January 12, 2014

Updates On Syria [1.12]: Assad Is Rallying Sunni Leaders Against Saudi Arabia's Goons, Obama Admin Ensures Geneva II Will Fail By Saying Assad Must Go, Turkish Government Is Arming Al-Qaeda Under The Guise of Humanitarian Aid

1. An excerpt from, "Conflicts Forum's Weekly Comment 27 December 2013 - 3 January 2014" Conflicts Forum, January 10, 2014:
Yet, if we stand back from the region, it is clear that the Syrian government, over the last weeks, is rapidly consolidating its military situation. The circumstance of Damascus is far different today from even a few weeks ago (as recent visitors to the city confirm to us). It is true that, at one level, sectarian animosities (particularly Saudi ones) have reached new heights across the region, but a new – and underrated – factor is being felt: Sunnis are far from united. Many fear, and abhor, the Salafists and jihadists who have been rising across the region, on the back of Gulf official and private support. It is quite striking that President Assad in a meeting with Sunni leaders in Syria is rallying them successfully for a war explicitly against Wahabbism and Salafism, saying that this represents a distortion of Islam! This would have been unthinkable a year ago. There would have been uproar in the Sunni world. But the tide is shifting, and the silent Sunni majority has had enough of extremists and ideologues (of all hues), and just wants some return to ‘normality’ and some basic human security. This is true of Lebanon, as it is true of Iraq, where Sunnis too are deeply divided, fearing the advent of ‘kangaroo’ sharia courts, the arbitrary whimsicality of local jihadi imams, and the mutilations and beheadings meted out by those largely ignorant of Islamic law. People are tired of all this. The Shi’i understand that some in Saudi Arabia want to raise the specter of a general Sunni-Shi’I conflict, but simply do not believe that Saudi Arabia has either the capacity or possesses the necessary steeliness for such an enterprise. 
2. An excerpt from, "Is Obama Trying to Resolve or Prolong the Conflict in Syria?" by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, GoingToTehran.com, January 10:
We suspect that Assad would, in all likelihood, win another national mandate—even in the “free and fair multi-party elections” envisioned in Geneva I.  But Washington doesn’t want Syrians to have the chance to make that choice.  And so Washington continues to block Iranian participation in Geneva II—save perhaps, as Kerry pompously suggested earlier this week, “from the sidelines” (a proposition that Iran has roundly rejected).

What is so appallingly arrogant about the Obama administration’s position is that it was explicitly rejected at Geneva I.  Then-UN envoy Kofi Annan’s draft communique originally contained U.S.-backed language barring figures from the  conflict resolution process whose participation would block creation of a national unity government—language that the United States, Britain, and France crafted to exclude Assad.  Russia and China insisted that this language be removed from the final communique.  But the Obama administration has disingenuously continued asserting that the language in Geneva I bans Assad from any future political role—even though it is as clear as day that Geneva I, as actually adopted, does not do any such thing.
3. An excerpt from, "Is Turkey sending weapons to Syria under guise of aid?" by Serpil Cevikcan, Al-Monitor, January 5:
The fact that the paramilitary police in Kirikhan stopped the truck, acting on a tip that the vehicle carried ammunition, and that the prosecutor went to the scene to search the vehicle but was obstructed by an individual or individuals claiming to be MIT personnel in control of the vehicle and that MIT and the governor interfered to make sure the truck was released without a search will be the subject of lengthy debates in the coming days.

Yet the details of the incident indicate that the question of whether weapons are being transported to Syria under the guise of aid is not the only aspect that deserves discussion. It is very likely that we are faced with another case of a controversial prosecutor.
This is a trick that all governments use. It's standard state policy. NATO armed Georgia under the guise of humanitarian aid in 2008. The Islamic Republic sent weapons to Hezbollah under the guise of humanitarian aid back in 2006. So it isn't surprising at all that the NATO-allied regime in Turkey is arming al-Qaeda in Syria via humanitarian aid.