Government troops take more towns in Syria

"For more than a year, much of the belt of neighborhoods and towns just south of Damascus has been a rebel bastion and a key arms conduit for the opposition. But government forces — bolstered by fighters from Lebanon's Shiite militant Hezbollah group and Shiite militants from Iraq — have made significant headway in recent weeks in the area as President Bashar Assad pushes to shore up his hold on the capital and its doorstep. The recent government advances also could give Assad's government a stronger position in proposed peace talks that the United States and Russia have been trying to convene since May. The town of Hejeira on Wednesday became the latest rebel-held suburb to fall into government hands. The SANA state news agency said the army seized control of the town, but was still battling rebels on the outskirts."  abcnews


"… government forces — bolstered by fighters from Lebanon's Shiite militant Hezbollah group and Shiite militants from Iraq…"

Clausewitz thought that no peacetime regime of training and military education could ever be as effective in creating a skilful, hard fighting army as sustained and ultimately successful war.That is certainly true if the army in question survives the process. 

The Syrian Army and Air Force have passed that test and are in the process of becoming something like their Hizbullah allies.  They are more heavily armed but similarly adapted to the peculiar circumstances of their task and the topography of Syria.

The presence on the battlefields of Lebanese Hizbullah allies and lately of Shia militia from Iraq increases the effect when combined with the efforts of the maturing Syrian Army.

The Saudis' decades long political and now paramilitary project intended to assert Wahhabi Sunni control of the Levant appears headed for defeat.  That is why Saudi Arabia is so upset with what it sees as insufficient American effort on behalf of the Syrian jihadi rebels. 

The US should read the writing on the wall, and begin to back away from a policy of regime change.  Why?  Simple – it ain't gonna happen.  pl

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59 Responses to Government troops take more towns in Syria

  1. b says:

    “… government forces — bolstered by fighters from Lebanon’s Shiite militant Hezbollah group and Shiite militants from Iraq…”
    I very much doubt the claims of Hizbullah and Iraqi Shia fighters everywhere. In any report I have seen the sources for these claims are always the insurgents.
    Nasrallah has openly declared that after Quasair, which was an announced and limited assault, his forces would only be involved in the areas very near to the Lebanese border. At the time of Quasair assault there were many reports from Lebanon about burials of Hizbullah fighters. We have not seen such reports for quite some time. If Hizbullah is seriously engaged around Damascus, Homs and Aleppo where are all the dead fighters?
    It is about the same from the side of the Iraqi Shia groups. Any public declaration of such involvement was always restricted to the Sayyida Zaynab shrine. Where are the reports of casualties and burials from Iraqi fighters who died in Syria?
    I presume that there are some Iranian Revolutionary Guard special ops folks in Syria. But those will be most advise/train/assist forces, not the tip of the spear of Syrian army assaults.
    Unless we some neutral reporting on the issue any claim of Hizbullah and Iraqi Shia involvement should be taken with lots of salt.

  2. turcopolier says:

    You are mistaken. My sources in Syria confirm the presence and activity of these non-Syrian fighters. pl

  3. Nagi Najjar says:

    don’t ne mistaken,,,, they have very well armed militias,, Abu Fadl el Abbas and other Shiites armed tribes of Muktada el Sadr,, including Iranian IRGC military experts are on the various fields,,,,,, they’re everywhere, beyond Set Zeinab shrine in Damascus,,,,,,,Main IRGC is headquartered at Mezzeh military Airfield in Damascus,,they have their own planes and pilots also,, besides Hezbollah, these are putting the pressure on the Rebellion,,,,, about 30,000 – 40,000 of these ,,,as proxy,,, ,between Iraq & Lebanon,,,,,,

  4. Charles I says:

    w/r/t to Iraq, I refer you to Stephen Starr’s recent book Revolt in Syria which I have previously cited. On the ground as a journo before & during the evolving fiasco, he traveled to Iraq and reported on dozens of training camps in Iraq and the constant two way traffic in and out of theater.
    I saw a report on PBS can’t recall, likely Newshour a couple of months ago where he reiterated this reporting and I noted it here then.
    I read his book and take him as an unsalted respectable neutral, albeit human and sympathetic, observer and reporter.

  5. Nagi Najjar says:

    There are between 30,000 and 40,000 shiites fighters as proxy of Iran from Lebanon and Iraq , in addition to IRGC experts, ( headquartered at Mezzeh military airfield in Damascus), with their own airplanes and pilots ,,,,,,

  6. b says:

    @Pat – I do not doubt that there are some Hisb and Iraq Shia fighters. I doubt that they are there in any big or even significant numbers. The propaganda is quite thick on the issue.
    This though seems to be true:
    Recently ISIS beheaded a wounded Syrian because he used “Shiite slogans” while in a hospital under anesthesia. They publicly showed his head around (video: Turns out the guy was a rebel with Ahrar ash-Sham. Those folks now complain that they did not yet got the head back and can’t really bury him.
    Only a slight mistake but one wonders what it does for the insurgents moral.

