Posted by Joshua on Monday, March 19th, 2012
The Syrian opposition is reshaping itself following its defeat in Homs. A new leadership seems bound to emerge. In all likelihood, in the new phase of the battle the is shaping up to combat the Assad regime, opposition leaders are likely to champion new tactics of militancy and Islamization.
The opposition will have to rebuild itself to be more Islamic, militant and sectarian in order to take on the Assad regime. Opposition leaders on the ground, those who are actually fighting the regime, have already become more militant and Islamized. If the SNC doesn’t scramble to catch up, it will become irrelevant. I suspect that the upcoming opposition meeting in Turkey this Thursday and Friday (March 22-23) will reflect some of that shift. The recent high level defections within the the Syrian National Council suggest the opposition is responding to these pressures and new demands. The SNC is going through a period of soul searching and transformation in response to the government’s classic “clear and hold” operations carried out in Sednaya, Homs and Idlib.
The future strategy of the Syrian opposition will have to follow the outlines of a classic “phase two” insurgency predicated on guerrilla warfare. This phase is reached when the insurgent movement initiates organized continuous guerrilla warfare in an attempt to push government forces into a defensive role. “Phase three” insurgency is a war of movement. In this phase the insurgent can directly engage government forces and hold territory. The Syrian opposition prematurely tried to hold territory and take on the Syrian Army. This was a bad and costly mistake. In the first year of the Syrian uprising the opposition naively believed that the entire Syrian population would embrace it and abandon the regime or that Bashar al-Assad would hand over power. Based on the example of the North African uprisings, Syrian opposition members incorrectly believed a “Tahrir Square moment” would arrive within months of the uprising’s start, eliminating the need for a coherent military strategy, a defined leadership, or how to parry government counter-insurgency operations. The passions of Syrians who have tasted little but contempt from their own government led them to rise up in an act of incredible courage. Now, however, the reality of just how difficult attaining victory will be is setting in.
The Assad regime remains vigorous and will last longer than many thought. The reason that mass defections have not destroyed the regime are twofold: sectarian anxieties prevent Alawite defections, and the regime turns out to be more sectarian than many thought; and class anxieties are more important as well.
Members of the Sunni middle and upper classes are not defecting in the numbers the opposition hoped that they would. The reason that neither Damascus or Aleppo have become centers of the revolution is usually attributed to their privileged position in Syrian society. Wealthy Sunnis living in the West have joined the revolution, but that may be because they do not fear the disorder and incompetence of the opposition in the same way as those living in Syria. They have also experienced the freedom and dignity afforded by the rule of law. They look at the brutality of the Assad regime and wonder, “how come we have this?”
The Syrian revolutionaries are largely rural and young, just as were the Baathists in the 1960s. Wealthy and educated Sunnis fear the results of the present revolution could be the same for them as the results of the last revolution, when Syria’s rural poor took power. They will lose money, status and their quality of life, at least temporarily. If the Lebanon and Iraq revolutions are a guide, that decline could last a long time.
The coming “phase II” insurgency will be characterized by:
- the creation of cell-networks that maintain secrecy
- Terrorism: these techniques include bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, threats, mutilation, murder, torture, and blackmail. These actions will be used to provoke the government into overreactions that discredit the regime, alienate the populace, and demonstrate its inability to protect them.
- multifaceted attempts to cultivate support in the general population, by undermining the regime, proving that the opposition must be feared and will eventually win, and by winning gratitude and trust by providing food and shelter to those in need.
- attacks against the government and security forces, such as car bombings in Damascus and Aleppo and the planting of IEDs as in Iraq and Afghanistan will undermine military moral and its ability to move around the country.
In order for the opposition to organize an effective phase II insurgency, it will have to embrace guerrilla warfare and greater Islamization of the resistance. This means Sunni sectarian recruitment, Islamic martyrdom operations, and all the aspects of Middle Eastern insurgency that we have seen used so effectively against occupation forces in the recent past, whether used by Palestinians, Afghans or Iraqis. Elements of the SNC who are unhappy with the way the Ghalioun has
The role of Burhan Ghalioun and members of the Syrian National Council closest to him, such as Ausama Monajed and Bassma Kodmadi, is bound to diminish or change in the coming phase of the struggle. They must be prepared to embrace a much more stridently Sunni insurgency. The regime has proven its viciousness. The secular leaders of the SNC have been very successful at mobilizing the West against Assad. They have gotten sanctions put in place and the regime has been isolated internationally. But they look down on religion and warfare.
