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Thread: Syria under Bashir Assad (closed end 2014)

  1. #421
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Bill,
    if you have to, 'blame' me for overusing hyperboles or 'summarizing in quite a rough fashion' (i.e. without going into all the details that people like you might find necessary), but surely not for 'twisting facts to twist my narrative'.

    For reasons I explained above, the ISIS didn't have it easy - and is still not having it easy - in Syria, and therefore didn't rise anything as quickly as anybody is trying to explain. Even now, nearly a year and a half since they appeared there, their position is shaky - at best. Just for example, when Ahrar ash-Sham overrun one of their positions (actually, it was a gas station run by one of pro-ISIS Syrian clans), they needed 3 days to get bunch together enough of their stupids to launch a counterattack (which miserably failed, what a surprise). If you really need more examples, let me know: the list is very long.

    Re. Assad and stupid decisions: I know that the concentration capability and memory of most of observers in the West is meanwhile rather comparable with that of fish, but Assadist regime should actually be renown for establishing and running terrorist organizations as and when it needed any.

    Want to hear one of (genuine) Syrian jokes about Assadists, from back around 2003-2004? Let me remind you, that was the time when Qusay Bush was bunching Assads into the 'Axis of Evil' etc. So, scared shi.-less they would be the next (after Saddam), the Assads rushed to create 'their own' al-Qaida already back then: the bunched together a group of stupids from various prisons and have left them launch a series of 'bombing attacks' on banks etc. in Damascus. And, imagine: all these 'extremist Islamists' were then 'shot by their glorious security authorities', what a surprise, eh...?

    The ISIS is precisely THE kind of 'enemy' the Assadists are claiming to be fighting against right since the first public unrest in Syria, in February-March 2011. Trouble is only: there was no ISIS, nor any other kind of 'genuine' Salafist/Wahhabist terror organisation in Syria back then.

    So, why would it be 'twisting facts' if I come to the idea that it's perfectly reasonable to conclude the Assadists helped the ISIS establish itself in Syria?

    This part is where I think you are playing with the facts. Assad and his father certainly established a dictatorship
    <snip>
    but to compare that to the tactics ISI is using was a stretch until this current conflict where admittedly Assad lost all moral legitimacy with the way he responded.
    Please, Assad never had anything like 'moral legitimacy'; and sadist ISIS' cut-throats even less so.

    There is the rest of the story that must be considered to provide needed context, and that is the Muslim Brotherhood....
    J, Bill...

    Specifically: in the first 1 1/2 years of this uprising, the Moslem Brotherhood in Syria didn't fight with anybody. That's why all the Syrian merchants didn't close their shops (as was hoped for, and which was - at earlier, pre-Assad times - the first sight of 'really deep trouble' for any regime in Syria), and didn't join the insurgency: because they are predominantly supporters of the MOBs. And where are all of them and on which side are they now... only Allah knows that (I guess).

    ...and regarding other what you call 'fundamentalist Sunnis': they didn't start the ethnic strife. That was the regime. During the first 1 1/2, nearly 2 years of the civil war, the regime was purposely recruiting people from one ethnic group and paying them to attack another ethnic group. It was such groups - recruited by the regime - that launched first attacks on Syrian Christians. It was such groups that prompted the emergence of such insurgent groups like 'Jesus, Son of Mary...' and similar battalions. And now comes the best part: do you know that quite a bunch of such Christian, Assyrian, Turkic, even Kurdish etc. native insurgent groups have sided with the Islamic Front meanwhile? How comes?

    Perhaps you don't know, and let's say I'm a completely clueless idiot: but, hell, do you think they don't know who was attacking them and why they took on arms to fight the regime?

    Our media and Congress initially focused on the FSA which created this vision of good guys and bad guys, which was not an accurate portrayal of the conflict.
    Yup, the usual, 'FSA this, and FSA' that story.

    FSA was an idea. Never a coherent movement. I discussed this to death only some 30 times by now. Sorry if I don't go into this again.

    As to your other comments about ISI's strategy....well as much as I hate the ISI I have to agree that is pretty sound strategy on their part.
    Definitely so, then - as we've seen in al-Jufra - they're walked over 'even' by the Mahdi Army...

    I agree with you here, they have been sponsored by wealthy individuals for years as you pointed out, but I also don't find it unreasonable that some states could sponsor them based on the Sunni-Shia civil war...
    Stop right here, please. Yes, you're talking about Salafists/Wahhabists, and yes, they're 'more disciplined' and 'more structured' than the rest of the Sunni-World. And yes, even sparrows on my roof-top know that the wife of former Saudi ambassador to the USA was sponsoring al-Qaida from her own pockets....But heaven... no, their idea of Umma was never sponsored by any 'nation/state' as such. Sorry.

    Furthermore, if ISIS is controlling the borders as stated in the article, they may simply be grabbing the weapons, money, etc. coming in that was destined for other groups.
    No, no, and no. Because there is something called 'geography', and this is described in something called 'maps', and the maps and geography of Syria are teaching us that the 'border crossings' in question is one border crossing on the border to Iraq, which is under attack by the PYD from Syrian, and a (very successful) Iraqi Army offensive from Iraqi side. And if 'they' want to see any other 'border crossings' there, then there is only one, on the border to Turkey, meanwhile held by the IF (the IF's take-over of that crossing - from FSyA - was then used by Washington as excuse to stop the flow of aid to Syria from Turkey).

    That all aside, and seriously: we're not talking here about the US-Mexican border in Texas, but about an empty desert with poorly-demarcated border-line between Iraq and Syria, large parts of which are out of anybody's control since only a few mileniums. Anybody volunteering to declare this border as something like 'inpenetrable', i.e. to insist that the ISIS 'needs border crossings for survival'....?

    If you're talking about today after a few years of war you're absolutely right, but if you're talking about Syria prior to the conflict it was far from bitterly poor. In fact their economy was growing rapidly and steadily, even during the global recession, and the middle class was expanding. Germany and other countries found Syria to be one of, if not the fastest, growth market for their luxury cars. Of course not all benefited from this growth, just like most countries in the West, to include the wealthiest we have large pockets of poverty.
    Bill,
    one of the reasons I'm so mad about all the insanely wrong reporting about 'spread of al-Qaida in Syria' is that I've been around that country so much, and have met and talked so many people there. Combined, I've spent something like a year there, back in the 2000s.

    Sure, German luxury cars, the 'Four Seaons' Hotel, Russian-built (Saudi sponsored) refinery in Dayr az-Zawr, plus all the Saudi investment in infra-structure by side... Sufficient to say: the 'not all benefited from this growth' included only something like 90% of the population. Yes, sure, in 2005, the state doubled the pay of all of its employees (depending on estimate, between 35% and 70% of the workforce), but already the Lebanon War of 2006 hit the economy very hard (simply because all the Syrians were so scared, they stopped spending). Subsequently came a draught, and then various other problems (one of them was caused by the EU's decision to buy-up all the palm-oil for years in advance; this destroyed the waffle-manufacturing industry in Syria because - also due to various embargos - it couldn't find any other source of palm-oil anywhere else) etc. All of this hit the country so hard, it didn't start recovering even as of 2010...

    I saw this all with my own eyes. No matter where it comes from, everything else is 'guestimate' in my ears.

    In your view if there are any good guys who are they?
    There are nearly 18 millions of - potentially - good guys there. All provided one has got the money to pay them. I don't have that money. But even if somebody comes to the idea he/she has got it, the decision-maker in question oughts to keep in mind that the other bidder now is nobody else but al-Sauds (it might not be that way 'physically', but 'metaphorically', 'ash-Sham' (Syria) is the hearts and minds of Saudis; saudis are provincials, literal analphabets from the empty desert; for them, 'Dimashq' is 'the' place to go; water, green gardens, culture, everything....one can't really describe what kind of prize is that country for Saudis) - and the IRGC.

    Guess that might mean quite a fierce competition there.

    My concern is our indecisive support will simply drag the conflict on longer and more and more innocent people will continue to suffer.
    Well, that already happened. Without Iranian intervention in February-June this year, the Assadist regime would've collapsed. They even managed to run themselves out of fuel before Iranians came to save them (actually, the Republican Guards Division - or the two mech brigades which are all that is left of it - was out of fuel until few weeks ago).

    It's simply too late - and out of our control - now.

  2. #422
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    Also, if the ISIS was set up by any 'nation', then by the Assadist regime. If you wonder why: so it can confidently say exactly what all the Western public LOVES to hear now, 'here you are, it's an uprising of al-Qaida, not of some Syrians that might not like us'.
    Great theory, but I think it is void of any factual underpinning. You may be right, but I don't think so. Also, Al-Qaeda has been active in Syria for years (small scale, small scale is enough to provide a clandestine infrastructure they can use later), and had well established networks there. I think there is more on going on than you point out, and while I agree AQ does not need state support, there is no reason to believe they're not receiving it. At the end of the day states make decisions based on perceived interests.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2...urrentPage=all

    This article is informative, and it was written in 2007.

    The Redirection

    Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?


    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/20...-to-flood.html

    NATO Using Al Qaeda Rat Lines to Flood Syria With Foreign Terrorists

    2007-2008 US West Point reports reveal Al Qaeda network behind NATO's so-called "freedom fighters." Extremists in Syria were behind Iraq War foreign terrorist influx, not Syrian government.
    What Fares actually revealed however, was an invisible state within Syria, one composed of Saudi-aligned, sectarian extremism, operating not only independently of the government of President Assad, but in violent opposition to it. This "state-within-a-state" also so happens to be directly affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, the leading forces now fighting in Syria with significant Western-backing against the Syrian government.

    The documented details of this invisible terror state were exposed in the extensive academic efforts of the US Army's own West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). Two reports were published between 2007 and 2008 revealing a global network of Al Qaeda affiliated terror organizations, and how they mobilized to send a large influx of foreign fighters into Iraq.
    Nasr compared the current situation to the period in which Al Qaeda first emerged. In the nineteen-eighties and the early nineties, the Saudi government offered to subsidize the covert American C.I.A. proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Hundreds of young Saudis were sent into the border areas of Pakistan, where they set up religious schools, training bases, and recruiting facilities. Then, as now, many of the operatives who were paid with Saudi money were Salafis. Among them, of course, were Osama bin Laden and his associates, who founded Al Qaeda, in 1988.

    This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”
    “This goes back to Iran-Contra,” a former National Security Council aide told me. “And much of what they’re doing is to keep the agency out of it.” He said that Congress was not being briefed on the full extent of the U.S.-Saudi operations. And, he said, “The C.I.A. is asking, ‘What’s going on?’ They’re concerned, because they think it’s amateur hour.”
    http://www.debka.com/article/23558/U...-Qaeda-in-Iraq

    US and Iran’s First Joint Military Venture: Fighting al Qaeda in Iraq

    In this topsy-turvy scenario, Washington and Tehran share another surprising motive: to save the Assad regime in Damascus from Al Qaeda’s long arms.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted approvingly on Dec. 26: “Attitudes are changing in Western countries; they are becoming more realistic in their approach towards the Syrian crisis. The threat of terrorism in Syria, of jihadists coming to power, of creating a caliphate with extremist laws, these are the main problems.”

    Since the Syrian chemical issue was addressed in September, Russian-Iranian-American collaboration is going strong. The joint US-Iranian war on al Qaeda is strengthening Tehran’s grip on Iraq as well Syria. It gives Russian President Vladimir Putin hope for keeping al Qaeda away from the Winter Olympics at Sochi – an ever-present menace as a female suicide bomber, a Dagestan national, demonstrated Sunday, Dec. 29, by blowing up the railway station at the southern Russian city of Volgograd, killing up to a score of people.

    The other incentive for US President Barack Obama is the hope of transposing his collaboration with Tehran and Moscow to improve US chances of a reasonable accommodation in the Afghanistan arena.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...oing-in-syria/

    What Is Al Qaeda Doing in Syria?

    They still have the ability to operate through Syria. That’s important because those logistics lines can be reversed and, if they need to, they will be able to move into Syria just as they have been able to move people from Syria into Iraq.
    But in Syria, the tone is very, very different. It’s very aggressive. It’s very much calling for violence in immediate terms and participating in the wider fight. … Al Qaeda, as an organization and as a movement, are a bunch of media whores. Right now the world is looking at Syria, so that’s where they want to be. …

    [The question is] whether they have any luck in a Syrian environment trying to win over a wider constituency than they were able to in Iraq. I don’t think they will.
    This is a depressing thing because it will cloud what’s happening in Syria. The fundamental story is that there are brave people standing up to a tyrannical government. … There are lots of factions in Syria that agree on the need for the Assad regime needs to go. But there’s likely to be extraordinary disagreement among those various factions over what should come next. …

    There’s going to be a threat from Al Qaeda in Syria. I do not think Al Qaeda is going to dominate the rebellion there.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 01-01-2014 at 11:55 PM.

  3. #423
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Great theory, but I think it is void of any factual underpinning. You may be right, but I don't think so. Also, Al-Qaeda has been active in Syria for years (small scale, small scale is enough to provide a clandestine infrastructure they can use later), and had well established networks there. I think there is more on going on than you point out, and while I agree AQ does not need state support, there is no reason to believe they're not receiving it. At the end of the day states make decisions based on perceived interests.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2...urrentPage=all

    This article is informative, and it was written in 2007.
    Help me catch it, then I do not understand something here: except for explaining all the possible 'perceived interest' (including that day-dream on the 'Shahab-...erm...99', as a 'three-stage, three-warhead Iranian intercontinental missile that can hit Europe, oh yeah'), where is this article 'documenting' something like 'al-Qaida network built up in Syria'?

    Then, the next article you linked,
    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.at/...-to-flood.html

    ...Firstly, the author lost me already with this statement:
    This "state-within-a-state" also so happens to be directly affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, the leading forces now fighting in Syria with significant Western-backing against the Syrian government.
    This is nonsense. Like in Egypt back in 2011, the MOBs were 'waiting to see' what's going to happen. Some of MOBs went to arms only early this year, and then nearly half of them sided with the regime.

    And I already explained above what I think about anybody stating that the 'MOBs and al-Qaida are now leading forces fighting...against the Syrian government'. That's simply nonsense.

    One of things you cited from that article caught my eye too:
    2007-2008 US West Point reports reveal Al Qaeda network behind NATO's so-called "freedom fighters." Extremists in Syria were behind Iraq War foreign terrorist influx, not Syrian government.
    Yeah, and the report in question cited that West Point report about 'al-Qaida's Libyan Islamic Fighting Group'....

    Nonsense of this kind is one of about a million of reasons why I said above, that monitoring the conflict in Syria in this fashion is an 'utter fail'.

    1.) Already years before that report was written (2007), the LIF distanced itself from al-Qaida (the Libyans concluded the al-Qaida for 'too extremist').

    2.) It is bordering on stupid, and definitely showing an inherent lack of understanding for local circumstances, to come to the idea to expect the (former) axis Libya-Syria-Iran to 'support al-Qaida'. I thought it's meanwhile well-known that this product of Qusay Bush admin's imagination should be sorted in the same file with 'Iraqi WMDs'. Apparently, this is not the case, so let me add 'few details' here.

    Syria and Libya maintained close military and security cooperation since the early 1970s. In some regards this cooperation was so close that entire squadrons of Libyan Air Force were staffed by Syrians (to a degree where some called it 'Syrian Air Force West'). Later on, this cooperation became tripartite, through inclusion of Iran (see Libya selling SA-2s, T-72s and Scuds to Iran via Syria, an Iranian pilot test-flying a Libyan MiG-25 etc., in mid-1980s). When Libya was under various embargoes, in the 1990s, it was Iranians and Syrians that maintained its air force (that's one of reasons why the SyAAF nowadays has 'at least 1 Su-24 too much': this was donated to it by Libya, as 'thanks' for help in maintenance). Thus, connections on military level were well-established already since ages, and used extensively by all three sides.

    Over the times, some of involved people understood that such connections can be exploited in a very profitable fashion... 'Profitable' in sense of really 'stuffing money into your pockets, hon'.

    Now, as of around 2004, after the first wave of 'euphoria' about 'let's go fighting GIs in Iraq' was over, somebody in Libya came to the idea to do his holy brother leader a favour and start exporting local Islamists to Iraq, literally. Like Syrian regime, so also the Libyan was actively prosecuting, torturing and executing Islamists since ages (while Assads had a problem with the MOBs, Gathaffists had a problem with Senussis).