  7. Kunuri says:

    Albayim, from my close reading of the Turkish press, with more access to border areas than any other news sources, you are correct. There are ideological fighters literally from all around the world crossing over the porous Turkey-Syria border to join in the fight with, if not cooperative, but the benign indifference of the Turkish security forces.
    If I wanted to go to Syria to shoot a documentary tomorrow, I would have no difficulty to go in and out almost anywhere in Syria under insurgent control. Likewise, any Chechen, Daghistani or even an ultra Islamist from anywhere in the world would find it easy to do so even if they were on their own. There are “cayotes” now who specialize in getting people in and out of Syria for a price, very reasonable from what I hear. You can strike a deal here in Istanbul and they will make the arrangements. In fact, I would not be surprised if even the Iranians use the same route and means.

  8. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It is very very reminiscent of the Spanish Civil War – it almost uncanny.

  9. FB Ali says:

    “… the benign indifference of the Turkish security forces”.
    Does this mean that Erdogan and the Turkish military are quite happy to have a Jihadi state built up next door?
    If they do, the next question is: Are they crazy?

  10. Nagi Najjar says:

    Kunuri,,,be careful of these Istanbul bargainers ,,,, I am afraid if you go tomorrow into Syria within this framework, you will stay there guaranteed ,, beware of these ” coyotes” my friend,,,,, half of these works for AQ,,, they will lure you in , towards an area controlled by ISIS or AQ , and sell you out at a later stage for a sum of money,,,,, you have no clue what is Syria beyond the Turkish border,,,a multitude of a variety of armed groups and lose territory of dandiest and thugs looking for a living,, that’s how many journalists disappeared,,,,,, US, Brits, Polish, French and others,,,by following what you have just said,,,,, It takes one wrong turn, you’re history,,,,the ground is shifting daily inside Syria,,,,, , these Chechnyans, Daghestani Jihadis around the world are coordinating with insiders who are waiting for them, once they cross,,,,,, and half of these are penetrated by Iran’s and Russian Intel,,,,the Assad air force bombard daily the FSA but never the ISIS positions, ISIS is focusing more on the FSA rather than the Assad regime,,,,, ,, the ports of entry at the Turkish Syria frontier, bag el salamah and bab el hawa are infested by spies for the extremists ,,,,, they will know on the spot once you step in ,,, and track you down,,,,,, few miles down the road,,,,,, The Iranians do not need the Turkish border to come into Syria,,,,,,,, they cross into Syria from Lebanon, Damascus airport and the Iraqi frontier by Deir El Zor into the desert not far from the town of Abu Kemal,,,,,,, Do not go into Syria unless tightly escorted and coordinated with the FSA command,,,,,, Col Riad el Assaad & group,,,,, they know the ground best,,,,, Sky news crew Hariri TV was just kidnapped around Aleppo some 10 days ago,,,, nobody recovered them yet,,,,,,, a hardcore group stopped them at a checkpoint and sold them out to ISIS.

  11. Nagi Najjar says:

    untrue,,,I saw the video,,,,,, this is an Iraqi shiite fighter that was caught fighting with the Assad Army , he confessed raping many men & women in Homs and Banias provinces and killed many civilians , ISIS decapitated him to make him a model for others,,,,,, he has no affiliation with the Ahrar el Sham militia,,,,,
    Actually Ahrar el Sham , ISIS and Nusra are in bed fighting together on several joint military fronts in central Syria,,,,, a guy like that ( If he was Ahrar el Sham) could be verified in seconds by a telephone call,,,, they all speak to each others on the ground,,,, Baghdadi, Jolani and Hasan Abboud,,,,,,,

  12. Bandolero says:

    I’m not sure, if you’ld supress my comment again cause you don’t like the message.
    If you don’t, here’s a hint from me on what’s going on:
    The Qods force is present in Syria. They are Islamic. Dividing Muslims into Sunni and Shia is an insult against God.

  13. Who are the main beneficiaries of prolonged civil war in Syria?

  14. turcopolier says:

    This is a private website. Your comments were not “suppressed.” No comments are posted unless I approve them. your comments were offensive in tone. Civility is required here. Are your Sunni jihadi friends not dividing Islam as well? pl

  15. Matthew says:

    Col: And whither the Syrian refugees? Turkey and Jordan probably hadn’t anticipated an Assad victory. We can now judge the “humanitarian” organizations who fanned the oprising in Syria by how they treat the defeated rebels.
    Contrary to Hasbara, my wife’s Palestinian family was treated quite well in Jordan. King Abdullah now needs to ask Saudi Arabia, France, and Qatar for a lot of money. They wanted the fight. They have an obligation to help pay to clean up the mess.

  16. b says:

    @Nagi Nahjjar
    You are wrong!
    ISIS admitted that its fighters killed the wrong man but said it was in “good intention” and therefore not punishable. Ahrar ash-Shams disagrees and they have set up “wanted” posters to get the killers.
    Now Nagi Najjar please tell us why you are misinformed on this and on what else you might be misinformed.

  17. Charles I says:

    nice little roundup

  18. Nagi Najjar says:

    The extremists of both camps,,,,
    AQ from one end and Hezbollah and Iran’s from the other,,,,,
    The longer the drags the weaker the center platform will become and extremism will dominate further.
    The main indisputable request for the Rebellion: Assad needs to go.
    There is no U turn to that request,,,,even if it means 1 million casualties ,,, The Rebellion is not going anywhere,,, i’ve been reading reports of ” advances” for Hezbollah and the Syrian Army, too small of an achievement to be quoted as ” victory”,,,,, On a macro scale, Rebellion still controls 70% of the territory, but the Syrian regime is excellent in psyop pieces in the media,,,,, they take few streets somewhere, and suddenly it is the big major victory,,,,, as the allies were coming into Berlin,,,,
    All what is left for Assad is part of the Lattakia province, the Tartous province where most of his transportable Scuds and ballistic missiles are located and few sectors of Damascus. SAA is very stretched,,,,, and tired,,,, Hezbollah who gave a beating to the Israelis in 2006 in Southern Lebanon, is having a hard time to catch up in Syria,,,,,,, what is keeping Assad alive so far is his Air Force, long range artillery and armor units , firing from distances,,,, the people leading the assaults on the ground are Hezbollah ( 15,000 of these) and the Shiites of Iraq,,,,,, the Syrian Army is very stretched and tired,,,,,,,,, Now Mr Putin is describing Assad as the savior of the minorities,,,,, O Lord,,,,, time for a Christian Orthodox to convert to Catholicism,,,, Assad is on his way out,,,,,, It will take few more casualties ,,,might drag little longer,,,,, but he will be out,,,, he cannot stay in Syria ,he is a burned card,,,,,,,,
    The US has to acknowledge that,,,, not comply to Russian demands,,,,,,, the Geneva I, 2, 3 and 4 are all doomed to a failure,,,,,,,

  19. Nagi Najjar says:

    One more link to those denying a ” massive ” presence of Shiite Iraqis and Lebanese fighters on Syria’s soil: ,,,,, to their information, there are about 40,000 of these fighting around the country.
    Pity if they belong to the Intel community,,,,,, downsizing and neglecting this info,,,,,, US is so misguided when it comes to Syria,,,on everything ,,, relying on twisted info, channels & strategy ,,,,,,,, If Iraq & Afghanistan were handled like Syria,,,,, congrats,,,,,,,,,, no wonder the panorama is so scenic ,,,,,,,, 🙂

  20. Nagi Najjar says:

    b, don’t teach me the ground please in Syria,,,,, I’ll check into that,,,,,, not to be a manipulation of some sort,,,,, even being cited in the Telegraph does does necessarily means that it could not be wrong,,,,again, we’ll verify it,,,,,, , there are dozens of incidents happening on the ground daily,,,, FSA has been battling AQ in Aleppo and Lattakia for the last several several days,,,,,, there are several dead and kidnapped persons between the two sides ,,,,, what was this not published in the Telegraph if the press was so accurate reporting all? I usually don’t rely too much on foreign press coverage for concrete news ,,,, most of the time the press does not get it all complete and correct ,,,, we’ve seen it,,,,again and again in different occasion,,,,,, I’m sure the Brits have a better ring collecting info than the Americans,,,,, they’re better foxes at the old profession,,,, familiar with the Levant puzzle,,,,, The Telegraph is a friendly address to me,,, I even organized few meetings for them in the region,,,,,, If true, this is a first one,,,,ISIS and Ahrar el Sham are partners on the ground,,on several battlefields,, they fight together,,,,, , this affair might be true and might be false,,,,, again, we’ll verify the content ,,,,, there is lot of Intel and manipulation on the ground,,,,,,,, and lots of things are happening and not being reported neither ,,,,

  21. Thomas says:

    Yes, especially the part of one side spending more time taking out their “allies” for political purity purposes.

  22. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You wrote:
    “Qods force is Dividing Muslims into Sunni and Shia is an insult against God.”
    I think the division between these sects of Islam has existed for a millennia.
    What had not existed was the Shia Crescent – that the recent war for Syria has done so much to create.
    Any way, I thought you were Russian – Shia are not posing any danger to the Russian Federation.
    Incidentally, tonight is the “Evening of the Strangers” which is memorialized all over Iran and elsewhere by the Shia – reminding everyone of the sufferings of the family of Imam Hussein.
    Nowhere in all of Islam you will find any delicacy of feeling and emotional refinement except among the Shia.

  23. Thomas says:

    “US is so misguided when it comes to Syria,,,on everything ,,, relying on twisted info, channels & strategy”
    You write like an hasbara.

  24. drifter says:

    Very similar. But also in key respects very different. For example, the geographic isolation of Spain helped make it possible for Franco to achieve a crushing victory. In Syria, borders with six neighboring states – every one of which is intervening in some fashion or other – make it nearly impossible for the regime to achieve a similar decisive victory.
    That said, in many respects the similarities to Spain are uncanny.

  25. nagi najjar says:

    b, you were correct on this one,,,,,, : , this issue is making lots of noises internally,,( including the Farsi press) ,,, however nobody believe they decapitated him by ” mistake”,,,,,, that was definitely an Intel penetration and manipulation by the regime to sow discord among the rebels,,,,and create infighting,,,,,, Isis , Nusra and Ahrar el Sham fight together on the battlefield,,,,,they all talk to each others behind the scenes,,, , Isis is targeting lots of FSA officers on its “kill list”,,,,, these are double agents acting for the regime, the Syrian Intel excel in these kinds of scenarios,,,, lots of fighting have happened the last few days between the FSA and ISIS ,,,,, this is one segment of this scenario,,,,,,,Again, ISIS is big time penetrated by the Russian Intel ( Chechnya – Dagestan fighters),,,Chechnuans fighters inside Syria speaks fluent Russian ,,,,, they are the ones that kidnapped the two Christians bishops in Aleppo and the regime blamed the FSA for the hit,,,,,, penetrated by the Assad regime ( most of these were inmates in Assad jails, released at the beginning of the conflict , aka AQ Abu Musab el Suri & Al ) ,,,, and Iranian Intel,,,,, lots of these extremists were released by Maliki from Baghdad’s jail per Iran’s request ,,,, why? they have been sent to find inroad inside Syria,,,,, now Russia, Iran and Assad will blackmail the West with these groups using them as proxies,,,,,, Russia is removing all this dirt from central Asia with the knowledge of the SVR and sending it away from its territory on purpose,,,,,,, to keep the headache away from Russia and fail simultaneously the course in Syria for the West,,,,,,

  26. Kunuri says:

    FB Ali,
    Erdogan and the AKP government in Turkey are not crazy, but definitely clueless. They are clever in a peasant way, but not intelligent. Their religious, sectarian, self-serving and anti-modern ideology has carried them to the point they are now, but they certainly bankrupted now when confronted with a truly international crisis as it exist now in Syria.
    Turkish Military and the Police are now two totally different entities. Police is the Republican Guard for the Erdogan government, whereas the Army used to be previously, and the Army is emasculated to the point that they are no longer a force to be contended with. The police and the intelligence services are working directly to carry Erdogan policies, not the State policies. As far as Syria is concerned, it is obvious now that the stand Erdogan took earlier was entirely sectarian based. So as long as the Jihadis now flocking into Syria were Sunni, and not Alawite or Shiite, they have no problem with them. This is what is crazy, and I don’t think they see it even now. They will realize soon that the old adage “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” will not, and never applied in Middle East, especially with the Jihadis.

  27. Kunuri says:

    Nagi Najjar,
    Thank you for your concern, I can not, and will not go to Syria or Iran for obvious reasons, unless I have false papers. My earlier post was hypothetical, to illustrate how easy it would be to go into Syria now if one wanted to, especially for one willing to die for the cause to begin with.
    Your take on the situation in border areas are very well informed and correct, your advise as not to go is also sensible as well for anyone. The short of the matter is the border does not exist in traditional sense anymore. It was an artificial one to begin with.
    Somebody made an analogy in a different post about how much Syrian civil war is like the Spanish Civil war. Istanbul now is very much like it was during WWII, like Lisbon and Bern. It is so easy for anyone to blend in here and come and go as they please. I will be surprised antenna dish business is not booming at all the embassies of the countries you mentioned above.

  28. Kunuri says:

    Israel for one. Kurds, for another one. Hezbullah for another, because they gain fighting experience, distract Israel’s attention and get their hands on all kinds of new toys. Oh, El Kaide and the Jihadis are benefiting tremendously, who knows, they may even get a Khalifa out of it.
    Secondary beneficiaries, AK47 and RPG merchants, Patriot Missile manufacturers, private security firms, tent manufacturers and undertakers.

  29. confusedponderer says:

    “There is no U turn to that request,,,,even if it means 1 million casualties”
    A lot of people. If it is that, then indeed it is victory or bust. Peace talks – what for?
    You bothered asking the candidates for that million casualties for their opinion on whether it’s worth it? Do they share your willingness to sacrifice?
    What precisely is it for you that makes it worth it, killing off 1/20th of Syrians? That Assad is a tyrrant, a heretic, or both? It’s unlikely to be the woman rights.

  30. Perhaps our foreign policy in MENA is too subtle for the US government and polity!
    Would there be merit in more clarity and simplification?
    What if the US were to clearly state that it is now clear that FDR and others contributed to the largely successful holocaust in Europe by US actions and policy and that out of a sense of collective guilt the USA wishes to preserve Israel? And as to the rest of MENA and the Palestinians our only interest is oil?

  31. Bandolero says:

    Babak Makkinejad
    There is a huge difference between different identities and divisions. Of course, people in the region have different identities, like anywhere else.
    Speaking in socio-cultural historic terms, you may easily track such different identities as far back as to prehistoric times. See here, a map of the Byzantine and the Sassanid empire in their last days, looking quite a lot like today’s mainly “Sunni” and mainly “Shia” regions:
    When you take a look a bit closer, there exist many more different schools of jurisprudence and identities connected to those than “Sunni” and “Shia”:
    But now we live in the 21. Century. Almost nowhere in the world differences in identity are faught over violently in these times. The Thirty Years’ War in Europe was finished almost 400 years ago.
    So how does it come that in the region of western asia such identity differences lead to divisions and bring about wars, even though it’s now the 21st century?
    The answer is simple: using differences in identity to stoke up divisions and violence is a tool of war, psychological warfare if you want. That psychological warfare to stoke up divisions between sects in western asia was and is used by the British-US-zionists empire and their puppets in the region to excert power by divide et impera.
    To understand that you just need to read any Reuters report about Syria. Reuters and mush of the western press is not reporting, but engaged in psychological warfare, trying to transform a political and socio-economic conflict in Syria into a conflict of religious identity (Sunni vs Shia) following the age-old divide et impera scheme. If you follow the website of AIPAC, you might have seen that AIPAC was at the forefront of that effort in the summer 2012.
    It’s easy to see what’s that about: AIPAC thinks if the conflict in Syria is seen as “friends of Israel” against “friends of Iran” then the “friends of Iran” will win, but if the conflict is seen as Sunni-Shia, then “friends of Iran” will lose due to the composition of the Syrian population.
    It’s just a classic tactic of psychological warfare, but unfortunately for AIPAC and it’s friends, the Syrian and Iranian leadership understands it well and didn’t fall into that trap.

  32. confusedponderer says:

    With this prolivity for swift and forceful punishment one is left with the dilemma that once that head is off, it can’t be put on again, quite literally in this case.
    What an absurd episode. And speaking of that …
    “Petrov gets on his horse and, addressing the crowd, makes a speech about what will happen if, in the place where the public park now is, an American skyscraper will be built. The crowd listens and evidently is in agreement. Petrov notes down something for himself in his notebook. From the crowd there may be distinguished a man of average height who asks Petrov what he has written down for himself in his notebook. Petrov replies that this concerns only himself. The man of average height persists. One word leads to another: and a strife ensues. The crowd takes the side of the man of average height and Petrov, to save his hide, urges on his horse and makes off round the bend. The crowd gets agitated and, for the lack of another victim, grabs the man of average height and tears off his head. The torn off head rolls down the pavement and gets stuck in an open drain. The crowd, having satisfied its passions, disperses.
    Daniil Charms, A Lynching”
    I for my part am convinced that the people who cut that poor fellas head off were likewise quite satisfied in their respective passions.

  33. confusedponderer says:

    “nobody believe they decapitated him by ” mistake”,,,,,, ”
    Far from it. Executions are by their very nature quite deliberate affairs.

  34. confusedponderer says:

    I mean, you make that very point by implication – that apparently the beheading would have been an absolutely adequate measure had be indeed been a Assad government soldier.
    After I read about Jihadis, to the dismay of local farmers, shooting randy goats for their utterly immodest behaviour in Iraq, without taking so much time as to consider that they are animals and incapable of a culpable act, and judging by the multitude of videos that document the killings of Syrian government soldiers at the hands of Jihadis, I can very easily see how they, without further ado, would chop off the head of a guy they think is a Syrian government soldier.
    The point here is that the beheading is the feature, and the only bug is the mistaken indentity of the victim.

  35. Matthew says:

    Good. Why should the Saudi- and Qatari-funded mercenaries be unopposed?

  36. Matthew says:

    “…the Army is emasculated to the point that they are no longer a force to be contended with.”
    Does that mean the Army can no longer overthrow democratically elected governments? If so, thank God.
    Maybe the Turkish Armed Forces chould focus on protectiong Turkish civilians instead of watching passively while the IDF murders them on the high seas.

  37. turcopolier says:

    Are you at all concerned that Erdogan may think that further elections might be a bad thing if the progress of Islamism in Turkey is challenged thereby? pl

  38. Nagi Najjar says:

    Agree,,,, but the point here also is that the Assad regime is doing all in power to push the Rebellion on the path of Islamic extremism, to justify what it is doing worldwide,,,, therefore to make it look bad and unreliable to the West, and try to drive a wedge,,,, , just as you say now,,,beheadings , kidnappings of western journalists ect,,, , many in the FSA see ISIS as a product of the regime, not the Rebellion,,,, while the Revolution objectives are the downfall of Assad , the replacement of his regime by a state of institution, rallying all of the minorities around it, and move on the page,,,,, the zulus of ISIS & AQ are preaching for the Caliphate, targets the nationalistic officers of the FSA, lure and kidnap ” western hostages” , their modus operandi is doing all in power to derail the Rebellion from its original track,,,,,, most sequestrated Syrian soldiers are imprisoned by the FSA and treated with some kind of dignity,,,,with ISIS and AQ they are shot automatically,,,, this is not by coincidence,,,,, it is all by agenda and manipulation,,,, the Agency should have stepped in long ago, bolster the moderate units and strengthen them,,,nothing happened,,,,( only in op-eds & US newspapers ) , the only side that got the logistics and the weapons from Qatar & Arabia are the extremist proxies,,,four main entities , all four has for agenda the Caliphate,, FSA is marginalized,,,,did not get one friendly bullet from the beginning of the war,,,,, so is the US,,it will become marginalized and neutralized in the future,,,, DOS is doing the wrong job ,,,,,, US boots on the ground was not needed, rather a covert op, shaping the right elements in the right format ,,,,Syria by going rogue will be worse than Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan ,,,,it will be a nightmare to the West,,,, and this is where Russia intends to take it,,,,in order for America not to digest it,,,,,,, Agree in general on the whole picture you are describing,,,,

  39. turcopolier says:

    “the point here also is that the Assad regime is doing all in power to push the Rebellion on the path of Islamic extremism, to justify what it is doing worldwide,,” Nonsense, the jihadi element has always been dominant in this revolt. pl

  40. LeaNder says:

    Thanks Babak, I think Bandolero is not Russian but German. Although he did not answer my question a while ago, how old he is and were exactly he grew up in the context of “re-education”. Which for me matters since the region I partly grew up not the Americans but the French were in charge. I am always in personal memories in that context, if there are any. That’s why age matters. … “B” and “b” seem to both have a fast dot connecting approach. 😉
    “Evening of the Strangers”. Hmm? That may be something that cannot be solved with googling in English?
    I just stumbled across what you may refer too in an interesting discussion somewhere else. That is a really helpful information to understand the Shia – Sunni difference more historically.
    Wikipedia has this context:
    Could you tell me why you refer to it as the “Evening of the Stranger”? How could find more about the specific Persian customs beyond Ta’zieh? Although that is interesting on its own.

  41. turcopolier says:

    “…the region I partly grew up not the Americans but the French were in charge.” How would that have made a difference? pl

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is all fine as far as an attempt at historical explanations go, but now you are departing from your initial statement that blamed the Quds Force – an instrument of the (Shia) Islamic Republic of Iran – for the divisions among Muslims.
    This latest post by you is putting the blame on Israelis, their instrument of foreign influence in US, namely AIPAC and the US puppets in the Middle East.
    You seem to have made a 180-degree change.
    The relevant members among those “puppets” – as you say – are Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
    The first one wishes to eliminate all schools that are not Wahabi from the world of Islam and the other one – with little persuasion and arms-twisting by US & EU – went after the chimera of regime-change in Syria.
    All I see is that US, EU, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia initiating a religious war in Syria to wound Iran.
    I think Iran is the most significant Shia state in the world – the other being Azerbaijan Republic, in its pre-Shia phase – and the Doctors of Religion there are committed to the welfare of Shia everywhere.
    And assault on Iran is an assault on Shia Islam, in my view and would be most likely viewed as such by those Doctors of Religion in Najaf, Qum, Beirut, Mashad and elsewhere.
    This project of the wounding of Iran via Syria always had the potential of becoming a sectarian war – as did the Civil War in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria, and in Southern Russia.
    Now, given the history of the 30-year War in Germany, why did Europeans support this policy?
    Why did the European states determine that Iran – and the Shia – are their enemies?
    Who were the responsible men and women for such policy choices in EU states; can you name some names?
    And by the way, the Muslim world is in year (lunar) 1343, (solar) 1392.

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Evening /Night of Strangers:
    The ceremonies are held on the evening of the Day of Ashoura which commemorate the suffering & humiliation of the “Strangers” – the surviving captive members of the families of Imam Hussein as well as those of his companions after the Battle of Karbala.
    Below, please find photographs of the ceremonies in Tehran and in Mashad:تصاویر-شام-غریبان
    Among those captives was Imam Hussein’s sister – Zeynab – who is buried in Damascus in the area called Zeynabiyah.
    Do not underestimate the effect of the call on the Shia to protect her shrine in the current situation obtaining in Syria – “We will not let Lady Zeynab be held in captivity again.”

