« Jeff White's Analysis of the Syrian Civil War | Main | "There’s no bigotry in the boycott" By Henry Siegman »

20 December 2013


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.



Yes, there is a great deal of 'rot' in America's soul. Yet hope does spring eternal, especially this time of year.


"That may set in motion a whole chain like no common idea means no common leader means no unity means lot's of banditry, power struggles and infighting means extremists bound together by ideology win that and become dominant means the insurgency loses popular support means the insurgency may be doomed from it's own very basic flaw that it lacks a common idea."

What do you expect?

I'd be surprised if the Al Qaeda elements in the opposition ever had genuine widespread popular support.

To a Tafkiri dissent with their views proves that you are a heathen and can be justifiably killed. For that you don't even need to be secular, Alawi, Christian or Shia - it suffices that you're not their kind of Muslim.

That haughty, radical attitude doesn't lend itself to forming coalitions, let alone the live and let live attitude required to make coalitions work, or to form a common narrative.

The good news: It is also unlikely to inspire many. That is an insurmountable problem and Al Qaeda's main weakness.

Left to their own devices the movement likely will peter out because people will become sick of their carnage rather sooner than later. They aren't able administrators either, though the civic action side of their activities obviously does some good.

I imagine that what they do, the carnage and zealotry aside, must otherwise be pretty similar to what Green Berets were tasked with when organising resistance movements behind enemy lines.

What perpetuates them probably is the influx of money to them from the Gulf, and in Syria, of supplies from Turkey. Give there is a strong political will, something can be done about either.

Bill Smith

The war is the rebels to lose. Assad is slowly losing. He has manpower problem.

It is true Assad can muster forces to take just about any place he wants but then looses ground in all the places he took those forces from.


I think it is important to ask just what those liberals owe allegiance to. The same should be asked of America's.


Bill Smith

you seem to think that rebel manpower is not also limited. I presume that TTG will respond to your comment. pl



So let me surprise you. Al Qaeda has some level of genuine popular support in parts of Syria. It has even been in the media:

Al Qaeda’s Teenage Fan Club - Syria’s Extremist Revolution Is a Youth-Culture Phenomenon


And another surprise: Compared to the secular groups Al Qaeda seems to have quite good skills managing the cities and assets under their control in Syria.

The city Raqqa, for example, which is managed by Al Qaeda, has electricity from the Al Qaeda controlled Euphrat dam nearby. Al Qaeda runs all over the northern and eastern Syria police forces, schools, even public transport. Al Qaeda guys also operate the gas facilities at Shaddadi, Syria's largest, and some of the larger oil wells in the east, too.

See media reports for yourself:

Al Qaeda police car in front of Al Qaeda police station in Al Dana:


Al Qaeda-led rebels (Nusra) seized the Tishreen dam (Syria's largest):


Nusra Front militia’s control of Syrian city Shaddadi gives it economic clout:


Jabhat al-Nusra consolidates position as scramble for control of wells accelerates


Don't ask me why the Al Qaeda guys do - compared to the secular rebel councils - so well managing the areas and assets they hold in Syria. I don't know. But by all accounts I heard the Al Qaeda guys in Syria do manage areas under their control surprisingly well.

Regarding finances: running strategic assets like the Euphrat dam, oil wells, gas facilities and strategic towns near border crossings to get a cut on goods crossing the borders seems to me to be a large factor in Al Qaeda's funding in Syria.

The Twisted Genius

Bill Smith,

If the war is the rebels to lose, they are doing a bang up job of doing just that. I sensed their downfall when they first sought to seize Aleppo and engage the SAA head on. That strategy was/is a fatal mistake. An insurgency's first priority is to stay alive and conserve its strength. Set piece battles should be the final stage. Assad is doing a better job of preserving his limited forces and concentrating on attriting the enemy. The SAA is defending and seizing only key areas and lines of communication rather than trying to hold all territory.

The Press Tv documentary mentions how the SAA was able to pull its units out of combat after a week or two of combat for rest and refitting. That does not indicate an army on the verge of collapse. The rebels could not do that nor could they reinforce their forces as needed. They are the ones with the manpower problem.

Granted there is a steady supply of Saudi money and foreign jihadists sustaining the rebels, but that is also causing problems. As Bandolero pointed out, the insurgency is losing what popular support it had at the beginning of the conflict. Important elements of Syrian society want no part of the Salafist jihadists that dominate the rebel forces.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad