Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 23, 2014

CNN Finds Al Qaeda Now "Moderate"

CNN and its reporter Frederick Pleitgen are trying to whitewash some Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Syria by contrasting them with other Al-Qaeda affiliated groups and by declaring them "moderate":

At a sniper position atop of one of Aleppo's tallest buildings, soldiers showed us areas under opposition control. Some are held by the moderate Free Syrian Army, or the newly-constituted and moderate Islamic Front. But others are under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the al Qaeda-linked group which is battling against other rebel factions in its bid to set up an Islamic caliphate in Syria.

As pointed out earlier here the Islamic Front is not "moderate" in any reasonable aspect the attribute "moderate" can be used. It wants an Islamic state, or caliphate, in Syria. It regularly cooperates with the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. The head of one of its main sub groups, Abu Khaled al Suri of Ahrar al-Shams, was a friend and follower of Osama Bin Laden and is, according to himself, still part of the group:

A top official of a major Syrian rebel group acknowledged Friday that he considers himself a member of al Qaida, an admission that undercuts Western hopes that the new Islamic Front would prove to be an acceptable counter to the rising influence of other al Qaida affiliates in Syria.

Abu Khaled al Suri, who is a top figure in the rebel group Ahrar al Sham, made the statement in an Internet posting in which he argued that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, another radical rebel group, was not al Qaida’s representative in Syria and was not doing the work of al Qaida’s founder, Osama bin Laden, its current leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, or al Qaida’s late leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who was killed by an American missile in 2006.

The leading figure of the leading group within the Islamic Front is an al-Qaeda operative. The Islamic Front does not want a democratic state but an Islamic caliphate. Several subgroups of the new founded Islamic Front committed sectarian massacres of civilians in Latakia.

But Fred Pleitgen and CNN insist that the group is "moderate".

What makes it so? Obama's crazy willingness to talk with it and to probably provide it with weapons?

Posted by b on January 23, 2014 at 15:15 UTC | Permalink

Comments

CNN is dominated by Zionist and neo con warmongers. Almost as bad as FOX news on Middle East.

Posted by: Andoheb | Jan 23 2014 15:32 utc | 1

Again, I believe the only hope for the world to avoid ever increasing murder and mayhem is to viscerally understand the true sordid depths to what the United States of America has become. Seemingly intelligent/savvy people will scoff at what has been said by me and other posters here, namely, that 1) the control/power the TPTB have concerning the American media - including the Internet - vis a vis the ability to shape/distort public opinion is nearly total and 2) b/c of #1 the rising up/awakening of the American populace cannot be counted upon/awaited by the rest of the world but it is the truth nonetheless.

If you think the lies American leaders tell about foreign affairs are horrendous, I suggest non-Americans delve into the heart of domestic policy to see mendacity of an even more refined and controlling nature.

One of the outgrowths of said control - as again pointed out above by b, is the seeming outlandish arrogance/confidence that US leaders put on display in telling the most obvious lies and spreading the most outrageous narratives without blinking an eye. They wouldn't do this is they didn't have complete confidence in the system of control they have created over the last 20+ years.

Certainly many posters here have been wise to all of this for years but what really has to start taking hold is the wholesale rejection of ANYTHING coming out of the mouths of ANY American leader/celebrity/hero etc. Too many lives have already been lost/ruined in trying to take the seemingly "rational/civilized" approach and parse through the flood of propaganda in attempts to discern reality. What is needed is for the rest of the world to wholeheartedly start to abandon this godforsaken murderous country and turn us into the pariah that it and its terrible minion the apartheid state of Israel need to be treated as. Yes, slowly and surely it's happening but it needs to get to the point where when a person says the "United States" and the foremost associate word has to be "lies".

Those who may have wondered what a futuristic totalitarian police state would look like in the 21st century have to begin to understand that it is the United States and that it is coming for you next be it through destabilization, invasion or buying off your whorish leaders. To even pretend that you are dealing with a rational, civilized actor anymore is beyond the pale. Many here also think that the US economy is on its last legs, that an uprising is right around the corner, etc etc but I see nothing whatsoever to even begin to believe that the serfs have even begun to shake the shackles of control.