    And so one nice morning one of Libyan mukhbarat chiefs in Benghazi contacted one of his pals in command of Lattakiya bureau (for those with problems with geography: Benghazi is in Libya, Lattakiya is the largest port in Syria). The latter was in contact with somebody from the Syrian customs, this in contact with somebody running bus business etc. And so the idea was born to - through charging the Islamists they transported to Iraq - earn a handsome income. Which they did.

    However, and no matter how 'politically-' or 'religion-coloured' various Western intelligence services have seen the resulting 'operation of Libyan and Syrian intelligence services', this was no 'operation of Libyan and Syrian intelligence services', but a commercial enterprise of several influential Libyan and Syrian characters.

    That aside, it neither reached proportions of similar Saudi-run (and based) enterprises (all of 'private' nature, of course, even though seeing involvement of countless 'Princess', i.e. members of the ruling family), nor was ever based on any kind of official, political decisions.

    Let me guess: as next you're going to say that this should be 'impossible', because Libya and Syria are such 'dictatorships', and neither Gathaffi nor Assad would have left such things to happen while they were in control?

    Well, sorry: but no 'dictatorship' has total control over all the cliques upon which it depends for retaining itself in power. On the contrary, most of dictatorships very much depend to let such cliques do whatever they like, in order to keep them happy, and receive their support in return.

    Instead of that, ask yourself: why should have Syria and Libya angered their ally Iran through endangering its influence in Iraq by supporting the deployment of their (fiercely anti-Iran/Shi'a) Salafists there? Only somebody as clueless as the US military and political decisionmakers could come to such ideas. The entire operation was a purely commercial enterprise, resulting in involved intelligence-officers-cum-businessmen pocketing handsome sums. That is: until the Libyan Islamists have spoiled the party and 'divorced' themselves from al-Qaida, accusing its ideology of mindless brutality that stood in no relation to religion etc. That then created such a problem, that Gathaffi began handing them out to the CIA...

    So, no matter whether it's 'West Point' or not, and no matter how serious, some reports simply stand in no relation with reality. Simply because the people writing them are sitting much too far away from the scene, and neither know nor understand the actual situation. All they get is a 'rough', very rough picture, and that leads to drawing useless conclusions.

    How about another example...?

    Remember that attack by US Army AH-64s on 'al-Qaida terrorists in Syria', launched with explanation that the family in question was launching attacks on US troops inside Iraq, from few years ago? Supposedly, the family had 'al-Qaida links', and was able to - after each attack on US troops in Iraq - flee over the border to safety of Syria, where the regime was 'harbouring' them.

    Well, the family/clan in question did do so, but had no al-Qaida links, which is why the regime couldn't care less about them. Actually, it was staunchly Communist-Marxist (yup, you read that right: Communist-Marxist). But, they were declared 'al-Qaida' by the US military, because a) nobody knew that (about their Communist orientation), b) nobody would come to the idea that 'anybody else but al-Qaida' would come to the idea to go fighting US troops in Iraq, and c) declaring them 'al-Qaida' was obviously more opportune: imagine Pentagon having to explain it's risking provoking a war with Syria in order to hit a family that's attacking its troops inside Iraq, and that's 'communist' by political orientation, but not al-Qaida linked. All the glorious journos would fall from their chairs from laughing. Nobody would buy it, simply because the public opinion is that 'anti-communist wars are a matter of history'.

    As usually, that's 'hairsplitting', but that's Syria, gentlemen: there are villages of staunch Salafists right next to villages of extremist Christians, right next to villages of convinced Communists, right next to villages of Sunni Kurds, right next to villages of Salafist Kurds, rights next to villages of moderate Sunnis, right next to villages of Islamist Sunnis, right next to villages of Alawites etc., etc., etc. They live like that at least since the Mongol invasion in the 13th Century. That's why 'understanding Syria' requires a sort of 'micro-knowledge': to understand what's going on there, to 'know it', one needs to know precisely what is what family, clan, village, interest group (because there are big differences between interests of Syrian peasants and Syrian intellectuals, for example) etc. thinking, what is its primary, what is its secondary etc. interest, how is it politically and religiously oriented etc., etc., etc.
    Last edited by CrowBat; 01-02-2014 at 09:05 AM.

  4. #424
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    Here something more about origins of 'inter-ethnic/religious strife' in Syria, plus the 'miraculous' recovery of the Assadist regime during 2013. The following article is a very long read (11 pages) and does contain some of usual errors, but in regards of Suleimani it's 'quite on the money':

    The Shadow Commander
    ...Last February, some of Iran’s most influential leaders gathered at the Amir al-Momenin Mosque, in northeast Tehran, inside a gated community reserved for officers of the Revolutionary Guard. They had come to pay their last respects to a fallen comrade. Hassan Shateri, a veteran of Iran’s covert wars throughout the Middle East and South Asia, was a senior commander in a powerful, élite branch of the Revolutionary Guard called the Quds Force.
    ...
    Shateri had been killed two days before, on the road that runs between Damascus and Beirut. He had gone to Syria, along with thousands of other members of the Quds Force, to rescue the country’s besieged President, Bashar al-Assad, a crucial ally of Iran. In the past few years, Shateri had worked under an alias as the Quds Force’s chief in Lebanon; there he had helped sustain the armed group Hezbollah, which at the time of the funeral had begun to pour men into Syria to fight for the regime. The circumstances of his death were unclear: one Iranian official said that Shateri had been “directly targeted” by “the Zionist regime,” as Iranians habitually refer to Israel.

    At the funeral, the mourners sobbed, and some beat their chests in the Shiite way. Shateri’s casket was wrapped in an Iranian flag, and gathered around it were the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, dressed in green fatigues; a member of the plot to murder four exiled opposition leaders in a Berlin restaurant in 1992; and the father of Imad Mughniyeh, the Hezbollah commander believed to be responsible for the bombings that killed more than two hundred and fifty Americans in Beirut in 1983. Mughniyeh was assassinated in 2008, purportedly by Israeli agents. In the ethos of the Iranian revolution, to die was to serve. Before Shateri’s funeral, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s Supreme Leader, released a note of praise: “In the end, he drank the sweet syrup of martyrdom.”
    ...
    Kneeling in the second row on the mosque’s carpeted floor was Major General Qassem Suleimani, the Quds Force’s leader: a small man of fifty-six, with silver hair, a close-cropped beard, and a look of intense self-containment. It was Suleimani who had sent Shateri, an old and trusted friend, to his death.
    ...
    Suleimani took command of the Quds Force fifteen years ago, and in that time he has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran’s favor, working as a power broker and as a military force: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and, for most of a decade, directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq.
    ...
    The early months of 2013, around the time of Shateri’s death, marked a low point for the Iranian intervention in Syria. Assad was steadily losing ground to the rebels, who are dominated by Sunnis, Iran’s rivals. If Assad fell, the Iranian regime would lose its link to Hezbollah, its forward base against Israel. In a speech, one Iranian cleric said, “If we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran.”

    Although the Iranians were severely strained by American sanctions, imposed to stop the regime from developing a nuclear weapon, they were unstinting in their efforts to save Assad. Among other things, they extended a seven-billion-dollar loan to shore up the Syrian economy. “I don’t think the Iranians are calculating this in terms of dollars,” a Middle Eastern security official told me. “They regard the loss of Assad as an existential threat.” For Suleimani, saving Assad seemed a matter of pride, especially if it meant distinguishing himself from the Americans. “Suleimani told us the Iranians would do whatever was necessary,” a former Iraqi leader told me. “He said, ‘We’re not like the Americans. We don’t abandon our friends.’ ”
    ...
    Last year, Suleimani asked Kurdish leaders in Iraq to allow him to open a supply route across northern Iraq and into Syria. For years, he had bullied and bribed the Kurds into coöperating with his plans, but this time they rebuffed him. Worse, Assad’s soldiers wouldn’t fight—or, when they did, they mostly butchered civilians, driving the populace to the rebels. “The Syrian Army is useless!” Suleimani told an Iraqi politician. He longed for the Basij, the Iranian militia whose fighters crushed the popular uprisings against the regime in 2009. “Give me one brigade of the Basij, and I could conquer the whole country,” he said. In August, 2012, anti-Assad rebels captured forty-eight Iranians inside Syria. Iranian leaders protested that they were pilgrims, come to pray at a holy Shiite shrine, but the rebels, as well as Western intelligence agencies, said that they were members of the Quds Force. In any case, they were valuable enough so that Assad agreed to release more than two thousand captured rebels to have them freed. And then Shateri was killed.

