Who is fighting against Daesh (ISIS)?

The question of who is attacking Daesh (ISIS) has to be asked because as far as I can tell from conversations with my contacts on the ground in Syria, very little effective action appears to be directed against them on an international level.

The USA is carrying out some airstrikes against Daesh but from the information received is not proving very effective. None of the airstrikes have caused Daesh any serious problems so far and often they have already left the area by the time the bombs and missiles arrive. Having said that, the USA is continuing its funding and supplying of The Free Syrian Army (FSA), who are fighting on two fronts, against the Assad regime and against Daesh. Reports in the media that the USA is going to cut funding is regarding one small program only, the vast bulk of support is continuing. At the same time the USA does not want the FSA to capture too much territory, it is part of their plan for a divided and weakened Syria

Russia claims to be targeting Daesh but all the evidence points to the vast majority of attacks being against the FSA. Yesterday I heard news that Russia is using indiscriminate cluster bombs in its attacks against the FSA, wanting to confirm this I put word out that I was looking for evidence of cluster bomb use. In a few hours I had a link to a video shot yesterday of them being used in the Hama region of Syria. You can see for yourselves in the video.

Russia is more focused on supporting the Assad regime than fighting Daesh. Assad is Russia’s only Arab ally and after 4 years of fighting, with its military on the brink of collapse, Russia was left with no choice but to send in direct air and ground support. That it is using totally indiscriminate munitions such as cluster bombs shows how desperate and immoral both the Syrian regime and Russia truly are.

Turkey says it is against Daesh but its actions prove otherwise. It is more interested in seeing the Kurds weakened and has been turning a blind eye to Daesh crossing its borders. The recent suicide attack in Ankara was most likely by a member of Daesh, the focus of the attack being a demonstration for peace by Kurds in Turkey. Turkey has a working relationship with Daesh, when I wrote in April last year about Turkey guarding the tomb in Syria of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of Osman the 1st, the founder of the Ottoman empire, President Erdogan of Turkey was quoted as saying “Right now, the issue is not about ISIL” ISIL being Daesh, the arab term for them, and were only a few hundred metres from the tomb. Turkey is happy that Daesh is fighting the Kurds, it saves him a lot of bother so why should he be interested in trying to stop them. Rather he is trying to provoke the Kurds in Turkey into action so he can justify the use of force and he is working with Daesh to do this.

Syria, after four years of fighting its army is exhausted and has lost over 80,000 men. Now Assad is trying to reinforce the territory he does hold and is not in a position to fight on many different fronts, hence the reason for Russia stepping into the fray. Assad too is less interested in fighting Daesh than against the FSA. In conversation with a friend on the ground in Syria an interesting bit of information came out, Daesh and Assad face each other along a 60km front which runs from the prison to the ex infantry school in Aleppo region, an area I know and drove along many times two years ago when I was in Syria. In all the time Daesh has held this territory not a single shot has been fired between the Syrian army and Daesh. There is quite a cozy relationship between the two, who are more interested in fighting the FSA than each other. The Syrian army has always chosen attacking the FSA rather than the extremists. It would seem this is down to the proxy war nature of this conflict, the USA supporting the FSA and Russia with Iran supporting Assad.

Iran is a natural ally of Bashar al Assad, Assad being an Alawite, a branch of the Shia muslim faith as opposed to 70% of the Syrian population being of the Sunni muslim faith. Religion and war, it is a story as old as human history. Under no circumstance does it want to see Assad go and will do everything in its power to support him. It too sees Daesh as a useful tool in the fight against the FSA and by extension the proxy war with the USA.

Saudi Arabia and UAE. The families that govern these countries are, for want of a better word, despicable, they finance terrorism and have given a lot of financial support to Daesh and other terrorist organisations. May God bring a plague upon their houses. They help create the problems and then refuse to accept or help the people, fellow muslims, who are forced to flee their homes and countries as a result. So much for brotherhood. I’m glad I’m not a muslim.

As an aside, now that both Russia and the USA are directly involved in Syria, the risk of accidental confrontation is high, if it were to happen, the results could be an escalation of the conflict with global repercussions.

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Syria. The suffering continues.

Yesterday evening I was able to make contact with someone I know in Aleppo. As most of you are aware, I was there last year. At that time, many people had returned to the city after the FSA had pushed Syrian regime soldiers out of about 80% of the city. Now, nearly a year later, Aleppo is once again almost a ghost town, very few people remain. The people have fled to Turkey, the countryside or to regime held areas.

What has brought about this situation? There are a number of elements. The first is the fragmented way the FSA has been operating, different brigades operating independently of each other with no effective central command. There was Gen. Salim Idriss, who until very recently was head of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) of the FSA but he has proven to be less than effective and therefore replaced by Col. Abdul Lilal Al Bashir who has more active experience. Whether that will make any difference remains to be seen. By far the biggest problem now facing the people in the north of Syria are DAASH, the commonly used term by the Syrians for ISIS or ISIL, both different acronyms for the same group.

It is often widely reported that DAASH is a part of Al Qaeda but the evidence is mounting that they are also working in collaboration with the Syrian regime. As an example, a few weeks ago the FSA made a big push to retake territory that was controlled by them. In the short term it worked, what was very interesting was how many of the DAASH fighters ran for protection in regime controlled areas. Also the DAASH commander of Menbij, a city close to Aleppo, is a Jordanian who was working at the Syrian embassy in Amman, Jordan. Work is being made to collect evidence of the links between DAASH and the Syrian regime. The leadership of Al Qaeda has even ordered DAASH to go back to Iraq, but they refuse and so there is falling out between them. To be honest the situation is confusing, nobody is 100% sure of what exactly is going on, the game is well hidden at the moment.

So now there is a situation where DAASH control the border between Syria and Turkey as well as all the important towns and cities in the north. The FSA for now, has gone to ground, there is talk of them being supplied with new weapon systems, but as will always be the case it will not be enough to recover lost territory in the long term. Also in my conversation with my contact yesterday in Aleppo he told me that the regime is dropping 15-20 barrel bombs on the city per day. They are rolled out of helicopters and are not designed for accuracy, simply to kill as many people as possible. What is interesting is that the places used as headquarters by DAASH in Aleppo and other towns and cities they control are never targeted by these barrel bombs! It isn’t as if they try to hide their locations, they hang their flag and paint the building with their colours. They know they won’t be bombed by the regime unless there is prior notice so they can move out first.

In the south of the country, in the Daraa region, there is a different situation. Recently different brigades of the FSA have joined forces to create a new army division, the Al Yarmouk Division. Here in the south DAASH has not been able to get a foothold but that does not mean the situation is clear. They are still being controlled to a certain extent by Jordan. Saudi Arabia supplies them weapons but they have to pass through Jordan, however the Jordanians strictly limit how much is passed on to the FSA in the south. Also they stipulate where the FSA can and cannot attack. They will even target the FSA with artillery if they try to attack certain targets. The result is that the Al Yarmouk Division is being permitted to create a clearly defined autonomous area that is free of the Syrian regime but only according to the dictates of Jordan. Why could this be?

I have written several times in the past that the objective of the international political community is to divide Syria, which is happening now. Iran is supporting Bashar al Assad with everything it has, it needs direct access to the Mediterranean. The regime is consolidating its position from Damascus all the way up to Latakia. In the middle is the city of Homs, which is subject to the most brutal destruction. Its population is being starved into submission. Homs is a key city for the regime because it sits on the road that connects Damascus to the sea. In the meantime, many in the city have been killed by hunger and illness, women and children. No thought is given to them at all.

Then as I said before, in the south a new area is slowly being formed. The south of Syria has very good ground water supplies. Jordan has always been envious of this, it always struggles to have sufficient water of good quality. The eventual plan will, it seems, to affiliate the southern region of Syria with Jordan. This will give them access to the water and in return the people in the south of Syria will get protection from the regime. It hasn’t happened yet but things are definitely moving in this direction.

Then we come back to Northern Syria, here is where the different extremist groups, Sunni and Shia, are fighting each other. They have been permitted to bring in weapons via Turkey and Iraq and Lebanon. The strategy being to allow them to become strong enough so they have enough power to fight to the death. The problem with this of course is that it is the ordinary Syrian people who are suffering the most. The vast majority of the extremists are foreigners who are simply using the revolution in Syria for their own purposes. This is something that most newspapers don’t mention, the impression is given that because there are extremists fighting in Syria they must be Syrian. Yes a very small number are but the overwhelming majority are foreigners and they are permitted by surrounding countries to enter Syria with heavy weapons.

When I was talking to my contact in Aleppo yesterday he told me that there is only the most basic food. Water is in short supply, they collect and store what they can. He told me that trying to get food aid across the border from Turkey to the people is too risky. DAASH will steal it for themselves and what is left will be sold for highly inflated prices. Syria is a humanitarian disaster on a huge scale. We in the West have become numb to the news reports, why should we care, they are from a different culture, religion and language. They are human beings with the same hopes and desires as us. People are people, they want the chance to have a home, a family, a job, security and dignity. They want the ability to live without fear of brutality simply because they disagree with what the government is doing. That is a human right and the West is deliberately denying them their rights because the politicians are more interested in playing a game of power with the rule; if they can’t control then they will destroy.

Living with War – A Book Review

Photographer and photojournalist Otto von Münchow has just published a review of my book. Syria: Refugees and Rebels. Since this review I have revised the book, changing the font and arrangement of some of the pictures. Main sales are now through Amazon

In Flow with Otto

© Russell Chapman © Russell Chapman

The UK-born, now Switzerland-based photographer Russell Chapman has released a new photo book. It’s called Syria: Refugees and Rebels. As the title clearly indicates it’s a time capsule of the ever more devastating situation in Syria. It’s a very personal testament, though, without the usual war glory – or should I say war gory – we find in the regular news and media. Instead of going to the battle zone, Chapman mostly focuses on the ordinary people and how it is to be living under the spell of civil war. And for me that is the strength of the book and what makes the photos stand out.

As Russell Chapman states in the introduction: «I try and convey the huge emotional impact of being in a war zone and the effect it has on the people of Syria; those who stay in the country and those…

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Syrian women: Their suffering and endurance

AsmaaI want to start by talking about Asmaa (pictured above). I met her in Jordan, five days after she had been released from a regime prison. She is the fiancée of Abdul Razak Tlass, who was the first officer to defect from the Syrian army when the revolution began. She was captured transporting a Kalashnikov in her bag after a tip-off. She told me about how she was interrogated, made to stand up without break for hours on end and deprived of sleep, but nothing they did could get her to give the names of who she had been working with. When you see her eyes you understand immediately how much she suffered. I know she wasn’t telling me the full story of what happened to her. Considering the fact that the use of sexual violence by the regime is not unknown, I have the suspicion that something like this happened to her. When you look in her eyes as she talks about her experience it is clear that terrible things were done to her. A part of her soul died in that prison.

But something very interesting came out of my talking to her, she was in a cell with nine other Syrian women, all different religions, Sunni, Shia, Alawite, Druze and Christian. They all came to love each other during their time in captivity and it is one of the reasons why she believes that the people of Syria can be united in the future and is something she feels very strongly about. So many in the West, when they look at Syria, think that the people are hopelessly divided and all want to kill each other along religious lines. Women like Asmaa, who despite all they have suffered, demonstrate that this is not the case.

She was only released from prison after thirteen months because the FSA swapped prisoners in order to get her out.  Now she is in the relative safety of Jordan and working to help her fellow Syrians as best she can.

One of the things I noticed about Syrian women in general is how strong and resilient they are. In the refugee camps, despite losing so much, they continue their lives in the best way they can, they cook and look after their families. Yes their standard of living is very much reduced, but they continue. Compare this with many of the men I saw who were in the refugee camps, who have lost their work, there is nothing for them to do, so they just sit around in groups with other men, drinking tea and smoking. Psychologically I would say that the women handle the situation better. They have something to do, the men on the other hand do not, and as a  result end up looking very lost and feeling quite useless.

On the surface Syria is very much a male dominated society but under the surface the women have a lot of influence. All Syrian men will tell you how strong the women are, never mess with a Syrian women, they half jokingly tell me. To be honest I don’t know how they keep going, the women, men and children but then again it isn’t as if they have much choice. They have become the victims of callous geo-political games with only power and influence as their objective. The governments of the world have proven that they are not fit for purpose. Why? Because they see the human suffering they cause as no more than collateral damage.

Syrian chemical weapons. What does the new deal mean?

So finally there has been a breakthrough and a deal made between Syria, Russia and the USA with regard to Syrian CW. On the surface it looks like a good thing and if you take it at face value then for certain it can only be good that there is one less way for Assad/Russia/Iran to kill civilians in Syria.

