January 4, 2014

Updates On Syria [1.4]: Syria Informs The UN Of Turkey's Systematic Support For Jihadist Terrorists, More Than Half of Syria's Manufacturing Industry Has Been Destroyed, Syrian National Council Says It Will Not Attend Geneva II Conference

1. An excerpt from, "Ankara suspected of arming jihadists in Syria" by Semih Idiz, Al-Monitor, January 3:
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is already having to cope with a major scandal that has severely undermined his claim of being a relentless fighter against corruption in high places, is now faced with a fresh crisis involving Syria that has the potential to not only further undermine his credibility but also to damage Turkey’s ties with its Western allies.

The latest debacle follows a scoop by mass circulation daily Hurriyet involving a truck laden with weapons said to be heading for Syria. The story broke a few days after the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad filed a complaint with the UN Security Council alleging that Turkey was supporting anti-government militants in Syria.

Syria’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, claimed in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which was released to the press on Jan. 1, “Turkish authorities are systematically offering help in supplying arms to terrorists operating in a number of districts [in Syria].”

“They support the groups which every day carry out terrorist attacks against the Syrian people, government buildings and other infrastructure facilities,” Jaafari wrote. The letter continued, “They were trained on the border with Syria, after which the Turkish authorities helped them penetrate the neighboring country.” 

The Syrian envoy’s letter was taken by Turkish government officials as a propaganda effort by Damascus to add to the fog of war and undermine Ankara’s political support for the legitimate elements of the Syria opposition.

It is no secret, however, that Turkey provided logistical support to Al-Qaeda-related groups in the past, like Jabhat al-Nusra, which it saw as an effective fighting force against Assad’s military machine. Still, Ankara has consistently denied it provides arms to any group in Syria, claiming it is on alert against any weapons going through Turkish territory to these groups.

The revelation by Hurriyet is set to undermine these claims and has lent credence to the Syrian allegation, thus adding to the Erdogan government’s Syrian headache, which has gradually increased since the country's crisis broke out in March 2011.
Informing the United Nations of the Turkish regime's support for Jihadist terrorist groups is a historically correct decision by the Assad administration. The UN cannot plead ignorance on this matter any longer. It has been presented with concrete evidence, not flimsy allegations.

Also, it is shocking that Turkish newspapers are now reporting that arms are being shipped to Jihadist fighters in Syria. A radical change has occurred inside Turkey. Erdogan is being thrown under the bus. He is being forced out quicker than Assad, and he is not even at war. This just goes to show that politics is tougher than war. But at least Assad has allies who are willing to stand by his side. Erdogan has no allies, and public support for him is dropping in the wake of corruption scandals. He is in a political battle with the Gulen movement, headed by CIA agent Fethullah Gulen who is camping out somewhere in Pennsylvania, and whether or not he will survive it remains to be seen.

But Erdogan's troubles are nothing compared to the troubles of the Turkish state, and its viability and legitimacy as currently constructed under the guidance of NATO, especially since it is once again alienating Kurds in its southern provinces by arming Jihadists across the border against their kin. The Turkish-Kurdish peace process is on life support, and soon it will flatline. Turkey must have realized by now that being part of NATO in that part of the world has no advantages. It is a death sentence. And arming Al-Qaeda is a desperate move that will only backfire. Whenever a regime resorts to terrorism to promote its ends it has already failed. 

2. An excerpt from, "Syria's Small Factories Struggle to Survive" by Donna Abu-Nasr, Businessweek, January 3:
The conflict in Syria, which has claimed the lives of 125,000 people, has crippled the small factories that helped power what was a $60 billion economy before the war. More than half of the country’s manufacturing output has been lost since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011, according to an October report that the Syrian Center for Policy Research prepared for the United Nations. Fuad Lahham, who coordinates a UN program to rehabilitate Syria’s industry, estimates that damage to the economy tops 330 billion Syrian pounds ($2.4 billion). Since many of the country’s factories are inaccessible to government investigators, the reality is probably worse, he says.
This conflict was never about an uprising against a dictator. That simplistic narrative helps to recruit fighters, but it is not an accurate representation of reality. It was about the destruction of a sovereign nation state and a key link in the regional alliance that is fighting for the Palestinian cause.

One important factor contributing to Syria's misfortune and misery is that Assad accepted power back when he was offered the position of president in 2000 when he should have stayed in London and continued his medical practice. A robust regime should not rely on the services of one single family, or a single person, but on an idea, a vision, a religion, or a system of thought. So in addition to the warmongers, Assad is also blameworthy for Syria's current transition crisis since he could have prevented it by not accepting power in the first place.  

3. An excerpt from, "Key Syrian opposition bloc rejects Geneva II" Al Arabiya News, January 4:
The Syrian National Council, a key group within Syria’s mainstream opposition National Coalition, reaffirmed on Friday it will not attend the “Geneva II” peace talks scheduled for later this month in Switzerland.

“After meetings with many international delegations in recent weeks... the Syrian National Council (SNC) confirms it sees no reason to attend the Geneva conference,” SNC member Samir Nashar told Agence France-Presse.

The talks were originally scheduled to be held in the Swiss city of Geneva but have been moved to nearby Montreux and a Jan. 22 date for the peace talks has been set.

Although the National Coalition which has still not taken a definitive decision, Nashar forecast that the umbrella organization would similarly not show up.