Please excuse the rant that covered obvious points but screaming into the wind is one of the only worthwhile past-times left here for some.


Posted by: JSorrentine | Jan 23 2014 15:46 utc | 2

Absurdities that CNN and their androgynous Amanpour have been repeating are countless..

Posted by: Virgile | Jan 23 2014 16:13 utc | 3

Related piece on the Saudi's use of AQ groups....

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=11297

Posted by: ben | Jan 23 2014 17:13 utc | 4

the media CNN is essentially a 'moderate' propaganda outlet, LOL..

Posted by: james | Jan 23 2014 17:42 utc | 5

see the recent interview with obama in the New Yorker. he explicitly tries to distinguish between bad and good AQ, probably with syria in mind.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/01/27/140127fa_fact_remnick?currentPage=all

key quote:

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian."

Posted by: kevin 87 | Jan 23 2014 17:43 utc | 6

JSorrentine @ 2

Maybe I am being delusional but I think there is a possibility of realizing the some of the necessary change you speak about. The American political system is closer to toppling than is broadly accepted. Obama's two resounding electoral victories represent a zenith in political marketing. But such marketing comes with a large price tag. It is going to be much harder to sell the folks next time. Everywhere one looks corruption is rampant. Granted, it is going to take time for this play out, maybe many decades. But the end is nigh. The neoliberal world order cannot be maintained.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jan 23 2014 18:40 utc | 7

The problem that I have with the J Sorrentine contribution @2 is that the “way out” he offers – the ‘rest of the world’ treating US leaders as completely unreliable, liars and deceivers- is no way out at all.
Most of the leaders in most other countries know already that the US is led by perfidious bastards who are totally amoral and concerned only with feathering their nests for the next few months.
They know this because they are not unlike them. In many cases they owe their positions of power to US sponsorship, in other cases they consciously set out to emulate their US rivals or opponents.
One would have to be extremely dumb to deal with the US government regularly and still to entertain any illusions about its evil ways and its utter cynicism.

So the rest of the world knows what it is dealing with, and, in so far as we are talking about its leaders, admires it. The Premier of Ukraine would love to have the sort of control that the US government has over its population. So would the Egyptian dictatorship.

There is no mystery about the source of this control either: the power of the media is a part of it but it is not the cause. The US media has such power not because people believe what it tells them-often enough they thoroughly distrust it- but because they are happy to go along with the status quo.

And why not?

For much more than two decades the US has been the best place on earth, in terms of economic well being and opportunity to live. It has never been anything like as good as advertised. And for certain minorities, such as blacks, it has been hellish. It has always been characterized by the ruthless suppression of dissent threatening the capitalist system. It has always been riven with corruption from the police station to the Supreme Court. Congress has always been, largely, bought and paid for and government oligarchical. And this has enraged, inconvenienced, annoyed and been generally recognized by Americans since the first stirrings of Independence.

The American people are not brainwashed but they are still pretty well convinced that, bad as things may be, upsetting the status quo, risking “change that you can really believe in” endangers what they have and may be unnecessary because “recovery” may very well restore all that has been lost in the past few years.

It won’t of course, and this is where the media and the treasonable academy come in, but people are continually being reassured that, at best, ‘recovery’ -good times again-is just around the corner. Or at the very worst, that the present system ‘democracy’ offers opportunities to change things painlessly and restore those “good times” when jobs were so easy to get that employers dared not offend employees, the “Leave it to Beaver” days when social mobility was facilitated by the educational system and union contracts raised living standards regularly. (And there is a Senator from Massachusetts who could tidy things up in a minute if elected to the White House.)

It never was that good, but tell that to the crowds in Kiev. They are so easy for the US and EU to manipulate because, just as the Owl of Minerva-prosperity and liberty- has become a distant speck in the sky, disappearing over the horizon, people the world over are beginning to sense that it is within their grasp. They eat the State Department’s cookies with the reverence that old catholics accept the host at communion: they believe in America, even though it not only not only no longer exists but never did exist. Not for ‘polacks’ and ‘hunkies’- cheap biddable labour-at any rate.