Kamal Labwani, a leader of the Syrian opposition who quit the Syrian National Council last week, accused the SNC of being an “autocratic” organization that has sidelined most of its members. “There is no council, it’s an illusion,” he said. Furthermore he accused council chief Burhan Ghalioun of being like Bashar and “running the organization …. [like] Assad’s ruling Baath party.” Haytham Mallah slammed Ghalioun for being reluctant to support the military effort of the Free Syrian Army. Anwar al-Bunni is worried that the Muslim Brotherhood has become too powerful within the SNC. These are all growing pains as the opposition struggles to keep up with the changes on the ground brought on by the Homs crisis and opposition defeat.
In keeping with the Islamization necessary to recruit financial and military assistance for the revolution, opposition organizers in the West are rallying support from the broader Islamic community by presenting the Syrian struggle in clear religious terms. Quoting from the Koran is key to this. Here are selected quotes from a recent Syrian opposition rally held in Australia. Notice the use of Islamic concepts of martydom, khalifa, the umma, rejection of nationalism, angles coming to the aid of Islamic fighters, blood nourishing the roots of Jihad, etc.
This is a video of the Muslim community protest for Syria held on Jan 21, 2012 at Paul Keating Park, Bankstown, Sydney, Australia. This video is of the entire protest, including all talks, chanting and videos. The following are snippets of the talks:
“We Stand United for the Sake of Allah and for our Brothers and Sisters who are Getting Slaughtered – We are all Muslims who are Worshiping Allah.” “We Ask Allah to Destroy the Assad Regime and his army.” The Muslim Umma stands as one. For one hundred years these dictatorships and these animals have reigned. … The Umma is one step closer to realizing the reality… the reality of the Khilafa to come. Put your trust in Allah. Allah ordains that our brothers and sisters in Syria stand firm, brave and courageous in standing against those who have been oppressing them for the past decades. We can see the wings of angles above Damascus. They will destroy Assad and his regime. Allah insists that his life will continue to exist and the light of his martyrs will continue and the only thing that will be destroy is the life of tyrants and the Assad regime and his army and to revive truth as he promised. God has made us one Umma. It is the Umma of God who is one.”
Remember that the blood of the Martyrs will never be wasted. It will continue to feed the roots of the tree. The prophet said that their will remain a group of my Umma who will fight on the command of Allah to suppress evil and uphold the unity of God. Brothers in Islam, to remember that the outcome is for the beliefs. The outcome is for the beliefs. to remember the stance of the people of tawhiid. We had our Umma and our scholars stand up for belief against these regimes. When the likes of al-Buti and the likes of al-Hassoun, this dog wearing a turban, stood on the side of the tyrants. Remember that victory will only come with adhering to the book of Allah and his Sunna. Victory will NOTcome with the name of nationalism. Lift your fingers in the direction of God and say there is only one God. Oh Muslims of Syria Victory is near.
None of the “very personal emails” of President Bashar al-Assad or his wife Asmaa al-Akhras were aired or published, Al Arabiya said on Friday. The pan-Arab news channel said that many “private” messages were in their inbox among thousands … Al Arabiya said that none of the emails were exchanged with senior military or government officials in the country. There weren’t any exchange of emails with members of the Assad family as well, but most of emails were exchanged with members of his wife’s family and his close friends who belonged to his inner circle….Hundreds of “scandalous” emails were accordingly deleted by Al Arabiya.
Syria: Bashar Al-Assad Email Reveals Mystery Near Naked Woman
by Raf Sanchez, March 16 (Telegraph) —
Mystery surrounds a photograph of an near-naked woman posing provocatively that was sent to Bashar al-Assad by a young female political aide. The undated picture shows the woman, clad only in white lingerie, pressing herself against a wall as her clothes lie discarded in a heap at her feet. It was discovered among thousands of emails from the personal accounts of the Syrian president and his wife after their passwords were smuggled out of Damascus by opposition groups. The photograph was sent to Mr Assad on December 11 last year by Hadeel al-Ali,
John Stewart: Homs Despot: Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s hacked emails reveal he’ll taunt NATO in the world community, but he won’t f**k with Apple.
