Why is „Isis an Hour Away from Baghdad“ despite american airstrikes?

This article by veteran expert middle east journalist Patrick Cockburn is troubling:

„US air strikes are failing to drive back Isis in Iraq where its forces are still within an hour’s drive of Baghdad.“

The statements and findings of Cockburn are both baffling and frightening.
How can it be that the best equipped airforce of the world does not make much difference against a lightly armed militia without airforce and almost without airdefense?
What are all the satellites, AWACS, armed drones and else achieving? Apparently not much, but the most important conclusion is the following which should be thought-provoking for every analytical and sane person:
– In Iraq the US army has been actively invited by the Iraqi government to help
– Despite all of it various shortcomings Iraq HAS already a numerically sizable army of at least 250.000
– In addition there are some (at least) 50.000 Guerilla trained and motivated Shia militias
– Then there are the (probably overhyped) „battle-hardened“ and disciplined Kurdish Peshmerga likely to number 100.000
– Last but not least there are at least some Sunni tribes (like the Dulaimis) hostile to ISIS

In total ISIS is facing forces numbering 500.000 men but still manages to not only hold ground but also even to make gains.
Now given this, what sense does it make to create yet another ostensibly „moderate“ Syrian Rebel army (lets call it „FSA 2.0“) with 15.000 men to fight ISIS when much bigger and better trained and more motivated forces have failed ( so far) even despite american air support?
More than IS is losing men due to casualties from air strikes their ranks are replenished by fresh (international) Jihad recruits, a possible „joint venture“ or „reunion“ with Al-Qaedas Syrian branch „Al Nusra Front“ and further defections from other Islamist rebels.
The idea behind FSA 2.0 reveals even more stupidity and lack of strategy when it is said that these forces after defeating IS will turn on the Syrian Arab Army and its allies, defeat them as well and thus „liberate“ Syria? The most battle-experienced and motivated major military entity in the Syrian war is the SAA with around 200.000 soldiers. In addition there are at least 50.000 National Defense Forces (NDF) and probably some further 20.000 loyalists such as the Arab National Guard and not to mention Hezbollah and Iraqi Shia militias, together likely to number 10.000.

It remains a mystery how an artificially created relatively small force should enter the Syrian battle field and change the dynamics.
The Americans are not seriously interested in an end of war and bloodshed in Syria because the Israelis and Saudis but also the Turks are opposed to it. If the US were sincere in their claimed desire for peace in Syria they would exert pressure on their Arab (Gulf) allies and Turkey to stop funding and arming the rebels and smuggling them into Syria. They would apply pressure on the rebels to attend peace talks without demanding ridiculous preconditions. So the Geneva conferences were doomed to failure and torpedoed in advance. The same will happen with the FSA series. The orginal FSA failed and FSA 2.0 will fail, too, but hey why not give it another try? And then another? Maybe FSA 4.0 will be ceremonially announced when 400.000 Syrians have been died.

Syrian insurgents: Either Salafi Jihadists or criminals – and Jamal Maarouf in the middle

In an earlier article I pointed out that the „moderate“ Syrian rebel is more an object of wishful thinking and a tool for the US administration for fooling itself and others. Still major parts of international mass media along with the leaders and officials of (mainly) Nato countries speak about the „Free Syrian Army“ without any of them bothering to explain of whom this phantom army consists.

In recent weeks the so called „Syrian Revolutionaries Front“ (SRF), led by Jamal Maarouf is increasingly mentioned and it seems this group is supposed to be the army of moderate, vetted rebels receiving money, arms and training through the GCC-Turkey-CIA with training facilities in Jordan and Turkey.
The problem is, however, that the SRF is hardly the organization any sane person would seriously consider moderate:
„Syrian Revolutionaries Front again supports al Qaeda…in Quneitra…The SRF, which is supplied and backed by the United States, continues to fight alongside the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. While it is unclear whether they share the same ideology, it is still worth noting that a Western-backed force works in conjunction with al Qaeda.

