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20 December 2012


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Scary. We should be armong the Christians and the Kurds.

Alba Etie

To what extent are there any state actors supporting al Nusra in its goal of Taliban type Caliphate? Would the Muslim Brotherhood be aligned with al Nusra as well ?

Clifford Kiracofe

Yes. And what about the National Security Council? Clearly our president is being poorly advised. He has little foreign policy experience prior to coming to office and thus has been vulnerable to poor advice to say the least. But the poor advice is the establishment consensus.

"US President Barack Obama just placed the al-Nusra Front, the leading foreign jihadi group, on the US terrorist blacklist. Washington has delayed doing this for months because al-Nusra has been in effect a key ally in the war against Syria.

Washington's move is designed as a fig leaf to cloak an embarrassing arrangement of convenience. The extremely capable and experienced al-Nusra fighters and others like them will continue their jihad against Syria and continue to coordinate with the FSA. Washington can now better pretend that it is not allied with Al Qaeda in Syria."

I wrote the above for my readers in Asia and elsewhere.


UK's Ch. 4 inside Syria (4min)


Doug Tunnell

This piece paints a picture of Jebhat al Nusra in Deir Ezzor as the Syrian version of AQI but having apparently learned the lesson of cooperating with tribal elders instead of dominating them, at least for now.


"The group's local emirs are typically foreigners..." running a reportedly effective fighting force that also takes time to win hearts and minds. "Scary" is right !

Alba Etie

Mr Kiracofe
I want to believe that Sen Hagel is still going to be nominated for Secretary of Defense .Do you have an opinion on Hagel's chances ?

Clifford Kiracofe

My sense in the pro-Israel Lobby will nix him. This includes fellow Republicans who are already mouthing the pro-israel Lobby line about him.


As to Shia/Sunni dynamic, the keys to understanding what's going on, it seems to me, is historical perspective and an ability to place oneself in the minds of regional leaders as they are. Neither of these traits is characteristic of the American foreign policy elite.

The House of Saud is at the heart of he matter. Its dilemma in a nutshell looks to be its sense of vulnerability due to its questionable pedigree, i.e. its legitimacy turns on a unique status that it acquired by force. Hence, the greatest threat is internal - but as affected by broader currents in the Islamic world. The historic compact with the Wahabhi clerics is innately fragile. Logically it follows that the Saudi royal familymust always be attentive to burnishing their credentials among Sunnis as the purest of the pure. The requirements for do so vary according to circumstance. Settled times favor them. Unsettled times, particulalrly in regard to the upwelling of Sunni fundamentalism, can pose competition. Presenting themselves as champions of the Sunni cause against the Shia as championed by Iran may serve this purpose; however, it carries the risk of raising the fever among the very Salafist Sunni groups who could become a mortal threat of a kind that Iran does not. Al-Nusra in Syria is a current example. Its joining of a Taliban-like doctrine with aspirations to reestablish the Caliphate makes it doubly dangerous.

Is it not a mistake, therefore, for the Saudi leaders to inflate the Iranian military threat as symbolized by its potential nuclear capacity? Ojectively, they should have little to worry about on this score given the dominant American military presence in the region. Yet it heigthens the sense of a clinactic struggle between pure Koran Islam and the historic heretical sect. There is, of course, the worry about Iran inflaming the passions of the Kingdom's Shi'ite population. In the unsettled atmosphere post-Arab Spring the danger of revolt probably looms larger than in fact it is. The Saudi royal family was clearly badly rattle by events in Bahrain.

Still, that domestic threat seems minor compared to the threat posed by the emergence of radical Salafist forces whose calls to spiritual arms could resonate among the Saudi populace - perhaps stirred up by the mounting, strident rhetoric of the Wahabhi religious establishment which itself would be challenged by the new Salafist movements. Every contest of Sunni vs Shia in the region aggravates this condition.

Babak Makkinejad

Saudi Arabia has a very diverse religious make-up; not everyone there is a neo-Salafi fool trying to revive the Khalifate.

Outside of Shia Muslims, there are millions of people who are not Wahabis and follow one of the 4 schools. I do not recall the exact breakdown and the geographical distribution.

I think actually the Wahabis are a minority in that state but I am not sure.

By the way, historical perspective is not going to help you here - for over 500 years Arabs were not independent historical actors; Ottomans were.

Clifford Kiracofe

We have not yet approached the Syria of the terrorist jihadi onslaught against Syria leading to increased terrorism in Europe.