Syria: Songs of Defiance – Al Jazeera.Net
An undercover Al Jazeera correspondent takes us inside the lives of Syria’s anti-government demonstrators.
Syria Puts On Mass Rally in Support of Assad
By ANNE BARNARD in the New York Times
“What happened in Homs is betrayal,” Mr. Labwani said in an interview. “There is a sense of irresponsibility on the part of the council.”
The council, he added, was in danger of causing splits in Syrian society by failing to create a single rebel military command under its control, leaving individual militias to seek their own sources of help. He accused Muslim Brotherhood members within the exile opposition of “monopolizing funding and military support.”
The 270-member council has been plagued by internal disagreements. A member of its executive committee, Samir Nachar, played down the latest frictions, saying the members had not submitted formal resignations. One, he said, was simply frustrated at his exclusion from a meeting with the United Nations special envoy, Kofi Annan. Mr. Nachar said Mr. Labwani had attended few meetings.
Mr. Nachar acknowledged the council needed to improve but said disagreements were inevitable, noting that many members had never met before the uprising and had widely varying backgrounds and opinions.
But this time the departing members include some well-known figures with deep credibility among Syrians both inside and outside the country, including Mr. Labwani and Haitham Maleh, an executive committee member and lawyer in his 80s who served many years in prison after defending Syrian dissidents, including Muslim Brotherhood members.
Mr. Maleh could not be reached for comment, but told Al Jazeera that he had resigned because of chaos within the group and doubt over what it could accomplish, adding, “We have not gotten very far in working to arm the rebels.”
Still, the way forward for the opposition seemed unclear. On Tuesday, the Syrian National Council had taken steps to bring the Free Syrian Army under its umbrella. But Mr. Labwani, the council member who is resigning, said the exiles had few ties to the fighters inside. “The Free Syrian Army is the people who are inside Syria,” he said.
He called the council’s head, Burhan Ghalioun, an autocrat who makes decisions “under our names without getting back to us.” Mr. Ghalioun could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Labwani said he had argued that the rebels should be armed only under a single command with the council controlling the finances, but Muslim Brotherhood members had objected.
“It will lead to disaster, especially if the revolution is turned into militias,” Mr. Labwani said.
The other two resigning members are Walid al-Bunni and Catherine Altalli. “The Brotherhood took the whole council,” Mr. Bunni said in an interview. “We became like extras.”
In a kind of warning, Mr. Labwani and Mr. Maleh last month formed a new group under the council’s umbrella.
…. Looking at the balance of forces on the ground, it’s not hard to see why [Assad] may be feeling lucky, at least in the near term. In recent weeks, he has sent armored units to recapture rebel-held neighborhoods first in Homs and then in Idlib. Having successfully driven opposition fighters outside of those areas they had held for months, he has turned his forces’ attention back to Deraa in the south, cradle of the rebellion. Of course, these operations have exacted a terrible toll in civilian life and suffering, not sufficient to prompt foreign powers capable of intervening to throw off the restraints they have imposed on themselves out of fear of the consequences of plunging into a messy civil war…..
Syrian rebels lack guns, money after key defeats
By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY | Associated Press
BEIRUT (AP) — Two significant defeats at the hands of Syrian government troops have exposed the limitations of the country’s rebel forces: They are low on cash, running out of weapons and facing a fiercely loyal military that will fight to the death.
Insisting that their drive to oust President Bashar Assad by force remains strong, the Free Syrian Army says the arms shortage is the main obstacle.
“Send us money, we’re desperate. Send us weapons,” Ahmad Kassem, who coordinates military operations for the FSA, told The Associated Press in an interview. “We don’t need fighters. We have excess men who can fight, but we need weapons to protect our land and honor.”(..)
Saudi Arabia shut down its embassy in Damascus, the Saudi foreign ministry announced Wednesday. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies withdrew their ambassadors in February.
