Since the beginning of the popular uprising in March 2011, detention and forced “disappearances” have occurred on a daily, and increasing, basis. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that a variety of parties rule different areas of Syria. The regime of Bashar al-Assad holds the greatest number of arbitrarily detained people, accounting for 96 percent of forced disappearances. The remainder are the responsibility of ISIS, the Kurd Self-Management Forces and other armed opposition groups.
Forced disappearance is a tragedy for both those captured and held alive for days, weeks or years, and their families. The victims are kidnapped from either their homes or the streets. Sometimes the crime is carried out by people in military uniform, and no matter what they wear, they universally refuse to divulge who they are or the basis for their actions. The various parties involved in the civil strife often deny possession of the victims.
In the second article of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from forced Disappearance, the crime is defined to be “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the state or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the state, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, placing the person outside the protection of the law.”
The Syrian air force killed a large number of Takfiri militant commanders, including senior Israeli and Jordanian officers, in airstrikes on terrorists’ positions in the Southern province of Daraa, FARS news agency reported Saturday.
At least 42 Al-Nusra Front Takfiri terrorist commanders, including 3 Israeli and Jordanian officers, were killed in the Syrian warplanes’ air raids in Daraa.
Military sources said that the Syrian airstrikes on al-Nusra Front positions incurred heavy losses on the Takfiri terrorists.
In similar operations on Friday, over 100 militants of al-Nusra Front were killed by the Syrian fighter jets in Daraa.
The sources said that, over 100 terrorists, most of them from al-Nusra Front, were killed in a series of army airstrikes that targeted their gatherings in Dael town in the countryside of the southern Daraa city.
On Thursday, the Syrian army troops killed 46 terrorists in military operations in Aleppo city.
The terrorists were killed in al-Sayyed Ali area.
Meanwhile, the army killed terrorists of al-Nusra Front, and destroyed their arms at the Western neighborhood of Bosra al-Sham in the Eastern countryside of Daraa.
In a media note released by the United States’ State Department, the United States renews its strong commitment “to achieving a genuine, negotiated political transition away from Bashar al-Assad that brings an end to the violence and leads to a future that fulfills Syrians’ aspirations for freedom and dignity.”
The statement followed a trip by U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Michael Ratney to Moscow yesterday for consultations with Russian officials on the ongoing conflict in Syria
“We are cognizant that Assad’s continued tenure fuels extremism and inflames tensions in the region. That is why a political transition is not only necessary for the good of the people of Syria, but an important part of the fight to defeat the extremists,” the US State Department added.
“The United States supports the Syrian people’s aspirations for a democratic, inclusive, and unified Syria. The regime of Bashar al-Assad has violently suppressed what began as a peaceful protest movement in 2011. Assad has proven through his brutal and repressive tactics that he has lost all legitimacy, and he must go as part of a genuine political transition.”
On Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir reaffirmed his country’s position which rejects the presence of Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s future, stressing that the departure of Assad and those with blood on their hands is still the Kingdom’s clear and non-negotiable demand.
He stressed that the departure of Assad, either through a political process or a military defeat, is a foregone conclusion.
Vice President of the Syrian Coalition Mustafa Osso said that talking about attempts to rehabilitate Assad or to partner with him in the campaign against terrorism is a mere illusion and deception. He added that the Saudi position, backed by Arab countries and Turkey, has foiled the Iranian attempts to make Bashar a bargaining chip in its expansionist project.
Rebel fighters aim their weapons as they demonstrate their skills during a military display as part of a graduation ceremony at a camp in eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria
A US military source has revealed in private conversation that the US-led Coalition formed to target the Islamic State (IS) and other terrorist groups is currently training 82 new recruits for its Syria operations. These include 12 new fighters in Jordan and 70 in Turkey.
A spokeswoman for the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM), Major Genieve David, would not confirm these numbers. “We are not giving out numbers due to operational security concerns,” she said via phone.
But Turkey’s Foreign Minister Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu’s comment a few days ago that “in the second group we have around 100 (fighters)” suggests that the source’s numbers are likely to be accurate.
It is uncertain, anyway, if all 82 trainees will graduate from the Coalition training program.”
