[Vredeslijst] Issues around Syria and planned demonstrations

Jeff meisner op xs4all.nl
Vr Sep 6 16:53:09 CEST 2013

At 11:50 05-09-13 +0200, Henk van der Keur wrote:
>Daar ben ik het helemaal mee eens. En er bestaan geweldloze oppositiegroepen.

But that doesn't recognize that the revolution has always been against violence and has always participated in nonviolent demonstrations whenever possible. These continue every Friday at many locations. But it was because of the violence against the peaceful demonstrations in 2011 that defecting soldiers started calling themselves the "Free Syrian Army" and used their weapons in order to defend those demonstrations, and to defend liberated zones. The main call by opposition groups for arms is for defensive weapons, such as anti-aircraft missiles to use against bombing of their demonstrations and bakery lines. If those were to be sent to the rebel controlled zones, they would SAVE lives, not increase the violence as is commonly asserted.

> Neem 
>bijvoorbeeld het National Coordination Committee (NCC)

Well that article from The Huffington Post about the NCC is worth reading, but doesn't refer to most of the hundreds of local revolutionary organizations....

>, dat geen deel uitmaakt van de Syrian 
>National Council (SNC)

This was a mistake (I'm pretty sure) repeated from the article, which probably was referring to the Syrian National COALITION (also SNC, formally the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces) which was set up last fall. The smaller Syrian National Council was formed in 2011, representing a number of left organizations based outside of the country. I believe the article is wrong in saying that the coalition has "long supported western military intervention against Assad." (Of course they want arms to be sent to the secular forces who are greatly overpowered by the Assad regime supplied by Russia and Iran, and they don't care if those come from the West, East, North or South!). It is only some Jihadist groups that want to see Western troops come to Syria, so that they can shoot at them!

As the following article shows, the issues are complicated, and there is a great deal of uncertainty among the revolutionaries as to whether a "limited strike" by the US would help reduce the threat from chemical weapons or worsen the situation. There are many reasons to think either might be the case, and I don't think people in NL are in a better position to determine that than the Syrians. We should defer to their judgement (or uncertainty, in this case) and thus avoid taking a position. Concentrating on the very late and reluctant decision of the US to act while ignoring the 2 1/2 years of brutality by the Assad regime (of which chemical weapons are only a small, but ominous component) is not in the interests of the revolution or the Syrian people generally. There are many humanitarian needs (such as food, medical supplies and gas masks) which should be sent to the Syrians; that is not controversial.

- Jeff


Syria's Rebels Not Unified On US Strike

By: Andrea Glioti for Al-Monitor Posted on September 1.

AMUDA, Syria — As the horizon is still cloudy concerning the date and
details of the announced Western strike on Syria — officially intended
to punish the regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 in
the Damascus suburb of Ghouta — the rebels on the ground are divided
on whether the intervention will benefit their cause.

“We support a strike targeting the regime’s stocks of chemical
weapons, as this is what has been announced by US officials,” Maj.
Mohammad Yahyya Ali, commander of the northern and western fronts of
the Free Syrian Army's (FSA) Ihfad al-Rasul Brigades, one of the
largest militias, told Al-Monitor over Skype, “but they also need to
hit the vital military articulations and establish a no-fly zone.”

Most interventionists agree upon rejecting a full-scale deployment by
land, whereas they complain like everyone else about the lack of arms.
“We don’t need men, but supplies of weapons,” confirmed Ali.

On the contrary, the armed groups opposed to intervention are wary of
Western interests, regardless of whether troops will be deployed on
Syrian soil or not. “On principle, we are against foreign intervention
because the locals should decide how to get rid of this criminal
(President Bashar al-Assad),” the political wing of the Ahrar al-Sham
Islamist movement told Al-Monitor in a written interview. “In case of
a strike, it will be launched to achieve the interests of their
countries, aloof from the interest of the Syrian people. If they were
concerned about the situation of Syrians due to the crimes of the
regime, they wouldn’t have delayed a response until now.” Ahrar
al-Sham's political wing announced, "All foreign troops entering Syria
by land, whether Iranian or American, will be treated as occupying

Even some interventionist factions show concern about the interests
served by the military operation, emphasizing the risk of seeing
Israel strengthened by the consequences. “Foreign intervention is
welcome as long as it targets those forces who are keeping under siege
our cities and villages: the Republican Guards, the 4th Division (an
elite brigade led by Bashar’s brother Maher al-Assad) and the security
branches,” Lt. Col. Abu ‘Othman, commander of the Al-Fajr Brigade
(FSA) in Eastern Ghouta, affirmed in a Skype interview with
Al-Monitor. “The West should not strike the modern National Air Force
Defense, as this is needed to defend our country from Israel.”

Others argue that the priority should be rescuing Syrian civilians,
rather than believing in the defensive nature of a military apparatus
which has been rarely used against the Jewish state. “The Air Force
has never been used against Israel, but only on the Syrian people,
therefore it needs to be targeted,” Ihfad al-Rasul’s Ali objected,
adding, “The priority is to stop spilling Syrian blood.” As a matter
of fact, on May 7, the regime showed no reaction to the Israeli
strikes on Damascus which reportedly resulted in the deaths of at
least 100 Syrian soldiers.

In addition, there is much room for speculation on targets because
Western forces are not coordinating their plans with the rebels.
“Until now there has been no form of cooperation; we haven’t been
contacted by anyone, although I believe the West is already informed
about the fundamental targets,” Ali said.

Others are more pessimistic about the likelihood of the strike to
achieve crucial results, as the warning gave the regime enough time to
take precautions. “The problem is that the regime has already
evacuated the international airport of Damascus, the headquarters of
the 4th Division and the artillery stationed on the Qassiun mountain,”
Abu Yasser Usayd, the commander of the Ihfad al-Ghouta phalange,
comprised within the Al-Habib al-Mustafa brigades in Ghouta Sharqiya,
told Al-Monitor in a Skype written interview. “Rather than informing
the regime of the strike, the West should have launched a limited
attack through a tacit agreement with the forces on the ground, but so
far there has been no coordination at all,” he said.

Both the interventionists and those against the strike are concerned
about the aftermath of this lack of coordination, which could result
in targeting rebel groups.

“The regime won’t fall by striking its evacuated military and security
sites. We will need to break into [its headquarters], and that’s when
the West is going to shell both us and the regime,” Ihfad al-Ghouta’s
Usayd foresees. In Libya, for example, the NATO coalition repeatedly
targeted, more or less intentionally, the rebels it was supposed to

“We don’t agree on any strike on any component of the Syrian
revolution, whether it is the Free Syrian Army, Jabhat al-Nusra or
others,” the political wing of the Ahrar al-Sham Islamist movement
stated. Even though no Western official has included a war on al-Qaeda
among the goals of military action, warnings against possible US raids
have been widely circulating on jihadist forums in recent days.

However, when it comes to radical entities like Jabhat al-Nusra and
the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, several FSA officials cautiously
voiced their readiness to collaborate with the West in countering
their influence.

“We are aware of the existence of a large component of fighters
belonging to certain groups and cooperating with the regime,” Al-Fajr
Brigade’s commander, Lt. Col. ‘Othman said, adding “We reject
extremism and we are ready to cooperate against these groups, even
though now the focus needs to remain on the regime’s elite forces.”

“For the moment, we are not here to fight against other factions,”
Ihfad al-Rasul Brigades’ commander, Maj. Mohammad Yahyya Ali,
stressed. “What I can say is that we’re absolutely against radicalism
and terror, and in the future we will fight against any faction
opposed to the will of the Syrian people.”

Andrea Glioti is a freelance journalist who covered the first five
months of the Syrian uprising from inside the country. His work has
been published by the Associated Press, IRIN News, openDemocracy, The
Daily Star (Lebanon), New Internationalist and numerous Italian and
German newspapers.

Meer informatie over de Vredeslijst maillijst