“Assad Tells Annan he has three conditions for Cease Fire,” Shamlife, Thursday, March 15, 2012
- Armed groups must promise to cease fire
- Neighboring countries must promise to stop the smuggling of weapons into Syria
- Countries must promise to stop financing the opposition
علمت صحيفة “النهار” ان “رد الرئيس بشار الاسد على المبعوث المشترك للامم المتحدة وجامعة الدول العربية كوفي أنان في سوريا، تضمن ثلاثة شروط هي، تعهد المجموعات المسلحة وقف النار، تعهد دول الجوار وقف تهريب الرجال والسلاح، وتعهد الدول الممولة للمعارضة وقف تمويلها”. وعندما تتحقق هذه الشروط يوقف الرئيس الأسد العمليات العسكرية ضد المسلحين.
A Chrisian friend from Homs writes of how refugee families are occupying empty apartments.
My family left Homs because of their fear for their lives, some went to Damascus and some to Lebanon and few families went to Marmarita and Amar AL Huson,
My cousin who went to her Daughter in AL Raga, went back to Homs and found people in her house, it is 2 bedroom house so she told them that she needs the house as it is too small for more than her and her family, so they left, another relative of mine in Hameedia, they left first then when they came back they found people in their home so they asked them to leave, they refused and asked the owners my relative to talk to the office in one of the Hameedia restaurant that is occupied , so they went there and asked for their house back, they complied and the office of the armed militia ( i think) asked the people who were staying in the house to leave and give the house back, apparently they occupied the houses of the people who left, I am not sure if they forced the people out, that is what i heard from my family.
Explosive news: Ex-State Department employee tuned Google director pushes programs supporting regime change in the Middle East. This comes on the back of news that Avaaz’s campaign manager is also ex-State Dept. This really begs the question whether there is a policy decision to infiltrate social media at the top as well. Disturbing stuff…..
Syria’s rebels will have to deal with Assad
By Julien Barnes-Dacey
Senior Policy Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, European Council on Foreign Relations, www.ecfr.eu
No one wants to deal with dictators. But one year after the Syrian uprising began, the harsh truth is that Bashar al-Assad maintains the upper hand and the opposition – with its international backers – may have little choice but to cut a deal with him if they want to ease the Syrian people’s suffering.
Through brutal suppression, cynical sectarian mobilisation and continued support from Russia and Iran, the regime has maintained its grip on power. Mr Assad has lost most of his legitimacy and Syria’s economy is crumbling but, so long as the regime has internal cohesion and external support, it is unlikely to collapse soon. The headlines accorded the recent defection of a powerless deputy minister have only served to highlight the struggle facing the opposition.
Short of unlikely direct foreign intervention, the worst scenario Mr Assad faces is prolonged civil war, particularly if foreign powers arm the opposition as demanded by the Syrian National Council and Free Syrian Army. But without artillery and air support, the balance of power is unlikely to change quickly. Moreover, while this route could eventually help the rebels to a military victory, it may further empower Mr Assad among his internal and external backers, by providing a justification for regime violence. The one certainty is that an already horrific toll will increase exponentially, as it did in civil wars in Iraq and Lebanon.
From a humanitarian perspective, then, it is urgent to find a political solution….
For Russia – as well as China and even Iran – to change tack and to press Mr Assad to implement a ceasefire, the opposition will have to consent to direct talks with the regime, not preconditioned on Mr Assad’s immediate departure or on that of regime forces from urban centres. In effect, the initial price will be an outcome that favours the regime’s position on the ground. Distasteful as this will be, there is no other way to end the bloodshed. However, if Mr Assad was to agree a ceasefire, even if he remains in power, he will be far more marginalised internationally and under severe pressure to comply. Such an outcome could ease the entry of humanitarian aid and of a new, enhanced team of monitors.
More positively, such a deal could prepare the ground for a political process, however difficult, that could swing the balance in the opposition’s favour. After four decades of repression, a vibrant, politically mobilised population is now intent on seizing its own future. The state of fear has been broken. This is a force Mr Assad is unable to resist except by violence. A political track may therefore be a surer way of ultimately ending the regime.