As US Defense Secretary Ash Carter explained in a hearing last month, the first group of 60 recruits to “graduate” into field roles inside Syria were whittled down from an initial pool of 7,300 candidates. Only days after his July 7 testimony to the US Senate’s Armed Services Committee, that number fell further to 54.
But the vaunted train-and-equip program to which Congress allocated a whopping $500 million last year, is hemorrhaging more than just recruits. The principles upon which it closely vets trainees now appear to have more holes than Swiss cheese.
According to legislation approved by the US Congress, the candidates have to be “screened for any association with terrorist groups, militias aligned with or supporting the government of Syria, and any groups that were associated with Iran,” CENTCOM spokesman Lt. Commander Kyle Raines said from headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
Jabhat al Nusra – Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria and a US-designated terrorist organization – is clearly one such group.
But a TV interview last week with Abu Iskandar, a leader of the 54 coalition-trained fighters, illustrates how – post-training – these “rebels” break all the rules. Asked about the group’s interactions with Al Nusra, Abu Iskandar replied:
“We are required to coordinate with all the fighting groups. There were contacts made with Nusra a week before we entered. Four months ago, Nusra expressed great admiration for our program. They said: go get arms and come and fight Daesh (ISIS). You will relieve some of the pressure that’s on us.”
“Coordinating” with Al Nusra, in fact, seems exactly the kind of activity that is prohibited under the guidelines established by Congress. But Abu Iskandar embraces the group further during the interview and calls Jabhat al-Nusra “our brothers.”
What does CENTCOM have to say about this? Raines explains: “We don’t ‘command and control’ these forces – we only ‘train and enable’ them.”
In other words, once the Coalition trainees are in the field, the US military “maintains communications and assists,” but does not instruct and direct them in their activities. Says Raines: “Who they say they’re allying with, that’s their business.”
So much for the training precondition that restricts association with terrorists. But what about that other essential demand on Congress’ wish list? The one that prohibits recruits from targeting any other forces other than ISIS – and specifies that the Syrian army/state is off limits?
“Our fight is with Bashar,” says Abu Iskandar at one point during the interview.
And again: “[Free Syrian Army and Al Nusra] should be martyred either fighting Assad or Baghdadi’s men who are killing Sunnis.”
And another: “At this point, Bashar is the enemy and he’s going to fall, but who is the alternative? Who will take his place? He is going to fall. If we had a strong army with unified command, we could remove him in 48 hours.”
Abu Iskandar is clearly not on-message. Nor does he inspire much confidence in the Coalition’s vetting process. It is hard to imagine that western military trainers did much more with this motley crew of 54 Syrians than strap GPS devices onto their persons, give them fancy satellite phones, a few rounds at the shooting range, and some state-of-the-art military toys.
Abu Iskandar knows none of this means a whit anyway. “Our problem is not training,” he laments. “Our problem is the lack of a no-fly zone. Give us that and we will not need training from any outside country.”
But the CENTCOM spokesman makes clear: “There is no No Fly Zone (NFZ) under consideration.”
So why is this train-and-equip operation still chugging ahead? What will the 82 or 64 or 28 recruits graduating from the next New Syria Forces (NSF) class going to bring to the table? Twenty-two of the existing 54 graduates are currently incarcerated by their Al Nusra “brothers.”
The kidnappings, according to a McClatchy News report this week, were reportedly set-up by the Turks – who, in turn, are part of the coalition that trained these very fighters.
Doing the same thing; expecting different results
If perchance you’re confused, you’re not alone.
Nothing much makes sense about the many moving parts of the Syrian conflict, least of all the sharply conflicting interests of the United States and its pro-militant allies.
Washington’s “side” in this Syrian conflict consists of other western powers, Turkey, and several Arab states of the Persian Gulf, most prominently Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Sneak Jordan onto that list, too. It leases itself out to wealthy allies who run their clandestine activities from Amman hotel rooms, refugee camps, operation centers and training camps that run along the stretch of border with Syria.