On the other hand, you have to remember that all sides of this deal all have their own political strategy and these haven’t changed. The USA still wants to see Syria divided up into three parts. Russia and Iran are working as business partners and their objective is to increase their dominance in the middle east. Syria is being used like a pawn in a chess game. Assad himself is little more that a figurehead these days, a marionette with Iran and Russia working together to pull the strings.

If we look at the terms of the deal it raises lots of questions but also gives an insight into the objectives of all the parties involved. I give my opinions based on my own observations and analysis as well as my understanding of the psychology and political thinking of the various parties.

Under the terms of the deal brokered in Geneva, Assad has a week to account for his CW stockpile, type, location and quantity etc. This raises the first question, nobody knows exactly how much CW Assad holds, any declaration he makes is going to have to be accepted at face value as there is no way to prove otherwise. Can he be trusted to make a full declaration of his CW assets? Further to this, just how do UN inspectors expect to be able to carry out their work, to examine if Assad is telling the truth or not, this is after all a conflict zone? This last factor gives the possibility for so many delaying tactics, if security of the UN inspectors can’t be guaranteed then how are they supposed to carry out their work?

As for the Syrian rebels, they see the talks in Geneva and subsequent deal as simply buying more time for Assad and view with high suspicion the motivations of the deal that has been made.  Therefore it is highly unlikely that they will agree to a temporary ceasefire in order for the UN to go into the country. The rebels view all the talk about CW as very hypocritical and political maneuvering, for the rebels there is no difference between Assad killing women and children with bombs and bullets rather than chemical weapons. If the west were serious about stopping the killing of innocents it would have stepped in a long time ago.

Russia is playing the better political game at the moment but it is early days and you can be sure that there will be a lot of pushing backwards and forwards between the USA and Russia over the next few month as they fight their proxy war in Syria. Russia certainly doesn’t have a problem with Assad using chemical weapons, when Chechen rebels took hundreds of hostages in a Moscow theatre a few years ago they used gas knowing that many innocent hostages would die. For the Russians, it was more important to kill Chechen separatists than save the lives of innocent theatre goers. So Assad has no pressure from the Russians about his use of gas. As long as you create the appearance of trying to do the right thing, this is all that matters.

The USA went with this deal because it gives them the perfect get out clause, they are no longer committed to air strikes on Syrian regime CW assets, not that they ever really wanted to in the first place. Syrian air defense systems are pretty strong and are getting stronger through the installation of Russian made S-300 system. Russia has its advisers on the ground training the Syrians on how to use the system, if the USA were to attack and destroy one of these installations and Russians were subsequently killed then the USA and Russia would be brought into direct conflict and that is a situation that neither side can afford. At the same time the USA wants the war in Syria to keep going for as long as possible as a way of getting Iran to commit more and more resources, human and weapon, thereby making Iran weaker as the financial costs of this conflict build up. What we are seeing is that the USA is getting more weapons than before to the FSA, which is forcing Iran to spend more money on helping Assad. Will this strategy work? Time will tell.

Then we come to Iran, so far they are the biggest winners in the Syrian conflict. The world’s eyes are toward Syria as they continue a pace and much closer to completion the development of their nuclear capability. They have two objectives that I know of with regard to Syria. The first is colonial, Iran has always had a desire to dominate the middle east, they desire to have once again a Persian empire. Assad miscalculated when he became President and allowed the Iranians deep inside the workings of the country, politically, militarily and economically. Now Assad is little more than a puppet on a string. Of course he would like to think that he is in control but he lost that a while ago. The second of Iran’s objectives is to keep the world occupied with Syria while it works on completing its nuclear development program. The new Iranian President Rouhani portrays the face of moderation and is warmer to the west but this is all part of the Iranian game of smoke and mirrors. Rouhani doesn’t have the real power, that belongs to the Ayatollahs and the Republican guard and their objectives have not changed. Rouhani is simply a delaying tactic. The USA thinks helping the FSA will force Iran to spend more money than it can afford on supporting Assad with weapons and fighters and Iran is pouring more resources into Syria to keep the USA busy as it hurries to get nuclear capability. Iran and Russia have a business partnership based on economics, oil, gas and weapons and geo-strategy, political influence and weakening the influence of the USA in the middle east.