The regime could of course renew its violence, but commitments by Syria’s protectors – principally Russia and China – to the process, as well as continuing western economic and political pressure, would make it harder for Mr Assad to extricate himself. A political process could also help erode internal support by persuading senior Alawites to support the Arab League transition plan, under which Mr Assad would step down. It should be remembered that Yemen’s transition plan only succeeded on the basis of talks with President Abdullah Saleh.
While the SNC and FSA reject talks with the regime, many Syrians – including activists – already think political dialogue is the best means of averting a devastating civil war. It should be the west’s preference too.
Date: 19 February 2012 07:41:51 GMT
From: CF2R Secrétariat <email@example.com>
You’ll find here attached our latest report, THE LEBANONIZATION OF SYRIA. Report on the actors of the Syrian crisis, Paris, January 2012.
Organised at the instigation of the Centre Français de Recherche sur le Renseignement (French Center for Intelligence Studies – CF2R) and the Centre international de recherche et d’études sur le terrorisme et d’aide aux victimes du terrorisme (International Center for Research and Study on Terrorism and Aid to Victims of Terrorism – CIRET-AVT), an international delegation of experts travelled to Syria from December 3rd to December 10th, 2011, in order to assess the situation in Syria in an independent and impartial manner and to meet with the actors of this nine-month-long crisis. It completed its assessment mission with meetings with various representatives of the Syrian opposition abroad, as well as with a panel of Middle East experts from Europe.The aim of the present report is to provide objective information on a crisis which is being substantially deformed by the control that Syria’s adversaries have over international media networks.The media networks of the Gulf states, with support from major Anglo-American press agencies and their European and French counterparts, have become frontline players in this crisis, with « global » coverage aimed primarily at the overthrow of the Damascus regime, similar to what occurred in Libya.This falsification of the facts seeks to hide from global public opinion the support – often reluctant – that the majority of the Syrian population have for the current regime and the fact that the external opposition is not the most legitimate stakeholder (as opposed to longstanding domestic opposition groups), neither do they espouse democratic ideals that they pretend to promote (given their strongly Islamist character).
…The Arab Spring has periodically been compared to the stirrings of 1848. But with the exception of the toppling of the Orleans monarchy in France, the 1848 revolutions ultimately failed. Dynastic governments reasserted themselves. They did so for a reason that has troubling implications for the Middle East: Conservative regimes in mid-19th century Europe had not only the institutional advantage over their liberal and socialist adversaries but also the moral advantage….
If conservative — even reactionary — orders are necessary for inter-communal peace, then they may survive in one form or another, or at least resurface in places such as Egypt and Iraq. Iraq in 2006 and 2007 proved that chaos is in some respects worse than tyranny. Thus, a system is simply not moral if it cannot preserve domestic peace. “Progress includes Order,” John Stuart Mill wrote in Considerations on Representative Government (1861), “but Order does not include Progress.” In other words, nobody is saying that conservative-reactionary orders will lead to social betterment. Nonetheless, because order is necessary before progress can take hold, reactionary regimes could be the beneficiary of chaos in some Middle Eastern states, in a similar way that the Habsburgs were after 1848. For it is conservative regimes of one type or another that are more likely to be called upon to restore order…..
While Syria’s al Assad is seen as illegitimate, that does not mean that the future in Syria automatically means either democracy or sectarian chaos. It may mean eventually a new form of authoritarianism that alleviates or better manages such instability in the first place. Remember that a system is not defined by the name it gives itself, but by how the power relationships actually work behind the scenes. Thus, Iraq may call itself a democracy, but in truth it is a sectarian “thugocracy” that barely keeps order, and if it continues to falter in that regard, it may eventually be replaced by a full-fledged authoritarian regime (hopefully one far less brutal than Saddam Hussein’s).
Indeed, democratic uprisings in 1848 did not secure democracy, they merely served notice that society had become too restive and too complex for the existent monarchical regimes to insure both order and progress. In Political Order in Changing Societies (1968), Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington wrote that the more complex a society becomes, the greater the number of institutions that are required to govern it.