Jordan often plays a double game in this conflict. Mindful of its own domestic vulnerability to a militant Islamist threat from within, Amman has reportedly shared military intelligence with the Syrian government – when it suits. On the other hand, much of the CIA’s covert Syria activities operate out of Jordan too. US officials claim the CIA spends about $1 billion per annum on these ops, and has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 of the fighters inside Syria today.
On the other side of Syria lies NATO-member Turkey, which has reportedly sanctioned the flow of weapons and fighters to Islamist militant groups, including Al Nusra, Ahrar al Sham and ISIS, over the past few years. Media reports from Turkey have identified truckloads of assistance crossing into Syria under the watchful eye of Turkish military intelligence. Wiretapped leaks from early 2014 even have Turkey’s Intel Chief Hakan Fidan boasting about “2,000 truckloads of weapons” he has transported into the Syrian military theater.
US Vice President Joe Biden last year made clear that Washington’s regional allies were fueling the terrorism in Syria:
“Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks…the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”
It is no wonder that the Turks have refused to participate meaningfully in the multinational effort to thwart ISIS – until recently, refusing even to allow coalition forces to launch air raids from the handy Incirlik airbase in Turkey.
Over in the Persian Gulf, you have Turkey’s fellow Muslim Brotherhood-inclined Qatari allies helping to bankroll Ankara’s grand plan for an Islamist Middle East. Qatar, which hosts the biggest US military base in the region, has been a staunch supporter of Islamist militants inside Syria and so is often called upon to negotiate the release of hostages – western and otherwise – nabbed by terrorist groups.
Qatar’s longtime rival in the Persian Gulf is Saudi Arabia, which shares Doha and Ankara’s single-minded determination to unseat the Syrian government, but prefers to work with like-minded hardcore Salafists. In 2012 and 2013, under the guidance of Riyadh’s former ambassador (for 22 years) to Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudis steered the escalation of violence inside Syria, backing radical Islamists with unlimited money, weapons and support.
As the US’s closest Arab ally – and biggest recipient of American weapons in recent years – a pampered Saudi Arabia doesn’t really know when to quit, even when the terror blows back inside its own borders.
Why rehash old facts about coalition partners and stalwart US allies vested in the Syrian conflict? Because in order to comprehend why 82 more Syrian recruits are being trained by the US-led Coalition in Turkey and Jordan “to fight ISIS,”you have to first be reminded of a particular quirk of humanity: some of us do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome.
Reading the Mideast tea leaves
So here’s what’s coming in the days, weeks and months ahead on the terrorist-busting front.
An alliance will split apart. A coalition will lose its direction. A bloodbath will mark the demise of the most foolhardy constellation of players since the European religious wars.
The key US-led coalition members do not share common objectives. On the rare occasion when their tactical interests converge and they achieve a victory, they quickly splinter off, each vying to establish their own primacy – directly or via proxies.
And there is no overriding strategy that binds. Forget the publicly-stated objectives for a moment. This coalition was purportedly assembled to fight ISIS and other like-minded terrorists. But who are these other terrorists? Jabhat Al Nusra? Washington “says” so, but then commits to turning a blind eye when allies Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel coddle and support the Al Qaeda affiliate.
What about Ahrar al Sham militants, who have recently been the subject of some stunning whitewashing by western media and punditry? When asked to characterize Ahrar’s level of militancy for the record, a State Department spokesman told me in July: “The US has neither worked with nor provided any assistance to Ahrar al-Sham. The US supports moderate Syrian opposition groups.”
That sounds as vague and uncertain a statement as I’ve ever heard. Nobody is ready to publicly “commit” to any one of these groups – mainly because they know that, tomorrow, that very group could feature in a Syrian atrocity video and sink their “investment.” Privately, however, active and tacit foreign support continues to plump up these terror groups, unabated.
What is the coalition’s most fundamental goal then? To defeat ISIS? They’ve as much as said that’s not possible. To bolster “moderates?” They can’t even name them. To overthrow Assad? After four years of failed attempts, and now jihadists at their borders, the West will have none of that these days.
If this coalition cannot agree on the most basic definitions of “good guys” and “bad guys” in this conflict, they’re never going to share in the larger picture.