The best favor one could do the „Free Syrian Army“ would be to say the FSA are all those rebels who are NOT „Islamic State“, „Nusra Front“, „Islamic Front“ and also not SRF. What remains is a bunch of armed, unorganized criminals:

„The FSA, a collection of tenuously coordinated, moderately Islamic, rebel groups was long the focus of the West’s hopes for ousting President Bashar al-Assad.
But in northern Syria, the FSA has now become a largely criminal enterprise, with commanders more concerned about profits from corruption, kidnapping and theft than fighting the regime, according to a series of interviews with The Sunday Telegraph…
Suddenly many of the fighters bought new homes, and started flashing more money. One man said of Jamaal Marouf: “He had nothing before the revolution, now he drives around in his personal bullet proof car.”“


American foreign policy „logic“ regarding Syria, Iran and the „Islamic State“

What is going on in Syria with regards to the „Islamic State“ (former ISIS) is appalling:
The Syrian Army is waging heavy attacks on IS positions everyday, while the US is claiming that IS is a creation of the Syrian government or its „ally“.
At the same time the US considers Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia „coalition partners“ in the fight against IS, while all of them have been funding, arming and supporting IS for years.
The US wants to invest even more in the „moderate rebels“ of the so called „Free Syrian Army“, an entity that mostly exists on paper and hardly plays a role in Syrias civil war. Now, these „moderates“ who are supposed to do the ground fighting have openly declared a „truce“ with IS because both want to fight against the Syrian government. The deal was brokered by Al Qaidas affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front.

So, according to „American foreign policy „logic“:
„Moderate“ rebels who work with Al Qaida (Nusra) and make truce with IS = Good
Syrian government that fights Al Qaida and IS = Bad

It becomes even more bizarre:
„John Kerry says Iranian role in coalition to confront Islamic State in Syria precluded by support of Damascus regime“

This is just as rational as if Stalin had said in 1945 that the Americans are not entitled to be part of the „allies“ against Nazi Germany because they support England (who was already fighting Nazi Germany).
At the same time the Americans support the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq in their fight against IS. ==> Kurdish Peshmerga who fight IS = Good
Now, listen what the Kurds say about Iran:
„“They gave us rockets, cannons, maps,“ a grateful Bakhtiar said of the Iranians, gesturing at the large-scale maps competing for wall space. „We needed these things badly.“
The Kurdish leader also confirmed the presence of consultants from the Pasdaran, also known as the Revolutionary Guard — who, he said, „were very helpful““

Already Syrias „moderate“ rebels work with al-Nusra and are almost aligning with IS

It speaks volumes:
Obama, Kerry and their willing central European co-warmongers still claim there are moderate Syrian rebels. Then they display either total ignorance or naivety by further claiming that these hardly identifiable moderates deserve to get (more) American weapons because they are supposed to do the ground fighting against the „Islamic State“.
The more interesting then that these rebels already are announcing openly that they are signing truces („non-aggression“ pacts) with IS in order to focus on their common agenda: „the Nussayri regime“ (Nussayri is a perjorative term for the Syrian Alawites. Calling the government „Nussayri“ not only proves the sectarianism of the rebels including the „moderates“ but also shows that they ignore that major parts of the government and the armed forces are in fact Sunnis).

Once again it is proven that alleged moderates (like the Syrian Revolutionary Front) closely work with the Al-Nusra Front, while the latter openly cooperates with IS on several fronts, e.g. Lebanon.

What is Obamas (true) problem with Syria?

Sure, Syria under the Assads was no paradise of human rights, but which other arab country in that region is better?
At least Syria is a secular government. Sunni, Alawi, Druze, Christians, women and men, all can and are pilots, teachers, doctors, Generals, foot soldiers, ministers. Can you say that about Saudi Arabia?
Plus, Syria kept a 40 year peace with Israel until today and has not attacked any country.
So, what the hell is the problem the Nato countries have with Syria? Did Assad torture their people?
If the „lack of legitimacy“ is an issue, what about Qatar? Has anyone there elected the ruler democratically?
If they say it is nepotism and family rulership, what about Kuwait? Is it not the same family ruling there for decades?
If it is the suppression of human rights and freedom of press, what about Bahrain? There a minority not only rules but also sidelines the majority totally, visible through the fact that Shia are absent from ministerial posts, the army and the security services. Instead the monarchy naturalizes Pakistani, Jordanian and other Sunnis to tip the demographic situation to the disadvantage of the indigenous Shia.
Despite having not a fraction of the petrodollars of the Gulf States Syria hosted hundreds of thousands of mostly Sunni Palestinian refugees for decades. How many Palestinian refugees live in Qatar and Saudi Arabia?

The „vetted, moderate rebels“ of the Free Syrian Army – Who and where are they?

You have probably heard that the US is (once again) considering to boost the support for the „moderate“ rebels in Syria. These rebels are supposed to fight at once the Syrian Army and its affiliate forces (the NDF, the lebanese Hezbollah) and the „Islamic State“ militia.
Very often when the phrase „moderate rebels“ is used by western politicians and media it occurs in verbal connection with the „Free Syrian Army“, but what/who exactly is this  moderate „Army“?

If one bothers to read through battlefield news all over Syria it becomes clear that the major anti-government forces are all radical sectarian Islamists, mostly Salafis. At best you can distinguish between Pro Saudi and „less Pro Saudi“ Salafis, but what does this have to do with „moderate“?
In particular the major rebel forces are:
The „Islamic State“ (former ISIS or ISIL)
The al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front or „Jabhat al Nusra“ (JAN), designated as terrorist organization by the US
The „Islamic Front“ (IF)

The IF is an umbrella group featuring as its major factions the „Ahrar al Sham“ (which just lost its entire leadership), the „Liwa al Tauheed“ (whose leader was killed a few months ago) and Jaish al Islam (Army of Islam).

Another umbrella organization is the „Syrian Revolutionary Front“ (SRF) headed by (another) Saudi favourite called Jamal Maarouf. In addition to Maarouf being labeled „highway robber“ by some other rebel factions, he openly declares support for and coordination with the Salafis of JAN, so again there is no way to view the SRF as „moderate“.

But never underestimate the „creativity“ of Syrias rebels and their US- and (mostly Wahhabi) GCC-Backers: In order to confuse the international audience and create the impression that there are indeed rebels other than the above mentioned three which were exposed as clearly non-moderate, yet more rebel organization names were created.
One which was meant to give itself the pretense of being Syrian nationalist, liberal and non-sectarian is the „Southern Front“. The Southern Front is said to consist of 49 different factions and 30.000 fighters. At the second look however it becomes clear that the two major factions of this Front are the above mentioned SRF of Jamal Maarouf who praises the Nusra Front and the Yarmouk Brigade that took Unifil peacekeepers as hostages. Plus, the Yarmouk brigade strongly cooperates with JAN:
Interestingly the Southern Front was sidelined by the Nusra and many of its fighters joined the latter:

This is finally how Aron Lund comments the „honesty“ behind the Southern Fronts non-extremism/non-sectarianism:
Rather than an initiative from the rebels themselves, word is that it was foreign officials that called on rebel commanders to sign a statement declaring their opposition to extremism, saying it was a precondition for getting more guns and money. Since beggars can’t be choosers, the commanders then collectively shrugged their shoulders and signed—but not so much to declare a new alliance as to help U.S. officials tick all the right boxes in their reports back home, hoping that this would unlock another crate of guns.

Finally, the newest „unified“ rebel umbrella organization is the „Revolutionary Command Council„, featuring 18 rebel factions, but it suffices to read the names of SRF and „Jaish al Islam“ (Army of Islam) to know that outright Salafis and those who proudly declare to cooperate with them are definitely not qualified to be called moderates.

Summarizing, we see that there are six major rebel „joint ventures“: ISIS, JAN, Islamic Front, SRF, Southern Front and the Revolutionary Command Council. And we see that none of them is moderate. So, what exactly is the „Free Syrian Army“? Who are it´s leading commanders?
It seems the FSA has ceased to exist if it ever really existed as a clearly defined army with commando structure and clear battlefield agenda.
There was for instance General Salim Idriss, the former head of the allegedly moderate FSA, but it came out his „good“ rebels were involved in the massacre of pro-government villagers in Lattakia.
Then there was top ranking FSA Commander al-Okaidi who thanked ISIS and JAN for their crucial role in capturing Syrias Mennagh airbase.

