meeting to take place on Tuesday. Khatib was also invited, but he would be a third wheel. All eyes will be on Hitto, the newly elected Prime Minister, who is expected to form a government.
Liz Sly has a good article, “Syrian opposition in disarray as its leader resigns, The Syrian opposition is now leaderless at a time when the United States is stepping up its support. She quotes Amr al-Azm, who has great insight into the opposition.
“The coalition is on verge of disintegrating,” he said. “It’s a big mess.”
The trigger for Khatib’s departure was the selection last week of Ghassan Hitto, a relatively unknown Syrian-born U.S. citizen, to head a proposed interim government. Khatib and his supporters had opposed the creation of an interim government at this time, as had the United States, whose diplomats argued against the move on the grounds that it created an unnecessarily divisive distraction from the goal of bringing down Assad’s regime, according to Syrian opposition members.
While the pro-Western opposition leaders fiddle, Syria burns. The real story is being fought out on the ground by militia leaders who are becoming the real leaders of Syria.
The Islam Front and Jabhat al-Nusra are gaining strength. They are flexing their growing muscle after taking Raqqa and clearing out the Deir az-Zur region. Now they are headed down the Eastern highway toward Damascus. The forces around Aleppo and in the Northwest will have to come through Hama and Homs, which is impassable. Already al-Nusra has a strong foothold in the Damascus region in the Palestinian neighborhood of Yarmouk, around the Jabal Druze, and in the Daraya-Adhamiya region of Damascus.
The US and British are trying to build up forces around Damascus as well, in order to take the capital. They are working hand in glove with Saudis and particularly the Jordanians. Hence the many stories about US training missions in Jordan and cooperation with Jordanian intelligence. Some believe that the US, British and French may be developing a strategy to spearhead a move on Damascus before the Islamic Front and al-Nusra can capture it for themselves. But it is not clear how committed the US and the West are to manning up the opposition in the South of Syria to gain the jump on the growing Islamic tide washing down from the North.
Many Damascenes are fearful of being overrun by the North. The time-honored divide between North and South Syria is again gaining relevance. There is precedence for war between north and south. In 1954, at the end of General Shishakli’s four year rule of Syria, which developed into the country’s first real dictatorship, Syria split in half. The north was the site of a military uprising that began with disgruntled Druze soldiers in Deir az-Zur teaming up with Baath Party leaders, opposition leaders in Homs that looked to Hashim al-Atassi, and Aleppo notables. Military units from the North began to descend on the South, where Shishakli remained ensconced. Civil War was avoided at the last minute because the US and Saudis were able to convince Shishakli to resign and fly off to exile in Saudi Arabia and eventually Brazil. See my article about this, here.
Today, Syria is not so lucky. North and South could be in for a real fight, dividing the country not only along geographic lines but also along ideological lines.
Ghassan Hitto, Syrian National Coalition PM, visits Aleppo north of Syria – Video
Daughter of Syria’s slain cleric Bouti speaks out to say that her father would never have contemplated changing his view that Muslims and Syrians should support Assad even if he were corrupt and bad. This conservative view follows the traditionalist line of thinking within Islam that even years of suffering under an oppressive and corrupt ruler are better than one moment of Fitna, or civil war.
A friend writes:
I just watched two of the worst videos I have seen so far.
1- a guy’s head was chopped off. I cannot imagine doing this to an animal. Yes, the guy’s crime was that he was a regime supporter.
2- Just watched a video of regime soldiers filming 16 bodies that they had killed moments earlier. As they record the gruesome bodies, one says to the other, “hopefully the “ameed” or general, will give us an “ijaze” (vacation) after he sees the video. The other guy says, “man there is so much meat lying around it must be falling in price “al lahm rakhsan”
3-There is no country called Syria any more.
4- Why do i watch this stuff? Because images like this speak volumes about the truth. And that truth is that killing and slaughter will rein supreme for years to come.
5- If interested in the videos, i will be glad to send. on second thoughts, may be i won’t