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11 May 2012

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JohnH

Excellent summary and conclusion.

France should be included among those eagerly supporting the salafists. Apparently the French haven't gotten over their loss of the ME 800 years ago.

kao_hsien_chih

There is the more recent loss after WW2. Somehow, though, I get the impression (based on very little knowledge and probably very biased sample of acquaintances, admittedly) that the feelings between the "Syrians" and the French aren't as warm and fuzzy as the other French colonies in the ME--Syrians don't strike me as nearly as Francophone or Francophile as the Tunisians or the Lebanese.

turcopolier

JohnH

Why would that make them pro-salafist? Saladin (a proto-salafist and sunni) drove the essentially French crusaders out of the Levant. pl

stanleyhenning

In a way I feel sad to say this, but say it I must. Any destructive movements based on even the slightest religious connection are sad human trash. They bring nothing but disaster to all concerned. It is too bad that the Middle East appears to be the center for this kind of destructive nonsense. Perhaps we need to surround and limit any travel from any of these places for the indefinite future. We do not need this kind of garbage polluting our lives.

CTuttle

Here's an interesting article from the AFP...

Syria envoy says British, French, Belgian fighters killed...

JohnH

Go figure! As the Arab proverb says, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Also, Saad Hariri appears to be pretty tight with the Saudis, the French as well as the salafi rebels.

Alba Etie

Col Lang
Should we concerned about a modern day Paladin appearing ?

tequila

I don't think the Obama Administration is in the thrall of neocons - rather in thrall to the idea of containing/countering Iranian interests. Supporting the insurgents in Syria is one. Supporting the regime in Bahrain against prodemocracy protesters, as the Obama Admin has done, is another.

Babak Makkinejad

Fine sentiment!

I think then it will be a good idea for you to start closer to home; stopping the support for the Religious project called Israel.

Tyler

Why is NPR claiming that al-Qaeda elements backing the Assad regime are responsible for the blasts?

Rhetorical question.

turcopolier

Tyler

As you see, NPR et al will accept any foolishness that the Sunni rebels tell them. pl

Kunuri

Assad would love to turn the the popular uprising into a clear cut sectarian war. What better smoke screen for him to hide the repression of his own people.

At the initial stages last year, people uprising and demonstrating on the streets were lower class, suppressed masses, though mainly Sunni, sect distinctions did not come to fore, in other words the initial resistance was not Sunnis revolting against the Alawites-to note, Syrian Alawites are not the same Shiites as Iranians. As well, Alawites of Turkey, who are up to one seventh of the population, are not the same as the Alawites of Syria.

Now that revolting masses all but gave up hope for real and active help from UN, US, international community, and Turkey in particular, they are open for anyone who will come in and do something. Enter Saudi extremist Wahabbis, all colors of Al Kaida, Taliban like extremists etc. In that atmosphere of despair, they can find breathing space. And this is good for Assad because, now he can credibly maintain that if he falls, the new Syria will be an extremist Taliban-Maghreb in Africa like state-and two, he will now be able to associate any help to the legitimate non sectarian resistance as help to the terrorists. And in the light of latest bombings in Damascus and Aleppo, he can actually demonstrate this point.

My personal proof of this grasping straws by the resistance, that they are turning to Wahhabis to survive, is visual. As I watch videos and war footage, since March of last year, I see a remarkable change in the appearance, stance, and styling of actual fighters, as well as their deference to the apparent leader, their chants, and how they handle their weapons at rest. Gone are the ragtag jungle cammo jackets, khaki parkas, clean shaved faces. Now, big black beards, green head bands of the martyrs, no jeans and tennis shoes. Gone are the group of armed army deserters and genuine pissed off youth, all seeming of equal stature. Now is one big guy with the black beard everyone looking at him and he walks confidently with big steps nodding here or there. It is now obvious that the tactics of the resistance has changed as well, they stopped skirmishing in the suburbs of besieged cities or in the countryside close to the borders. Obviously, Syrian Army has the air under control and they can supply and reinforce the points of clashes easily and at will, cordoning off the area in no time. Now there are IEDs, huge urban explosions, suicide bombers and coordination among forces. Makes it much more difficult to move around, takes a lot of manpower to secure cities, bases and government buildings and reduces morale. This new shift in tactics came from outside, by people who have mastered it in the last decade to devastating effect.

As Wahabbis move into the vacuum, Turkey is clueless, the Government is still under the illusion that Saudis actually wish the best for the Syrian people, unlike Erdogan, who actually, still naively tries to help.

On clarification note, just because in name Turks and Saudis are Sunnis, it is incorrect to mention the two countries together when it comes to trying to understand who is on who's side. Turkish Sunnis are of Hanefi sect of Moslem religion, which is considerably more benign than quite of few other orders, such as the Wahabbis. Hanefis were open enough to allow, and let flourish Sufis of Mevlana, and Bektashi sects, among others throughout the Ottoman centuries. In the Republic era, the shift to modernism was accepted, though not entirely internalized, comparatively peacefully. In that regard, Turkish kind of Sunni Islam has very few common points with the Saudis.


