Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 02, 2013

Syria: Your Moderate Cuddly Homegrown Al-Qaeda

There seems to be a media campaign designed to differentiate between the "really bad Al-Qaeda terrorists" in Syria and the "maybe good moderate Al-Qaeda rebels".

The bad Al-Qaeda is the Saudi financed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) while the good Al-Qaeda are those Salafi jihadist groups other than ISIS that are paid by the Saudi state:

“We want to keep Syria together as a country of freedom and equality,” a leader in an Islamist rebel group opposed to ISIS, called Suqour al-Sham, who gave his name as Abu Bashir, said via Skype. “They want to form an Islamic state that comes together with Iraq.”
...
Although the group sometimes cooperates in battle, ISIS is separate from the first Qaeda group to emerge in Syria, the Nusra Front, whose leader rejected a proposed merger this year.

Since then, foreign fighters have flocked to ISIS, while the Nusra Front has been more clearly accepted by mainline rebels for keeping its focus on the fight against Mr. Assad.

It is well known that ISIS has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. But Jabhat al-Nusra has also sworn allegiance to Zwahiri. That is of course not mentioned in the above NYT piece. What is the supposed meaning of this differentiation when both groups accept the same leader and the Al-Qaeda organization's ideology and aims?

The Washington Post is on the same day (really by chance?) running a similar toned piece that also emphazises the alleged difference between JaN and ISIS:

Rifts have also emerged between the more radical Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, the original Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate that has since sought to cast itself as the more moderate — and Syrian — of the two. But although an alliance announced last week between Jabhat al-Nusra and more-secular rebel groups was cast by some as an attempt to create a front against the ISIS, an organized effort would need a far greater influx of money, support and enthusiasm from fighters on the ground, most observers say.

In Foreign Policy, part of the Washington Post company, an apologist for the Saudis claims that this is all well and good:

The rise of Salafi-leaning rebel groups offers an opportunity to combat the real extremists -- al Qaeda-linked groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which have recently started wreaking havoc in Syria's north and east by fighting among themselves and against more moderate groups. Syria is no longer witnessing a struggle of moderates versus extremists, but of extremists versus both moderates and religious moderates. While recent developments are a setback for the FSA, they also have marginalized the truly radical factions.

This, again, neglects to mention that the newly united groups, especially in north Syria, include Jabhat al-Nusra. And what please is the difference between "moderates and religious moderates"? The first are those psychopaths who eat their dead enemies lungs and the second are those cuddly homegrown Salafis who hack off any Christian's head?

This campaign is supporting the alleged "uniting" of Saudi paid Salafist bands in the northern Idlib and south of Damascus. The Saudis are said to do this to prevent the bad ISIS Al-Qaeda to gain more power in Syria. It is unlikely that any such risky scheme will ever work:

If Riyadh's aim is to thwart al Qaeda enemies by rallying local Syrian Islamists in the way Washington did with Iraq's Sunni tribal Sahwa, it may be miscalculating, said commentator Hazem Amin. Unlike the Iraqi fighters, he said, Syrian Salafists were increasingly embracing radical views close to al Qaeda.

"Syria is different," Amin wrote in al-Hayat newspaper. "The social fabric is less cohesive ... At its core, the new Syrian Salafism is jihadist in nature. It is moving towards extremism."

And lets not forget that even those Free Syrian Army gangs that are not officially endorsing religious extremism are quite beyond the pale. The Guardian finally reports, two month after it happened, on the massacres these terrorists perpetrated in Alawite villages in the north Latakia province:

Shadi, a 32-year-old officer in a local defence unit that is separate from the Syrian army, was lightly wounded during the government's counter-attack. "When we got into the village of Balouta I saw a baby's head hanging from a tree. There was a woman's body which had been sliced in half from head to toe and each half was hanging from separate apple trees. "
...
[T]he Guardian has obtained lists, compiled by local activists, with the names of victims from Hambushiya, Balouta, and five other villages. They include 62 people listed as killed, 60 kidnapped and 139 people who are missing. The dead range in age from a toddler of two to a man of 90. The vast majority are women, children and the elderly since most men in the villages were away on duty as part of the volunteer defence forces elsewhere in the region.

There are not many differences between any of the the insurgency groups in Syria. The Syrian insurgency was, from its very beginning, a brutal religiously motivated one that was run out of Sunni mosques and financed with money from the Wahabbi Gulf states. As this insurgency can no longer be sold in "western" media as "peaceful protesters" it is now depicted as somewhat moderate if only compared to the real savages of ISIS Al-Qaeda. But such differentiation makes no sense at all. Hanging baby heads from apple trees is psychopathic no matter what shade of religious extremism is used to justify it.

Posted by b on October 2, 2013 at 13:32 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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@JSorrentine

So, if I had been a German of good-conscience and who wasn't taken in by the propaganda of the Nazis during WWII how should I have properly responded to someone who tried to tell me that it WASN'T German aggression that was the cause of all these humanitarian crises the world over?
So you think European events from WWI to WWII can be understood without a primary reference to British and French colonialism and the western plutocracy attempts to expel Bolshevism from European affairs? Your example is well-chosen to underline our different worldviews; accept the difference and stop attacking people for not sharing yours

Posted by: claudio | Oct 5 2013 20:48 utc | 101

@Mr. Pragma #98 - ok, I may have to define better my position;
- I'm not tagging anyone as paranoid; I'm saying that if you accept that some may be on the lookout for others with a hidden agenda, and may do so without a reasonable definition of what are the symptoms of that agenda, this attitude is not distinguishable from paranoia: every different view will become "suspect" and therefore liable to be tagged as crypto-Zionist
- especially so as the symptoms these people are on the lookout for are any generic statement that doesn't acknowledge Israel's decisive hand behind everything that happens in the ME, the Us and beyond
- one has the right to hold such a view, and others have the right to disagree, and if all support their position with arguments they are welcome; what's unacceptable is to accuse of "hasbara speech" those you dissent with

Posted by: claudio | Oct 5 2013 21:02 utc | 102

@JSorrentine #100 - I'm well aware of Us domination in Italy and the whole of western and central Europe, through NATO and through direct Us presence; it's not a project, it's a reality; it originated in the realities of post-WWII, Zionism has nothing to do with it, sorry;

but thanks for the link, it gives interesting details

Posted by: claudio | Oct 5 2013 21:12 utc | 103

@101

Yes, claudio, I do think that most human beings can understand the Nazi wars of aggression without necessarily having to have a professorial handle on the British and French colonialism, Western plutocracy and Bolshevism. Just as how the layperson does NOT need to know the detailed histories of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria etc to know that the Zionist West is deliberately invading and destroying these countries and committing multitudes of war crimes. Is that really hard for you to understand?

Do you think the US leaders understand the histories of the countries they've destroyed? Of course not but that doesn't change the fact that they were destroyed and that's what we're talking about here - your mitigation of the culpability of the Zionist West in this present Syrian campaign and the others in the past.

When I read your posts it's like looking back 15-20 years into American culture when the cynicism hadn't yet sunk into the minds of many intelligent people and the "politically correct" view of history had so taken hold of academia that everyone collectively seemed to have lost the ability to discern the difference between reality and analysis. War isn't war. Murder isn't murder. War crimes aren't war crimes. They are all just the culminations of myriads of complex events - none of which can be seen as or called a true catalyst - and it's not our job as human beings to really try and prevent those things from happening again but rather to just debate them and analyze them to pieces. By thus purposefully deconstructing the meanings of such words as "war" "war crimes" "torture" "spying" etc etc, TPTB were then free to substitute their newly invented words and phrases like "R2P", "humanitarian intervention" and the like all without a peep from the "intelligent" folk because, gee shucks, things were just too darn complex, 9/11 changed everything, and hey it's 2013 and I've almost pinpointed the reasons for the Crimean War in my new article appearing on Huffington Post.

I am accepting your worldview, claudio. I just had thought that it didn't exist anymore, that there was no conceivable way seemingly intelligent people could still be fooled by the neoliberal politically correct hocus-pocus that was deliberately engendered to mask the criminality of a new generation of warmongers behind a haze of platitudes and specious politico-babble. Maybe the mask dropped here in the belly of the beast - the US - a little earlier than other places but from where I'm standing the time for analysis was 20 years ago. It may not look like it - that's the point - but we're in the middle of it right now. Seriously, I'm not trying to cut on you but the people I spend most of my time talking to have a much darker view of what's been going down and no one seems to have the stomach for analysis anymore.

