I love reading MyPetJawa because I find most of the articles quite informative most of the time. As I have written many times, I am very uncertain about the Free Syrian Army. However, who can choose between the horrific actions of the current Assad regime and those who want to be rid of a dictator from a minority tribe? There are no guarantees that those who supported Assad during the past 17 months will get off scott free and I might add this includes the Druze Christians who preferred to cast their lot with a man who has been supported by Iran, and who has been funding Nazrallah from Hezbollah in Lebanon, and who has been funding Hamas. Rusty does a lot of work exposing the jihadis and terrorists, and therefore the opinions on this site tend to be reasonably good analysis – the writers understand the reality of the situation.
It is for this reason that I highlight some of the comments made at the Jawa Report, which in fact reflect my own attitudes on the issue of “Al Qaeda” being involved with the Syrian Free Army. I would add here that I think it is more than likely that this is a group of individuals with differing ideology working together to rid the country of a very corrupt regime. At the same time I think that this also fits with what took place in Syria where such elements were also present, but they were not the majority within the conflict, or the majority afterwards.
Here are some of those comments from MyPetJawa:
Of course al-Qaeda is involved. However since the deaths of UBL and al-Libi al-Qaeda is not quite what we think of as al-Qaeda in the 9/11 sense. The Pakistani core is much less relevant. The deaths of the core leaders have in effect given the green light for inspired lower level Jihadis who now know that there is no hope in waiting for al-Qaeda’s core leadership to act.
al-Qaeda now is more of a Salafi state of mind rather than the defined group of Islamic mobsters that it once was. That state of mind gaining in popularity with the rise Arab spring conflicts and in spite of the deaths of the core leadership. The truth is that al-Qaeda and other Salafi Jihadi groups will be active in any conflict in the Middle East. There is no way around it.
So one might say that we’ve won the battles of Iraq and Afghanistan on the ground and al-Qaeda has lost. Many times al-Qaeda fighters lost favor in the areas they controlled by their own brutal hand more than by the force of our arms. But if the standard by which you measure al-Qaeda’s success are its inspiration of Salafist Jihadi movements. Well, the results are much less clear.
The hard core Jiahdis will seek to impose their will on the population. Of course they will seek to insert themselves into any place where anarchy allows them to gain power by force. I’m even willing to tolerate a few Jihiadis helping Muslims fight to be free, given that its their business and its up to those in those nations to determine their future. Its given that the end result will be somewhat less radical than al-Qaeda. Also, so long as al-Qaeda is engaged there they are less likely to attack us in the west except in cases of extreme opportunity. I mean why would they need to attack us at home? We’re not particularly in their way at the moment.
Afterward will come the real danger. When peace returns the dedicated Jihadis will once again turn his attention to Israel and its allies in the west. And with these new “Democracies” made up of 60 percent Islamists and 20 percent radical Jiahdis I’m not feeling particularly optimistic about it.
The real question that needs to be answered here is whether or not the Syrian population will want to head down the Salfist road. This depends upon who else is part of this coalition called the Free Syrian Army. If the Jihadi component is small then Syria might follow in the footsteps of Libya in its self-determination. If not, then this will end up as a country that has in power those opposed to Iran.
I agree with most of the things stated by Howie in this piece but I am not sure whether I should be optimistic about the future of Syria or whether I should be pessimistic. That is why I try to look at the whole picture. I look at the international scene to see who is supporting the regime, and who, if anyone, is supporting the Syrian Free Army. What I see is Turkey supports the Opposition in Syria, and on the other side is Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Russia and China. Russia has been attempting to ship arms to Syria, but has been caught out such that the shipments have failed to get through a number of hurdles (insurance for shipping). Also, Russia and China have been preventing the UN from taking any kind of action against the Assad regime. In the meantime the slaughter of the people continues.
When Libya became a contentious issue during its own civil war, we saw a similar line-up complete with Russia and China involving themselves on the propaganda front being prepared to tell the lies of Libya’s propagandists. On the other side in that conflict we had the France, Italy, Holland, UK, USA, Qatar and a number of smaller countries who were willing to give some form of assistance. Russia and China did not vote in the Security Council, enabling the action that took place which in the end led to the defeat of Gadhafi, and that defeat had always been inevitable ( I have never bought the line that he was a changed character because what he did was to shift his activities towards Africa whilst pretending to behave. He was a very ruthless man). Iran was also a “friend” to Gadhafi, but Iran was at least a little bit smarter than Russia and China because it provided some very necessary welfare to the Libyans in opposition but they provided guns to Gadhafi.
The same forces are lining up in relation to Syria at least on the surface. In this case the USA has remained impotent and it is probably best that they do not try anything. Iran has been providing its Quds forces and Hezbollah has also provided support with Nazrallah offering Hezbollah forces to Assad. In essence, this has become a Shia vs Sunni conflict, with the Shia being supported by Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Sunni being supported by everyone else. As Howie wrote, it is inevitable that there are Al Qaeda, Salafist elements in this conflict and it is probably better to have them fighting on their home turf than to have them in Iraq where they could be adding to the destabilization in that country. Turkey is involved on the sidelines because so many have sought refuge across the border in Turkey, and there has already been a potentially dangerous situation that could see an escalation into a full blown war. Turkey has moved missiles to the border region. If Turkey ends up in a conflict with Syria, then it could end up that once again NATO will get involved.
I agree with the fact that Assad has to step down. The Syrians need the opportunity for self-determination. It is simply too soon to know whether Syria will go with Muslim Brotherhood or with the Salfist movement. Will it be good or bad? That might depend upon any relationship that is then built with Russia, China and Iran in the future. If the Syrians go the same way as Libya though, this could turn out somewhat differently than some are prepared to state at this point in time. On the other hand the Druze Christians who have supported Assad could find themselves in real trouble because there will be a bit of blood-letting via revenge to come.