Put another way, the Anglo-French war against Syria which has drawn in the US and NATO is preparing the breeding amd training ground for jihadi attacks on Europe.

I wonder how Europeans will react when the jihadis strike there as they have in the past.

Here is a translation of an article from the German Die Welt:

"....Another major concern for Western intelligence services is al-Zawahiri’s intention to train extremists with European passports in Egypt and Syria so that they can build terror cells in Europe, and to see Syria turn into a kind of Waziristan – a remote part of Pakistan where members can move about pretty much unhindered.

For future attacks in Europe, extremists with European passports are particularly valuable – men like the Spaniard Rachid Wahbi who arrived in Syria via Turkey in June 2012 headed for a training camp for European fighters, or Mehdi al-Harati, a Libyan with an Irish passport. He was one of the founders of the Tripoli Brigade, the first rebel unit in Libya. He now leads the rebels in the north of Syria.

According to Western intelligence sources, al-Nusra commander Abu Mohammad al-Julani is already planning to expand his base of operations to Europe via Turkey. He’s preparing to make Syria – after the fall of the Assad regime – a center of jihadist activity with branches in other countries.

Some of al-Julani’s al-Qaeda cells are already up and running in other countries in the region, and Western intelligence operatives say he is in the process of building additional cells in Europe.

It has been noted that so far Jabat al-Nusra has avoided using European fighters in suicide missions. Apparently these fighters are too valuable to “burn” right now – their European passports will come in good stead when the fighting in Syria is over and the terror network enters a Europe-oriented expansion phase....."

White "liberals" in Europe and the US are creating a doomsday like scenario for increased terrorism against Western targets. Eurabia up next? Looks like it.

Clifford Kiracofe

"Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria's more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.

The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago.

The depth and complexity of Syria's anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky. The possibility of Russian military casualties in such a campaign could have unpredictable geopolitical consequences....."

I have suggested on some ealier postings that there is a Russian factor involved in Syria. Does a US-NATO military strike against Syria trigger something larger if Russia is in the equation? If Russia is in the equation does this strengthen Iran's resolve to help defend its ally Syria?
And what will Iraq do as Iran's friend?



The Sovietrs did the same thing back in heighday of their relationship with Qathafi. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

Landis' view:

...."Landis: I see a long, long battle along the same lines we’ve seen, and unfortunately, both sides are radicalizing, and the radicals are taking over – not only among the Sunni Arabs but also within the Alawite community, and that means bad things because it’s going to destroy – it is destroying Syria. And we’ve seen the north is so devastated, and I think that same devastation is going to be visited on the south in Damascus. And we’re going to have rubble. And unfortunately, unlike Iraq where there was an occupying power, which had, of course, its bad elements, but also it allowed the Maliki government to unify the Arabs because the Americans undermined all the competitor militias and built up a central Iraqi state before they left. That’s not going to happen in Syria. The various militias are going to fight it out. And, secondly, there’s no oil, or very little oil. So the ability to rebuild is not, there’s just very little ability to rebuild, so it’s going to take a long time, and there are going to be tons of refugees, and there’s going to be lots of hunger and privation.'......

Read more at Middle East Voices: http://middleeastvoices.voanews.com/2012/12/quicktake-is-an-alawite-state-in-syrias-future-32398/#ixzz2GIS49YE2

Alba Etie

Mr Kiracofe
Reports are that the Russian government is meeting with the Syrian opposition - if this is true , how will it affect the Syrian Civil war ?

Charles I

In the Let one hundred flowers bloom dept.:

New jihadist group emerges in Syria

By Bill RoggioDecember 27, 2012 12:34 PM

Jund al Sham (Soldiers of the Levant), a new Salafi jihadist group in Syria, announced its formation in the Syrian city of Homs on Dec. 23, in a statement published on the group's Facebook page, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. Jund al Sham's media arm, Sada al Sham, also released two subsequent statements announcing the goals of the group, SITE reported.

The group's emir is identified as Abu Suleiman al Muhajir; his nom de guerre -- Muhajir, or 'immigrant' -- indicates he may be a foreigner. His real identity is unknown.

Abu Suleiman al Muhajir's short statement indicates that the group is focused on jihad in Syria. From the SITE translation:

After the hoards of the al-Assad gangs, and their Rafidah [Shi'ite] allies, united and attacked Muslims in Syria, it became incumbent upon the monotheists from among the Sunnis who chose the path of jihad and fighting the disbelievers in all their forms and types, to unite on supporting the truth with harmony and love among each other, while rejecting disbelief, and demanding a goal without deviation or backing out ....


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