Posted by Joshua on Monday, December 10th, 2012
29 Syrian coordinating committees and militias sign a petition stating that they are all Jabhat al-Nusra 29 تنسيقية وكتيبة تسمّي الجمعة القادمة “لا للتدخل الأمريكي– كلنا جبهة النصرة”
It seems that the US has provoked the formation of a counter-alliance against it even before Assad has fallen. Syrian militias established a new command that is estimated to be made up of roughly two-thirds of representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist allies, according to Reuters.
The Syrian civilian opposition has failed to reach consensus on selecting the head of the transitional government. The next meeting about the issue will be Dec 15
Al-Jazeera – New Syrian Military command, led by Selim Idris makes its announcement – in Arabic
Syrian rebels elect head of new military command
Reuters – Sat, Dec 8, 2012 – Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis
- Article: End drawing close for Syria’s Assad: German spy chief, Sat, Dec 8, 2012
AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian rebel groups have chosen Brigadier Selim Idris, a former officer in President Bashar al-Assad’s army, to head their new Islamist-dominated military command, opposition sources said on Saturday.
Idris, whose home province of Homs has been at the forefront of the Sunni Muslim-led uprising, was elected by 30 military and civilian members of the joint military command after talks attended by Western and Arab security officials in the Turkish city of Antalia.
“Saleh is not ideological, but he has been appointed top aides who are close to Salafist rebels,” one of the sources who has been following the meeting said.
The joint command named Islamist commanders Abdelbasset Tawil from the northern province of Idlib and Abdelqader Saleh from the adjacent province of Aleppo to serve as Idris’s deputies, the source said.
The unified command includes many with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Salafists, who follow a puritanical interpretation of Islam. It excludes the most senior officers who had defected from Assad’s military.
Its composition, estimated to be two-thirds from the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, reflects the growing strength of Islamist fighters on the ground and resembles that of the civilian opposition leadership coalition created under Western and Arab auspices in Qatar last month.
Absent from the group is Colonel Riad al-Asaad, founder of the Syrian Free Army and Brigadier Mustafa al-Sheikh, a senior officer known for his opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Asaad and Sheikh were not part of the 263-man meeting in Antalia. Also excluded was general Hussein Haj Ali, the highest ranking officer to defect from the military since the uprising erupted in March last year.
Security officials from the United States, Britain, France, the Gulf and Jordan have been attending the talks, which come days before a conference of the Friends of Syria, a grouping of dozens of countries that have mostly pledged non-military aid to rebels fighting to oust Assad.
If you are interested in seeing Alawite officers have their heads chopped off, this video is for you. The title says they are suspected of participating in the Houla massacre. فيديو: اعدام ضباط علويين ميدانياً بقطع رؤوسهم بمشاركة اطفال في حمص وسط #سوريا بتهمة المشاركة في مجزرة الحولة youtube.com/watch?v=dE7luG…
Arwa Damon (@arwaCNN) 12/7/12, 4:11 PM – “moderate” islamist just told me nusra front wants #assad regime 2 last bc longer the fighting goes on the stronger & more popular they become.
For Iran, Unrest in Syria Is Noise, Not Brutal War
By THOMAS ERDBRINK: December 9, 2012, NYTimes
….“We are seeking a peaceful solution in which the Syrian government implements reforms,” said Hamidreza Taraghi, a politician who is close to Iran’s leaders. “But whatever the cost, we want to keep Syria in the group of resistance against Israel.”
Mr. Taraghi, who recently led an Iranian delegation to North Korea and met with the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said that Iran was willing to do “whatever it takes” to keep Syria as an ally. He said the Syrian government had not yet asked Iran for military help, but if that happened Iran would be compelled by its treaty with Syria to step in….But even opposition figures say the government has no choice but to stick with the current Syrian leadership to the bitter end. “That way,” Mr. Shamsolvaezin said, “we can at least influence the unrest that will inevitably follow his downfall.”
Syria: Rebel Prisoners On Their Religious War
Sky’s Tim Marshall gains rare access to a prison where he finds evidence that international jihadists are operating in Syria. They say they want Christians to pay the Jiziya’.
UK, Saturday 08 December 2012
Syrian Rebels Tied to Al Qaeda Play Key Role in War
In May in Damascus, Syrian workers removed debris from two car bombs that were linked to the Qaeda-backed Nusra Front.
By TIM ARANGO, ANNE BARNARD and HWAIDA SAAD, December 8, 2012
But blacklisting the Nusra Front could backfire. It would pit the United States against some of the best fighters in the insurgency that it aims to support. While some Syrian rebels fear the group’s growing power, others work closely with it and admire it — or, at least, its military achievements — and are loath to end their cooperation.
Leaders of the Free Syrian Army, the loose-knit rebel umbrella group that the United States seeks to bolster, expressed exasperation that the United States, which has refused to provide weapons throughout the conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people, is now opposing a group they see as a vital ally.
The Nusra Front “defends civilians in Syria, whereas America didn’t do anything,” said Mosaab Abu Qatada, a rebel spokesman. “They stand by and watch; they look at the blood and the crimes and brag. Then they say that Nusra Front are terrorists.”
He added, “America just wants a pretext to intervene in Syrian affairs after the revolution.”
The United States has been reluctant to supply weapons to rebels that could end up in the hands of anti-Western jihadis, as did weapons that Qatar supplied to Libyan rebels with American approval. Critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy counter that its failure to support the rebels helped create the opening that Islamic militants have seized in Syria.
The Nusra Front’s appeals to Syrian fighters seem to be working.
At a recent meeting in Damascus, Abu Hussein al-Afghani, a veteran of insurgencies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, addressed frustrated young rebels. They lacked money, weapons and training, so they listened attentively.
He told them he was a leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, now working with a Qaeda branch in Syria, and by joining him, they could make their mark. One fighter recalled his resonant question: “Who is hearing your voice today?”
On Friday, demonstrators in several Syrian cities raised banners with slogans like, “No to American intervention, for we are all Jebhat al-Nusra,” referring to the group’s full name, Ansar al-Jebhat al-Nusra li-Ahl al-Sham, or Supporters of the Front for Victory of the People of Syria. One rebel battalion, the Ahrar, or Free Men, asked on its Facebook page why the United States did not blacklist Mr. Assad’s “terrorist” militias.
Another jihadist faction, the Sahaba Army in the Levant, even congratulated the group on the “great honor” of being deemed terrorists by the United States.
Even antigovernment activists who are wary of the group — some deride it as “the Taliban” — said the blacklisting would be ineffective and worsen strife within the uprising. To isolate the group, they say, the United States should support mainstream rebel military councils and Syrian civil society, like the committees that have sprung up to run rebel-held villages.
The Nusra Front is far from the only fighting group that embraces a strict interpretation of Islam. Many battalions have adopted religious slogans, dress and practices, in what some rebels and activists call a pragmatic shift to curry favor with Islamist donors in Persian Gulf countries. One activist said he had a fighter friend with a fondness for Johnnie Walker Black who is now sporting a beard to fit in.
Fighting Drives an Old Sense of Peace From Damascus
By an EMPLOYEE of THE NEW YORK TIMES in SYRIA and ANNE BARNARD, December 9, 2012
DAMASCUS, Syria — Business has been terrible for Abu Tareq, a taxi driver, so last week, without telling his wife, he agreed to drive a man to the Damascus airport for 10 times the usual rate. But, he said later, he will not be doing that again.
On the airport road, he could hear the crash of artillery and the whiz of sniper fire. Dead rebels and soldiers lay on the roadsides. Abu Tareq saw a dog eating the body of a soldier.
“I will never forget this sight,” said Abu Tareq, 50, who gave only a nickname for safety reasons. “It is the road of the dead.”….
But the security forces wield overwhelming firepower, and while they have been unable to subdue the suburbs, some rebel fighters say they lack the intelligence information, arms and communication to advance. That raises the specter of a destructive standoff like the one that has devastated the commercial hub of Aleppo…..
By Herve Bar (AFP)
ATME, Syria — Most of them avoid reporters like the plague but in “liberated” northwestern Syria, it is difficult not to run into foreign jihadist fighters, both on the front lines and at rebel bases. “Secrecy shrouding the activities of foreign militants makes it extremely difficult to assess with any accuracy their extent, location and potential ramifications,” the International Crisis Group said in a report.
But while President Bashar al-Assad’s domestic foes have tried for months to downplay the impact of outsiders, now “foreign militants have had more direct involvement, fighting alongside Syrian insurgents,” the Brussels-based group added…..
How credible are reports of Syrian WMDs? – al-jazeera
As the rhetoric heats up over possible chemical weapons, we ask what is driving US policy toward Syria.
Inside Story 08 Dec 2012
Hillary Man Levertt, Steve Clemons, & Tony Karon
“The United States and like-minded governments are rushing to fund and legitimize a newly formed Syrian opposition group amid fear that plans for a political transition are being outpaced by rebel military gains, U.S. and European officials said…In the meantime, Clinton said, the United States is worried about what Assad might do as his hold on power slips, repeating fears expressed earlier in the week by President Obama and others…’Our concerns are that an increasingly desperate Assad regime might turn to chemical weapons or might lost control of them to one of the many groups that are now operating within Syria,’ Clinton said.”