Peace out - to borrow another phrase from long ago.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Oct 5 2013 21:32 utc | 104

@103

"Zionism has nothing to do with it..."

That is the point myself and others have been making for the entire time. When it involves the US Government it necessarily involves Zionism. You don't want to believe that and that is the point of mine and others disagreement.

Peace out for reals this time.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Oct 5 2013 21:38 utc | 105

@JSorrentine #104 -

Yes, claudio, I do think that most human beings can understand the Nazi wars of aggression without necessarily having to have a professorial handle on the British and French colonialism, Western plutocracy and Bolshevism.
yes, it's easy, all you have to do is find the Evil One; Nazi Germany is the archetypical Evil in present-day dominating mythology (or you can say Totalitarism if you want to catch Hitler ans Stalin in one stride), it's really easy to understand, except it's not true; Hitler could do what it did because he was encouraged to do so, because at that time the big Evil was Bolshevism; today Evil is identified along the same mindset by the west in anyone who opposes Us colonialism; Chavez was demonized without Israel having a hand in it; you are victim of the same mindset, except that you identify a different country as the big Evil, but it's still the same manichaeism

Just as how the layperson does NOT need to know the detailed histories of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria etc to know that the Zionist West is deliberately invading and destroying these countries and committing multitudes of war crimes. Is that really hard for you to understand?
yeah, "Zionist west", keep repeating it, it's very pedagogic, but it doesn't make it true; the West destroyed, or tried to destroy Korea, Vietnam, all Latin American countries, many African countries, committed genocides in all continents, it really needs Israel to tell him what to do in the Middle East

Posted by: claudio | Oct 5 2013 22:04 utc | 106

@JSorrentine #105 -

That is the point myself and others have been making for the entire time. When it involves the US Government it necessarily involves Zionism.
since when? 1967? 1956? 1949? (is NATO a Zionist creature?) 1917? 1898? 1787? if you can give me a date, then at least we can circumscribe our dissent

Posted by: claudio | Oct 5 2013 22:15 utc | 107

Syria 24 English:
Exclusive and Top Secret information Leaked:
An operation was carried out by the Syrian Navy special forces against an enemy target in the Syrian territorial waters north of Latakia. The target, a boat loaded with highly trained terrorists ‘commandos’ from different nationalities. The fate of the terrorists is yet to be known. Our sources confirm that the early dawn operation was swift, precise and was of utmost strategic importance. We’re pressuring for additional information, however, we do understand that less information especially in the regards of the casualties among the invaders is of higher importance, but we’ll continue pressuring for further information any way. We want to share our joy and pride of the Syrian Armed Forces with the remaining humane humans on the planet.

Posted by: brian | Oct 6 2013 2:08 utc | 108

Interesting article at AlAkhbar about possible demographic strategies of Western and GCC states to manipulate refugee population voting when/if Assad runs in 2014. It doesn't mention whether American-style touch screen voting will be one of the Geneva II preconditions (oh look, another Christian neighborhood in Damascus just voted against Assad by 80%).

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Oct 7 2013 0:22 utc | 109

On the subject of students and University plans interrupted, in Syria's Golan:

Residents say that after some attacks by opposition fighters here and there, the first direct confrontation took place on March 20, when the opposition attacked in large numbers from nearby Beit Jinn. “The people of the town confronted them with whatever was available,” says one local. “We lost 14 and they lost even more.” Since that time, Hadar’s nightmare began, as the fighters resorted to kidnapping and, in some cases, executions.

Most residents, who have come to spend their days and nights guarding their town, are simple farmers. Nizar, who left university to join the local armed committees that protect Hadar, says, “Today our situation is much better. We have mounted guns and medium-size machine guns...and the army helps us with artillery. Tomorrow, when the war is over, I will go back to my university.”

One of Hadar’s sheikhs refuses to blame the neighboring villages for Nusra’s actions, explaining that the notables who once helped to preserve peace no longer hold sway. “If the man that has been distributing bread from the provincial bakery to our town and all the neighboring villages for 30 years had his throat cut, what do you think they will do to us?” the sheikh asks.

“Who would kill someone who has been giving them bread since the day they were born?” he asks. “It’s impossible that the sons of these villages would do such a thing – they let strangers into their homes and ours.”

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Oct 7 2013 20:44 utc | 110

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