  44. Nagi Najjar says:

    dear friend,,,,,, with respect,
    Not during the first year of the war,,,( where most of the Rebels advances and victories happened on the ground by the FSA) , the extremists were none existent yet,,,,maybe a very few,,,,,,,,, they beefed up after the meeting in Antalyia , sponsored by Qatar first, US, France, UK , Arabia and many gulf states had observers in that meeting , the meeting was a “coup” sponsored by Qatar against the FSA ,,,, it created a parallel entity under the FSA banner called the ” Supreme Military Council” ( SMC) , in the West, the Qatar lobby in DC $$$ promoted the SMC as the ” moderate element” of the Rebellion, de facto on the ground, it was the main conduit to the MB,,,,, they installed Gen Idriss as chairman, not to do what is good for Syria, rather what was good for Qatar regional MB’s designs, ,,,,, when Qatar was sidelined by the US and replaced by Arabia , Arabia sidelined the MB’s and replaced the course with the Wahabis, Takfiris and salafists,,,,,all the support went to these, using Idriss command as a conduit to support Arabia’s proxies ,,,,, few well armed salafists militias,,,,,,, don’t confuse these with the FSA . The SMC of Idriss counts 9 officers and 20 civilians running the command,,,,,, the FSA of Col Riad counts 300 officers in its command , among them 20 senior defected Generals of the Syrian Army,,,,, the FSA does not include Jihadis elements , it is the ” moderate” SMC that does,,,,,, The West mixed it up,,,, and didn’t care neither,,,,,,, the Syrian platform was a little complex , the US dropped serious support to the Rebellion,,,,, it is at this stage when the FSA was marginalized by Qatar and Arabia,,,,, these two regional states started to pump money, food, logistics, support and arms respectively to its groups on the ground that the Jihadi element became dominant on the ground,,,( with the supervision of the Agency) ( It had agents monitoring all of that on the border ) ,, but it is not all,,,,, despite no support, the FSA is still a robust entity across Syria that nobody can ignore,,, it counts 80,000 – 100,000 fighters in its rank,,,still, as of today, there no communication channel between DC and the FSA ,,,, and neither Bandar $$$ in its ranks to promote Arabia’s agenda,,,,, Arabia & Qatar both are seen part of the problem and not part of the solution within the FSA,,,, they have divided their ranks and turned the FSA against each other , each state for their regional personal influence & benefit, not what is good for Syria,,,,,, Bandar excelled in creating demons that he could not control at a later stage ,,,,, was the 1st Afghanistan war not enough? with AQ, the Talibans and all the rest,,,,,,,,,History is repeating itself,,,,, in Afghanistan, the first war,,,, US had the chance to support the nationalistic element of the Afghani resistance, Shah Masood, instead with the recommendation of Paki ISI and Saudi Intel,,,,, it ended up supporting AQ & Al as we all saw where did this strategy have led,,,,,,, same thing in Syria is happening today,,,,, the extremists are getting the support,,,,,, and the center stage rebellion is sitting on the shelf,,,,,,, what will be the end of it,,,,,, a regional nuclear exchange,,,,,, ? I don’t see the US turning that page anymore,,, the word America has a negativity on the ground with what this Administration have done,,,,,,, US credibility has vanished,,,,,,,, and it is only going from worse to worst,,,,,,,, should we wait for a Salafist Sheikh to sit with his tank on the Golan Heights preaching the road to Jerusalem in order for the West to move, it will be too late,,,,, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan all the way to Iran,,,, and everything in between will be pulverized then, sucked up in that big black whole that is the Middle East,,,, and the US will be dragged in that Armageddon, there is no escape from it, so far the US has lost a lot on the regional chessboard as a reliable power,,,,,nobody simply trust it,, not its allies neither its enemies,,,,,

  45. turcopolier says:

    “Not during the first year of the war,” I don’t believe that. IMO this was always a sectarian war and it has only become more so with the passage of time. You sound like all the SNA and SNC spokesmen that I have encountered in meetings in DC who earnestly maintain that this was a secular revolution in the beginning, something that Tom Paine would have supported. In fact, Sunni Imams were among the leaders from the start. Surely, you do not deny that the goal of the revolutionaries has always been the end of Alawi rule. pl

  46. Kunuri says:

    Oh, jees…

  47. confusedponderer says:

    “many in the FSA see ISIS as a product of the regime”
    They may just try to flatter themselves on that. At the same time, they may give Assad too much credit.
    Naturally, Assad has an interest in dividing the rebels to weaken them. He can be expected to exploit that. The man is fighting for his life after all.
    Now, what about ISIS being the product of the extent to which ISIS represents pre-existing attitudes of Syrian Sunni and Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood. From what I read about what they did to Alawites in the last couple decades on occasion, in particular in the events preceding the Hama example, there is not much difference between their conduct and that of contemporary Jihadis, pod casts aside.
    Or what about ISIS being the product, to the extent they rely on foreigners, of those who fund them, and train them and ferry their international volunteers into Syria?
    Seriously, the rebels appear, if the perpetually rotating chairmanship of the FSA is any indication, to be just perfectly capable of division on their own. How many chairmen did they have so far? How long was the average duration of chairmanship? A month? Two?

  48. LeaNder says:

    sorry, Pat, this was a ill corrected and reflected note. Really superfluous information. Simply remained on my mind, maybe because I would still like to know how old he is and where from. In any case the experience suggested that Babak would not get an answer either. Did he?
    “How would that have made a difference?”
    Ok, it did make one for me at one point, more precisely the results of re-education in its reality on the ground.
    When he used the term it triggered old memories of my struggle with an authoritiarian headmaster, who got me locked out of the cities archives at one point.
    Anyway that was in the South “re-education” was called „mission civilisatrice“ there. The French were in charge, at least on practical administrative terms. They were also in charge to select the teachers and had quite a few troubles in the process. …
    But compared to then I now understand how difficult it must have been at the time. Nevertheless close to two decades ago, I tried again to find out why they started down there only in 1972/73 to treat the Nazi period in high schools. There were much earlier agreements that seemed to suggest otherwise. At that point my early experience repeated itself, again no access to the archives. Hmmm? I could try again.

  49. FkDahl says:

    Mr Najjar
    While it is possible the various Salafists or rebels are pushed to extremism by the Assad government (using the Russia in Chechnya playbook) one cannot deny that the way salafists treat Shia and other unbelievers is common from Pakistan through Iraq and into Syria. In other words they are behaving as they always do.
    In terms of Hezbollah’s involvement my take is that they were slow to send combat units to Syria, for sure they were not the first Lebanese based fighters in Syria, that honor belongs to various rebels. Hezbollah’s main goal seems to be to defend against Israel, not to fight Sunnis.
    You also stated that the main benefactors of a prolonged conflict were AQ and Hezbollah. Please read e.g Chomsky how Syria was identified as the weak link between Hezbollah and Iran. Saudi and Israeli clearly have an interest in common here.

  50. Kunuri says:

    If I may address that, Albayim, “progress of Islamism in Turkey” has hit its logical limits. If not for becoming clearly obvious for what it is, palpable to anyone except those who has a material stake in Islamism’s advance in Turkey.
    Islamism has not been challenged seriously in the last decade or so for several reasons, one being the economic surge, other being the social/ethnic class tectonic shift. Third being the ideological putsch exercised in all levels of state apparatus. All hit their limits, and metal fatique is setting in.
    Interfering with the election process, or even thinking about curtailing them is unthinkable for even Erdogan, it will be his death pell. And believe me, there are a lot of challengers in Turkey by nature, especially since there is always the legacy of Ataturk, still alive.
    One good indicator is the number of visitors to Ataturk’s tomb on anniversary of his passing, 1,100,000 this November 10th, highest ever.

  51. Norbert M Salamon says:

    Or perhaps Mr. Erdogan is planning a Putin .Mendeleev solution with the possible help of Mr. Gur.

  52. FB Ali says:

    I am frankly baffled by the policies being followed by Erdogan (and Davotuglu). It seems Abdullah Gul has more sense. I fear if Erdogan becomes President he will be able to run wild.
    Seems a great shame!

  53. LeaNder says:

    Thanks Babak, what you intimated and what a Sunni Muslim wrote about the event somewhere else helped me to understand that I really never understood the event. Incidentally shortly before the attack in Karbala, which put matters in context.
    And information like the one below, slightly unhistorical it feels, wouldn’t have helped me either.
    In any case, this article would give me the same superficial and false impression, as what I read by now. Hard to understand these matters without a basic grasp of the history of the region.

  54. Medicine Man says:

    I was recently reading more about Kemal Mustafa Ataturk. He was a rare individual. I’m somewhat shocked that Erdogan got away with calling Ataturk and İsmet İnönü “those two drunks”.

  55. confusedponderer says:

    “While it is possible the various Salafists or rebels are pushed to extremism by the Assad government (using the Russia in Chechnya playbook) one cannot deny that the way salafists treat Shia and other unbelievers is common from Pakistan through Iraq and into Syria.”
    I mean, that is it, isn’t it? Syrian opposition supporters are often quick to excuse opposition atrocities with references to the Assad regime’s brutality. I don’t think that cuts it.
    It didn’t take Assad for Jihadis to cut Daniel Pearl’s head off not to mention all the other unfortunate folks). These nuts are just like that wherever they go.
    When the Syrian rebels of the various factions habitually execute wounded and prisoners and torture people that simply makes them criminal scum. In the end people are responsible for their own actions.
    And, but perish the thought, sometimes when rebels hold hapless foreigners for ransom, I can’t help thinking that they may just do it for their material gain, and not because the revolution demands it.
    These apologetics somewhat remind me of US utterances to the effect that the looting in Baghdad only was so bad because Saddam was so repressive and the folks just had to let steam, and about Freedom ™ being untidy and all that.
    At least to me old Philistine there is nothing obvious in what Saddam did that explains why someone would loot a building to a shell in response. The looting had nothing to do with Saddam. Probably the looters were merely taking criminal advantage of an opportinity.

  56. confusedponderer says:

    “Now, given the history of the 30-year War in Germany, why did Europeans support this policy?”
    Likely, when one looks at some of the actors, because they don’t what the thirty year was about, if they know that it happened. Hollande for one gives me that distinct feeling.
    I assume that, when compared to those with the political science or BS background, lawywers have a slight edge there, because they may subconsciously remember to have heard the phrase ‘Westfalian Order’ at some time in their lecture slumber, if they didn’t skip international law altogether.
    ‘History is not where the money is’, and most study programs don’t encourage their students to pursue that because as far as grading goes, side topics like history are not ‘grade bringers’ and thus neglected.
    Sadly, that probably isn’t any different in Europe than in the US.

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