Kunuri

Damascus was an Ottoman "Vilayet" for a good 5 centuries. Ottomans had a strategic and cultural affinity with the French since 15th century, in fact French language became the language of the elites and the privilaged after the industrial revoltion. Even today, in modern Turkish, all parts of an automobile is in French-direksiyon, debriyaj, buji etc. as is otomobil. Anything modern and stylish is called "Alafranka" as opposed to anything oriental "Alaturka"
So, maybe this can explain Syrian-French connection a bit. Pardon the pun...

Kunuri

Some links for you all from sites who have their own spin on recent events in Syria, but have extensive and unusual sources.

http://www.voltairenet.org/Terrorism-the-last-resort-against

http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2012/04/23/in-syria-lebanons-most-wanted-sunni-terrorist-blows-himself-up/#ixzz1ub6j54KM

http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2012/05/10/damascus-blasts-are-terrorists-the-wild-card-in-syrias-power-struggle/?iid=gs-article-mostpop1

turcopolier

Kunuri

What are referred to as "Alawis" in Syria are not Shia. They are not even Muslim. Anyone who believes in a trinitarian god is not a Muslim. The "Alavis" of SE Turkey are with few exceptoins true Shia of the Twelver inclination. As you say there is nothing between them and the Syrian Alawis. The Syrian alawis are Muslim in the same way that Mormons are Christians. They are not unless you accept their definistion of Islam. As for the rebels, the revolt may have started among the semi-westernized but it was soon rtecognized by the forces of salafist Islam (including the MB) as a great opportunity. More in a post later today. pl

Babak Makkinejad

You wrote:

"... Turkey is clueless, the Government is still under the illusion that Saudis actually wish the best for the Syrian people, unlike Erdogan, who actually, still naively tries to help..."

I hope you will recall my words cautioning you (and Turkey) against the course of action that Mr. Erdogan took.

Turkey, with a human development index of 98, currying favor for Saudi Arabi (human development index of 53) or US (human development index 4) is beyond foolishness; it is suicide.

Kunuri

Sayin Albayim,

Your knowledge of Islam far exceeds mine and I agree with you. The revolution is hijacked, as I tried to explain, for lack of results on the side of the "Semi westernized". The West is to blame for lukewarm support in the form of lip service, Turkey is to blame for trying to tote the moral ground justification for active interference and realpolitik at the same time. Meanwhile, the suffering of the Syrian people is real, regardless of the politik. Now, its going to get even worse, as if they were not dying in enough numbers in bombardments and at the hand of snipers, now they will be dying in suicide bombings and IED attacks. So I wonder, will the West be more willing to interfere now that Syria will become a battleground between the extremists with a real chance to take full control, and the Assadists? Would we perhaps someday find ourselves on the same side as Assad? His despicable father was called in to keep the peace in Lebonan, if anyone cares to remember, before the blood on his hands dried from the Hums massacre 1.0.

By the way, Alevi of Turkey are not region specific, although they are majority in Tunceli/Dersim region. They are an incredibly peaceful, enlightened, open-minded and educated people in all walks of life, everywhere here in Turkey. Most leftists, socialists, labor leaders and communists are Alevi. Alevi of Turkey are distinct from those of Syria in another aspect, that is, they would never try to dominate people of an another sect, religion or nationality.

I am looking forward as you say to further comments from you and my other gray beard friends on this post. I appreciate the deep, reflective and moral comments on this site since 2007, and I raise my glass of Raki to you all. Serefe. Note-reads Sheh-re-feh...


Babak Makkinejad

That designation, "Alavi", is new, no?

I read that Shia are referred to as "Cafer" - in vernacular Turkish.

Tyler

Sir,

Oh agreed. Anything beyond a narrative of "rebels = gud" is too complex for Soraya Sarhadi-Nelson to expand upon.

confusedponderer

Calling them Alawis and Alavis respectively is a nice crib.

turcopolier

CP

It is what they call themselves. pl

Kunuri

It maybe a little late to post here but I have to share this recent developement.

A few days ago a major and two liutenants have been killed in an ambush close to the Syrian border, by the PKK. Whereas this is routine now for the last few decades, what is striking is that it is very close to the border, not usual foot soldiers and turns out that the ambushers originated from two new camps established within Syria by the PKK recently. Seems like Assad finally cut a deal with the PKK to help quell the uprising within and that PKK finally made up its mind to cast the die on Assad's side.

I am waiting now to see if Turkey will use the right to pursue, in Syria and if it does so, what the Syrians will do?

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