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Old 02-18-2013   #1
bourbon
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Default Syria: How to Start a Battalion (in Five Easy Lessons)

How to Start a Battalion (in Five Easy Lessons), by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad. London Review of Books, Vol. 35 No. 4 · 21 February 2013.
Quote:
So how do you form a battalion in Syria? First, you need men, most likely young men from the countryside, where the surplus of the underemployed over the centuries has provided for any number of different armies and insurgencies. Weapons will come from smugglers, preferably via Iraq or Turkey. You will also need someone who knows how to operate a laptop and/or a camcorder and can post videos on the internet – essential in applying for funds from the diaspora or Gulf financiers. A little bit of ideology won’t hurt, probably with a hint of Islamism of some variety. You’ll also need money, but three or four thousand dollars should be enough to start you off.
Very interesting article. Key take away:
Quote:
For decades, the dictatorship in Syria worked to stamp the people into submission.... So when these systems of control collapsed, something exploded inside people, a sense of individualism long suppressed. Why would I succumb to your authority as a commander when I can be my own commander and fight my own insurgency? Many of the battalions dotted across the Syrian countryside consist only of a man with a connection to a financier, along with a few of his cousins and clansmen. They become itinerant fighting groups, moving from one battle to another, desperate for more funds and a fight and all the spoils that follow.
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Old 02-18-2013   #2
Dayuhan
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This doesn't seem to add up:

Quote:
Weapons will come from smugglers, preferably via Iraq or Turkey...

...three or four thousand dollars should be enough to start you off.
Unless weapons are very very cheap, the smugglers are very very generous, or the "batallion" is very very small.
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Old 02-18-2013   #3
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Default Thats the point.

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Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
This doesn't seem to add up:

Unless weapons are very very cheap, the smugglers are very very generous, or the "batallion" is very very small.
Had you even read the article - or even the second highlight - you would understand that is the entire crux of the article.
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Old 02-18-2013   #4
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Originally Posted by bourbon View Post
How to Start a Battalion (in Five Easy Lessons), by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad. London Review of Books, Vol. 35 No. 4 · 21 February 2013.

Very interesting article. Key take away:
I think the key aways were:

Quote:
Until recently, Colonel Riad al-Asad, the nominal head of the FSA, and his fellow defectors from the Syrian army were interned in the Officers’ Camp, a special refugee camp in southern Turkey – for their protection, the Turks say. All meetings and interviews with the defecting colonel had to go through Turkish intelligence. Towards the end of last year the FSA announced that it had moved its headquarters to the Syrian side of the border, in an attempt to prove its relevance. But battalions are still formed by commanders working and fighting on their own initiative across Syria, arming themselves via many different channels and facing challenges unique to their towns and villages. For these people the colonel was just a talking head and a stooge of the Turks, and the FSA not much more than a label.
A couple of Americans getting ready to get played

Quote:
Ali Dibo turned to another supplicant. ‘All I want from you is a short video that you can put on YouTube, stating your name and your unit and that you are part of the Aleppo military council. Then you can go do whatever you want. I just need to show the Americans that units are joining the council. I met two Americans yesterday, and they told me we won’t get any advanced weapons until we show we’re united under the leadership of the officers in the military councils. Just shoot the video and let me handle the rest.’
As for the cost of arms, market dynamics are clearly in play.


As Syrian Uprising Escalates, Business Booms for Lebanon's Arms Dealers
May 2011


Quote:
"There is an arms selling frenzy," says Abu Rida, "and it's all going to Syria. All of it." He added that weapons also are flowing into Syria from Iraq. The most sought after weapons are assault rifles — the ubiquitous AK-47, and variants of the M-16. A good quality Russian Kalashnikov, known in the Lebanese trade as a "Circle 11" from the imprint stamped on its metalwork, today fetches $1,600 — a $400 increase from a month ago. In 2006, the same weapon only cost around $500 or $600. The M4 assault rifle fitted with grenade launcher, a weapon commonly carried by U.S. troops, costs $15,000. Another popular weapon is a short-barreled AK-47 known locally as the "Bin Laden" because the former al-Qaeda chief routinely used one as a prop in his videos. The "Bin Laden" costs $3,750, up almost 20 percent from last month.
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middl...nades-and-RPGs

As Syria unravels, prices soar for guns, grenades, and RPGs Jan 2012

RPG prices double; grenade prices quadruple
Quote:
The price of a good quality Russian AK-47 assault rifle has almost doubled in the past 10 months from around $1,100 to $2,100. A rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher cost $900 last March and a single grenade was priced at around $100. Today an RPG launcher is worth $2,000 and each grenade $500.

“The prices are crazy. And it’s all going to Syria,” Abu Rida says. “The market is so strong that ordinary people are selling their rifles to make a quick profit.”
And we're going to teach these people about entrepreuneurship?

http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomeg...1/syrias-war-0

The axis power JAN 2012

Quote:
Jamal al-Ward, a member of the coalition who liaises with the rebel fighters, reckons that fewer than 20% of their weapons are being supplied from outside Syria; most, he says, are bought on the black market or have been captured from military bases. The fighters’ morale has been dented and they are becoming still more fractious. Rebel units argue over their share of booty. A battle under way for six weeks to capture Minagh military airport outside Aleppo involves 13 different groups. None will want to go home empty-handed.
Quote:
In this atmosphere, Jabhat al-Nusra, a jihadist group with its own evidently abundant sources of cash, has expanded its reach. In rural areas, people continue to support local fighting units, since they are made up of their sons, husbands and fathers. But in Aleppo, Syria’s commercial hub, and in Deir ez-Zor desperate residents are increasingly turning to Jabhat al-Nusra, because it is the most effective group at hand, though many reject its ideology. One rebel commander says that most battalions are preparing for a reckoning with Jabhat al-Nusra, were Mr Assad to fall.
The market always seems to find a way if there are customers able to pay. This touches upon our concern with the nexus of transnational organized crime, terrorism, insurgents, and state actors, and how that creates new challenges we're not prepared to deal with due to organizational shortfalls and outdated policies.
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Old 02-19-2013   #5
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I can see why they would want us to supply them with weapons.
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