The truth is that deluded as the American people are, they are wiser to the reality of the US and its government than almost anyone else. Most of the “underdeveloped” (to employ a highly ideological nonsense) world is full of people who would sacrifice limbs to become Americans. Even the relatively sophisticated populations of Europe and the neo-Americas of the white dominions, themselves prosperous, generally better served in terms of medical and social security, are full of people who wish that they were American, or lived the way that Americans do-in the media if not reality.

And this isn’t surprising: for centuries America has been the land of virgin soil, readily exploitable mineral resources, vast untapped wildernesses full of wildlife, lumber and all that the peasant ever desires. Including, for whites, automatic membership of the master race.

This image was not cleverly constructed by Freud’s nephew and the wizards of Madison Avenue, in conjunction with Hollywood, in less than a century, it has been close to the centre of the European imagination for four or five hundred years. It is part of modernity. America envy is international. And nowhere more than in the “middle classes” of India or Serbia or Thailand. And, ironically, never more widespread or less rational than now as the system disintegrates.

What the media does is to put a ruling class interpretation, a spin on what is: the media tells Americans that everything good comes from capitalism, that inequality is the dynamo which drives improvements for all, that charter schools will be more efficient at educating children, that the internet must be monitored to protect ordinary people from terrorists (jealous of their way of life) and so on.
And it does a superb job. But it has very clear limits.

You can tell people that they are lucky to be free. But they won’t believe you when they live in daily fear of being fired and losing their incomes, medical coverage, everything. And when “everything”-even though it be very little and much less than earned- depends on kissing the boss’s arse, working days of unpaid overtime every month, taking a second or third job (all of which I suggest is the reality for tens of millions of those ‘lucky enough’ to be working) the media’s ability to convince people that black is white, good is bad, exhaustion is desirable, humiliation, enviable, and stress, bracing, erodes.

And this, if past form is anything to go by, is where J and I differ.

I see the Depression biting more deeply every month. I see popular patience with the system diminishing, despite the propaganda. I see, in various signs, one of them the undramatic but very marked disillusionment with military adventures such as Iraq and Afghanistan, a population turning away from a ruling class which is becoming increasingly isolated and arrogant. A ruling class riding for a fall, convinced of its immortality and the weakness and stupidity of those it exploits, cheats, insults and completely underestimates.

Posted by: bevin | Jan 23 2014 18:55 utc | 8

But there's another, equally fundamental factor - equally fundamental to the dialectically self-destructing nature of production for private profit in an age of near-universal automation - and it's not one people like to think too deeply about, because it is the direct progenitor of the mummy & daddy of all anti-semitic conspiracy theories. It's not exactly ignored by marxists (what few of them remain), but it is treated with great caution. I am referring to the issuance of credit money. Every empire in modern history has relied upon the issuance of credit money, and the issuers thereof form a very select club; almost a network of interlinked families, one might suspect. These are not mere 'bankers'. They are the bankers' own bankers, the 'central bankers'. They can inflate and deflate any nation's economy with the same absolute freedom that a child inflates and deflates a rubber balloon. And they do. And they are certainly not answerable to the productive capitalists. They have destroyed quite a few economies that were absolutely bulging with productive capitalists who were operating thriving, world-class industries, just by crashing the currency. So we need to overcome the taboo of taboos and ask who these 'central bankers' really are, and if they are mere figureheads, then who is behind them.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 23 2014 19:13 utc | 9

Excellent comment bevin (#7).

The main thesis of your comment was pretty much what I was hinting at a few threads back when I was comparing the anti-regime dissent in Iran and in the West.
The only thing I don't get is your original reaction to what I wrote back then. Was my wording so bad to give an impression completely irrelevant to what I intended to express?

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jan 23 2014 19:23 utc | 10

Rowan, the central bankers are a front for a mostly invisible, small group of people who have been controlling the western world's finances for over a hundred years. You are quite correct to draw attention the central bankers, even though when anyone approaches the subject with eyes wide open, and speaks of what they've found, they're immediately labeled 'conspiracy theorists'.