So one should not confuse the formation of new regimes in the Middle East with their actual consolidation. This will require coercive power in the form of new police forces and intelligence agencies, notes Antonio Giustozzi of the London School of Economics in his provocative new book, The Art of Coercion (2011). And such extreme forms of compulsion are only alleviated by the building of civilian institutions of the kind Huntington talks about, which can then maintain order in a more benign manner. If new bureaucratic institutions do not emerge in a more socially complex Middle East, the Arab Spring will be a false one, and it will be remembered like 1848.
Meanwhile, the authoritarianism of the al-Saud family lingers on in Saudi Arabia, the strategic linchpin of the Arabian Peninsula. And lesser monarchs from Kuwait south to Oman appear not to be in danger. With the exception of the oppressed Shia in Bahrain and in eastern Saudi Arabia, the peoples of the Persian Gulf still broadly associate stability and progress with conservative orders. Thus, the emirs and sultans have the loyalty of their populations and hence the moral advantage.
Syria is at this very moment a bellwether. It is afflicted by ethnic and sectarian splits — Sunnis versus Shia-trending Alawites versus Druze and Kurds. But Syria also can claim historical coherence as an age-old cluster of cosmopolitanism at the crossroads of the desert and the Mediterranean, a place littered with the ruins of Byzantine and medieval Arab civilizations. The Western intelligentsia now equate a moral outcome in Syria with the toppling of the present dictator, who requires those sectarian splits to survive. But soon enough, following the expected end of al Assad’s regime, a moral outcome will be associated with the re-establishment of domestic order and the building of institutions — coercive or not. Because only with that can progress be initiated.
1848 had tragic repercussions: While democracy in Europe flowered briefly following World War I, it was snuffed out by fascism and then communism. Thus, 1848 had to wait until 1989 to truly renew itself. Because of technology’s quickened advance, political change is faster in the Middle East. But for 2011 to truly be remembered as the year of democracy in the Arab world, new forms of non-oppressive order will first have to be established. And with the likely exception of Tunisia — a country close to Europe with no ethnic or sectarian splits — that appears for the moment to be problematic.
Five myths about Syria,” by Roger Owen in Wash Post
5. The international community has to do something to stop the violence…. As the recent history of such interventions demonstrates, the desire to put an end to what are regarded as the evil policies of an evil regime can easily cause politicians to neglect the other side of the balance sheet: the number of civilian lives that will undoubtedly be lost in the attempt to save them. Think, for example, of the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who’ve been widowed since the Russian invasion some 30 years ago.
Hands On Syria, Hands Off Iran
Martin van Creveld, Jason Pack, 14 Mar 12
CommentsCAMBRIDGE – Israel is daily ratcheting up its threats to attack Iran over its nuclear program. Unfortunately, these threats have come to overshadow more pressing events in Syria, which is the epicenter of a regional crisis that will determine the future of the Arab Spring, as well as Iran’s role in the Middle East….. The Israeli government has vastly exaggerated the threat that a nuclear Iran poses to its security, …. The ascendant powers in the Middle East are Turkey and Qatar. These Sunni countries, along with Saudi Arabia, should join with their international allies and initiate a regional solution to Syria’s crisis. …..Now is not the time to provoke Iran, but rather to tend to Syria’s troubles before it is too late – for example, by publicly offering Assad a way out of the country that will safeguard the minority Alawite community if he is toppled or forced to flee. If the Syria situation is ignored, its spillover may inadvertently provoke Israeli or Iranian action, inciting a regional war and a global depression.
Amnesty International’s latest report ‘I wanted to die’: Syria’s torture survivors speak out
Iraq Lets Iran Fly Arms to Syria Despite U.S. Protests
By: Kristina Wong | The Washington Times
The Iraqi government has refused U.S. requests to stop Iranian cargo flights to Syria, despite being aware of credible intelligence that the planes are transporting up to 30 tons of weapons, according to a U.S. official.
Syria Marks Anniversary of Uprising Against Assad
By: Patrick J. McDonnell and Paul Richter | Los Angeles Times
A year after the revolt began, President Bashar Assad shows no sign of easing his grip on power. Rebels have no plans to back down, leaving Syria at an impasse.