December 13, 2013

Updates On Syria [12.13]: FSA Meme Cannot Survive New Battlefield Realities, Threat Posed By Religious Extremists And Global Jihadists Becomes Top Priority, Former CIA Head Warns Syria Will Break Up

1. An excerpt from, "Hagel Says America’s Syria Policy in Turmoil" by Richard Sisk,, December 12:
On Wednesday, the Islamic Front's seizure of SNC supply warehouses near the Turkish border prompted the U.S. and Britian to cut off non-lethal aid to the SNC and the FSA.

"We continue to support General Idriss and the moderate opposition," Hagel said. However, he said the current situation is an indicator to "how complicated and dangerous the situation is."

Regional reports suggested that the recent setbacks for the FSA and its parent group, the Supreme Military Council, cast doubt on the relevance of the FSA as a continuing factor in the civil war.
The FSA was never a factor in the war in Syria to begin with. There was the perception that it was the dominant opposition force battling Assad's regime, true, but this fictitious insurgency group was always more influential in the media narrative about Syria than in the actual battlefields, you know, where wars are actually fought and won. You don't win gritty wars in urban areas with newspapers, social media, and television satellites, you win them with loyal and dedicated fighters, and the FSA never had that.

What the FSA had was a great propaganda push from the West to jump-start it and put it into prominence on both the political and military levels, but this project has gone nowhere after nearly three years. It's hard to drum up support for a fighting group that's more or less absent in the key battles and has no popular support from Syrians. The FSA will be remembered by military historians as the Fictitious Syrian Army, not the Free Syrian Army.

2. An excerpt from, "Obama Advisor: 'Extremism' Could Be Key to Ending Syrian Civil War" by Elias Groll, Foreign Policy, December 11:
For the past two and a half years, as the civil war in Syria has descended into brutal bloodletting and spilled over its borders, Obama administration officials have consistently decried the growing presence of Islamist extremists in the conflict. But on Wednesday, Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken turned that logic on its head: The growing role of extremist groups may actually be a good thing for bringing the conflict to a close, he said.

Speaking at Transformational Trends, a conference co-hosted by Foreign Policy and the Policy Planning Staff of the U.S. State Department, Blinken said that the radicalization of the conflict may create a shared interest among world powers to bring the war to an end. The growing prominence of radical groups has "begun to concentrate the minds of critical actors outside of Syria" and may strip the Bashar al-Assad regime of the key international backing that has so far helped to keep him in power.

"The Russians have a profound interest in avoiding the emergence of an extremist Syria, a haven for extremist groups," Blinken said. "Many of Syria's neighbors have the same incentive, and of course we have a strong reason to want to avoid that future."
Recently, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari expressed, "Iraq's fears that the Syrian conflict is imperiling its fragile domestic security, as well as growing international alarm about the risk posed by waves of foreign fighters bolstering the ranks of armed groups fighting to Syrian President Bashar Assad. . . . Zebari told attendees at a security conference in small Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain that the increase in radical fighters among the Syrian rebels is leading toward the creation of an ungovernable "Islamic emirate" that the world will have to deal with down the road." (Source: AP, December 7).

3. An excerpt from, "EX-CIA DIRECTOR: Bashar Assad Win May Be Syria's 'Best Option'" AFP, December 12:
But Michael Hayden, the retired US Air Force general who until 2009 was head of the Central Intelligence Agency, said a rebel win was not one of the three possible outcomes he foresees for the conflict.

"Option three is Assad wins," Hayden told the annual Jamestown Foundation conference of terror experts.

"And I must tell you at the moment, as ugly as it sounds, I'm kind of trending toward option three as the best out of three very, very ugly possible outcomes," he said.

The first possible outcome he cited was for ongoing conflict between ever more extreme Sunni and Shiite factions.

The rebel groups are dominated by Sunni Muslims, while Assad is generally backed by Syria's Alawite, Shiite and Christian minorities.

And the second outcome, which Hayden deemed the most likely, was the "dissolution of Syria" and the end of a single state within the borders defined by a 1916 treaty between the French and British empires.

"It means the end of the Sykes-Picot (Agreement), it sets in motion the dissolution of all the artificial states created after World War I," he said.

The British diplomat Mark Sykes and a French counterpart Francois Georges Picot divided the Middle East into zones of influence that later served as the frontiers of independent Arab states.

A breakdown in the century-old settlement could spread chaos in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, Hayden warned.

"I greatly fear the dissolution of the state. A de facto dissolution of Sykes-Picot," Hayden said.
"And now we have a new ungoverned space, at the crossroads of the civilization.

"The dominant story going on in Syria is a Sunni fundamentalist takeover of a significant part of the Middle East geography, the explosion of the Syrian state and of the Levant as we know it."
 Also, check out the article, "Top commander warns Syria will ‘break apart’ post-Assad" by Carlo Muñoz, The Hill, May 9, 2013. An excerpt: “When people say, ‘what does Syria look like the day after Assad?’ That's the wrong question. It's not what it will look like the day after; it's what will Syria look like a decade after,” Stavridis added."