And we are seeing that manifest now, in The Big Fight Brewing on The Turkish Border.
Washington has been very cautious about criticizing Turkey’s role in the Syrian conflict to date. That is likely to change in the foreseeable future if Ankara escalates its conflict with Kurds in Turkey, Syria and even Iraq. The Kurdish autonomy project in Iraq is especially dear to the Americans, and Kurds are currently involved in hard-fought battles with ISIS on several fronts – to great effect.
Turkey’s new Kurdish strategy is not going down well in Washington at all. And there is concern that the confrontation will worsen as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan marches toward two goals: 1) whittling away at Kurdish legitimacy inside Turkey so that his AKP party can win in November elections; and 2) carving out a buffer zone in northern Syria to break up the “Kurdish Corridor” that flanks the Turkish border.
Turkey’s priorities are manifestly clear. In their short stint as coalition partners “fighting extremists in Syria and Iraq,” the Turks have managed to launch more than 400 airstrikes against Kurdish targets – and only 3 against ISIS forces.
In taking on the Kurds, Erdogan has just placed the United States in geopolitical hell. Washington has to tread a very fine line between the Turks and the Kurds – all while trying to attain its vastly bigger goals of containing ISIS; sabotaging Iranian, Russian and Hezbollah aspirations; placating some very trigger-happy Israelis; ushering an unpopular Iran nuclear deal through a Republican Congress; babysitting a paranoid Saudi Arabia, and a myriad other pressing Mideast priorities.
Coalition members’ interests are diverging more than ever before. Even as Russian and Iranian initiatives converge to offer ceasefires and transition plans for Syria, US partners have moved further apart, each juggling domestic priorities with more urgency as blowback from regional conflicts come home to roost.
Now throw in 82 off-message, bumbling Syrian rebels into the mix and what do you get? Rinse and repeat: that ridiculous pipedream that ‘more of the same’ will produce a different outcome.
This Syrian ‘experiment’ needs to be over. Repeating the same mistakes will never change the trajectory of the conflict in Syria – as it won’t in Iraq or in Yemen. Why are terrorist-supporters Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar even in this Coalition? Why are the Americans, British and French – who have backed autocracies to the hilt, weaponized the bad guys, and seeded radicalism in the region through their Iraqi and Afghani military adventures – at the helm of this dubious venture?
This Coalition is rotten at its core. It is time to change the players, if not the game itself, to create even a long shot at success.”
Amid local reports that the Islamic State (IS) is evacuating its HQ and bases around Jarablous, YPG Kurdish special forces crossed the Euphrates river last night, Thursday, and attacked IS positions.
YPG Fighter and Tank in Rojava
The YPG fighters crossed the Euphrates stealthily in boats and attacked IS east of Jarablous, reportedly killing 12 x IS Jihadists and wounding several more.
All the YPG fighters returned safely to the east bank of the Euphrates river after completing the operation.
The attack illustrated Kurdish frustration at not being allowed to finish the job. Turkey keeps talking about creating an “IS-free safe zone” between the Euphrates and Afrin Canton, but so far has done nothing about it except say it will oppose any entry of Kurdish forces into the area in northern Aleppo province.
After the YPG operation, IS arbitrarily shelled Kurdish villages on the east bank of the Euphrates in Kobane Canton, but so far no casualties have been reported.
Slightly different format today, with a collection of pictures from Kobane:
Waiting for the Start of the New School Year
Poster on Pillar of Kobane Law Syndicate
A View of Azadi Square (Freedom Square) August 7th 2015
Destroyed Building Kobane August 9th 2015
Kobane City Yesterday, August 27th 2015
EDITOR: My thanks to all the photographers. Double-click on any picture to reveal the source. You can see more pictures courtesy of TIME Magazine.
A citizen of Kobane was killed by Turkish Border Guards as he tried to cross the frontier near the city as Turkey seems to have a new policy of not allowing refugees to enter, particularly from Kurdish controlled areas. You can read more,HERE:
NBC News has recorded a recent visit to Rojava, entering Syria via Iraq and crossing the Tigris river, here:
South-east of Hasakah the battle for Al-Hawl continues. The Coalition has bombed IS positions there, while once again there are unconfirmed reports that Turkish jets managed to bomb the YPG forces trying to capture the town. It is even suggested that both sets of attacking jets flew from Incirlik Airbase.
The New York Times describes the recent agreement between the US and Turkey to use the Incirlik base for attacks on IS in Syria and Iraq as “a dangerous bargain”.
A short video appeared on the Internet claiming to be footage shot in the Al-Hawl market and showing things so far be pretty normal, HERE:
Over in the Kurdish Canton of Afrin in the north of Aleppo province, the YPG have built a labyrinth of reinforced tunnels on its front lines to defend against attack from the Islamic State or anyone else. Video report inKurdish only, but it will give a sense of what has been prepared, HERE:
The US is reporting that one of its drones has killed a “top cyber Jihadist” in a strike in Syria.
Junaid Hussain, 21, had already been convicted of computer hacking in the UK in 2012 where he was accused of downloading former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s address book and leaking the details online, as well as making hoax calls to a “counter-terrorism hotline”.
Hussain, calling himself “Abu Hussain Al Britani”, fled to Syria in 2014 and had become a key IS player in radicalising and recruiting young people online. The drone strike took place near Raqqah. The BBC has the full story.
The BBC’s security correspondent also questions whether closing off Turkey’s border with Syria, particularly in the proposed “safe zone”, will have any affect on the Islamic State’s recruitment plans, HERE:
ISLAMIC STATE STILL ADVANCING IN TURKEY’S PROPOSED SYRIAN “SAFE ZONE”, WHILE OPPOSITION CONSOLIDATE THEIR POSITIONS ON THE GHAB PLAIN:
In Turkey’s proposed “safe zone” IS are still extremely active. In the last couple of days, IS has seized 5 villages in northern Aleppo province and almost surrounded the town of Mare, just 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Turkish border.
However, the battle is going backwards and forwards. Opposition fighters tried to take the IS-held village of Tilalyan north of Mare today after recapturing the village of Sandaf.
After IS Jihadists fled Sandaf, 9 x IS fighters were found still inside the village, most of them under 22.
Opposition Blow Up IS Car Bomb Before it Reaches Them Near Herbel
As many as 50 x IS Jihadists were reported to have died in an assault on Mare yesterday and clashes are still going on around Herbel and Dalhah where there were Coalition airstrikes.
The Opposition are reported to have regained Harjalah on the Turkish border today.
In this footage, the Opposition shot the motorbike of a suspected suicide bomber from underneath him, HERE:
In Idlib province, fierce fighting is reported around the Assad regime’s Abu Al-Duhur Airbase today, Friday, where Opposition fighters tried to blow down the main entrance gate with a vehicle bomb and Government planes tried to destroy Opposition positions in the surrounding countryside and villages, HERE:
On the Ghab Plain in Idlib province and into Hama province, the Opposition continue to consolidate their gains. There is a report (Arabic only) from the northern part of the Plain, HERE:
In addition a Assad soldier is reported to have fallen to his death from a helicopter while on a mission to drop naval mines on Ghab Plain villages – picture too gruesome to show.
Opposition fighters are now within striking distance of the Assad regime’s main base on the Ghab Plain at Joureen, seen here at the foot of the mountains leading to Latakia, HERE:
In Zabadani in Damascus province a 48 hour “truce” was agreed on Thursday between the 2 warring sides and also a corresponding one in Idlib at the surrounded Alawite enclaves of Fu’ah and Kafariya in Idlib province.
Under the terms of the deal Opposition fighters, who have been holding off Hezbollah and other pro-Assad forces for 50 days, will be allowed safe passage out of Zabadani and 1,000 civilians will be allowed out of the 2 villages in Idlib. Humanitarian aid will be allowed into both areas.
As of this morning, some Opposition fighters were still reluctant to leave Zabadani, though resolution is expected soon.
Lastly, over in Iraq this week, the Kurdish Peshmerga liberated 11 villages from IS control south of Kirkuk. Total IS casualties are as yet unknown but 18 Jihadist bodies were found in one village alone. 4 Peshmerga are reported killed. You can read more, HERE:
In this report with video, a young wounded IS fighter tries to kiss the Peshmerga commander’s hand as he is fed with water and advised by the officer to “stop living like this”, HERE:
In Sinjar city Coalition planes destroyed 5 x IS fighting positions on Thursday, while IS are reported to have executed 15 of their “cub fighters” between the ages of 13 and 18 for abandoning their positions in battle with the Iraqi Army near Baiji west of Mosul.
There is a report on child radicalisation by IS, HERE:
Syrian refugees seek shelter at the UN-run Zaatari refugee camp, north east of the Jordanian capital Amman
AMMAN (AFP) –
After escaping a devastating war, frustrated Syrian refugees in aid-starved neighbouring states say they must now choose between joining an exodus to Europe or “returning home to die”.
Millions of Syrians have found shelter in surrounding countries including Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan that are now struggling to cope with the massive influx.
A lack of jobs and humanitarian assistance means that many are now giving up on their host nations.
“What do they expect us to do, to die in silence?” said Mohammed al-Hariri, who lives in Jordan’s vast Zaatari desert refugee camp.
“Syrians now have two choices: either to return and die in their country or to emigrate,” he said.
Around 340,000 migrants reached the EU’s borders in the seven months to July, in the continent’s biggest migration crisis since World War II, with hundreds perishing at sea.
Most are escaping the more than four-year-old conflict in Syria that has claimed over 240,000 lives, and more are expected to follow.
“From the Syrians we have interviewed this year it is clear that many are contemplating making a dangerous journey to try to reach Europe through North Africa or Turkey,” said Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“Many said they feel that a lack of humanitarian assistance plus an inability to legally work in surrounding countries forces them to choose between a return to the conflict zone in Syria or to attempt a dangerous journey to Europe.”
– ‘Losing hope’ –
The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR estimates that more than four million Syrians have fled the bloodshed which broke out in March 2011, mostly to neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey but also Egypt and Iraq.
The host countries are struggling to cope, especially in the absence of sufficient international aid, said Andrew Harper, the UNHCR representative in Jordan.
“If you do not provide resources to countries like Jordan to meet assistant obligations and protection obligations then people will move to where they can find that and that is why people are moving to Europe,” he said.
More than 1.1 million Syrians have flooded across the border into Lebanon and around 600,000 into Jordan, according to the UNHCR. Amman puts the figure at 1.4 million, making up 20 percent of the resources-poor kingdom’s population.
Jordan and Lebanon have repeatedly appealed for increased aid to ease the burden.
But a UN donation drive for 2015 has so far only raised 41 percent of the target figures, forcing the World Food Programme to trim its assistance to Syrian refugees in both Lebanon and Jordan.
Refugees are “losing the sense of hope that they can be properly assisted. They have challenges in getting access to legal work, challenges in accessing education and so people are saying it is better either to return back to Syria or to move forward to Europe”, said Harper.
He said a new pattern was emerging this year of more refugees returning to Syria than crossing in the opposite direction, with only a few dozen a day arriving in Jordan compared with 200 leaving.
Abu al-Yaman, spokesman for the refugees in the Zaatari camp, said many Syrian families were leaving for Turkey as a transit route to Europe after paying thousands of dollars to people traffickers.
Aid has been “progressively reduced” to refugees who lack health services and schooling for their children, while adults are deprived of the right to work, he added.
Hariri, a native of conflict-riven Daraa in southern Syria, said that the road to Europe is risky, “but some people cannot take it anyone, especially as the world is ignoring our suffering and humanitarian aid is grower scarcer”.
“First the Americans toppled Saddam Hussein, and then the French overthrew Gaddafi. These actions exposed the catastrophic consequences of an ill-conceived neo-colonial policy.”
Syria’s President Bashar Assad is sworn for his third, seven-year term, in Damascus, Syria. Despite years of diplomacy and a CIA operation to vet and train moderate Syrian rebels, the U.S. finds itself without a credible partner on the ground in Syria as it bombs the Islamic State group there, exposing a gaping hole in the Obama administrationís strategy to ultimately defeat the militants
In an interview for Le Point, French politician Nicolas Dupont-Aignan noted that the West’s “ill-conceived neo-colonial policy” of overthrowing secular governments in the Middle East was to blame for the disaster presently being faced by the region and by Europe, adding that if the Syrian government falls, ISIL’s positions will become unassailable.