It´s time to stop fooling ourselves, fabricate fairy tales and spread them dishonestly. A moderate FSA does not exist. Full stop. Many of those rebels deemed reliable and moderate by US, UK and France and trained and armed in Turkey and Jordan have either defected to ISIS and co. or sold/handed over their US and Saudi/Qatari supplied weapons to ISIS and Nusra. Here is a good document of shame for Obama and McCain who continue to speak about the moderates who should be further armed:

And here another one:
„Of most interest was the capture of two M-79 rockets that were identical to a batch of such weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia to rebels in southern Syria in January 2013. “

Obama wants to attack IS in Syria without a UN mandate and without the approval of the Syrian government. One major reason is the recent beheading of journalist Steven Sotloff. Obama wants to support the moderate rebels against IS (and Assad), but how „funny“ that – according to Sotloffs family – it were the MODERATE REBELS who sold him to ISIS:

Finally I like to quote Rand Paul, son of former US presidential candidate Ron Paul:

“They say there are some pro-Western people and we’re going to vet them. Well, apparently we’ve got a senator over there who got his picture taken with some kidnappers, so I don’t know how good a job we’re going to do vetting those who are going to get the arms.”

Syria: looking back at 2011 and the eruption of violence

I came along and excellent article about Syria, which exposes the role of the mass media and western policymakers by shedding light on truths that were suppressed during the early stage of the Syrian conflict:

From the onset most western and arab media invented and persistently promoted one major narrative in order to demonize the Syrian government:
They claimed that the protests were entirely peaceful for a very long time. Some went so far to say that in the entire first year or at least in the first 6 months of the „revolution“ the „opposition“ stuck to peaceful means.
Only after suffering continuously indiscriminate and disproportionate violence at the hands of the security forces, the allegedly secular/liberal/moderate opposition turned to violence as a means of self defense.

The myth of the peaceful unarmed opposition does not withstand if scrutinized without bias. „When mass protests began in Syria they included violent attacks and murders of police from the beginning„:

„…up to 60 Syrian security forces were killed that day in a massacre that has been hidden by both the Syrian government and residents of Daraa.

One Daraa native explains: “At that time, the government did not want to show they are weak and the opposition did not want to show they are armed.”

Beyond that, the details are sketchy. Nizar Nayouf, a longtime Syria dissident and blogger who wrote about the killings, says the massacre took place in the final week of March 2011.“

„on April 25, 2011, nineteen Syrian soldiers were gunned down in Daraa by unknown assailants. „

„April 10 was also the day when we learned of the first massacre of Syrian soldiers – in Banyas, Tartous – when nine troops were ambushed and gunned down on a passing bus. The BBC, Al Jazeera and the Guardian all initially quoted witnesses claiming the dead soldiers were “defectors” shot by the Syrian army for refusing to fire on civilians.

That narrative was debunked later, but the story that soldiers were being killed by their own commanders stuck hard throughout 2011 – and gave the media an excuse to ignore stories that security forces were being targeted by armed groups.

The SOHR’s Rami Abdul Rahman says of the “defector” storyline: “This game of saying the army is killing defectors for leaving – I never accepted this because it is propaganda.”

„on April 23, seven soldiers were slaughtered in Nawa, a town near Daraa. Those killings did not make the headlines like the one in Banyas. Notably, the incident took place right after the Syrian government tried to defuse tensions by abolishing the state security courts, lifting the state of emergency, granting general amnesties and recognizing the right to peaceful protest. „

„Instead, all we ever heard was about the mass killing of civilians by security forces: “The dictator slaughtering his own people.” But three years into the Syrian crisis, can we say that things may have taken a different turn if we had access to more information? Or if media had simply provided equal air-time to the different, contesting testimonies that were available to us? „

„Syrian-based Father Frans van der Lugt was the Dutch priest murdered by a gunman in Homs just a few weeks ago. His involvement in reconciliation and peace activities never stopped him from lobbing criticisms at both sides in this conflict. But in the first year of the crisis, he penned some remarkable observations about the violence – this one in January 2012:

“From the start the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”

In September 2011 he wrote: “From the start there has been the problem of the armed groups, which are also part of the opposition…The opposition of the street is much stronger than any other opposition. And this opposition is armed and frequently employs brutality and violence, only in order then to blame the government.”

Then there is the myth of the „moderate opposition“. To this date major parts of euro-american mass media continue to uphold the bizarr claim that the armed Syrian opposition or at least the major bulk of the fighters, the so called „Free Syrian Army“ are moderates.

„It is often suggested the “moderate opposition” is popular, democratic and secular. President Obama has recently proposed giving $500 million to the “moderate opposition”.
Patrick Cockburn sums up the reality in the newly released book “The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising”:

“It is here that self-deception reigns, because the Syrian military opposition is dominated by ISIS and by Jabhat Al Nusra, the official Al Qaeda representative, in addition to other extreme jihadi groups. In reality there is no dividing wall between them and America’s supposedly moderate opposition allies.”

This situation is not new. A NY Times article in summer 2012 discussed the hidden presence of Al Qaeda within the “Free Syrian Army” „

In another article Patrick Cockburn writes: „Jihadi groups ideologically close to al-Qa‘ida have been relabeled as moderate if their actions are deemed supportive of U.S. policy aims. In Syria, the Americans backed a plan by Saudi Arabia to build up a “Southern Front” based in Jordan that would be hostile to the Assad government in Damascus, and simultaneously hostile to al-Qa‘ida-type rebels in the north and east. The powerful but supposedly moderate Yarmouk Brigade, reportedly the planned recipient of anti-aircraft missiles from Saudi Arabia, was intended to be the leading element in this new formation. But numerous videos show that the Yarmouk Brigade has frequently fought in collaboration with JAN, the official al-Qa‘ida affiliate. Since it was likely that, in the midst of battle, these two groups would share their munitions, Washington was effectively allowing advanced weaponry to be handed over to its deadliest enemy. Iraqi officials confirm that they have captured sophisticated arms from ISIS fighters in Iraq that were originally supplied by outside powers to forces considered to be anti-al-Qa‘ida in Syria.“

“In the East of Syria, there is no Free Syrian Army any longer. All Free Syrian Army people [there] have joined the Islamic State,” says Abu Yusaf, a high-level security commander of the Islamic State, whom The Washington Post’s Anthony Faiola wrote about last week…“

„some of the people the U.S. and their allies had trained to fight for ‘democracy’ in Libya and Syria had a jihadist agenda — already or later, [when they] joined al Nusra or the Islamic State,” a senior Arab intelligence official said in a recent interview…“

„For a long time, Western and Arab states supported the Free Syrian Army not only with training but also with weapons and other materiel. The Islamic State commander, Abu Yusaf, added that members of the Free Syrian Army who had received training — from the United States, Turkey and Arab military officers at an American base in Southern Turkey — have now joined the Islamic State. “Now many of the FSA people who the West has trained are actually joining us,” he said, smiling.“

To this day many western mainstream media still stick to two fairy tales:
a) That there is a single entity called „Free Syrian Army“ and that it is the biggest rebel faction
b) That the FSA, unlike ISIS or Jabhat al Nusra (JAN) is „moderate“

Just a single example that clearly demonstrates how moderate and respectable the FSA is (IRONY):

„Contacted by telephone, Adnan al-Assadi, Iraq’s deputy interior minister, said Iraqi border guards had witnessed the Free Syrian Army take control of a border outpost, detain a Syrian army lieutenant colonel, and then cut off his arms and legs.

„Then they executed 22 Syrian soldiers in front of the eyes of Iraqi soldiers,“ Assadi said.“

For more detailed information about the non-existence of a „moderate“ Free Syrian Army, look here: