Syria 101 – must have reads

Western media tend to shroud their clients in innocent confusion about the „complicated“ situation on the ground. The following collection is a mere summary aiming to shed at least some light on Syria. The main question seems to be, how strong Al-Qaida actually is (or how weak the secular forces are).

A report from Bassam, an FSA Soldier says:

„You can only deal with al-Qaida by force. They are very strong, very organized. They have strategic thinking and very good supplies. If they stay like this they are going to take over all of Syria.

Al-Qaida is the one thing that will unite Syrian people after the revolution, because all of the Syrians will want them out – those who are now with the regime and those who are against the regime.

Nobody likes these people. We will have to fight them to get them out. After the regime falls there will have to be a new military formation to confront these radical movements. […] The Syrian situation is very simple. Assad is the problem. For eight months we were protesting and there was no al-Qaida. But when you let stuff reach this level, this is what happens.“

And because Jihadists know that, they attack other groups. Their panic in the face of US-Airstrikes (now suspended) and their fear from Assads overthrow through other rebel-groups vitiate those insisting on a  conflict „Al-Qaida vs. „secularist“ Assad“ in Syria:

„The Supreme Military Council, promoted by Western and Gulf backers as an umbrella of moderate groups boasting hundreds of thousands of fighters, is being increasingly challenged by thousands of jihadists and foreign fighters, who have flocked to war-torn Syria to fight Assad’s regime. […] Echoing the fears of jihadist groups that other rebel groups may turn their arms against them – especially if Assad’s regime falls – al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said in a video recording released on September 11 the „Sahwat the US is trying to create in the Levant will be destroyed – God willing“. He urged armed Islamist groups not to „reconcile with secularists and enemies of Islam in any way“.“

This paper contains an elaborate profile of the rebel-factions on the ground:

And just recently another study is explicit about numbers:

„Opposition forces battling Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria now number around 100,000 fighters, but after more than two years of fighting they are fragmented into as many as 1,000 bands.

The new study by IHS Jane’s, a defence consultancy, estimates there are around 10,000 jihadists – who would include foreign fighters – fighting for powerful factions linked to al-Qaeda..

Another 30,000 to 35,000 are hardline Islamists who share much of the outlook of the jihadists, but are focused purely on the Syrian war rather than a wider international struggle.

There are also at least a further 30,000 moderates belonging to groups that have an Islamic character, meaning only a small minority of the rebels are linked to secular or purely nationalist groups.

The stark assessment, to be published later this week, accords with the view of Western diplomats estimate that less than one third of the opposition forces are „palatable“ to Britain, while American envoys put the figure even lower.  […] As well as being better armed and tougher fighters, ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra have taken control of much of the income-generating resources in the north of the country, including oil, gas and grain.“

One would think, that even a front of 15.000 to 20.000 fighters should get some attention or support. And included among the „islamist“ numbers are those, who just joined because they needed arms and steady supplies. Also have a look at this call for aid for the FSA:

And the town of Yabroud remained peaceful, outside Assads grip, with one third Christian population and staving off Al-Qaida. Indeed a model of what could have happend, if the West had supported the rebels more early and killed Assad:

But what is it all about? If you like to have the letters big and the pictures bigger, here is a history of the onflict in 55 pictures:

UNHCR reports 4 Millions of refugees inside Syria, 2 Millions managed to escape into adjacent states. Meanwhile Germany offers to take 5000, Austria 500, while Sweden vowed unrestricted asylum for more than 8000 Syrian refugees:

The extent of destruction of Syrian urban areas through artillery and aircraft can be witnessed by this collection of satellite-pictures, a sickening sight:

Several sources say Napalm was used by Government forces, another event involves white phosphorus:

„Le Monde’s reporters visited eight medical centers in the eastern part of the Ghouta region and found only two where medical directors said they had not seen fighters or civilians affected by gas attacks. In Nashibiyya, doctors said they had admitted up to 60 cases from the Otaiba front in a single day, March 18.“

About August 21. 2013 chemical weapons attack: US-Governemnt Assessment on Syria:

The German intelligence „Bundesnachrichtendienst“ confirms Assads responsibility for Chemical Weapon use due to high plausibility analysis and intercepted phone-calls:

French intelligence confirms Assad as perpetrator of chemical attack, says samples tested for Sarin positive:

And while it has been confirmed now over and over again, Human Rights Watch added some nice maps and sketches:

„The UN report blamed both government and rebel forces for carrying out murder, torture and rape, but said the intensity and scale of the crimes committed by the state outweighed those committed by opposition fighters.“

A rumor produced by the Syrian government media claims Sarin gas containers to be found among rebels.

The so-called source was said to be a turkish raid. Ankara disclaimed this rumor later on. It nonetheless went viral and spams the net:

In the meantime it was found true, that Great-Britain companies provided Sodium fluoride, a chemical essential for the production of Sarin to Syria after the conflict has started:

Russia clings to claiming the use of Chemical weapons by rebels. The 100-pages report is not online so far, but the main argument seems to be, that the Sarin-samples from Aleppo are „dirty“, which leads Russia to the conclusion, that it is homebrew-Sarin and not military chemical grade weapon. The argument was regarded as invalid, as Syrian government forces might have had used old stocks or even produced dirty mixtures by purpose. The character of the chemical does not exclude government troops as the culprits:

Russian masterminds of course don’t want to loose their face (they really think, they still have one to loose) and therefore they produce tons of bogus evidence and theories. „The Interpreter“ analyzes portions of the most toxic fallout produced mostly by RT:

A good summary on the chemical weapons industry in Syria:

Another testimony by a chemistrist working for the chemical industry in Syria, recorded by Al-Jazeera:

„The chemist explained that during the two-year conflict, the regime has experimented with mixing different gases – like sarin and tear gas – in order to create a mélange of symptoms that would make the cause hard to identify. […] It is not known exactly when chemical weapons production in Syria began. The chemist said that all infrastructure and equipment to produce the nerve agent sarin was provided to Syria by what was then West Germany. As for VX, the chemist said that Syria in the 1990s used the expertise of Armenian specialists trained in the Soviet Union before its collapse.“

The German support of Assads chemical industry is well-known:

„Major German pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and machine-building companies helped Syria to establish its modest and well-dispersed production facilities, some with the support of official „Hermes“ export credits from the German government. In addition to Schott Glasswerke, which continues to export licensed goods to Syrian chemicals plants, special mixing vats, high temperature furnaces, hot isostatic presses (HIP) and sophisticated machine-tools have been shipped with German export licenses to Syria’s Scientific Research Council (CERS) by Ferrostaal, Carl Schenck, Leifeld, Weber GmbH, and other major German companies. It is not believed that these shipments were illegal under German law.“

And of course, we won’t forget the German „little“ helpers of Saddam Husseins WMD-Industry (German):

On Intervention

Jerusalem Post says, Israel and Iran watch Syria, Israel might attack Iran on its own, if Assad goes unpunished:

Syrian Local Coordination Comitees warns from limited, timid response, says: „Any strike to the regime must aim to paralyze, with attention and precision, its Air Forces, artillery, and missiles arsenal, being used continuously against civilian areas, with an impact not far from that of Mass Destruction weapons. A strike must also priotorize civilians and their safety, rather than being at their cost.“

A victim of iraqs use of chemical weapons against civilians is wary of international instruments (German):

Henryk M. Broder discards the calls for „evidence“, says various genocides are still „disputed“, still no evidence in the case of „Reichstagsbrand“ (German):

Syrian journalist calls for obliterating Assads airforce (German):!122736/

And now, two years after the conflict started and turned into a ghoulish war, people start to organize protests against „the war“, of course to veto any intervention, as things are so difficult and Al-Qaida could prosper and what and what. Have a look at an average rally and who supports it:

And while Al-Qaida in Syria protests against US-Airstrikes, as they know, the regime is their safest bet of staying in Syria as long as they can and the longer the more recruits, their british friends offer themselves as human shields:,7340,L-4426822,00.html

Smart and experienced in Western naivety as Putin is, he dealed out the easiest way to continue helping Assad (after tons of arms and vetoed sanctions): through choosing the least dangerous punishment for the war-crime of using chemical weapons. Getting the C-weapons „internationally controlled“ – this is something that was promised by Russia and US since August 2012 and in december a raid against a C-weapons base was reported to have taken place – apparently through Russian special forces. Thanks to the israeli Airforce, Assad could not produce A-bombs with North-Coreas assistance so far. Whatever happens to the C-Weapons, the western appeasement front is cheering after Putins „offer“, as there seems a way of staying out of the conflict without loosing ones face (loosing more lives in Syria does not matter to them, neither does loosing Syria to Al-Qaida), And as could be expected, also Assad was relieved and cheering, immediately accepting the „offer“. As the Times of Israel writes, such a move will let Assad win – maybe without chemical weapons.

And if someone really, really wanted to believe against all odds and realities, Putin could have had a weak moment or soft spot for mankind or was just wise enough to assist preparing a military intervention for the west (securing the C-Weapons BEFORE things get really messy, saving the money for about 14000 troops with boots on the ground to secure the stockpiles), s/he might have lived with his head in the sand the past two years:

The better informed people smell a rat in Assads noble offer. But also more and more people detect, that Kerrys idea of crippling Assads airforce as a punishment is just naive about the necessary consequences: Assads fall and a turmoil, in which chemical weapons are to be secured by a foreign intruder or by a reliable and strong enough unified rebel force, which seems not to be at hand at the moment despite comparably strong secular factions among the FSA.

„Any disarmament plan would lock U.S. officials into dealing routinely with his government and give them a stake in its survival for as long as the process takes (which Assad will therefore be sure to drag out).  On top of this, he is now demanding that Washington stop arming Syrian rebels as a quid pro quo.  Other demands and provisos are sure to follow.“

Not to talk about possible pogroms and ethnic cleansing against Alawites or Christians. Genocidal violence has not been mentioned by any western power as a trigger to get involved – despite the experience in ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia. The German government and all parties ruled any intervention – under no circumstances. Which is nothing less than announcing to condone ethnic cleansing if it should happen/continue.

And because the question of israels position is crucial to some of its friends and enemies: Israel has ever been hostile to Assad and as Michael Oren says, it does not prefer Assad to Al-Qaida:

““The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran,” he said. […] Still, the greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc. That is a position we had well before the outbreak of hostilities in Syria. With the outbreak of hostilities we continued to want Assad to go.”

And Israeli hospitals treat Syrians (against repressions from forces loyal to Assad) as a result of the total collapse of the Syrian medical system:

Meanwhile the interest of the West in – at least – assisting the refugees hits a record low. One should think, that someone would call for an active transfer of at least 1 Million refugees into the European Union. But nope – just business als usual. Donations for refugees are collected by the following organisation recommended by WADI (German):

(to be updated)

13 thoughts on “Syria 101 – must have reads

    • Sicher hat sie nicht alles geschrieben was sie gesehen hat. Aber was dich stört, ist, dass eine Reporterin proisraelisch und anti-Castro ist. Für mich ist das ein erster notwendiger, wenn auch kein hinreichender Garant für Seriosität. Und dann sagt sie etwas, das merkwürdigerweise gerade Linke seit Jahr und Tag meinen, als Weisheit unters Volk bringen zu müssen: Dass da nicht alle Al-Qaida sind.

      • sie hat noch nicht mal alles gesehen!
        und deshalb ist ihre darstellung mit vorsicht zu genießen.
        ich will nämlich was über Syrien wissen. ob sie proisraelisch und antikuba ist, ist mir dabei so hoch wie breit. und dass nicht alles al-qaida sei – na, wer hätte das gedacht?!
        ich erklär’s dir aber gern: ich lese auch ihren artikel unter anderem mit dem hintergrundwissen, welches mir meine mandantinnen aus Syrien vermittelt haben.

      • Das war ja klar, typisch rahab: auf Nachbohren folgt sofort das herablassende Ausweichmanöver. »hintergrundwissen, welches mir meine mandantinnen aus Syrien vermittelt haben.« – worum soll es sich denn dabei handeln? Hummus-Rezepte? Wenn du nicht so beschäftigt wärst damit, dich wichtig zu machen, dann hättest du vielleicht auch einmal ein bisschen Zeit, etwas Konstruktives zu einer Diskussion beizutragen. Aber dass du über ein besseres Lagebild der Situation in Syrien verfügst, nimmt dir hier keiner ab, solange du das nicht substanziierst. Und du tätest ferner gut daran, haarklein darzulegen, warum genau die anekdotischen Schilderungen deiner Mandantinnen soviel weniger ungenau, weniger durch eigennützige Motive verzerrt, weniger unvollständig oder sonst irgendwie besser sein sollen als die einer pro-israelisch eingestellten amerikanischen Journalistin.

      • „“Secretary of State John Kerry’s public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and non-governmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.”“

        Nichts anderes behaupte ich und kaum ein anderes Bild erweckt O-Bagy unabhängig von ihrer Reputation oder zu den Versuchen, diese zu beschädigen. Es ist ein zweiter Report oben verlinkt über die Rebellenfronten und das Bild, das sie entwirft von verschiedenen Einflußzonen und militärischen Misserfolgen islamistischer Fronten sowie ihre Kontrollversuche werden eben von anderen Berichten bestätigt.

        Gerade WEGEN der Stärke der Islamisten aber befürworte ich eine Intervention – nicht anders als in den arabischen Dikaturen ist der Islamismus durch Jahrzehntelange Diktaturen nicht verschwunden, sondern erstarkt. Und wenn Menschen die Intervention derzeit mit dem Argument der Islamisten ablehnen, dann sollten diese „Pazifisten“, die eigentlich nur Feiglinge oder zynische Sparfüchse sind, so ehrlich sein und die Verwendung von Giftgas im Krieg gegen Islamisten zu fordern. Ich tue das nicht und ich halte es nicht für legitim, Giftgas zu verwenden, nur weil die Gegner Iraner oder Al-Nusra-Kämpfer sind oder wer auch immer.

        Eine Intervention, das war von Beginn an klar, hätte entweder den Rebellen mit Luftschlägen an die Macht verholfen mit allen möglichen Folgen – darunter ethnische Säuberungen und starke Al-Qaida-Taschen, die wiederum nur mit angeschlossenen Proxy-wars zu beseitigen wären. Religiöser Konservativismus in Homs und anderen Städten wird sich auch durch Assad oder säkulare Rebellen an der Macht nicht in den nächsten Jahrzehnten auflösen.
        Oder man hätte gleich die Bodentruppen einsetzen können. Das wäre in den ersten 8 Monaten noch anders gewesen, da hätte man eine lybische Lösung durchsetzen können.
        Naiv war der „closed door“ und „no boots“-Vorschlag von Kerry und Obama. Natürlich werden die C-Waffen-Arsenale gesichert werden müssen, wenn Assad stürzt.
        Aber implizit verfährt man derzeit konservativ: Man hält Assad aus Angst vor den Islamisten und stützt sie damit gerade. Das geht nun mal schief und unterhöhlt die Glaubwürdigkeit des Westens – was wiederum den Islamisten einen „just cause“ ausliefert. An ihrer Machtergreifung in Syrien führt dann gewiss nichts mehr vorbei, denn Assad wird nichts halten können als weitere Giftgaseinsätze von russischen Gnaden.

  1. „……..dass eine Reporterin proisraelisch und anti-Castro ist. Für mich ist das ein erster notwendiger, wenn auch kein hinreichender Garant für Seriosität.“

    Für mich ist eine solche Wertung eher eine Disqualifikation des Wertenden.
    Wie kann denn eine derartige parteiische Haltung nur seriös sein?

    Das Gegenteil ist der Fall, für mich ist eine Berichterstattung unter der Prämisse völlig wertlos.

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