"Give me control of a nations money supply, and I care not who makes it’s laws." Amschel Rothchild

Posted by: okie farmer | Jan 23 2014 19:55 utc | 11

Here's some other ranters on money supply:


"All the perplexities, confusions, and distresses in America arise, not from defects in the Constitution or confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, as much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation." - John Quincy Adams

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless." - Abraham Lincoln, from a November 21, 1864 letter to Colonel William F. Elkins

"Banks create credit. It is a mistake to suppose that bank credit is created to any extent by the deposit of money into the banks. A loan made by a bank is a clear addition to the amount of money in the community." - Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th Edition

"Banking was conceived in iniquity and born in sin. Bankers own the Earth. Take it away from them but leave them the power to create money, and, with the flick of a pen, they will create enough money to buy it back again. Take this great power away from them and all great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for then this would be a better and happier world to live in. But, if you want to continue to be the slave of the bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let the bankers continue to create money and control credit." - Sir Josiah Stamp, President, Bank of England (2nd richest man in England)

"But if in the pursuit of the means we should unfortunately stumble again on unfunded paper money or any similar species of fraud, we shall assuredly give a fatal stab to our national credit in its infancy. Paper money will invariably operate in the body of politics as spirit liquors on the human body. They prey on the vitals and ultimately destroy them. Paper money has had the effect in your state that it will ever have, to ruin commerce, oppress the honest, and open the door to every species of fraud and injustice." , George Washington in a letter to Jabez Bowen, Rhode Island, Jan. 9, 1787

"By this means government may secretly and unobserved, confiscate the wealth of the people, and not one man in a million will detect the theft." - Lord John Maynard Keynes, "Economic Consequences of Peace"

"Capital must protect itself in every way. Debts must be collected, mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible. When through the process of law the common people lose their homes, they will become more docile and more easily governed through the strong arm of government applied by a central power of wealth under leading financiers. People without homes will not quarrel with their leaders. This is well known among our principal men now engaged in forming an imperialism of capitalism to govern the world. By dividing the people we can get them to expend their energies in fighting over questions of no importance to us except as teachers of the common herd. It is thus by discreet action we can secure for ourselves that which has been so well planned and so successfully accomplished." - U.S. Banker's Association Magazine, 1924

"Congress [not private banks] shall have the power to coin money and regulate the value thereof." - Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution.

Congressman Patman: "Mr. Eccles, how did you get the money to buy those two billions of government securities?" Eccles: "We created it." Patman: "Out of what?" Eccles: "Out of the right to issue credit money." - Testimony of Marriner Eccles, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, before the House Banking and Currency Committee, 1941

"Every circulating Federal Reserve Note represents in actuality a one dollar debt to the Federal Reserve system." - Money Facts, House Banking and Currency Committee

"Every Congressman, every Senator knows precisely what causes inflation…but can't, won't support the drastic reforms to repeal of the Federal Reserve Act because it could cost him his job." - Robert A. Heinlein, Expanded Universe

"Every effort has been made by the Federal Reserve Board to conceal its powers, but the truth is that the Federal Reserve System has usurped the government. It controls everything in congress and it controls all our foreign relations. It makes and breaks governments at will." - Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency

"For a long time I felt that FDR had developed many thoughts and ideas that were his own to benefit this country, the United States. But he didn't. Most of his thoughts were carefully manufactured for him in advance by the Council on Foreign Relations One World Money Group. The United Nations is but a long range, international banking apparatus clearly set up for financial and economic profit by a small group of powerful One-World revolutionaries, hungry for profit and power. The One-World government leaders and their ever close bankers have now acquired full control of the money and credit machinery of the U.S. via the creation of the privately owned Federal Reserve Bank." - Curtis Dall, Son-in-Law of F.D.R., 1936

"For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure - one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it." - David Rockefeller, Memoirs, 2002

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance." - James Madison

"I am afraid that ordinary citizens will not like to be told that the banks can, and do, create and destroy money; and they who control the credit of the nation direct the policy of governments and hold in the hollow of their hands the destiny of the people." - R. McKenna, Chairman, Midland Bank London

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power of money should be taken away from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs." - Thomas Jefferson

"I have never seen more Senators express discontent with their jobs. I think the major cause is that, deep down in our hearts, we have been accomplices in doing something terrible and unforgivable to our wonderful country. Deep down in our heart, we know that we have given our children a legacy of bankruptcy. We have defrauded our country to get ourselves elected." - John Danforth

"I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by it's system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the world… no longer a government of free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of small groups of dominant men." - Woodrow Wilson

Posted by: okie farmer | Jan 23 2014 20:05 utc | 12

The rubber hits the road in the US on the question of war and the reinstitution of conscription. There are several dimensions here. The first is that the American people are fed up with war. We saw that in the Congressional refusal to authorise an attack on Syria. The second is fundamental. It is unlikely that the American people will sacrifice their children (or their pocketbooks) for an imperial enterprise that only profits the military industrial complex and a handful of natural resource extractors. 911 was the last wave of pure patriotism and thatvein is mined out. We won't see its like again. There's no question that the country is becoming a fascist state, but is hard to see how that state can force people to fight wars they don't want to fight. They may be perfectly happy to see other people do the fighting for them, but this involves a fallacy of composition, since if nobody wants to fight there won't be anybody to fight. I don't think it is possible to have a draft, and without a draft the long-range ability of the US to impose its will on the rest of the world through military technology alone is li ited, because the technology is replicable.

I think Mr Pragma is right when he says the US no longer had what it takes to fight a war that requires taking real casualties.

Posted by: Knut | Jan 23 2014 20:44 utc | 13

Whole lota' truth in just 12 posts.

Posted by: ben | Jan 23 2014 21:06 utc | 14

Bevin, your points are fair but I we will have to agree to disagree on these points as I believe the game has indeed changed (may come back w/ some more but start with these)

"The American people are not brainwashed but they are still pretty well convinced that, bad as things may be, upsetting the status quo, risking “change that you can really believe in” endangers what they have and may be unnecessary because “recovery” may very well restore all that has been lost in the past few years."

No, they are brainwashed and have been brainwashed in such a way as to have never noticed it. Decade upon decade of worsening conditions and ever greater crimes/malfeasance have created ever new dystopian normals, normals that each new generation accepts wholeheartedly b/c of the purposeful and systematic destruction/erosion of schools/academic/honest history/critical thinking. Once the boomers are gone - oh, very soon - that'll be the last of those pesky peons who can remember the state doing anything for them and once that happens really watch out. Their reluctance to upset the status quo IS the brainwashing. Keep voting, participate, be reasonable, expect "real solutions" not ponies. let's have a debate, remember above all to be CIVIL! All of this is meant to drive people of principle - y'know people who won't back down on certain demands/needs - into the madhouse or prison. The brainwashing makes you think you're actually engaging in something productive/worthwhile/participatory when in reality nothing could be farther from the truth b/c you've already accepted the parameters of our present overlords.

"I see the Depression biting more deeply every month. I see popular patience with the system diminishing, despite the propaganda. I see, in various signs, one of them the undramatic but very marked disillusionment with military adventures such as Iraq and Afghanistan, a population turning away from a ruling class which is becoming increasingly isolated and arrogant. A ruling class riding for a fall, convinced of its immortality and the weakness and stupidity of those it exploits, cheats, insults and completely underestimates."

Certainly, I may see that among MOA posters and others who seem to be a rather educated cross section of populaces but I don't see that among my fellow citizens in the lower economic strata esp. in that if their waking up only just starting NOW in 2014 - 6+ years after the major collapse in 2008 and 40 years after take home wages and standards of living began to decline in the 70s - then can we really point to that disaffection as significant? Doesn't the extended timeline for this class "realization" basically mean - for all intents and purposes - that any class awareness has been successfully controlled by TPTB? I mean, we are still ONE MAJOR FALSE FLAG attack away from starting this whole cycle of amnesia/war crimes/jingoism etc once again. ONE MORE ATTACK. That's it and people would again be lining up to enlist and putting yellow ribbons on their cars, sacrificing to beat Al Qaeda or Russia or whoever the boogeyman will be. Much less talking about 9/11 we have murderous war criminals like Bush and Cheney still getting paid 6 figures to give speeches to the business community for crissakes. Again, all that shit was more than a decade ago. If TPTB have been able to hold off losing their heads for over a decade I would argue that they've already won, that no matter how more "awakening" happens they've already moved onto plotting the next big one and how they'll fashion the public's response for the decades after that.

That is why I believe they need to be rejected as liars/murderers on a wholesale level - b/c they have the luxury of time and have been plotting for decades. The only effective means by which to throw a spanner in the works is to call out their legitimacy on fundamental levels.

More to say but gotta run.


Posted by: JSorrentine | Jan 23 2014 21:09 utc | 15

I reject the spirit of the comments at #2, #6, #7, #8, #9 and #10 and I say also that they're misinformed about the reality in the USA. But I won't go into it. I don't want to talk about the USA. I don't live in USA and I sincerely don't give a shit about that country, and don't I give a shit about USA foreign policy either, with the exception of bombing. As long as the USA government is not bombing or thinking of bombing, the USA is none of my business.

The full text of Al-Moallem's 34 minute speech in Switzerland yesterday is at http://sana.sy/eng/21/2014/01/22/523706.htm . One of the things he said was "the Syrian people... aspire to a strong national army." It reminded me of a recurring theme I have about Syria: the Syrian army has been performing shittily in the field. From my perspective this is Syria's biggest problem. The biggest problem is NOT the foreign funders and foreign cheerleaders of rebellion, NOR the Islamist militants, NOR working-class discontent, NOR a shortage of army soldiers or other security forces personnel, NOR a shortage of security forces weapons hardware.

Syria's big problem is reflected in the following McClatchy news article, dated 14 Jan 2014. It's a report from Tadamon suburb in southern Damascus, with almost all of the reporter's information sourced from talking to Syrian army officers in Tadamon.

The northern half of Tadamon suburb is controlled by the Syrian army, and this control is considered a part of the army's defense of Damascus city itself. Tadmon's southern half is controlled by roughly 500 rebels from three Islamist groups. The conflict in Tadamon is a quiet stalemate punctuated by occasional bursts of fighting. The last major clash was in November, when a rebel initiative penetrated a few blocks into the government's side and was driven back in vigorous fighting that lasted for a few days. The rebels in southern Tadamon are led by foreign Islamist militants. The pre-war population of the whole of Tadamon was 87,000. Today only a few civilians are left in the southern half. A month ago the government cut the water supply in the rebel-held half and asked the remaining civilians to leave, and the great majority of remaining civilians did leave in response. The rebels are in possession of food from stocks they seized from warehouses two years ago. The war-zone devastation of the front lines in Tadamon quickly recedes just a few blocks into the government-held half. At and near the front lines of the government-held half the streets are shielded by huge sheets of plastic that are hung overhead to obscure the views of rebel snipers; retail shops are open; and banners eulogizing local soldiers killed by rebels are strung from houses. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/01/14/214444/on-scene-in-damascus-war-devastates.html

In other words the army is occupying an inactive defensive position and is not venturing to attack the 500 rebels. Compared to the rebels, the army has superior manpower and superior weaponry and superior coordination systems. But the army is not able to use these advantages to successfully attack. The soldiers stand more-or-less idly in defense month after month because in an offensive attack (1) they'd suffer high casualties, and (2) they wouldn't kill the rebels in substantial numbers because (a) the army's fighting methods are unable to prevent the rebels from retreating and escaping and (b) the rebels are too sparsely spread out. This is a battlefield problem, looking for a solution in terms of battlefield method, or a partial solution, some method whereby the army can perform better. The army's performance has been weak (and subpar in comparative international terms, insofar as comparisons can be made). This is Syria's big problem from my perspective. The foundation from which my perspective comes to me is that the army has a broad political base and the rebels don't. The total number of armed rebels in Syria is unknown, but most estimates of rebel numbers are overestimates. For the pro-rebel side, overestimates leave the impression that the rebellion has a broader political base than it really has. For the pro-government side, overestimates of rebel numbers leave the impression that the government's army has more capability than it really has.

A lot of Syrian localities have a situation where a smallish number of Islamist militants have taken over the locality with little support from the local people and little or no contest from the Syrian army. Examples include neighborhoods in eastern Damascus city, and eastern Aleppo city, and all of Al-Raqqa city. On the other hand, the examples of the western Damascus neighborhoods of Jowbar, Al-Qaboon, Barzeh, and Darayya are different because the army has gone in fighting in those neighborhoods repeatedly. More examples of the same are in Homs and Idlib provinces. It is the localities where the army has actually taken the fight to the rebels where the army's weaknesses are best observed, and when you've seen those multiple weaknesses you can appreciate why the army doesn't fight the rebels in Tadamon.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 23 2014 21:29 utc | 16

That should be Ahrar al-Sham (Free Men of the Levant) not Ahrar al-Shams (Free Men of the Sun)

Posted by: rob | Jan 23 2014 21:34 utc | 17

Yes, 'b' has repeatedly made the mistake of writing "al-Shams" instead of "al-Sham". In Arabic al-Sham literally means "the North" and in Arabic in context it means the lands lying to the north of the area where the Arabic language started, i.e. al-Sham means the Levantine lands. (By the way, French "Levant" means the lands where the sun levitates, i.e. the eastern Mediterranean). Meanwhile in Arabic "al-shams" is the usual word for "the sun". The main thing that distinguishes Ahrar al-Sham from Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda is that Ahrar Al-Sham's purview or horizon of vision is philosophically confined to Al-Sham and particularly Syria, while the others are trans-nationalist.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 23 2014 22:24 utc | 18

Yes, 'b' has repeatedly made the mistake of writing "al-Shams" instead of "al-Sham". In Arabic al-Sham literally means "the North" and in Arabic in context it means the lands lying to the north of the area where the Arabic language started, i.e. al-Sham means the Levantine lands. (By the way, French "Levant" means the lands where the sun levitates, i.e. the eastern Mediterranean). Meanwhile in Arabic "al-shams" is the usual word for "the sun". The main thing that distinguishes Ahrar al-Sham from Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda is that Ahrar Al-Sham's horizon of vision is philosophically confined to Al-Sham and particularly Syria, while the others are trans-nationalist.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 23 2014 22:44 utc | 19

@okie farmer: wow, thanks for that compilation.

@Parviziyi: "As long as the USA government is not bombing or thinking of bombing, the USA is none of my business."

Well then it probably is your business, because I can most certainly assure you that, whereever you live, in whatever far off corner of the globe, there is, somewhere in the Pentagon on a secure server, a DoD FalconView map with all of your hometown's military, industrial, and transportation infrastructure intricately mapped and labeled with the details of the munitions required to destroy it. The number of people paid by the United States Government, day in and day out, to be thinking of bombing probably into the 10s of thousands.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 24 2014 2:24 utc | 20

What's really cute about al-CIAda is that if Obama needs to talk face to face with a "high-ranking Al Qaeda coordinator" in a hurry, he can wander over to al-CIAda HQ in Langley, VA.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 24 2014 4:12 utc | 21

@19 - at this point i am sure many people in pakistan and yemen, not to mention a number of other countries probably think obama is a "high-ranking Al Qaeda coordinator"! he behaves like one in that he is ultimately responsible for the death of innocent people under the indiscriminate drone program and i am not including his responsibility for sending weapons to al qaeda in the middle east either, which is something that definitely fits too.. hey, but he talks and looks good in front of the camera! that is all that matters to a completely vacuous culture.. sorry, felt like venting, lol..

Posted by: james | Jan 24 2014 4:43 utc | 22

CNN hacked by SEA: the truth at last appears on CNN
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=706785506022432&set=a.392784110755908.96063.213648502002804&type=1&theater

Posted by: brian | Jan 24 2014 4:57 utc | 23

the big problem is sunnis islam has alot of adherents and so a big base to draw on for jihad

Posted by: brian | Jan 24 2014 5:00 utc | 24

Have I read today's news incorrectly? It sounds like the Islamic Front has just got its ass kicked by ISIS over the last few days. If so, then it means they do not control much territory inside Syria today. Why would their people have a seat at the table in Geneva II. If they don't control territory inside Syria then it would seem they are as relevant as the SNC.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jan 24 2014 5:32 utc | 25

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