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.
http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2014/09/syrian_revolutionaries_front_a.php#ixzz3DtQMjSAC

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.”“
http://www.businessinsider.com/how-the-free-syrian-army-became-a-largely-criminal-enterprise-2013-11

 

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“
http://live.aljazeera.com/Event/Syria_Live_Blog/126725135

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““
http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-iraq-iran-20140915-story.html

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:
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/03/zoubi-yarmouk-brigade-qaeda-saudi-southern-front.html
Interestingly the Southern Front was sidelined by the Nusra and many of its fighters joined the latter:
http://100wordz.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/was-not-the-southern-front-supposed-to-be-dominated-by-moderate-pro-western-rebels/

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.
http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=55054

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:
http://www.infowars.com/obama-plans-to-fight-isis-by-arming-isis/

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. “
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/08/isis-jihadis-using-arms-troop-carriers-supplied-by-us-saudi-arabia

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:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/08/steven-sotloff-sold-to-isis_n_5788312.html

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.”

ISIS, Maliki and the Sunnis

Two popular mistakes should be identified and avoided:

1. It is not merely ISIS against the Iraqi army. ISIS is the spearhead and the combat wise most experienced and effective single group of a variety of Sunni militias that are fighting the Iraqi armed forces. Not all of these 7 or 8 groups are radical islamists and sectarian. Many are tribal fighters disaffected with the central government which they accuse of having sidelined, oppressed and marginalized Sunnis for years. Others are former Baathists, thus more or less secular minded or nationalists, among them the Naqshbandy army.

2. Though it is true that especially the Maliki government is highly corrupt and has acted in sectarian ways, this is not merely because Malikis regime is backed by Iran or simply hates Sunnis. While ISIS as the name of a specific organization only exists since  a couple of years, the hatred ideology of takfiri salafism in post-Saddam Iraq is not that new. As early as in 2003 systematic and wide scale deadly attacks against Shia police, army recruits and especially ordinary civilians began to occur at least on a weekly basis. Suicide bombers and car bombs killed hundreds of Shia every month, targeting them in mosques, at market places, in Cafes and restaurants and even at funerals. Many Shia clerics were assassinated few months after the US invasion in 2003, e.g. Ayatollah Hakim:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Baqir_al-Hakim#Assassination

Not all but many instances of power abuse at the hands of Shia militias and Iraqi armed forces were a reaction to the relentless and high casualty bombings of Shia areas. Neither Iran nor the Iraqi Shia clergy brought sectarianism to Iraq. It was the „achievement“ – and not an incidental one – of Wahhabi/Salafi ideologues from the GCC countries awash in money and relying on arabic mass media in shape of several satellite channels broadcasting anti-Shia and anti-Iranian hate mongering all around the clock.

It is wrong to declare Sunni opposition to the Iraqi regime as „terrorism“ and not every Sunni insurgent fighting the Iraqi army is a takfiri. The Sunni opposition is legitimate but it suffers from being associated with ISIS and similar minded sectarian jihadists.

 

„Excellent“ US idea: (Further) arm islamists (and hope they fight RADICAL islamists)…

„Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, said the US would „ramp up“ its support to the moderate Syrian opposition, Isis’s ostensible rivals for control of the Syrian resistance to Bashar Assad.“
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/11/mosul-isis-gunmen-middle-east-states?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

This shows the unending idiocy of a senior member of the US administration. Still, her only silly and unsubstantiated approach towards the ISIS or „radical islamist“ dilemma is to attempt to boost the laughable and tiny Syrian non-islamist opposition. An opposition with a phantom, „ghost“ character, hardly playing any role in reality.

The US admin fails to understand that any „ramp up“ of Syrias allegedly „moderates“ has almost definitely one of the following consequences:

a) The moderates sell or forward the weapons to the radicals who are the more battle-hardened and experienced fighters, willing to die (and kill ruthlessly)

b) The radicals which are not only ISIS, but also „Nusra Front“, „Islamic Front“ or „Syrian revolutionary front“ (and thus according to Israeli sources 80% of the rebels) simply overcome the CIA-vetted „moderates“ and take their weapons

c) Many formerly „moderates“ discover that their companions are opportunists merely interested in building themselves a power base (just like the afghan militias in the 90s) and decide to join the „real mujahedeen“

After 13 years of „anti-terror“ war, „enduring freedom“, „mission accomplished“ and other garbage, Al Qaeda and affiliates are stronger than ever, while the oh so bad Bashar al Assad and his Iranian and Russian backers have been the best powers to fight Al Qaeda.

„The West“ and it´s arrogance in promoting and deriding elections elsewhere

„The West“, a phrase by which mainly The US and its western European NATO allies are meant considers itself and only itself entitled and qualified to determine who deserves to be voted, boycotted and overthrown in any country.

The rules of the game are quite easy:
If the ruler is pro-Russian or his country predominantly in the Russian geopolitical hemisphere he is almost by definition illegitimate. So, if any political, religious or ethnic group raises in opposition to such a country’s government, the oppositions autonomy and separatism oriented demands are legitimate. The ruler has to give in to the alleged will of „the people“ and relinquish power. If a part of such a pro-Russian state holds a referendum and demands autonomy, western politicians will be the first to support secessionist ideas and apply pressure to the central government.
Examples are ex-Yugoslavia and Syria.

If absolutely democratic elections are held and the outcome – thus the majority will of the people – does not please „the West“, the elected government will be shunned at best and isolated and sanctioned at worst. The voters will be punished for making the „wrong“ decision. So democracy and free elections do not protect anyone from the wrath of the West, and at the same time the West does not see any violation of its otherwise proudly propagated values such as freedom of choice.
Examples are the elections of Hamas in Palestine and Mohammad Morsi in Egypt.

If you are the man of the West or at least the enemy of the West´s enemy you can forcefully remove a democratically elected government, e.g. through a military coup, and win dubious elections, sometimes with 93% of the votes and afterwards be praised by the West as legitimate winner.
Examples are the Egyptian and Ukrainian elections

So, while Assads 88% are brushed off as „farce“ or „parody of the democracy“, Sisis 93% are supposed to be regarded as serious and respectable outcome.

Beware of the „breaking news“ regarding Syria on June 2nd or 3rd

On Tuesday the Syrian presidential election is supposed to take place.
There is a good chance that „by incident“ tomorrow or the day after „activists“ will report a chemical attack or another large scale atrocity in Syria.

This article is good:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/30/why-are-they-afraid-of-the-syrian-elections/

„Why are Kerry and the “Friends”  so upset and fearful of Syrian elections?  If they are such a farce, then much of the public will not participate in them. If the vote is seen by the public as meaningless,  then  voter turnout will be very low such as in Egypt this week.

As to the issue of holding an election during a time of conflict, this was done right here in the USA.  The 1864 election which re-elected Abraham Lincoln was held during the midst of the extremely bloody US civil war.“