    Finally, Suleimani began flying into Damascus frequently so that he could assume personal control of the Iranian intervention. “He’s running the war himself,” an American defense official told me. In Damascus, he is said to work out of a heavily fortified command post in a nondescript building, where he has installed a multinational array of officers: the heads of the Syrian military, a Hezbollah commander, and a coördinator of Iraqi Shiite militias, which Suleimani mobilized and brought to the fight. If Suleimani couldn’t have the Basij, he settled for the next best thing: Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, the Basij’s former deputy commander. Hamedani, another comrade from the Iran-Iraq War, was experienced in running the kind of irregular militias that the Iranians were assembling, in order to keep on fighting if Assad fell.
    ...
    Late last year, Western officials began to notice a sharp increase in Iranian supply flights into the Damascus airport. Instead of a handful a week, planes were coming every day, carrying weapons and ammunition—“tons of it,” the Middle Eastern security official told me—along with officers from the Quds Force. According to American officials, the officers coördinated attacks, trained militias, and set up an elaborate system to monitor rebel communications. They also forced the various branches of Assad’s security services—designed to spy on one another—to work together. The Middle Eastern security official said that the number of Quds Force operatives, along with the Iraqi Shiite militiamen they brought with them, reached into the thousands. “They’re spread out across the entire country,” he told me.

    A turning point came in April, after rebels captured the Syrian town of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border. To retake the town, Suleimani called on Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, to send in more than two thousand fighters. It wasn’t a difficult sell. Qusayr sits at the entrance to the Bekaa Valley, the main conduit for missiles and other matériel to Hezbollah; if it was closed, Hezbollah would find it difficult to survive. Suleimani and Nasrallah are old friends, having coöperated for years in Lebanon and in the many places around the world where Hezbollah operatives have performed terrorist missions at the Iranians’ behest. According to Will Fulton, an Iran expert at the American Enterprise Institute, Hezbollah fighters encircled Qusayr, cutting off the roads, then moved in. Dozens of them were killed, as were at least eight Iranian officers. On June 5th, the town fell. “The whole operation was orchestrated by Suleimani,” Maguire, who is still active in the region, said. “It was a great victory for him.”
    ...
    ...and then there comes the best part (page 7):
    ...Suleimani’s campaign against the United States crossed the Sunni-Shiite divide, which he has always been willing to set aside for a larger purpose. Iraqi and Western officials told me that, early in the war, Suleimani encouraged the head of intelligence for the Assad regime to facilitate the movement of Sunni extremists through Syria to fight the Americans. In many cases, Al Qaeda was also allowed a degree of freedom in Iran as well. Crocker told me that in May, 2003, the Americans received intelligence that Al Qaeda fighters in Iran were preparing an attack on Western targets in Saudi Arabia. Crocker was alarmed. “They were there, under Iranian protection, planning operations,” he said. He flew to Geneva and passed a warning to the Iranians, but to no avail; militants bombed three residential compounds in Riyadh, killing thirty-five people, including nine Americans.

    As it turned out, the Iranian strategy of abetting Sunni extremists backfired horrendously: shortly after the occupation began, the same extremists began attacking Shiite civilians and the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government. It was a preview of the civil war to come. “Welcome to the Middle East,” the Western diplomat in Baghdad told me. “Suleimani wanted to bleed the Americans, so he invited in the jihadis, and things got out of control.”
    ...
    Last edited by CrowBat; 01-02-2014 at 12:15 PM.

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    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    And in the following case, the title is entirely misleading, but the below-cited content is interesting. It shows how the ISIS is 'taking over' the Syrian insurgency, and why do I compare its reign of terror with that of Assadists:
    The Islamist Enemy of Our Islamist Enemy
    ...
    When he was a fighter with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), waging war against President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the northern economic hub of Aleppo, Abu Muhannad's confidence verged on presumptuousness. He spent 2012 and part of 2013 fighting alongside his comrades in the Martyrs' Swords battalion and, upon their return from the front lines, the young fighters would gather to reflect on their most recent victory as they smoked arguileh and drank cups of bitter tea.

    The Free Syrian Army, the loose-knit, Western-backed rebel umbrella group, eventually succumbed to irrelevance due to poor funding and lack of cohesiveness. Abu Muhannad's small battalion disbanded and he found himself stranded, without the safety afforded by membership into a group. Still, he chose to remain in his home country, hoping to find himself a place among the new rebel realignments.

    Then, a few weeks ago, he sat down for tea with a young French fighter.

    The Frenchman was a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Their conversation devolved into a heated argument -- the French jihadist felt that Abu Muhannad, a devout Muslim, was too focused on fighting for the liberation of Syria rather than waging a global jihad. He chided Abu Muhannad for calling the country Syria instead of bilad al-sham, an expression favored by global jihadists that refers to the entire Levant, which they believe should be the focal point of a new Islamic state.

    "It was a fight over terminology," said Abu Muhannad, who was reached via Skype in the Turkish city of Antakya where he has been staying with a friend. "He accused me of being secretly secular because I was being patriotic instead of referring to the country as an Islamic emirate. I told him he wasn't here to teach me about my own religion."

    The French fighter walked away in the middle of the argument. The following day, Abu Muhannad's friends informed him that ISIS was planning to assassinate him. Abu Muhannad claimed the al Qaeda-linked group had tried to kill him once before, and that he had narrowly escaped. Shortly after Abu Muhannad fled to Turkey, ISIS captured his younger brother, a citizen journalist, who remains imprisoned to this day. Abu Muhannad suspects the group is holding his brother indefinitely to lure him back to Syria.

    This is not the first time that an FSA fighter finds himself driven out of the country by ISIS. The extremist group has repeatedly clashed with not only FSA rebels, but also with like-minded Islamist brigades, often over petty disputes. An undercurrent of tension pervades the relationship between ISIS, which ultimately seeks to establish and Islamic emirate in Syria, and the constellation of moderate Sunni fighters who simply want to oust Bashar al-Assad from power.

    The experience of being exiled from his own country by foreign Jihadists has left Abu Muhannad as livid at ISIS as he is at the Syrian regime.

    "They have these disgusting, smelly beards. They won't even comb their hair. If I knew the revolution would bring them here, I swear I would never have participated in it," he said. "Did I rebel against the regime to end up in hiding? And who am I running away from? Chechens? European fanatics? Who are those people? They have overstayed their welcome."
    ...

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    A sophisticated recruiting campaign conducted openly on social media, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, seems to have played a large role in drawing the estimated thousands of foreign fighters who have come to Syria to fight for two Al Qaeda-linked rebel factions, Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and other Sunni Islamist groups.
    http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-s...#ixzz2pG5s3Tim
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    The Quds force leader said this "‘We’re not like the Americans. We don’t abandon our friends.’ ”.

    That is quite an indictment. If he thinks that, others in the world think that so things may go hard for us in the future.
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    The Quds force leader said this "‘We’re not like the Americans. We don’t abandon our friends.’ ”.

    That is quite an indictment. If he thinks that, others in the world think that so things may go hard for us in the future.
    Did the US ever have a friend to abandon in Syria?
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Did the US ever have a friend to abandon in Syria?
    Did you ever actually state a position with a plain statement?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Posted by Crowbat

    And I already explained above what I think about anybody stating that the 'MOBs and al-Qaida are now leading forces fighting...against the Syrian government'. That's simply nonsense.
    I don't think anyone claimed AQ was leading the fight, but claims have been made that AQ is rapidly gaining more influence in this ever evolving conflict.

    Nonsense of this kind is one of about a million of reasons why I said above, that monitoring the conflict in Syria in this fashion is an 'utter fail'.

    1.) Already years before that report was written (2007), the LIF distanced itself from al-Qaida (the Libyans concluded the al-Qaida for 'too extremist').

    2.) It is bordering on stupid, and definitely showing an inherent lack of understanding for local circumstances, to come to the idea to expect the (former) axis Libya-Syria-Iran to 'support al-Qaida'. I thought it's meanwhile well-known that this product of Qusay Bush admin's imagination should be sorted in the same file with 'Iraqi WMDs'. Apparently, this is not the case, so let me add 'few details' here.
    I didn't realize you were in a position to know so much more than our intelligence community, or our soldiers on the ground actually fighting the foreign fighters from Libya. As for West Point's assessment, there is always the risk it won't be as accurate as classified information, but the opposite is also true since the intelligence community can move into group think or be deceived by a clever adversary. The CTC at West Point does a better job than most making sense of the available information. Could it be wrong? You bet it can.

    Where you got Libya-Syria-Iran axis supporting AQ beats me, one thing Assad and the U.S. had/have in common is a mutual dislike for AQ. Iran on the other hand may use them as proxy for limited operations, but I don't think they would form a coalition with them. They know AQ is responsible for the slaughter of Shia.

    Syria and Libya maintained close military and security cooperation since the early 1970s. In some regards this cooperation was so close that entire squadrons of Libyan Air Force were staffed by Syrians (to a degree where some called it 'Syrian Air Force West').
    The Libyans supporting AQ were not supported by Qadaffi, they hated him, just like they hated Assad, Saddam, the House of Saad and any other dictator in the region. The governments of Libya and Syria were state sponsors of terror, but not AQ. Both states trained communist terrorists from Europe and the IRA, along with some Palestinian groups. Almost all, if not all, the groups they supported were secular in nature, therefore easy to control.

    Later on, this cooperation became tripartite, through inclusion of Iran (see Libya selling SA-2s, T-72s and Scuds to Iran via Syria, an Iranian pilot test-flying a Libyan MiG-25 etc., in mid-1980s). When Libya was under various embargoes, in the 1990s, it was Iranians and Syrians that maintained its air force (that's one of reasons why the SyAAF nowadays has 'at least 1 Su-24 too much': this was donated to it by Libya, as 'thanks' for help in maintenance). Thus, connections on military level were well-established already since ages, and used extensively by all three sides.
    Like I said, states are rational actors, and any state will work with a lesser enemy if they help them challenge the greater enemy. It has been that way throughout history. You can't apply the same logic to non-state actors that are motivated by religious extremism.

    Over the times, some of involved people understood that such connections can be exploited in a very profitable fashion... 'Profitable' in sense of really 'stuffing money into your pockets, hon'.
    Of course, markets are the third stage of social/political development.

    Now, as of around 2004, after the first wave of 'euphoria' about 'let's go fighting GIs in Iraq' was over, somebody in Libya came to the idea to do his holy brother leader a favour and start exporting local Islamists to Iraq, literally. Like Syrian regime, so also the Libyan was actively prosecuting, torturing and executing Islamists since ages (while Assads had a problem with the MOBs, Gathaffists had a problem with Senussis).
    Almost sounds like we're in agreement here. Qadaffi and Assad both prosecuted Islamists. Like most states they can't control their entire population, and it may have made sense to them to let their radicals go to Iraq and die.

    However, and no matter how 'politically-' or 'religion-coloured' various Western intelligence services have seen the resulting 'operation of Libyan and Syrian intelligence services', this was no 'operation of Libyan and Syrian intelligence services', but a commercial enterprise of several influential Libyan and Syrian characters.
    Um, that sounds like a non-state network that was established, which earlier you denied existed?

    Let me guess: as next you're going to say that this should be 'impossible', because Libya and Syria are such 'dictatorships', and neither Gathaffi nor Assad would have left such things to happen while they were in control?
    Contraire, it happens in our country, and although we're not a dictatorship we probably have more layers and more effective security forces, so I would be surprised if it didn't happen there.

    Well, sorry: but no 'dictatorship' has total control over all the cliques upon which it depends for retaining itself in power. On the contrary, most of dictatorships very much depend to let such cliques do whatever they like, in order to keep them happy, and receive their support in return.
    No need to apologize, everyone who visits SWJ and has even an elementary knowledge of reality realizes this.

    Instead of that, ask yourself: why should have Syria and Libya angered their ally Iran through endangering its influence in Iraq by supporting the deployment of their (fiercely anti-Iran/Shi'a) Salafists there? Only somebody as clueless as the US military and political decisionmakers could come to such ideas. The entire operation was a purely commercial enterprise, resulting in involved intelligence-officers-cum-businessmen pocketing handsome sums. That is: until the Libyan Islamists have spoiled the party and 'divorced' themselves from al-Qaida, accusing its ideology of mindless brutality that stood in no relation to religion etc. That then created such a problem, that Gathaffi began handing them out to the CIA...
    I give your argument partial credit for sounding credible, but they were hardly a serious threat to Iran's interests in Iraq, and in fact the civil war was in Iran's interest, it created enough chaos for them to establish more influence, and with the vast majority of the population being Shia who was going to be victorious was never in doubt, so I don't think they turned on Iran.

    So, no matter whether it's 'West Point' or not, and no matter how serious, some reports simply stand in no relation with reality. Simply because the people writing them are sitting much too far away from the scene, and neither know nor understand the actual situation. All they get is a 'rough', very rough picture, and that leads to drawing useless conclusions.
    Some people sitting far away have a lot of contacts up close and personal.

    Well, the family/clan in question did do so, but had no al-Qaida links, which is why the regime couldn't care less about them. Actually, it was staunchly Communist-Marxist (yup, you read that right: Communist-Marxist). But, they were declared 'al-Qaida' by the US military, because a) nobody knew that (about their Communist orientation), b) nobody would come to the idea that 'anybody else but al-Qaida' would come to the idea to go fighting US troops in Iraq, and c) declaring them 'al-Qaida' was obviously more opportune: imagine Pentagon having to explain it's risking provoking a war with Syria in order to hit a family that's attacking its troops inside Iraq, and that's 'communist' by political orientation, but not al-Qaida linked. All the glorious journos would fall from their chairs from laughing. Nobody would buy it, simply because the public opinion is that 'anti-communist wars are a matter of history'.
    Can't speak for the rest of the military, but we were very much aware of the Leninist groups trying to get established in Iraq, but for obvious reasons they didn't garner much of a following.

    As usually, that's 'hairsplitting', but that's Syria, gentlemen: there are villages of staunch Salafists right next to villages of extremist Christians, right next to villages of convinced Communists, right next to villages of Sunni Kurds, right next to villages of Salafist Kurds, rights next to villages of moderate Sunnis, right next to villages of Islamist Sunnis, right next to villages of Alawites etc., etc., etc. They live like that at least since the Mongol invasion in the 13th Century. That's why 'understanding Syria' requires a sort of 'micro-knowledge': to understand what's going on there, to 'know it', one needs to know precisely what is what family, clan, village, interest group (because there are big differences between interests of Syrian peasants and Syrian intellectuals, for example) etc. thinking, what is its primary, what is its secondary etc. interest, how is it politically and religiously oriented etc., etc., etc.
    Same as its ever been.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Did you ever actually state a position with a plain statement?
    I'll try:

    1. The Quds force doesn't care what we say about them, and we don't need to care what they say about us.

    2. The US can't possibly "abandon its friends" in Syria, because the US has no friends in Syria to abandon. Refusing to be played by those who pretend to be our friends in order to gain access to our favor and largesse is not abandonment.

    3. Nations don't have friends, they have allies. Allies are those with whom a nation has common interests. Interests change, and so do alliances. That's not abandonment, that's change.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    Bill,
    the IF just launched a 'major' offensive on the ISIS in Aleppo and Idlib Provinces. First reports indicate heavy losses on both sides, but also the IF overrunning several ISIS bases.

    Bottom line: whether the ISIS is even only 'gaining', as some say, or (already) 'leading', as other say, they're not the same like even the JAN, not to talk about the IF, and thus all polemic in this direction (including the one about 'we've got no friends there') is simply surplus.

    Regarding LIFG and that WP report (from 2007): Perhaps the CTC-guys should've read the LIFG entry on Wikipedia to get themselves informed? No clue, and I neither have the time to search you various sources of reference that appeared 'even' on the internet in the last 15 or so years, nor can care less any more (nothing personal: it's a decision I've taken nearly 15 years ago), but their report about LIFG-al-Qaida cooperation was definitely 'obsolete' the moment it was published. No surprise: just another of so many fails from that period of time.

    Where you got Libya-Syria-Iran axis supporting AQ beats me, one thing Assad and the U.S. had/have in common is a mutual dislike for AQ. Iran on the other hand may use them as proxy for limited operations, but I don't think they would form a coalition with them. They know AQ is responsible for the slaughter of Shia.
    Don't know whether it's my 'subtle' sarcasm, but we're simply not at the same level of information and understanding (not even after I posted you a link that would offer you an answer regarding the Iranian involvement in this business).

    Anyway, perhaps my memory is 'entirely wrong', but I very much do recall the times when DC couldn't put enough blame upon Tehran 'supporting al-Qaida' (I definitely do recall chatting with quite a number of 'Colonels+', all of whom were 'convinced' this was the case 'because intelligence said so').

    As explained above (well, I did try), it was so that specific circles in Libya and Syria found it opportune to 'export' Islamists to Iraq and Afghanistan - for purely commercial reasons; perhaps the LIFG - as such - wouldn't have gone there. Who can know now... Anyway, the Iranians (that is: Khamenei, and, on his order, al-Qods too), found that idea 'not bad', though for other reasons (causing troubles for the USA in Iraq). Eventually, the idea back-fired (upon Iraqi Shi'a), with well-known consequences. But, and that's the point: this 'cooperation' was never born out of 'preference' or anything like political decisions to 'support al-Qaida', whether in Tehran, Tripoli or Damascus, in Qom, Benghazi, Dernah or anywhere else.

    The Libyans supporting AQ...
    Not even 'Islamist extremist' Libyans (not to talk about 'Q') have ever 'supported' al-Qaida: they established their own organization, the LIFG, and attempted cooperating with al-Qaida. Then they found out what al-Qaida is, and 'divorced'. That's the essence of the - grey, as usually (i.e. no 'black & white') - story I told you above.

    Um, that sounds like a non-state network that was established, which earlier you denied existed?
    Where did I do that? The last I recall I was wondering how can anybody come to the idea to expect there 'must' be a 'state-sponsored network' in the back of the ISIS....

    Some people sitting far away have a lot of contacts up close and personal.
    Few people certainly do. Especially those who have spent years taking walks far away on the other side of the border. The rest has meanwhile graduated at Princeton and similar places, and thinks it has 'lots of contacts up close and personal' because nowadays there is something called 'internet'...

    Can't speak for the rest of the military, but we were very much aware of the Leninist groups trying to get established in Iraq, but for obvious reasons they didn't garner much of a following.
    ...which didn't prevent anybody to declare some of these 'Leninist' groups for 'al-Qaida', whenever opportune.

    Anyway, gotta rush and get this one to the publisher. Hope to have more time next week again.
    Last edited by CrowBat; 01-05-2014 at 12:09 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I'll try:

    1. The Quds force doesn't care what we say about them, and we don't need to care what they say about us.

    2. The US can't possibly "abandon its friends" in Syria, because the US has no friends in Syria to abandon. Refusing to be played by those who pretend to be our friends in order to gain access to our favor and largesse is not abandonment.

    3. Nations don't have friends, they have allies. Allies are those with whom a nation has common interests. Interests change, and so do alliances. That's not abandonment, that's change.
    That's much better. But you missed the point.

    It is important that we listen and note what they say about us for what they say can reveal what they think about us and what we may do. And that, that affects what they may do. Not only Iran either. If the Iranians have come to the conclusion that we are not to be relied upon, others are likely to have come to the same conclusion. That is important because it affects who will line up with us in a fight. If people think you aren't to be counted upon to stand by them, they aren't going to stand by you. That is not a good thing.

    And when people trot out the old 'Nations don't have allies, just interests.' or 'Nations don't have friends, just allies.' or whatever the trope of the day is, those other countries have reason to suspect the constancy of the utterer. Those are facile barely concealed pre-rationalizations for bugging out on somebody whenever the whim strikes us, or so it is perceived by those potential allies or friends. Yeah right, they're gonna believe us if we say 'We'll stick by you.' followed by the 'interests, allies, no friends' or whatever bit.

    Let's see. You said " Allies are those with whom a nation has common interests." Now in Syria our interests include getting rid of Assad and keeping the takfiri killers out. There are a whole lot of Syrians who are interested in getting rid of Assad and keeping the takfiri killers out. So it would seem that we could or should be allies. Hmm.
    Last edited by carl; 01-05-2014 at 03:08 AM.
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    CrowBat, I agree we have information asymmetry here, but I'm not saying who is at the disadvantage. While not my intent, I suspect this post is going to make you want to pull your hair out. You may have a much better understanding of nuances of who's who and what group is more dominant, but there is little in the media to support your counter arguments, at least as I understand them. It does seem based on your comments I am misreading some of your posts, so my apologies if I'm misconstruing your intent. Using media sources I'm going to attempt to make a link between AQ affiliated groups in Libya and AQ affiliated groups in in Syria.

    I'll will digress to Libya briefly, and then back to Syria. I'll caveat the following statements with first I agree with your comment that this is all gray, never black and white. I'll add it is my observation (my perception) that the relationships between these groups and its members change frequently. It is a bloody kaleidoscope, and if you focus on day to day reporting instead of the trends it is beyond comprehension. I think the trends are currently positive for AQ, but I also think AQ will pull defeat out of the jaws of victory in short order like they always do because the bottom line is no one really wants their form of oppressive governance. It still leaves open the question in my pea brain on how they're so successful in exploiting these existing conflicts and rapidly gaining a dominant position, even if it is ephemeral.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...-group-leaders

    The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – from al-Qaida to the Arab spring
    The Libyan anti-Gaddafi group with past links to al-Qaida has been the focus of British intelligence interest for 20 years

    Founded in 1990 in eastern Libya and accused of attempting to kill Gaddafi three times – according to unconfirmed claims with help from MI6 – the LIFG was effectively defeated on its home turf by 1998. Its cadres fled first to Sudan and Afghanistan and Iraq where hundreds joined al-Qaida. It was officially disbanded in 2010.
    Other top ex-LIFG figures remain in al-Qaida. Its chief of operations, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan, was killed two weeks ago in a CIA drone strike. His likely successor, Abu Yahya al-Libi, is also Libyan.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...eda-links.html

    Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links
    Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

    In my opinion there are clear links between many Libyans and Al-Qaeda, and some Libyans actually became part of Al-Qaeda core. Now I'll transition to linking them to Syria.

    The following article on AQ is actually worthy of its own thread, so I'll probably start one focused on this article without focusing on Syria, but a couple of excerpts to facilitate the promised transition from this article are helpful.

    http://www.eurasiareview.com/2612201...-qaeda-primer/

    The Three Versions Of Al Qaeda: A Primer


    Ansar al Sharia in Libya: 2012 – 2013

    In the wake of Muammar al Gaddafi’s fall, the security vacuum in Libya not only enabled the rise of AQIM in the Sahel but also freed previously suppressed extremist elements in the country. Ansar al Sharia, a grassroots extremist group sharing the name of AQAP’s insurgent organization in Yemen, emerged in the former bastions of eastern Libya previously home to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and known for supplying numerous foreign fighters to Iraq. The group rose to international prominence after being connected to the 2012 attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, killing a U.S. ambassador, among others. The group has been challenged locally but appears a natural conduit for al Qaeda activities in Libya.
    Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham in Syria: 2011 – 2013

    No battlefield presents a greater opportunity to al Qaeda than Syria. Syria’s revolution has endured for two years allowing a small group of al Qaeda-connected extremists to emerge as a dominant force against the Assad regime. To date, the Syrian jihad has likely produced the largest migration of foreign fighters in history, eclipsing the supplies of both Afghanistan in the 1980s and Iraq and Afghanistan during the 2000s. Jabhat al Nusra initiated the first jihadist effort in Syria but has since been matched by a creeping al Qaeda in Iraq that has challenged both Nusra and al Qaeda’s leader Zawahiri by creating the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) in an attempt to take control of the jihad in Syria. This public rift provides the only buffer to a jihadist movement unmet by Western counterterrorism efforts.
    http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat...ar_al_sh_1.php

    Social Media Jihad: Ansar al Sharia Libya's new Twitter feed

    Ansar al Sharia Libya, the al Qaeda-linked group that was involved in the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, has a new Twitter feed. The Twitter page, which can be found here, was apparently launched in the last 24 hours. The group announced its new Twitter presence on its Facebook page.
    SITE reports:

    Although the Facebook posts did not document the content of the speeches or reading materials passed out at the event, the group's past publications and statements have resolutely rejected democracy and praised al Qaeda. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the group is helping to funnel foreign fighters to Syria where they link up with al Qaeda's affiliates there.
    http://freebeacon.com/u-s-al-qaeda-l...-rebel-groups/

    U.S.: Al Qaeda-linked Group Behind Benghazi Attack Trains Jihadists for Syrian Rebel Groups

    Ansar al-Sharia running training camps in Benghazi and Darnah

    U.S. intelligence agencies believe Libya has produced more jihadist rebels for the Syrian conflict than any other outside nation. Some 20 percent of foreign jihadists in Syria came from Libya and that several hundred are currently in the country.

    Over 100 Libyans were reported killed in Syrian fighting for such rebel groups as Al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Umma Brigade, Muhajirin Brigade, and Ahrar al-Sham, an Al-Nusra offshoot.
    Now some good news as you pointed out above.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25606370

    Al-Qaeda-linked Isis under attack in northern Syria

    Isis is fighting Free Syrian Army groups as well as the Islamic Front, a coalition of Syrian rebel factions which also wants to build an Islamic state in Syria.
    Other rebel groups say Isis has attempted to hijack their struggle for its own ends.
    This makes perfect sense since the U.S. and other nations will put pressure on foreign donors to limit support to the resistance if it is perceived to be linked to, or dominated by AQ. Killing off the ISIS operatives in Syria may open the flood gates for effective military aid to the resistance.

    I'll end with a commentary from the Washington Post today.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinio...df2_story.html

    The slow-motion conflagration around Syria

    STATE DEPARTMENT officials have been warning for nearly two years that Syria’s civil war, if not brought to a prompt end, could blossom into a regional conflagration that consumes Iraq and Lebanon and threatens vital U.S. interests. Their predictions have been coming true, but in slow motion, enabling those who hope to ignore the growing danger — notably President Obama — to remain complacent.

    This week brought another potential wake-up call, in the form of a disturbing escalation of terrorist violence in both countries. In Iraq, al-Qaeda launched an offensive to take control of two cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, that U.S. troops sacrificed heavily to clear of terrorists between 2004 and 2008. In Lebanon, a car bomb exploded in a Hezbollah-controlled suburb of Beirut just days after a prominent critic of the Shiite movement was assassinated in another bombing.

  15. #435
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    It still leaves open the question in my pea brain on how they're so successful in exploiting these existing conflicts and rapidly gaining a dominant position, even if it is ephemeral.
    I wonder if is mostly an effective PR campaign that allows them to scratch the itches of three groups of people, the rich Gulf Arabs who feel guilty about not being pious enough, the frustrated young men who want some action but also need to feel pious when they get it and the wild eyed true believers who again need to feel pious. AQ it seems to me relies very heavily on the idea that supporting them make one more Muslim than thou. That self-conferred religious imprimatur is vital to their success. It underlies everything. If they didn't have it, they would just be another group of soreheads trying to gain power.

    When they do get power for a time in a local place, that image they rely on falls away quickly. Beheading people for eating the wrong kind of salad tends to sour the locals on their rule. The reality quickly overshadows the promise and they get kicked out, or have been and hopefully will be again. But even if that happens, that image of piety is still there and so the money and the men keep coming.

    I hope they will get kicked out again. But is it certain they will be? That is really a rhetorical question but there have been some regimes whose rule is as bad as that of AQ would probably be that have lasted a long time, the Kim dynasty in North Korea being a good example.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  16. #436
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    That's much better. But you missed the point.

    It is important that we listen and note what they say about us for what they say can reveal what they think about us and what we may do. And that, that affects what they may do.
    If we react to their statements, they will calibrate their statements to produce the reactions that they want. That gives them power over us. Why would we want to do that?

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    If the Iranians have come to the conclusion that we are not to be relied upon, others are likely to have come to the same conclusion.
    The Iranians and others can come to the conclusion that we are not about to stick our meat in the grinder just because the Saudis want us to. Of course they will try to taunt us into doing something stupid, at which point they will turn around and accuse us (justly) of being hired muscle for the Saudis. Any particular gain in falling into that trap?

    Those who wish to reach conclusions can reach the conclusion that we act in accordance with our own perceived interests. What other conclusion would we want?

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    That is important because it affects who will line up with us in a fight. If people think you aren't to be counted upon to stand by them, they aren't going to stand by you. That is not a good thing.
    Who gains more by lining up with us in a fight? Us, or the people we line up with? We are being played by people who want our help, and want us to put their interests above ours. Get it? Why would we walk into a quagmire that we haven't a snowball's chance in hell of resolving just because a few people want to be our "friends"... you know, the kind of "friends" that want a lot and offer nothing but trouble.

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    And when people trot out the old 'Nations don't have allies, just interests.' or 'Nations don't have friends, just allies.' or whatever the trope of the day is, those other countries have reason to suspect the constancy of the utterer.
    Good. It's about time people figured that out. The only consistency anyone can expect from us or any other nation is consistent pursuit of our own perceived interests. Anyone who can't deal with that needs to find a different world to live in. If we promise you help and you show you can't use the help effectively, the help will stop. We can be generous, but we aren't stupid. How is that a wrong message?

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Those are facile barely concealed pre-rationalizations for bugging out on somebody whenever the whim strikes us, or so it is perceived by those potential allies or friends. Yeah right, they're gonna believe us if we say 'We'll stick by you.' followed by the 'interests, allies, no friends' or whatever bit.
    Of course "we'll stick by you" is never going to be unconditional. Nobody can be expected to sink with someone else's ship. It's always limited, and it's always conditional.

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Let's see. You said " Allies are those with whom a nation has common interests." Now in Syria our interests include getting rid of Assad and keeping the takfiri killers out. There are a whole lot of Syrians who are interested in getting rid of Assad and keeping the takfiri killers out. So it would seem that we could or should be allies. Hmm.
    Ok, so who are these people? Are they organized? Have they capacity? Can they assure that if we send them guns and/or money the guns and money will go to the fight, and not somewhere else? Have we any evidence to suggest that the people who want our help are not just playing us for whatever they can get? Not like we haven't been there and done that #IraqiNationalCongress.

    You missed the most important interest we have in Syria: keeping us out. That is and should be (IMO) at the top of the objectives list by a substantial margin. Ain't nuthin' there for us but mess we don't need.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I wonder if is mostly an effective PR campaign that allows them to scratch the itches of three groups of people, the rich Gulf Arabs who feel guilty about not being pious enough, the frustrated young men who want some action but also need to feel pious when they get it and the wild eyed true believers who again need to feel pious. AQ it seems to me relies very heavily on the idea that supporting them make one more Muslim than thou. That self-conferred religious imprimatur is vital to their success. It underlies everything. If they didn't have it, they would just be another group of soreheads trying to gain power.

    When they do get power for a time in a local place, that image they rely on falls away quickly. Beheading people for eating the wrong kind of salad tends to sour the locals on their rule. The reality quickly overshadows the promise and they get kicked out, or have been and hopefully will be again. But even if that happens, that image of piety is still there and so the money and the men keep coming.

    I hope they will get kicked out again. But is it certain they will be? That is really a rhetorical question but there have been some regimes whose rule is as bad as that of AQ would probably be that have lasted a long time, the Kim dynasty in North Korea being a good example.
    I think your hypothesis has some merit. I their narrative/ideology has a powerful attraction, and it doesn't hurt to actually have a bad government or occupying powers to leverage your narrative against. If they weren't such a simple bunch of thugs who with very limited religious education in most cases who felt entitled to pass judgment and impose cruel punishments for the stupidest and pettiness of perceived wrong doings they might even become effective. Instead they keep repeating the same dumb mistakes, and people begin to see them for who they really are. I don't want to champion Pakistan here, but when the Pakistani Taliban took over a relatively peaceful and moderate part of Pakistan and imposed their stupidity upon that population the population was aching for the military to toss them out. A Pakistani military officer said that was the plan to begin with, let the people see whose these Taliban really are for a couple of weeks, and then they'll assist the government tossing them out which they did.

    As to your rhetorical question, who knows. I am seeing a lot of reports of the locals in Fallujah preparing to fight Al-Qaeda there. While they have no love affair with the Shia government it appears they hate AQ even more which is telling.

  18. #438
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    Default Coming late to the party

    I am playing catch up on Syria and Iraq as my focus has been elsewhere for some time now; however I would like to pose a few questions to those who have been focused on the situations.

    My first questions involve a couple of names who have not been mentioned in some time: Mahammad Yunis al-Ahmad (MYA) and 'Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. I wonder how much of a hand these two have in the fighting taking place in Syria and Iraq? I pose they are more involved in Iraq than Syria due to their ties with the Assad regime and having been in hiding in Syria for years. Do they simply want to reinstate the Ba'ath Party in Iraq and/or was there a falling out with the Assad regime? Doing some research on Google al-Douri (thought to have died) has reemerged http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...rump-card.html. Interesting he plays on the "Persian" aspect. MYA has remained out of the spotlight as I cannot find any recent open source information regarding MYA's activities. I cannot overlook these two as having a role in the current situation in both countries and would appreciate other's opinions regarding their role.

    I ultimately wonder who the wizard behind the curtain is playing puppet master in Syria and the desired end-state?

    Lastly, regarding the reemergence of AQ I pose this question, has AQ grown that strong or is it the USG simply applying labels which are incorrect. I have seen this many times over the years, the mislabeling of groups or individuals to meet agendas.
    ODB

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    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  19. #439
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    So, the stuff is 'in the box', early, so here few additional things...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    CrowBat, I agree we have information asymmetry here, but I'm not saying who is at the disadvantage. While not my intent, I suspect this post is going to make you want to pull your hair out. You may have a much better understanding of nuances of who's who and what group is more dominant, but there is little in the media to support your counter arguments, at least as I understand them.
    There is usually next to nothing or only directly contradicting information to mine, 'in the media'.

    If you like a classic example: when I co-authored Iranian F-14 Units in Combat, some 12-13 years back, people couldn't ridicule me enough because 'everybody knows that Iranian Tomcats are non-operational since 1979'. Guess that's life, and so I ceased pulling my hair long, long ago. Trust me, the life is better then. ;-)

    ...It is a bloody kaleidoscope, and if you focus on day to day reporting instead of the trends it is beyond comprehension. I think the trends are currently positive for AQ, but I also think AQ will pull defeat out of the jaws of victory in short order like they always do because the bottom line is no one really wants their form of oppressive governance. It still leaves open the question in my pea brain on how they're so successful in exploiting these existing conflicts and rapidly gaining a dominant position, even if it is ephemeral.
    Yes, it's a 'bloody' kaleidoscope, in all shades of grey. It's a very grey zone, primarily because - and despite strenuous attempts to present itself as such - AQ is no homogenous group. Actually, it's easier for them to bunch together various idiots from Western Europe, than 'originals' from such different places like Algeria, Egypt and Pakistan...

    Though, certain things always depend on your definitions of words 'successful', 'rapidly' etc.

    In my opinion there are clear links between many Libyans and Al-Qaeda, and some Libyans actually became part of Al-Qaeda core.
    No doubt about 'some Libyans' - including a few from the LIFG. But, not the 'LIFG' (as such).

    This makes perfect sense since the U.S. and other nations will put pressure on foreign donors to limit support...
    Doubt the US can do anything about this. It's not only about 'too late' or all the possible lack of will to get involved there. But, hell, the Sauds wouldn't let the FBI investigate 9/11 inside the KSA: you seriously expect them to let 'dumb Americans that empowered Fars in Iraq and Syria' to exercise pressure upon any private persons (whether in the KSA or anywhere else within the Persian Gulf, and especially those with any kind of links to local royals)?

    U.S.: Al Qaeda-linked Group Behind Benghazi Attack Trains Jihadists for Syrian Rebel Groups...Over 100 Libyans were reported killed in Syrian fighting for such rebel groups as Al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Umma Brigade, Muhajirin Brigade, and Ahrar al-Sham, an Al-Nusra offshoot....
    The author lost me the moment he declared Ahrar ash-Sham (wonder when are they going to 'discover' there are such things like 'Moon letters' in Arabic?) an 'offshot' of the JAN...

    For easier understanding:
    - JAN (Jabahat an-Nusra) is JAN, so much is clear, I hope...

    Harakat Ahrar ash-Sham al-Islami is an own organization, a coalition of Syrian Islamists and Salafists led by people released from prisons by regime in 2011 (out of hope they might create a badly-needed 'AQ off-shot in Syria'?), and a powerful, well-organized and armed ally of the IF, not some 'offshoot' of the JAN. Surely, the ISIS declared that the JAN and three of ISIS bands in Dayr az-Zawr area (Tajamu Mujahidee al-Qaqaa, Liwa al-Qaqaa, and Habib al-Mustafa Brigade) would be 'cooperating' with the Ahrar ash-Sham's battalion deployed there, but that's really nonsense (if Ahrar would've cooperated with them, they wouldn't let that band of Iraqi Salafists from Falluja, operating as Habib al-Mustafa Brigade, get overrun by the Mahdi-Army-offshoot, in al-Jufra, a week ago). Furthermore, contrary to the ISIS, Ahrar is not beheading western journos, but saving them from regime's claws, just for example (on the contrary, it had one of its brigade COs beheaded by the ISIS, few weeks ago).

    Anyway, considering even Iranians are complaining the Ahrar killed 'a Saudi ringleader of the ISIL (ISIS)', it could be so that the author might want to learn a little bit more about situation in Syria.

    - 'Umma Brigade'? Guess he means the Liwa'a al-Umma, that Libyan unit led by the guy from Ireland... They're inside Aleppo since more than a year and fighting the ISIS as much as the regime, all of that time.

    - 'Muhajirin Brigade'? Guess the author means the Jaish al-Muharijeen wa al-Ansar? If yes, it's no 'Brigade', but 'Northern Front', i.e. the CORE of the ISIS in Aleppo Province (despite several statements about its 'separation' from the ISIS). If not... well, let's see...perhaps he means the Tajamu Mujahidee al-Qaqaa brigade, ISIS group fighting in Dayr az-Zawr...? Who can say...

    The slow-motion conflagration around Syria...STATE DEPARTMENT officials have been warning for nearly two years that Syria’s civil war, if not brought to a prompt end, could blossom into a regional conflagration that consumes Iraq and Lebanon and threatens vital U.S. interests. Their predictions have been coming true, but in slow motion, enabling those who hope to ignore the growing danger — notably President Obama — to remain complacent.
    Seriously: this is THE statement of the day, perhaps even the week.

    Anyway, here something else - related to 'tactical' issues and 'surprising vitality' of an air force declared dead about two years ago:
    Syria and Her Recently Upgraded Su-24MKs, Part 1

    Syria and Her Recently Upgraded Su-24MKs, Part 2
    Last edited by CrowBat; 01-05-2014 at 11:34 PM.

  20. #440
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    Default Destroying Syria’s Chemical Weapons

    A short explanation by an expert:http://2paragraphs.com/2014/01/what-...s-destruction/

    I noted the size of the chemical stockpile expected to be moved (1300 tonnes) and incineration at various commercial sites, plus one US ship.

    The BBC has reported on two Scandinavian warships involvement, with reporters being welcome at first and then ejected at the OPCW & BUN's insistence - so I read with interest this:
    However, the biggest challenge is getting the CW and precursors to the Port of Latakia on the Syrian coast to be picked up by Scandinavian cargo ships guarded by Russian, Chinese, Norwegian, Danish and British warships.
    (Added) Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25547203

    A curious flotilla. The Chinese navy have been in the Med before, including a "friendship" visit to Israel, this I expect is the PLAN's first combat mission.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-08-2014 at 04:34 PM.
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