Speaking about the Middle Eastern migrant crisis presently plaguing Europe, Dupont-Aignan, the leader of the neo-Gaullist party France Arise, said that it’s time for Paris to revise its strategy on Syria, and to abandon its plans to overthrow the secular Arab nationalist government of Bashar Assad.
“First the Americans toppled Saddam Hussein, and then the French overthrew Gaddafi. These actions exposed the catastrophic consequences of an ill-conceived neo-colonial policy. They resulted in the destruction of national governments, the imposition of Sharia law, the flow of migrants from Libya, and the barbarity of ISIL in the Middle East,” Dupont-Aignan, a former member of Nicholas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement, explained.
“Why repeat the mistake for a third time?” the politician pleaded. “If Assad falls, Lebanon will collapse, the Middle East’s Christians will disappear, and Daesh will become impregnable. And that is not even to mention the migration chaos which will result.”
Dupont-Aignan emphasized that “it’s necessary to urgently reconsider Paris’s naïve policy toward the region; after all, support for the so-called ‘moderate’ opposition in Syria has led to a disaster –the weapons that were sent to them ended up in ISIL’s hands. Moreover, it’s time to stop subsidizing Turkey with European money, which is actually playing a double game. Ankara is increasingly fighting the Kurds, rather than the Islamic State, [while] opening the path to Greece for thousands of migrants.”
Asked by the newspaper whether he was prepared to overlook Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, widely reported on by Western media, Dupont-Aignan noted that France “must not be mistaken over who the enemy is. If the Islamic State is not defeated in the near future, Europe may come to directly face a new Hundred Years’ War, which will destabilize the entire Mediterranean region and even Africa.”
“As for the chemical weapons,” the politician noted, “the reaction of the international community immediately forced Assad to abandon them, while ISIL, as we have learned, have been using them much more actively. It’s important to be aware of [such political] manipulation!”
ISIL’s Destruction Demands a Truly Global Effort and Requires an Independent Foreign Policy
Asked by Le Pointe about how exactly ISIL can be defeated once and for all, Dupont-Aignan noted that the Western coalition’s air operation must be complemented by operations on the ground. “The more we wait, the more this cancer metastasizes. However, this cannot be done only by the West, as this would only exacerbate the problem. The Americans, by the way, have understood this much faster than the French have, as evidenced by their reconciliation with Iran.
“All the major countries of the region must be involved in this process, instead of the sort of political prostitution we see from Qatar and the Gulf states,” the politician noted. “Finally, the entire international community must be involved, and that means returning Russia to the game. In other words, our country needs to regain a truly multilateral and independent foreign policy as soon as possible!”
Dupont-Aignan emphasized that European countries need a “coordinated policy to pressure Turkey and to establish peace in Syria,” adding that “all of this is the purview of traditional diplomacy between states. At the same time, the Schengen system, i.e. the abolition of national borders within the European Union, is largely to blame for the current chaos of migration. It has led to irresponsible behavior on the part of the EU’s border states, which do not prevent illegal immigrants from entering if they do not plan on remaining on their territory. As a result, France, the country with the world’s most generous social system, has to accept more migrants, while Germany, which is going through a demographic crisis, takes in young workers. But all of this cannot last forever.”
The politician warned that “with nearly a million migrants a year, the system is collapsing before our very eyes. Only the restoration of national borders will be able to deter the migrants and their smugglers. The EU’s chronic impotence should have alerted us a long time ago to the fact that when history picks up the pace, only nations are capable of action.”
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir reaffirmed his country’s position which rejects of the presence of Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s future, stressing that the departure of Assad and those with blood on their hands is still the Kingdom’s clear and non-negotiable demand.
Al-Jubeir made the comments during a joint press conference with his British counterpart Philip Hammond in London on Wednesday. He stressed that the departure of Assad, either through a political process or a military defeat, is a foregone conclusion.
