[News] Syria: A jihadi paradise

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 10 17:37:31 EST 2013

**Syria: A jihadi paradise**
By Pepe Escobar


So Bashar al-Assad hath martially spoken - for the first time in seven 
months - predictably blaming the Syrian civil war on "terrorists" and 
"Western puppets".

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, he of the former "zero 
problems with our neighbors" policy, commented that Assad only reads the 
reports of his secret services. C'mon, Ahmet; Bashar may be no Stephen 
Hawking, but he's certainly getting his black holes right.

Assad, moreover, has a plan: a national dialogue leading to a national 
charter - to be submitted to a referendum - and then an enlarged 
government and a general amnesty. The problem is who is going to share 
all this bottled happiness because Assad totally

dismisses the new Syria opposition coalition as well as the Free Syrian 
Army (FSA), describing them as foreign-recruited gangs taking orders 
from foreign powers to implement one supreme agenda: the partition of 

Still, Assad's got a plan. First stage: all foreign powers financing the 
"terrorists" - as in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-Gulf 
Cooperation Council compound - must stop doing so. That's already a 
major no-no. Only in a second stage would the Syrian Army cease all its 
operations, but still reserve the right to respond to any - inevitable - 

Assad's plan does not mention what happens to Assad himself. The only 
thing the multiple strands of the opposition agree on is that "the 
dictator must go" before any negotiations take place. Yet he wants to be 
a candidate to his own succession in 2014.

As if this was not a humongous "detail" torpedoing the whole construct 
of current UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, there's still the crucial 
nagging point of Brahimi insisting on including the Muslim Brotherhood 
(MB) in a Syrian transitional government. Brahimi should know better. 
It's as if the UN was praying for a Hail Mary pass - that is, Assad's 
voluntary abdication.

*This ain't Tora Bora*
If you want to know what's really going in Syria, look no further than 
Hezbollah secretary-general Sheikh Nasrallah. He does tell it like it is 

Then there's what Ammar al-Musawi, Hezbollah's number 3 - as in their de 
facto foreign minister - told my Italian colleaguem Ugo Tramballi. The 
most probable post-Assad scenario, if there is one, will be "not a 
unitary state, but a series of emirates near the Turkish border, and 
somebody proclaiming an Islamic state". Hezbollah's intelligence - the 
best available on Syria - is adamant: "one third of the combatants in 
the opposition are religious extremists, and two-thirds of the weapons 
are under their control." The bottom line - this is a Western proxy war, 
with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) acting as a "vanguard" for the 
North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Asia Times Online readers have already known this for eons, as much as 
they know about the tectonic-plates-on-the-move fallacy of GCC 
autocracies promoting "democracy" in Syria. While the geologically 
blessed House of Saud has bribed every grain of sand in sight to be 
immunized against any whiff of Arab Spring, at least in Kuwait the winds 
of change are forcing the Al-Sabah family to accept a prime minister who 
is not an emir's puppet. Yes, petromonarchs; sooner or later you're all 
going down.

As for those who ignore Musawi, they do it at their own peril; blowback 
is and will remain inevitable, "like in Afghanistan". Musawi adds, 
"Syria is not Tora Bora; it's on the Mediterranean coast, close to 
Europe". Syria in the 2010s is the 1980s Afghan remix - with exponential 
inbuilt blowback.

And for those who blindly follow the blind in repeating that Hezbollah 
is a "terrorist" organization, Hezbollah is closely cooperating with the 
UN - on the ground with over 10,000 blue helmets, under the command of 
Italian General Paolo Serra - to keep southern Lebanon free from Syrian 
civil war contamination.

*The dictator has fallen - again*
Not surprisingly, that motley crew branded as the "Syrian opposition" 
rejected Assad en bloc. For the Muslim Brotherhood - the self-styled 
power in waiting - he is a "war criminal" who should go on trial. For 
Georges Sabra, the vice-president of that American-Qatari concoction, 
the National Coalition, Assad's words were a "declaration of war against 
the Syrian people".

Predictably, the US State Department - not yet under John Kerry - said 
Assad was "detached from reality". London said it was all hypocrisy and 
immediately launched yet another "secret" two-day conference this week 
at Wilton Park in West Sussex mingling coalition members with the usual 
gaggle of "experts", academics, GCC officials and "multilateral 
agencies". The spectacularly pathetic UK Foreign Secretary William Hague 
twitted - for the umpteenth time - that "Assad's departure from power is 

Facts on the ground though spell that Assad is not going anywhere 
anytime soon.

As for British claims that "the international community can provide 
support to a future transitional authority", that doesn't cut much slack 
among war-weary informed Syrians - who know this civil war has been 
funded, supplied and amply coordinated by the West, as in the NATO 
component of the NATOGCC compound.

They smell a - Western - rat in the obsessive characterization of 
everything in Syria as a sectarian war, as they see how loads of 
influent Sunnis have remained loyal to the government.

They smell a - Western - rat when they look back and see this whole 
thing started just as the US$10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline 
(crucially bypassing NATO member Turkey) had a chance to be implemented. 
This would represent a major economic boost to an independent Syria, an 
absolute no-no as far as Western interests are concerned.

The Obama 2.0 administration - and Israel - would be more than 
comfortable with the MB in power in Syria, following the Egyptian /modus 
operandi/. The Brotherhood promotes the idea of a "civil state"; one 
just has to check the few "liberated areas" across Syria to detect rebel 
civility inbuilt in hardcore Sharia law and assorted beheadings.

Yet what the NATOGCC compound and Israel really want is a Yemeni model 
for Syria; a military dictatorship without the dictator. What they're 
getting instead, for the foreseeable future, is Jihadi Paradise.

*Off with their heads*
Almost a year ago, al-Qaeda number one Ayman al-Zawahiri called on every 
Sunni hardcore faithful from Iraq and Jordan to Lebanon, Turkey and 
beyond to take a trip to Syria and merrily crush Assad.

So they've kept coming, including - just like in Afghanistan - Chechens 
and Uyghurs and Southeast Asians, joining everything from the FSA to 
Jabhat al-Nusra, the number one killing militia, now with over 5,000 

A report published this week by the London-based counterterrorism outfit 
Quilliam Foundation confirms Al-Nusra's role. The lead author of the 
report, Noman Benotman, happens to be a former Libyan jihadi very cosy 
with al-Zawahiri and the late "Geronimo", aka Osama bin Laden.

Al-Nusra is in fact the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the 
terrorist brand of late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, also known as Islamic 
State of Iraq after Zarqawi was incinerated by a US missile in 2006. 
Even the State Department knows that AQI emir Abu Du'a runs both AQI and 
al-Nusra, whose own emir is Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani.

It's AQI that facilitates the back-and-forth of Iraqi commanders - with 
plenty of fighting experience on the ground against the Americans - to 
sensitive areas in Syria, while the Syrians, Iraqis and Jordanians at 
al-Nusra also work the phones to extract funding from Gulf sources. 
Al-Nusra wants - what else - an Islamic State not only in Syria but all 
over the Levant. Favorite tactic: car and truck suicide bombings as well 
as remote-controlled car bombs. For the moment, they keep a tense 
collaboration/competition regime with the FSA.

What happens next? The new Syrian National Coalition is a joke. Those 
GCC bastions of democracy are now totally spooked by the jihadi tsunami. 
Russia drew the red line and NATO won't dare to bomb; Russians and 
Americans are now discussing details. And sooner or later Ankara will 
see the writing on the wall - and revert to a policy of at least 
minimizing trouble with the neighbors.
Assad saw The Big Picture - clearly, thus his "confident" speech. It's 
now Assad against the jihadis. Unless, or until, the new CIA under 
Terminator John Brennan drones itself into the (shadow war) picture with 
a vengeance.

/*Pepe Escobar* is the author of/ Globalistan: How the Globalized World 
is Dissolving into Liquid War 
(Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during 
the surge 
His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan 
(Nimble Books, 2009). /He may be reached at/ pepeasia at yahoo.com
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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