Ok, time for a scenario, time will tell if I am right or wrong but based on my understanding of the different actors involved, I think there is a real possibility that something along these lines will happen. As nobody knows exactly how much CW Assad has or where he has it, we can make a safe assumption that the UN will not be able to take control of all the chemical weapons.  What I believe will happen is that some time after the UN has taken control of the declared CW assets one of two things will happen, maybe even both. Assad will use chemical weapons against an Alawite town or village. These weapons will be from part of the hidden stockpile that he didn’t declare or he will use his own people to make a raid on a UN guarded CW facility to steal them and at the same time make it look like it was the rebels who made this attack. Why would he do this? Assad has in the past killed those on his side that were no longer useful if he thought it could give him a propaganda advantage. He would be able to say, tongue in cheek, that all CW are under control of the UN so it isn’t possible that he launched the attack, much less so on people from his own tribe. It would be a huge propaganda coup for him on a global scale. You must also remember that the majority of the Alawites are also treated badly by the Syrian regime, it is only a small minority that have the wealth and power. Most Alawites are poor just like the majority of the Syrian population. The regime made the Alawites fear the Sunni majority in order to create a sectarian division, the fear that the Sunni would slaughter them if they ever came to power, this guaranteed that these poorly educated people have followed Assad not out of love and loyalty to a family member but out of fear that the treatment from the Sunni would be worse than that they already receive.  Assad despises the majority of Alawites only slightly less than he despises the Sunni. Killing a few thousand Alawite and making it look as if the rebels did it would be like a wet dream come true for Assad.

If Assad can pull this off then it would be a huge political and propaganda win for him. World opinion would shift and the rebels would lose a lot of good will but more importantly the USA would have serious egg on its face as it gets accused of supporting rebels who have finally been ‘proven’ to have used chemical weapons. This would put America in a very difficult and much weakened position on the international stage, Russia and Iran would wet their pants laughing at the USA as they build up their own global influence.

As I have said in a previous post, what is happening in Syria is no longer about revolution but rather a battlefield that is being used by two superpowers to try and outsmart and out maneuver each other in their battle to increase their global power and influence.

If you have any questions then please leave a comment or send me a private message.

Assad just announced he will hand over chemical weapons. What does it mean?

There are 2 ways of looking at this announcement. The first is that he really is going to hand everything over. The second is that he only hand part of his CW stockpile over and save the rest for use another time.

You have to look at the logistics of what he has said he will do. Is he saying that he will allow the CW to be taken out of the country or is he saying that he will allow inspectors to make sure that nobody can take them out of the storage facilities?

Before answering these questions I should tell you what I know about the different factions of the opposition to Assad in Syria, moderate and extremist. When I was in Syria I met everybody from FSA to extreme Islamist group Jabhat al Nusra. I didn’t meet anybody from Al Qaeda because when I was there earlier this year there were so few they were virtually invisible. Of all my conversations with the different factions we always got into conversations about chemical weapons. When I was there back in the spring, everyone told me, from moderate to extreme Islamist that even if they got their hands on these weapons they would never use them. The moderate FSA is no fan of the extremists but they know them well enough to believe them, that they will not use these weapons. If they did the population would destroy them, the extreme Islamists are too small in number to risk provoking the wrath of 25 million Syrians. For now they are only tolerated because they fight against the Syrian regime. The FSA would never consider doing anything that would kill the people it is fighting for.

If Assad is saying he will get the chemical weapons out of Syria it will be a logistical nightmare, moving an enormous stockpile through the middle of a war zone will be difficult to say the least. I’m also suggesting that the announcement made today is simply a game of smoke and mirrors. He has already used CW on Syrian civilians. It is quite possible to imagine he will do it again. Assad has no qualms about killing even those relatively close to him if it will give a propaganda or political gain.

If inspectors are allowed into the country they will only be shown and given control of a part of the stockpile. Then at a time that suits him he will attack an Alawite town with CW, they are the same tribe as him, he will kill thousands more than in the chemical attack in Damascus. Claiming that all his CW is under the control of international inspectors he will try to make it look as if it was the rebels who made the attack. What will probably happen is that Syria, Russian and Iran will say that the USA is supporting terrorists in the use of chemical weapons in Syria. As a result Syria will ask for international intervention, specifically Russia to help it get rid of the ‘terrorists’. Russia would be complicit in this, they have no qualms about using chemical weapons on their own people. When Chechens took hundreds of Russians hostage in a Moscow theater a few years ago the Russian authorities had no problem using gas in the knowledge that many innocent people would die. The Russian government has a very dim view of its subjects, for them it was more important to kill Chechens than save lives of ordinary Russians. So they have no problem with Assad using chemical weapons.

Another possibility is that Assad will make a show of getting the CW out of the country but it will only be a part. International inspectors will have no way of proving otherwise and then any subsequent chemical attack can be blamed on ‘terrorists’ with the same results.

The final question has to be, if Assad doesn’t use chemical weapons again then what else is he planning with Russia and Iran? If that is their strategy then we are moving into a very dangerous yet predictable area. Don’t forget either that the USA want to keep this war going for as long as possible, they see it as the best way to weaken Iran as it will have to keep on committing more resources to this war if it wants to win.

The reason why President Obama is happy the Russians won’t accept the French UN proposal on Syrian chemical weapons

Oh the games that are being played. So Obama jumped at the chance to accept the Russian offer to get Assad to hand over his stockpile of chemical weapons (CW) I actually laughed when I heard that bit of news. Just how do you go about collecting huge stockpiles of CW in the middle of a war zone. Back in the 1990’s it took UN teams 3 years to deal with Iraq’s CW and things were a lot easier there. So how on earth they could do the same in Syria is anybody’s guess. The fact is everybody knows this and it is just words being used to give an impression that something is being done.

Then there is the case of the French UN proposal that Assad must hand everything over in 15 days. The French knew that Russia would object to this. To be honest even the French know it isn’t possible for Assad to do this in 15 days. The French have made this proposal with US backing. So what is the reason? There are 2 possibilities:

The first is that the USA will launch an air strike on targets in Syria and all this talk about going to the UN is just hot air.

The second possibility is that the USA never had any intention of making a direct strike and all this talk about going to the UN is still just hot air. I believe this to be the more likely of the 2

As I have said many times before, the USA want to keep this war going for as long as possible. The reason being, is to get Iran and Hezbollah to commit ever more resources and consequentially become weaker. Bashar al Assad has become little more than a figurehead who is controlled by Iran. The USA helps the Free Syria Army (FSA), not enough to enable them to overthrow Assad but just enough to keep fighting. Saying that, very recently the US supplied the FSA with a large quantity of Chinese ‘Red Arrow’ anti tank/anti aircraft missiles and launchers as well as sniper rifles and several truck loads of ammunition. These were supplied through various Russia region Mafia groups the US uses when it needs to have deniability for certain actions. The intention is to give the FSA a morale boost, nothing more.

Non of the countries that say Assad should be punished care one iota for the ordinary Syrian people. They are using the war there for their own political aims. The USA and her allies know very well that Assad is under the control of Iran. If Iran were to win this war then it would be a big step in its ambitions to dominate the entire middle east. Iran with its business partner Russia are doing all they can to win this war, at the moment they have the upper hand over the USA. I would go as far as saying that the war in Syria is being used as a test of strength, cunning and strategy by the USA, Russia and Iran to see who is the top dog. Syria is being used like a pawn in a game of chess as the ‘superpowers’ battle for supremacy.

The war in Syria is no longer just about revolution, if there were no international interference then the Assad government would have been overthrown a long time ago. You would be amazed at the level of defection that is taking place from the Syrian army to the FSA at the moment. Iran is having to work full time sending its own replacements in to bolster what remains of the Syrian army. Russia is supporting Assad with weapons and new air defense systems and the USA is supporting the FSA in its fight against Assad. What we have happening is a classic proxy war. One false move by the USA or Russia and this conflict will have global consequences. The problem is they are blinded by their own hubris and ideas of how smart they think they are. In the next months events will happen which will take them all by surprise.

To finish, I am posting a link to a video interview I made with Mustafa. He is now back in Syria. The interview gives an insight into the thinking of what the normal Syrian people want. We only hear about extremists but they really are in the minority compared to the 180,000 of the FSA. The Syrian people are by nature moderate. They just want to have a quiet life. Watch the video and see what you think. Also if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment or send me a private message.

Some info about the ‘FSA’ fighters being trained and equipped by the USA in Jordan

There has been some reporting of moderate Free Syria Army fighters being trained by the USA at camps in Jordan. While it is true that the USA is setting up and training brigades in Jordan, they are not FSA. Let me elaborate.

As the war has progressed, quite a few military officers from the Syrian regime have defected, some genuinely to the FSA but many not. Many, not because they are against the regime but simply because they are trying to protect themselves and keep their finances intact. Principal among these is Colonel Achmed al Namah. He is leader of the military council that is set up in Amman, Jordan. He runs this council that has many of these defected Syrian officers as its members.

It is with this military council that the USA is working and setting up fighting brigades.These brigades are led by the defected officers and the fighters are bought and paid for, mostly those who are unacceptable to the FSA due to their unsavory background.

What has been the results of these brigades? Despite the fact that they are very well equipped they are proving to be quite useless as fighting units but to be honest that seems to be the intention. It seems the purpose of these brigades is nothing more than to try and dilute the real FSA. The USA and Jordan are also using coercive tactics to try and get as many of the defected Syrian officers into positions of command as possible of the genuine FSA brigades. Doing so will weaken them and put them under the influence of the USA. Cut the heads off the command structures of the FSA in Southern Syria, insert ex Syrian regime military commanders which will then be controlled by the USA and Jordan. It seems the ultimate purpose for this is to create an option, a new autonomous area in the south of Syria run by senior defected military commanders who can be easily influenced by the USA.

America will strike Syria. New raw intelligence from Syria.

The FSA (Free Syria Army) has been supplied with a large quantity of Red Arrow or HJ-10, Chinese made anti tank/helicopter missiles as well as sniper rifles with the permission of the USA. They have been supplied through channels that use various crime syndicates in the region of Russia but not Russia itself.  These have been supplied because there will be a strike on targets of the Assad regime and as my source told me, it is to boost moral of the Syrian revolutionaries and to defend border regions of the countries that surround Syria. I had this conversation this evening with a very good Syrian friend of mine. He also told me that they are only supplied enough to defend themselves but not enough to attack.

Watch this space.

President Obama’s speech about Syrian intervention

The US president has finally spoken, so what does it all mean. In a nutshell, not a lot.

I’ve read through the transcript of the speech several times to understand the language that was being used and it raises some interesting points as to what was said as well as what was not said.

Obama said that the US should take military action against Syrian regime targets. (italics are mine) He didn’t say that the US must or will take action, only that they should. This is clever political wording that leaves the door open for doing nothing whatsoever.

The responsibility for any decision is now apparently in the hands of congress which also gives another nice get out clause if need be. There is no guarantee that congress will give its approval for action but if it does then it will come with strict conditions. To be honest I think congress representatives have already been polled and decisions made before Obama gave his speech yesterday. He would not have made a promise like that unless he already knew what the decision would be. That is how politics works.

So we go through the charade of congress mulling over whether it should support the President or not. What will the result be?

First we need to consider what wasn’t said in the speech. Nothing was said about trying to overthrow Assad or help the FSA. In fact absolutely nothing was said about helping the normal Syrian civilians. All that was said is that the ability to carry out CW attacks should be degraded. From this, I am assuming that congress will come back with a very limited mandate for Obama to attack missile sites that are used to launch CW attacks as well as some CW storage and production facilities. Beyond this there will be nothing.

Back in April in a week long operation, over 500 civilians were killed in Damascus, among them many women and children by Syrian, Hezbollah and Iranian forces. There was no international outcry over this and no promise by the international community that action must be taken against the Syrian government. So what is different this time around? Not much.

When the Syrian revolution became an armed conflict, with Iran and Hezbollah being involved from the start, the USA saw an opportunity to weaken Iran and Hezbollah, to make them bleed in Syria. Since the start, the USA has helped the Free Syria Army in a limited way. Not enough help to enable the FSA defeat the Syrian government but enough to hold them and continue to commit resources. As it is Iran that is now running the war in Syria, it is Iran that is having to put ever more resources into this conflict. Iran is also using the war in Syria as a laboratory to experiment with different types of weapons, including CW and warfare techniques.

The US sees that Iran is getting the upper hand in this war and in order to rebalance things and keep this war going for as long as possible, the CW attack will be used as an excuse for any future action. However, any future action becomes ever more risky as Syrian air defenses become stronger and stronger with the ability to strike down missiles, this capability being supplied by the Russian S-300 air defense system. Iran has been preparing for this confrontation for quite some time now and Russia is fully backing them as a way of giving a black eye to the USA. In the end,any action taken by the USA will not be taken with the ordinary Syrian people in mind. Hence the irony of using their deaths as a justification for pushing forward various political agendas.