Vice President of the Syrian Coalition Mustafa Osso said that the latest Saudi position has “set the record straight after deliberate attempts recently to disfigure the positions of the Gulf countries, specifically the position of Saudi Arabia. It also reaffirmed that Assad would not have any role in the new Syria or in the transitional period.
Osso added that talking about attempts to rehabilitate Assad or to partner with him in the campaign against terrorism is a mere an illusion and deception as the Saudi position, backed by Arab countries and Turkey, has foiled the Iranian attempts to make Bashar a bargaining chip in its expansionist project.
“We are greatly confident in the support of Saudi Arabia and our brothers in the Arab Gulf and Turkey whose positions have safeguarded the revolution against attempts by some parties who seek to thwart democratic change in Syria.
The General Assembly will hold an emergency three-day meeting on August 28th to discuss the action plan put forward by the UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, which was adopted by the UN Security Council.
The political committee earlier issued a statement confirming that the plan, besides lacking clear mechanisms, gives the Assad regime more time to continue the killings of civilians and bypass the legitimate representative of the revolution and the Syrian opposition.
The political committee members met with ambassadors and representatives of several countries of the Friends of the Syrian people to discuss de Mistura’s plan yesterday.
News from Rojava remains sketchy, but it seems that since the YPG captured the town of Tal Abyad from the Islamic State and successfully formed a joint administration involving all ethnic groups, new problems have arisen.
2nd New Children’s Care Centre Opens in Kobane
Tal Abyad falls into the territory which under the Assad regime lay between the Kurdish Cantons of Kobane and Cizire.
After the Islamic State (IS) invasion and their subsequent defeat by the Kurdish YPG and a Free Syrian Army (FSA) joint force, the two Cantons were joined together.
Administratively, it seems to have been decided to place Tal Abyad under Kobane Canton, an action to which the FSA Liwa Thuwar brigade is objecting.
Previously the town fell under the administration of Raqqah city, which continues for the present under IS control.
The basis of this reaction is once again sectarianism. Having failed to make accusations against the Kurdish YPG of “ethnic cleansing” stick, Arab groups are now trying to prevent good government and some sort of normality prevailing.
(EDITOR: Given the Rojavan Constitution, which guarantees the rights of all, I know which group I would rather be adminstered by. I hope those in Tal Abyad from all groups involved in the ruling council, speak up.)
In Kobane city itself yesterday a new hotel and restaurant, called “Martyr Jadou’s”, opened, and separately a 2nd playground and educational area for children. Children from 3 – 5 will receive childcare at the new facility and the older children literacy skills.
Funeral For 9 YPG/YPJ Fighters in Kobane
There was also a funeral for 9 YPG/YPJ fighters killed in battles in Kobane Canton and at Serekaniye.
Around 35,000 people are now reported to have returned to Kobane city since the last IS attack in June.
There is also a report that Ahmad Hamdan, an IS Jihadist who was injured and captured in the June 25th attack on Kobane, has committed suicide in his prison cell.
The IS fighter was in the care of the YPG who had sent him for medical treatment after his capture on the 27th June.
The circumstances of his suicide and the fighter’s nationality have not been revealed but he is said to have taken his own life on 18th August.
Unconfirmed reports lacking detail are coming in saying that Turkish jets have made an airstrike on YPG forces near Tell Brak, 50 kilometres north-east of Hasakah. Whether this is in error, or some deliberate Turkish move on PKK associated Kurdish fighters is not clear.
Reports yesterday said that Turkey and the US had concluded talks on “the procedures and technical details” of Turkey’s involvement in and cooperation with the Coalition force on strikes against IS. However, US spokesmen said that their had been no discussion of the creation of a “safe zone”. Turkey’s intentions still remain confusing and ambiguous.
Interesting “alternative perspective” story from the B1 bomber crew members of the US 9th Bomb Squadron who dropped 660 bombs on IS positions in Kobane in the first 5 months of Operation Inherent Resolve. Those bombs killed an estimated 1,000 IS Jihadists. You can read more, HERE:
Originally published back in February, this YPJ fighter sings for Kobane, here: