Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 30, 2013

Syria: New Constellations Emerge

It is by Fisk and the guy is not always as sober as one would like but his story rings true:
Six weeks ago, a two-man delegation arrived in secret in Damascus: civilians from Aleppo who represented elements of the Free Syrian Army, the rebel group largely composed of fighters who deserted the regime’s army in the first year of the war. They came under a guarantee of safety, and met, so I am told, a senior official on the staff of President Bashar al-Assad. And they carried with them an extraordinary initiative – that there might be talks between the government and FSA officers who “believed in a Syrian solution” to the war.
It makes sense for nationalist minded insurgents to stop the fight against the government as other parts of the armed opposition are now aligning themselves with Al-Qaeda and thereby against any nationalist form of Syria.

Last week some 10 to 14 groups in northern Syria, including the hardline Jabhat al-Nusra, united under an Islamic flag. Yesterday 43 groups south of Damascus united as a new Army of Islam under the command of the head of the Liwa al-Islam brigade. While the numbers seem impressive at least some of these "new" associations are fake and one has to keep in mind that there are some 1,200+ insurgency groups in Syria, most of those just local gangs or thieves. Many of those will not be happy with the ascent of a rigid Islamic system and will prefer an amnesty or some other arrangement with the Syrian government.

We may thereby now see a new configuration of the parties in the Syrian conflict. Insurgent groups with Islamic tendencies will unite under ever more radical banners and will depend on "private" money from the Gulf states. The more secular groups, who will no longer receive money or weapons from the defunct FSA command and the useless exile Syrian National Council, will now turn to the government to gain amnesty or some other understanding. They may well join the Syrian Arab Army in the fight against the radical groups. The Kurds have defended their areas against Jihadis as well as the Syrian government but the leftist PYD group leading them does not have good relation with the Barzani clan that leads in the Iraqi Kurd territories. The Syrian Kurds will therefore stay in the national Syrian realm but will demand some local and language autonomy which will be granted.

The precautious U.S. government move to detente with Iran, widely supported by the U.S. population, will put pressure on the Gulf regimes. They are financially bound to the "west" and can not stand against the U.S. will. When Obama will finally throw away the regime change platitudes and decide to shut down the supply lines to the Jihadis in Syria, the Gulf states, as well as Turkey, will have to comply. Iran and Russia put out some feelers that might make it it easier, especially for the Saudis, to dismount from the sectarian horse they have been riding in the wake of Shia ascendency. The only stumbling block for these new arrangements are the hardliners in Israel. But Netanyahoo's star is already sinking with other hawks arguing against his stand and any resistance to these developments will only accelerate its demise.

It will take time for the Syrian government to eliminate the terrorists from Syrian territory. But the now emerging new constellations of the war are much clearer and much more to the advantage of the government then they have been in the previous two years.

Posted by b on September 30, 2013 at 13:11 UTC | Permalink


I wouldn't normally, but

Sideshow Bob is killed in Syria.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Sep 30 2013 13:24 utc | 1

excellent piece b. -

hope events in Syria move as outlined.

Posted by: crone | Sep 30 2013 14:09 utc | 2

It's the only way the war could really end, and has been a possibility for a long time. However, even if it does happen, you don't get rid of al-Qa'ida so easily. As in Baghdad, there'll be bombs for years.

Nevertheless, Alastair Crooke thinks that even the Saudis' strategy has backfired.

Posted by: alexno | Sep 30 2013 14:26 utc | 3

Love the scenario, but, can the cabal pushing regime change abandon their plans, and leave Syria to sort out their own solutions? I for one, don't believe they will.

Posted by: ben | Sep 30 2013 14:40 utc | 4

b, you speak about "amnesty". I have been planning to write about a negotiated settlement, but maybe we are already way past that.

Who won the war in Northern Ireland? In the Good Friday agreement that ended the "Troubles", who was the winner?

Many of you are likely to say the IRA was the big winner and I am not here to disagree. But what did they get? Nothing!

There was no united Ireland, no "regime change" in Britain. The IRA had to disarm – in fact it did so even before the negotiations started. The system, with all its oppressive history survived. Elisabeth is still Queen and Maggie never lost her title of Baroness.

IRA prisoners stayed locked up for another few years, and yes, Gerry Adams gets to call himself "Irish".

The real victory comes from, having taken up arms, being allowed to return to civilian life – unbeaten. The immense power the IRA or Sinn Féin now has comes from having resisted the Empire and survived.

Based on the Northern Ireland experience I say the best the FSA could ever have hoped for – in concrete terms – is amnesty.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Sep 30 2013 14:52 utc | 5

This is not insignificant:

Likud's ability to intimidate the more "moderate" zionists may be crumbling. Netanyahu is, I believe, currently visiting the US to shore up support for the fascist way. The truth is that AIPAC has no way to go but down, in recent years it has got almost everything it demanded.

Posted by: bevin | Sep 30 2013 15:12 utc | 6

Martin Chulov gets it a bit more right than usual.

Posted by: alexno | Sep 30 2013 15:16 utc | 7

This is not insignificant: Posted by: bevin | Sep 30, 2013 11:12:43 AM | 6
Yes, it is. It's insignificant. Peres is insignificant, and a pledge to 'consider' the CWC means nothing. As to b's post itself, I think it's based on a misconception. B seems implicitly to assume that AQ and suchlike are a strategic dead loss from the US point of view. The idea that the Sauds (and Kuwaitis, apparently) have been funding Jihadi groups independently of the "will" of the US is, I think, naive. They have been funding Jihadi groups right across the MENA because USrael has no other way of reducing Iran's power except to destabilise existing regimes which tolerate Iran-backed resistance groups, ie Iraq and Syria (also Sudan, which Israeli has repeatedly accused of playing a role in Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah and occasionally Hamas). The Israeli imperative remains, to sever the Hezbollah supply line. Unless Assad agrees to this, he must go, and be replaced by people who do agree to it.

Therefore, the only probable change is that the war against Syria will go on, but with a higher degree of deniability for the US. The US most importantly wishes to maintain the fiction that AQ and Jihadis in general are its enemies, hence all the spectacular massacres of the last week blamable on AQ or 'affiliates'. That is the only reason for the apparent changes of policy now going on: to maintain this absolutely essential fiction, which for 12 years has been the fundamental rationale not only for US foreign policy but also for US domestic policy. What the US must avoid is the public recognition of the fact that AQ and the Jihadis are in fact its most important strategic allies. Such a public recognition would destroy the entire US governmental system -- not just one 'party' or the other but the whole thing.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Sep 30 2013 15:47 utc | 8

Once more I'm left to wonder whether b gets tipped off by extra terrestrians; it's almost uncanny what that man digs up and puts his fingers on. Compliments, b!

This, however

The precautious U.S. government move to detente with Iran, widely supported by the U.S. population, will put pressure on the Gulf regimes.

is the point where I'm not that sure. First, the move to detente still is in a very early stage. Second and more importantly, I'm not at all sure, it does put pressure on the Gulf regimes.

First, who are those Gulf regimes? Some micro-countries and zaudi arabia. So, "Gulf regimes" basically is a way to say zaudi arabia but have it sounding more impressive and less clear.

And why would it put pressure on those "gulf regimes"? What pressure? The pressure to not any more unilaterally, unjustifiedly, wanton vilify every breath any Iranian takes - while praising despotism, plundering and even terror attacks ordered and payed for by the "gulf regimes"?

Or is the "pressure" coming from zusas hope to play Iran against the zaudis, getting favourable prices on oil and gas, possibly even re-establishing the zus$ with Irans help and at the same time winning independence from the "gulf regimes".

Well, zusa sure is delusional enough to hope for something like that.
One the other side: Why should Iran play that game? zaudi arabias military importance is neglegible against any well trained enemy and its experience and forte is to put tanks against demonstrating civilians. As for zusa it should have become clear by now even to hardcore zusa fans that zusa can't risk a war with Syria and much less with Iran; furthermore, Iran after all those years of zusa and israel sanctions terrorism still is economically more stable than zusa.

Frankly, my impresson is that Purin took obama aside and told him, probably in very polite terms "Your game is over. You either retreat or we will beat the shit out of you and leave you humiliated and financially and economically broken in some kind of midieval status. On the other hand, if you retreat we will tolerate you as some kind of regional power. And btw. you better clean up your shit around the world because we will sure enough not protect you if Iran or Brazil destroy your bases and kill your troups in the tens of thousands for what you did to them."

Unrealistic? No.
If The BRIC and SCO states and their friends start a coordinated offensive zusa/zato is dead meat. And the cards aren't that nice for zusa any more. Both Venezuela and Brazil are close enough to bring the war to zusa mainland. This is a *major* game changer. In the past decades zusa never had its own land in the dirty games they played.

Oh, and for Iran, there is still an open bill to the tunes of trillions (damage done by zusa) which, of course, will have to be payed. Taking away every penny and every ounce of gold from the "gulf regimes" and their brutal dictators would be a start.

Ceterum censeo israel delendum esse.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Sep 30 2013 16:11 utc | 9

@ 9

I also think Putin may have whispered in Obama's ear... a number of things, one of which might have been related to the loans China and Russia have made to the US... if Russia or China started dumping US dollars, US would be in a whole lot of trouble. Look at what is going on in Congress at the moment...

US is not able to pay its bills... only war it can conduct is "drone warfare" -

What do you all think about US continued financial support of Israel?

Posted by: crone | Sep 30 2013 16:43 utc | 10

This is absolutely bizarre:

In a series of posts on its official Twitter account late on Sep 27, Jabhat al-Nusra pulled back from reports it had entered into “a coalition” and insisted that if it had done so, its media wing, Al-Manara al-Bayda, would have announced such a development. In fact, Nusra insisted the statement was aimed solely at condemning the SNC and its foreign-based leadership. As such, Nusra claimed reports of “a coalition” were attempts at instigating divisions between itself and ISIS.

But you know, it doesn't matter. Just ask yourself, where does the money come from? It comes from the same places for all these groups, via different routes. And it will go on coming. From the USA's point of view, deniably. Bandar knows how to organise this sort of thing. The more layers of deniability he can insert into it, the happier the USA will be.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Sep 30 2013 17:32 utc | 11

The linked story that b offers for "detente with Iran" is, significantly I think, from Zaman, which is the organ of the Gulen movement. Those of you who read Boiling Frogs will be aware that for several years Sibel Edmonds has been saying quite categorically that the Gulen movement is a CIA tool. It represents a supposedly 'moderate Islamism'. I assume everybody has heard that phrase often enough not to be gulled by it. The puppet show of 'moderate vs extreme Islamists' has been going on since the 1990s at least, to my own personal recollection. Zaman obviously want to be part of the puppet show, which is what they're paid for, and so they offer (via an op-ed, which is what b has linked to), the following completely unsupported claims, which deserve to be looked at closely:

Iran aligns with US to counter Sunni world
The US has abandoned a policy of regime change in Iran. Obama said from the UN podium: We are not seeking regime change. The enmity between the US and Iran, very close allies until the 1979 revolution, has always been an artificial one. In his seminal work, “Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future,” Stephen Kinzer described Iran and the US as “logical partners.” Tehran shares two fundamental US concerns in the region: energy security and the rise of Sunni extremists. With Egypt falling into the hands of rich Gulf monarchs and Turkey slowly aligning against Iran, Tehran will have no choice but to get on the bandwagon with the US to protect itself from the threat it perceives from the Sunni world. The biggest obstacle in rapprochement between the US and Iran was Washington's intention to get rid of the regime in Tehran, something Obama made clear is not on his administration's agenda. The turning point was when Obama decided to contain AQ affiliates fighting to oust Assad and avoid bombing the regime in Damascus, pulling Iran and the US much closer together. With its irresponsible adventures in the Middle East in the past decade, Washington only helped these Sunni radical groups flourish. Decimating AQ's core leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan caused affiliates of the terrorist group to spread across the Middle East, from Yemen, Iraq, Syria to Somalia, Mali and Libya. As the number of attacks by radicals from Africa to Asia rises significantly, the US and Iran have a common goal to achieve.

I'm not sure that there is a single sentence in that which I can believe. Most certainly, the sentence I have bolded is unparalleled in current journalism. No-one else would say it, because it simply isn't true. Obama hasn't 'decided to contain AQ affiliates fighting to oust Assad.' On the contrary, he is doing nothing whatever to 'contain' them. This is all moonshine, and I suppose its greatest persuasive angle is that it appeals to what people would like to believe. And this is why I think b's whole post is unrealistic.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Sep 30 2013 17:56 utc | 12

There have been some major developments recently IMO. The 'no' vote in the British parliament, Russian resistance, problems getting bombing permission from the US congress, a tentative rapprochement with Iran. It may be too early to talk about a sea change but it has certainly got Netanyahu's attention.

Posted by: dh | Sep 30 2013 18:13 utc | 13

I love your star-gazing, b. It's good ... essential ... to keep hope alive, and you always manage to see hopeful patterns among the stars. Another world is possible under this sun.

Posted by: john francis lee | Sep 30 2013 18:44 utc | 14

fouad sinoria on rt

any more cretinous & he would be counting the number of hezbollah with his hooves

Posted by: remembererringgiap | Sep 30 2013 18:59 utc | 15 where do those AQ dudes go?

Posted by: heath | Sep 30 2013 22:31 utc | 16

a few quotes from Rouhani's speech at the UN General Assembly (download the pdf for the full text):

Palestine is under occupation; the basic rights of the Palestinians are tragically violated, and they are deprived of the right of return and access to their homes, birthplace and homeland. Apartheid as a concept can hardly describe the crimes and the institutionalized aggression against the innocent Palestinian people.
ok, expected

We defend peace based on democracy and the ballot box everywhere, including in Syria, Bahrain, and other countries in the region
will a competition ensue over who raises higher the banner of "democracy"?

acceptance of and respect for the implementation of the right to enrichment inside Iran and enjoyment of other related nuclear rights, provides the only path towards achieving the first objective
the real key point, my emphasis

Posted by: claudio | Oct 1 2013 0:06 utc | 17

Mr. Pragma (9),

I really enjoy your comments, even the ones that are a bit over the top. It's clear you have some insight on the Russian sphere.

But your suggestion that Venezuela and Brazil might stage a land invasion of the USA strikes me as beyond ridiculous. Perhaps you have enjoyed a few too many shots of vodka and are feeling over-exuberant. It's ok, very excusable.

I must note that for a land invasion, the South Americans would have to travel via Panama, a natural choke point, and one already host to a large US military presence.

On the other hand, to invade the USA by sea, they'd be at sea for a week or two, which doesn't sound like a very good strategy when they could be bombed or missiled to bits long before reaching Florida. (And once they got there, how do their logistics work? Not too well; the very point you've mentioned previously regarding USA in the Middle East.)

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Venezuela and Brazil have a fleet of transport ships, carrier groups to protect them, the logistics for an invasion of the USA, and the troops.

But I doubt it.

Posted by: Drexel Putnam | Oct 1 2013 0:13 utc | 18

@15 hahhaa... excellent.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 1 2013 0:19 utc | 19

@16 God willing, to Saudi Arabia.

The world is long overdue for some YouTube videos of Prince Bandar being mauled by his own dogs.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 1 2013 0:21 utc | 20

@5 FSA is not IRA

Posted by: Brian | Oct 1 2013 1:45 utc | 21

Drexel Putnam (18)

What I said about Venezuela and Brazil must be taken in the context of a coordinated effort (against zusa).
Of course their role wouldn't be to attack zusa by themselves; their role would be to act as an intermediate point and for resupply.

Furthermore, it seems reasonable to assume that nobody will be interested in attacking zusa as in "boots on the ground and conquering them". Accordingly the attacks I spoke of would be attacks to project dominance and to bring the war to zusas mainland for psychological reasons.

One must not ignore the fact that one very major advantage of zusa was that they always terrorized other but never had to take the slightest risk for their own country. Now, obviously people are more easy going to O.K. a war, if the burning houses are thousands of miles away. If they have reason to consider the risk that war means "my house might be bombed and my family might get killed" they will be more reluctant.

Looking at it geostrategically zusa isn't in a very lucky position. Most of their major cities are along the cost and, no matter what the zamericans bla, their military isn't strong on defense; it's pretty much an aggression force - and one built on the assumption of strong quantitative superiority. The Russians are different there; while concentrating on defending their homeland they do have very considerable aggressive power in one single regard: To kill zamerican forces, namely carrier groups, the very spine of zusa mil. power.

Sure, not being primitive brawlers and assholes, Russian wouldn't be inclined to attack zusa. If that was needed, however (as explained above), one had to see (once more) that Russians are way ahead of zusa both in missile capabilities and in air defense capabilities. So, sending some hundred cruise missiles (from submarines) toward the zusa coast would create immense havoc as zusa cap. to defend against them are lousy; at the same time zusa couldn't hit back because the Russians have excellent air defense both on land and on ships. Furthermore it would be quite suicidal for zusa to send a fleet against the Russians.

Let me close with remembering the cuba crisis because it tells us a lot. zusa had and has nuclear weapons stationed in turkey; at the same time they went berserk over Russia doing something similar by stationing such weapons at Cuba. The reason was simple: zusas homeland would be threatened the same way they threatened Russia. It also shows, btw. the ignorant chuzpah of zusa.

Ceterum censeo israel delendum esse.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Oct 1 2013 2:47 utc | 22

Rowan Berkeley 12

turkey has always been held up as the *model moslem* for others to look up to...

Posted by: denk | Oct 1 2013 3:02 utc | 23

Good article, Dank, thank you. India has crumbled a bit since 2008. As for Turkey, it seems to me that Erdogan and Davutoglu are going to carry the can for all the messy stuff on the Syrian border, whatever happens. I would expect to see them go the way of Mursi and his team, in due course.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 1 2013 4:07 utc | 24

I think b's optimism is justified.
Imo the 1% must be beside themselves. This bunch of smart-ass (sneaky) non-human anonymous tossers, wankers, and wishful thinkers have made several irreversible blunders. The first was 'crushing' Occupy Wall St with violence; that showed every American who was paying attention that 'democracy' in America won't be tolerated (by the 1% and its lackeys). The second blunder was Ghouta; which all but advertised the fact that the 'rebels' in Syria have FUKUS's unequivocal support. What was stupid about that is that the ensuing bluster about bombing Syria (in a humanitarian kind of way) to save it, forced Russia to say "Nyet" in a way that no-one dared to question. It's all downhill for the dumbass Yankees from hereon in.

@ 24. I agree. Turkey's losers backed the losers - LOL.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 1 2013 5:09 utc | 25

There's another act of high farce in the pipeline too. I can hardly wait to see by what means Mrs Netanyahu has ordered her obedient house-pet, Bibi, to make an idiot of himself and Zion when he shambles into the spotlight tomorrow.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 1 2013 8:08 utc | 26

Hopefully he will bring another little whiteboard and a large felt-tip, to illustrate his points.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 1 2013 10:39 utc | 27

Mr. P.,

The USSA still has great satellites and control of the sea lanes. The blackmail power alone from the electronic grid is incredible. Then there is the dollar. "It may be our currency, but it's your problem." Sure, Russia has great missiles, but what can Russia offer India versus what the USSA can? Or Brazil? As it is, Russia can't be sure that Ukraine doesn't join the EU.

Another question is the black budget. The PTB in the USSA have been stealing money for the Area 51s for decades, way more than Russia has. So the question is, who has what?

Posted by: Ozawa | Oct 1 2013 11:57 utc | 28

Did anyone notice? The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), takes responsibility for the May 2013 Reyhanlı bombings:

ISIL threatens Erdoğan with suicide bombings in Ankara, İstanbul – Today's Zaman, September 30, 2013

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Oct 1 2013 14:25 utc | 29

Petri, perhaps we shouldn't always believe everything we read in Zaman, until it is properly confirmed elsewhere.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 1 2013 14:45 utc | 30

unlike b, I'm not too optimistic about what's going in Syria. The war will continue as far as the Gulf oil/gas stations and the US are concerned. It's dead cheap - costing them almost nothing.

There're plenty of brainwashed Sunni Wahhabis that the US and their Gulf minions will be happy to get rid off on some flimsy jihad fantasies in Syria. The goal is the destruction of Syria as a functioning state that challenges the Zionists occupiers.

The strategy adopted by Assad's been very self defeating. None of the backers of the rats have paid any significant price to change cause so they'll keep pumping more weapons and cash to anyone that wants to go an adventure in Syria. Until top Saudi, Jordanian, Turkey etc etc officials are getting assassinated one by one, or car bombs in Dubai, Riyadh etc etc, nothing will change.

And as predicted before, the Geneva 2 conference has a much chance of flying as a lead balloon. There's simply no opposition to talk to.

Posted by: Zico | Oct 1 2013 14:45 utc | 31

New constellations emerge, thanks to Russian diplomacy.

We were very close, as this article in the french magazine Nouvel Observateur shows:

The French were ready to go. Their mission was to strike around 3am and destruct missile batteries and command centre of the 4th army, using Rafale planes with Scalp cruise missiles. They were planning to sell that strike to the French people by declassifying some french "proofs" of the chemical attack and leak it to a french newspaper.

All they were waiting for, was the OK call from Obama. But when the call came, Obama said he would ask US Congress fist. Hollande was gobsmacked. He tried to convince Obama to change his mind, to no avail.

Posted by: Gregg | Oct 1 2013 15:08 utc | 32

As b points out, amongst the many insurgency groups (Syria), some are fake. I’d add that some are one-man-shows, poaching recruits from other factions, i.e. there is competition. Esquire had a piece from the ground with one group. (March..)

It isn’t fantastic but interesting reading all the same.

In Europe, Greece arrested the Golden Dawn leaders subsequent to one murder. GD was, and is, an org. somewhere between a Cult and a Mafia type org. Lacking a religious motive (e.g. Islam) they masqueraded as a political party or force, of the ‘fascist’ type, which gained them great legitimacy.

Their anti-foreign stance was purely opportunistic, but because it is traditional and scary, it fooled everyone. In fact, they were in alliance with the Pakistanis (or those called that) against the Albanians (called so) who run part of the drug trade and are the numero uno racketeers, Albanians needed to be dislodged.

That the arrests took so long, imho, was due to the fact that part of the State secretly supported or tolerated GD, as an easy bogey man to oppose, a convenient enemy, and because of ties between the Police and GD. (The police being divided, partly corrupt and out of control.) (> from my reading about Greece.)

The roots of all this are to be found in Greek Pols joining Europe blithely for their own personal motives. Signing on to Schengen and Dublin accords was a slow bomb, a form of suicide. The large majority of illegal immigrants (70 .. 80%) that enter the EU do so thru Greece, and that is where they stay or per accords are summarily returned to. The EU ignored this problem, certainly deliberately. So did the Greek PTB. (Greece was sacrificed.)

To return to Syria, Assad is guilty of similar blind refusal to take on important issue.

The 2006-10 or beyond drought in Syria was horrendous. Water use per capita (meaning for agri. etc.) was cut in half, hundreds of villages were simply abandoned, according to the UN, 800,000 ppl lost their livelihood, and overall, 3 million ppl were affected. 60 - 85% of livestock was lost. They moved to cities to eat! These numbers are off my cuff, but one can look up more precise.

What did Assad do? He implemented some mild neo-lib reforms, slashing subsidies (notably for gas) and opening up banking, and supporting imports! Then seeing the danger he rolled all that back somewhat.

Did he try to tackle these dire problems in any way? No. Did he even open up soup kitchens, like low-level solidarity? Talk about water and infrastructure ? Food, primary school education? afaik, No.

Two illustrative articles, WaPo, and Global Res, to make a mix.

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 1 2013 16:55 utc | 33


"To return to Syria, Assad is guilty of similar blind refusal to take on important issue."

The Greek pols have done anything and everything their neoliberal masters in the EU have wanted them to do since the beginning. They are continuing to do so in the arrests of the GD as the one thing that the GD inspires - nationalism - is what could really end the European experiment in neoliberalism.

As shown in the GR article you link to Assad - once a "buddy" of the neoliberal West - actually began rolling BACK the neoliberal policies that I'm sure Western advisers had been telling him to implement for some time.

Thus, I think your juxtaposition of the two cases actually shows two DIVERGENT reactions to the neoliberal West - Greece continuing down the line to neoliberal fascism and Assad actually cutting against the grain and pulling back from listening to the neoliberal masters of the West.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Oct 1 2013 17:18 utc | 34

Ozawa (28)

"Nobody *does* challenge my claims" (e.g. to sea lanes) is by means identical to "nobody *can* challenge my claims".

Noirette (33)

What you say about Assad sounds suspiciously like a president who is confronted with (e.g.) iwf demands when his country is in trouble and he asks for help.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Oct 1 2013 18:18 utc | 35

Thinking about the ISIl story Petri linked in #29, I get this, arranged as bullet points because it's a bit laborious:

(1) Zaman itself is the organ of the Gulen movement, which Sibel Edmonds has said for years is a CIA-controlled entity;
(2) The other Zaman story we have is the one saying that “The turning point was when Obama decided to contain AQ affiliates” in Syria, whereas in fact Obama is doing nothing whatever to “contain AQ affiliates” in Syria, quite the contrary; he is in the process of abandoning Syria to these AQ affiliates, so that it may be gradually destroyed by them, just as the state in Iraq is being destroyed by them;
(3) FSA claims that ISIL is a false flag entity run by the Syrian secret services, but this is on a par with claiming that Syria and Hezbollah are actually protecting Israel;
(4) The effect of this estrangement between ISIL and everybody else is that ISIL is becoming a completely deniable kamikaze entity which can bomb hell out of Syria indefinitely, without anyone having to take responsibility for it;
(5) What it is doing here is providing Turkey with a plausible basis for denying any relationship with it, a service sorely needed since Turkey is heavily implicated in supporting Nusra, another CIA vehicle.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 1 2013 18:19 utc | 36

JUst thinking out loud, but wonder if Obama calling off Syrian strike reflected a fear that the Syrians and their allies could inflict substantial losses on Israel and the US military. If a US carrier is sunk or severely damaged, this could trigger a crash in the dollar and global financial markets.

Posted by: Andoheb | Oct 1 2013 19:02 utc | 37

37) Above all it would trigger full out war. You cannot "punish" a person when you get "punished" yourself by that person.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 1 2013 19:23 utc | 38

So like an unwelcome house guest, the AQ outfits have to leave at some point. so where do they go? South perhaps?

Posted by: heath | Oct 1 2013 21:28 utc | 39

@Rowan Berkeley #30, #36

You do not have to take the word of Today's Zaman for the ISIL admission. TZ just happens to be the only source reprinting the story in English. In May we had horror stories and accusations against Syria all over the Western media – despite the fact that everyone here knew that al-Nusra / ISIL / al-Qaeda was responsible. Now no one is interested.

I have added a number of sources in Turkish and Arabic to the Wikipedia article on the 2013 Reyhanlı bombings. I have also seen the ISIL statement in .jpg form, though I have not seen the original link. The story is in no way dependent on the Gülen movement.

As for the situation on the ground, al-Qaeda has now established a state in northern Syria. Most interestingly this state borders Turkey, a NATO member state. The argument now is if Turkey will give al-Qaeda the same logistic support now when they operate openly as they did before, when they operated under a US cover. I can only imagine the excitement at the Azaz border crossing:

Welcome to al-Qaedaland! May we see your passport please. Are you here for jihad or just looking for a wife? Anything to declare? Please review our regulation on nuclear materials. And please, keep your AKs on safety while in the customs area.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Oct 1 2013 23:04 utc | 40

AQ still has a lot do in Syria; if it will be dislodged, I fret for Lebanon and Iraq, both outside of the scope of the current Us-Russia detente, full of "infidels", and interesting targets for SA (Lebanon also for Israel)

Posted by: claudio | Oct 1 2013 23:22 utc | 41

Since we've been talking about false flags and JS mentioned Israel's arrest of an alleged Iranian spy, it is worth mentioning that one of Israel's use of such events is as a distraction, to keep its activities our of Western MSM and reinforce the stereotype of scary Arabs/Muslims. The false flags also can be used to pressure the framed perpetrator, as was done to Syria after the Hariri assassination -- getting not only Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon, but IMF concessions. A particularly effective use of false flags framing members of the "resistance axis" is using them to brand groups, like Hezbollah and Quds, as terrorist organizations. Once branded as such, not only can they be demonized, but US sanctions can be applied to them. Funds cannot be transferred to them. US politicians and diplomats can be forbidden from meeting with them. American citizens can be intimidated from finding out more about them for fear of violating vague "material support of terrorism" prohibitions. States like Syria which have never attacked the US can be put on an enemies list as State Sponsors of Terrorism because of their alliance with Hezbollah. Apparently, Netanyahu was presenting evidence to Obama from Israeli intelligence about Al Quds' many connections with terrorist plots in recent years -- including the stunningly credible plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in the US.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Oct 2 2013 1:13 utc | 42

This morning I found this on al-Akhbar. Note the way the old story repeats: ISIL - do not confuse with Nusra in relation to Rohanli - is better funded, better armed. That means Bandar, which means CIA approval.

ISIS/ISIL Battles Kurds, Threatens Ankara
Basel Dayoub, al-Akhbar, Oct 1 2013

ALEPPO – The infighting among the armed groups of the Syrian opposition has subsided. All factions are slowly coming to terms with the superiority of ISIS/ISIL, and avoiding clashes with it amid a general sense in their ranks that regional winds are not blowing in their favor. Yet after 13 factions disavowed the SNC, announcing that they did not accept the representation of any opposition faction based abroad, ISIS’ dash to assimilate other opposition brigades and seize control of the Aleppo countryside has slowed down. The announcement had the effect of reminding all factions that the regime remains their common enemy. Meanwhile, it seems that the move by these factions, with the exception of ISIS, to form the “Army of Islam” was to counter the SNC’s call for establishing a national army and also to counter ISIS. To be sure, ISIS is now attracting Arab Mujahidin in great numbers, as well as a large proportion of young Syrians who have embraced AQ ideology. An opposition source in Aleppo said that if current trends seen in the FSA and other brigades continue, then the Syrian revolution will be completely derailed and transformed into a sectarian, Takfiri battle. The source also said that significant numbers of Arab and foreign fighters are ditching Jabhat al-Nusra and other radical groups to join ISIS, increasing its strength at the expense of other groups. The source pointed out that there are deep concerns among opposition militants in the wake of the victories that ISIS now possesses the strongest factions in Aleppo and Idlib’s countryside. A human rights activist in Aleppo said that ISIS has been trying to recruit lawyers and judges for its Islamic Law Council. The source said that masked lawyers affiliated with ISIS stand at the Bustan al-Qasr crossing to point out lawyers and judges for ISIS members. The lawyers and judges are then questioned by ISIS and pressured to join up as Islamic law judges, since its current judges are seen as unqualified. In the meantime, ISIS has threatened to launch a series of suicide attacks against Turkish government interests unless Turkey opens the Bab al-Hawa and Bab al-Salamah crossings, which Ankara closed down after ISIS seized control of the town of Azaz. The threat, which came as a statement posted in Jihadi online forums, gave Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government no later than Monday, Oct 7 to open the border crossings. Addressed to Erdogan, the statement hinted at ISIS’ responsibility for the bombings in Reyhanli and Bab al-Hawa and said suicide attacks will target government interests in Ankara and Istanbul. (etc)

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 2 2013 3:44 utc | 43

What the CIA script calls for now is that all ‘moderate Jihadis’ worldwide, particularly those associated with the US in the anti-Assad campaign, dissociate themselves from AQ, which then becomes 100% deniable again. This is AP, Oct 1:

ISIL has claimed responsibility for a string of car bombings in Baghdad that killed 55 people. In a statement posted late on Monday hours after the bombings that mostly targeted Shi’ite neighborhoods, ISIL says the attacks were in retaliation to the “arrests, torturing and targeting of Sunnis.”

It will be interesting to see whether Zawahiri issues another statement of his own, as he did when the Nusra/ISIL split happened, saying no, I still support Nusra (under 'al-Golani') against ISIL (under 'al-Baghdadi'), but I don't think he will, because I'm certain what we have here is a marked revision of CIA policy (as executed by Bandar), intended at all costs to prevent the perception that AQ belongs to the US.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 2 2013 7:06 utc | 44

good article on syria by Michael Parenti with this little new item:

.. According to centuries-old Islamic prophecy they espouse, [jihadis] must establish an Islamic state in Syria as a step to achieving a global one."

another reason why syria is being targeted?
who knows anything about this 'prophecy'?

Posted by: brian | Oct 2 2013 7:29 utc | 45

what is Chairman Bob Avakian's analysis of the situation in Syria?

Posted by: k stabler | Oct 2 2013 7:45 utc | 46

Whoever Bob Avakian may be, I have been pursuing my train of thought regarding what I hypothesise as an overall CIA strategy aimed first and foremost at maintaining the myth that AQ is not a US asset. I am wondering about the available strategies for Nusra. On the one hand, Nusra has joined the anti-ISIL league of what I propose to call "National Jihadis." What I mean by this is that the essential defining feature of AQ is that it posits a global Jihad which transcends all national boundaries and identities. If the aim of the exercise is to ensure maximum deniability for AQ, then all the other Jihadi entities must dissociate themselves from it, and the obvious way is by reasserting their 'national' frames of reference. Indeed, Nusra has always differed from ISIL in precisely that respect, that it has maintained that its aims are purely national, however Islamic, and do not involve the subsumption of the Syrian state into a supra-national 'Caliphate'. So why did Nusra declare allegiance to Zawahiri, thus becoming an 'AQ affiliate'? Presumably because Zawahiri guaranteed to it that he would defend its national separateness, and not allow it to be subsumed into ISIL's or anybody else's 'global Jihad'. Now, Zawahiri has failed to assert his authority in this matter, as ISIL is roaring ahead in Iraq and Syria simultaneously, despite Zawahiri having attempted to countermand it. Therefore, the way is clear for Nusra to say, Zawahiri has failed us, we dissociate from him, and therefore from AQ. And I bet this is exactly what will happen.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 2 2013 8:44 utc | 47

A very good TV show with Thierry Meyssan discussing the events in the Middle East and North Africa:

He was recently approached to appear at a NATO event in London where they were going to discuss how their plans for a fake video victory over the Syrian government was defeated, largely by his efforts. He refused, but fake events and video are going to be very important in the future.

Posted by: Ozawa | Oct 2 2013 10:07 utc | 48

another reason why syria is being targeted? who knows anything about this 'prophecy'?

Yes the Mayans , i have always maintained the chaos being done to Syria is a battle for the desert religions.The Khazars want a greater Israel, the Sunnis Caliphate want to control Islam, The Christians are mostly marginalized, the Zionist have decimated mainstream Christianity, the only opposition are the Rus, look at how the Greek Orthodox has been so quite, or the Armenian, Serbs etc.

Posted by: hans | Oct 2 2013 13:12 utc | 49

@Ozawa, #48: I watched that right through (140 mins), and although only Meyssan speaks in English, I enjoyed it; almost every time Meyssan speaks he manages to drop a bombshell or two, and he was able to line up various little video clips to illustrate his point. Nevertheless unless you have a lot of time on your hands, I think you will probably not want to sit through the body of it after Meyssan has finished his long introduction, because all the other panelists talk at great length in Macedonian. (Meyssan himself has the benefit of simultrans via a little earphone).

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 2 2013 15:00 utc | 50

I don't want to put down hope and optimism, but let's not assume Israel will give up fomenting sunni v shia hostility anywhere and everywhere in the ME, and they still hold significant sway over our foreign policy, though there do seen to be some chinks in the armor, and they'll NEVER stop demonizing Iran as the unholiest threat to world peace since and maybe even worse than Hitler. Don't think that the banksters will give up trying to "liberate" Syria's public/state banking system, plus you've still got Qatar and Israel desperate to keep the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline from happening, with Saudi + GCC monarchies on board with that to keep Shia power limited. Neocons never stop dreaming of a path to Persia, and then the jihadis/AQ/ISIS/et al (it kills me that's there calling card as a huge Archer fan, btw, and yes i know that's pretty and irrelevant but i can't help it) with their own ideas, and 2 decimated countries from which to operate freely or damn close to it (Iraq/Libya) and plenty of disaffected, jobless youth from around the ME, NA, and Central Asia to be radicalized in US/Saudi-sponsored Gulen schools and I'm sure other actors on the radicalization front, and as creating terrorists to use as destabilizing freedon fighters or a deadly threat to freedom to be fought, depending on the situation, IS our foreign policy (and the justification for our domestic police state), I don't see as much reason for believing peace anywhere is right around the corner.

HOWEVER, popular opposition at home to invading Syria just played a major role in at least delaying a war for the first time in history, relations with Iran are thawing, publicly at least, much to the chagrin of Israel, neocons, and the MSM who never cease to bang the drums for War, more countries are calling out the US on our BS putting us under more pressure, and with Russia/China/SCO playing the "we'll stop eating your debt and Syria is OUR red-line" card, there is reason to at least be cautiously optimistic that Syria won't become Libya or Iraq, and a deal with Iran will be reached. But until we stop arming and funding the Jihadis in Syria, and some kind of official accord including the lifting of Sanctions is struck with Iran, I won't be convinced we're not planning exactly what we were before. And by "we" i mean the global elites who call the shots.

And I would also just say, to Iran- dudes, look at Fukushima. Nuke power is a dead end, don't you have lots of sunlight and desert? Yeah, keep the nuclear biz limited to whatever is needed for medical purposes. Take away the causus belli for Usrael in the process. Thank you. Shalom. Allah akbar or whatever is proper to say. That's what I'd say.

Posted by: Colinjames | Oct 4 2013 17:26 utc | 51

Plenty of disaffected, jobless youth from around the ME, NA, and Central Asia to be radicalized in US/Saudi-sponsored Gulen schools and I'm sure other actors on the radicalization front, and as creating terrorists to use as destabilizing freedom fighters or a deadly threat to freedom to be fought, depending on the situation, IS our foreign policy (and the justification for our domestic police state), I don't see as much reason for believing peace anywhere is right around the corner. Posted by: Colinjames | Oct 4, 2013 1:26:30 PM | 51
You can also factor in the pro-amphetamine drug, captagon. The story in the press is that Gulf youth just love taking this stuff as a party drug, and because of this Saudi black marketeers have established factories in Rumania and Bulgaria. But the truth is that the Saudi recruiters pump new young 'Jihadis' full of it so that they can go on killing sprees without remorse. This according to Thierry Meyssan.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 4 2013 17:55 utc | 52

@52Rowan Berkeley

Ziad has been making endless captagon jokes, but I think it's overblown. Modern war simply isn't waged without amphetamines or alternative stimulants.

Posted by: Crest | Oct 4 2013 18:18 utc | 53

Oh great, meth wasn't bad enough now we've got religious fanatics on a new kind of stimulant? Allah on steroids! Yikes. Sober religious fanatacism is bad enough. What are the Knights of Malta high on, besides power I wonder? Give these people some weed for Jah's sake... and I'm only half kidding.

Posted by: Colinjames | Oct 5 2013 21:22 utc | 54

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