Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Can anyone stop the radicalization of Syrian rebels?"

"... President Bashar al-Assad has received two enormous gifts in recent months. The first is the Russian-brokered deal to remove Syria's chemical weapons, which distracted attention from his relentless campaign to kill and terrorize his enemies and also compelled Western governments to work with him as the country's legitimate ruler. The second is ISIS, which has also deflected attention away from the war between the regime and the rebels and has vindicated as nothing else could Assad's persistent claim that he is confronting, not political opponents, but "terrorists,"..
The moderate rebels have become increasingly chimerical. On Sept. 24, 13 fighting groups -- including the al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, Salafi brigades, and some more mainline elements -- issued a joint declaration in which they pledged to operate within an "Islamic framework" based on "the rule of sharia and making it the sole source of legislation." At the same time, the groups cut all ties with the Syrian National Council (SNC), the exile group that has received Western support. The pledge looked less like a gesture of solidarity than of despair.
..... the fear that advanced weapons might fall into the hands of extremists, arguably overblown 18 months ago, is now impossible to discount. The fighters and activists I spoke to insist that the only way they can take on ISIS, as well as the regime, is with a steady supply of weapons and ammunition. They're right, but they won't win that argument in Washington. And the consequences of a hypothetical military victory look more and more dangerous....
The rise of ISIS, in short, has made the situation much worse for the rebels, much worse for the West, and much better for the regime. I heard any number of Syrians calling for nonradical brigades, with a core of Free Syrian Army groups, to join forces against ISIS. Only then, the argument runs, can they make a concerted effort to wage the war against the real enemy -- the regime. What is certainly true is that the rebels will not get major help from the West unless and until they reverse the process of Islamization, though select brigades will continue to receive arms and ammunition from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others.
But radicalization is likely to increase, not diminish. Foreign extremists will keep streaming into Syria (a recent Der Spiegel article estimated the jihadi population of Atmeh, a Syrian town just across the border from Reyhanli, at 1,000). ..."

1 comment:

Bandolero said...

"... select brigades will continue to receive arms and ammunition from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others ..."

Who may those "others" be? The Saudi paper Arab News has just an interesting piece regarding a "special relationship". Quote:

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reiterated Monday that Riyadh and Paris share a common stance on Syria. Speaking to a select group of journalists at the Royal Terminal in Jeddah on Monday, he said ... The exceptionally warm reception that Le Drian received in Jeddah was indicative of the special relationship between the two countries. ... The minister said France was providing political, military and humanitarian support to the SNC and Gen. Salim Idris. “Our support and approach was commended by the Saudi leadership and the Saudi people,” said Le Drian. ... He said the unwavering French support to the Syrian National Coalition, including military hardware, is aimed at strengthening the SNC’s position ... The minister held wide-ranging talks with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman, National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and Deputy Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Sultan during his daylong visit.

Source: Arab News, 8 October 2013: Le Drian: KSA, France have unified position on Syria

AFP has another interesting detail regarding that visit. Quote:

Le Drian said the Saudi side confirmed to him that a 1.3-billion-euro ($1.77 billion) contract to overhaul four frigates and two refuelling ships, in service since the 1980s, had "entered into effect on October 7".

The work would involve French weapons and systems makers, DCNS, Thales and MBDA, he said in a statement.

Discussions are meanwhile ongoing regarding another contract that could amount to two billion euros ($2.72 billion)for modernising Saudi air defences.

It would involve supplying Saudi Arabia with new generation Crotale surface-to-air rockets, produced by Thales.

Source: AFP at Ahram, 7 Oct 2013: France, Saudi agree to back Syria opposition: Minister