December 15, 2013

Updates On Syria [12.15]: New Victories By Saudi-US-British Backed Jihadists Spells Doom For FSA, Influential Shiite Cleric Issues Fatwa Saying "Fighting In Syria Is Legitimate," PYD Leader Salih Muslim Says Results of Geneva II Are Meangingless Without Recognition of Kurds

 -  New Victories By Saudi-US-British Backed Jihadists Spells Doom For FSA (Fictitious Syrian Army)

- Influential Shiite Cleric Issues Fatwa Saying "Fighting In Syria Is Legitimate" 

- PYD Leader Salih Muslim Says Results of Geneva II Are Meangingless Without Recognition of Kurds

1. An excerpt from, "Rise of Islamic Front a disaster for Syria" Al Monitor, December 15:
The ascendance of the Islamic Front sends the Syrian opposition into further, and now near complete, disarray. This column on Oct. 27 wrote that the consequences of Saudi backing of Islamic armed groups was that “the Free Syrian Army is being hammered by the Syrian military on one side and by al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-affiliated groups on the other … the moderate opposition is beset by disunity, the differing agendas of its patrons and a lack of military effectiveness and coordination, all of which is unlikely to change. This is not to be critical of those who are fighting for a democratic Syria; it is simply a reminder of the reality on the ground, that there is no military solution in the offing and that a political approach is more urgent than ever.”

The recent turn of events has made a bad situation much worse. The Islamic Front’s rise has been backed and bankrolled by Saudi Arabia and others, and its membership welcomes, by charter, foreign fighters, although the exact mix of Syrians and non-Syrians is not known
This is not Saudi Arabia's Sunni army that is taking over the Fictitious Syrian Army. This army is not Sunni, matter of fact, it is not even an army, but a loose-knit network of gangs, mercenaries, naive fools who have no business handling guns, and plain old-fashioned murderers and convicts who love the excitement of war and the loot and glory it brings. They are not carrying the flag of Islam, but the flag of death for death's sake and brutality for brutality's sake.

These Jihadist terrorists are trained, armed, funded, and propped up primarily by the governments of the United States, France, Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and England. Saudi Arabia is the goat, the one piece on the chessboard that can be easily blamed and picked off at a later stage while absolving the US, England, Germany, France, and Israel of their responsibility for the criminal violence, massacres, executions, robberies, and wars crimes that are being carried out by these terrorist groups under the cosmic umbrella of the Western mainstream media.  

2. An excerpt from, "Prominent Shiite cleric backs fighting in Syria" by Qassim Abdul-Zahra, AP, December 15:
A leading Shiite Muslim cleric widely followed by Iraqi militants has issued the first public religious edict permitting Shiites to fight in Syria’s civil war alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces.
The fatwa by Iran-based Grand Ayatollah Kazim Al Haeri, one of the mentors of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, comes as thousands of Shiite fighters mostly from Iraq and Lebanon play a major role in the battles.

The call likely will increase the sectarian tones of the war, which pits overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim rebels against members of Assad’s Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The situation has worsened with the influx of thousands of Shiite and Sunni foreign fighters.

Haeri is based in the holy city of Qom, Iran’s religious capital. Among his followers are many fighters with the feared Shiite militia, Asaib Ahl Al Haq, or Band of the Righteous, an Iranian-backed group that repeatedly attacked US forces in Iraq and says it is sending fighters to Syria. That militia is headed by white-turbaned Shiite cleric Qais Al Khazali, who spent years in US detention but was released after he was handed over to the Iraqi government.

Many Shiite gunmen already fight around the holy shrine of Sayida Zeinab just south of Syria’s capital, Damascus. The shrine is named after the Prophet Mohammad’s granddaughter and is popular with Iranian worshippers and tourists.

Asked by a follower whether it is legitimate to travel to Syria to fight, Haeri replied: “The battle in Syria is not for the defence of the shrine of Sayida Zeinab but it is a battle of infidels against Islam and Islam should be defended.”

“Fighting in Syria is legitimate and those who die are martyrs,” Haeri said in comments posted on his official website. An official at his office confirmed that the comments are authentic.

Asaib Ahl Al Haq currently has about 1,000 fighters in Syria and many others were volunteering to go join the battle, said Ashtar Al Kaabi, an Asaib Ahl Al Haq member who organises sending Shiite fighters from Iraq to Syria. Asked whether the increase is related to Haeri’s fatwa, Kaabi said: “Yes. This fatwa has had wide effect.”
This is a dangerous development, to say the least, but not unexpected. It more and more looks like that this war in Syria will expand across the region with every passing day. Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey could be dragged in further for religious, ethnic, and political reasons. Syria is like a burning room in a much larger house, and this house can't be tranquil for much longer. This is no longer a war about the fate of Assad, and the future of Syria, but about religious identity, prophecy, and deep, existential issues that cannot be resolved militarily.

There are two scenarios: either the Shiites are greeted as conquering heroes in Syria, even in the absence of a total Assad victory, or they will be despised and persecuted by many, and we will witness a further rise of terror attacks against Shiites throughout the region. But, many Shiites will argue that has already been well underway for several years now.

So, from the viewpoint of the Shiites, the time of watching these regional events and murders unfold like helpless ducks has come and gone. The recent assassination of a Hezbollah commander by al-Qaeda type groups that are tied to either Saudi Arabia or Israel or both has also raised the level of popular anger on the Shiite street.

For more information about this story, read: "Iraqi Sects Join Battle in Syria on Both Sides" (NY Times, October 27), and, "Study: Iran builds up its 'foreign legion' in Syria" (UPI, September 3).

3. An excerpt from, "Behind the Lines: No solution without the Kurds" by Jonathan Spyer, The Jerusalem Post, December 14:
There have been complaints from other Kurdish factions regarding the nature of the party’s rule, and its alleged suppression of other factions. But internal arrangements notwithstanding, as Saleh Muslim made very clear in Brussels, it will be impossible to implement any arrangement in Syria which seeks to ignore the voice and the ambitions of the country’s Kurds.

This in itself represents a major achievement for his party and movement. It is an achievement for which both the PYD leader himself and the Kurds of Syria have paid a heavy price. They are set to guard it with continued vigor.

Saleh Muslim reiterated his main message to me, just before we parted ways and headed into the wintry Brussels night: “The US is seeking to keep the Kurdish issue from being discussed at Geneva – because of Arab chauvinism and so on.

But nobody can force us to obey Geneva decisions.”

The world, and Washington, might take note.
The Kurds have learned their lesson from the bitter experience of Western-managed international diplomacy at the end of World War I, and will not make the same mistake this time around. Geneva, or Geneva, the war in Syria will not be decided in European capitals, but on local battlefields.