Archive for August 8th, 2012

by lizard

The civil war raging in Syria just keeps getting worse in worse, and the propaganda effort to entice western intervention has collapsed. The regional and sectarian factors that makes this situation so violent (on both sides) and dangerous has bled into the sanitized narrative initially floated to western audiences; that of a popular Syrian revolt comprised primarily of those who first took to the streets against the government.

There may have been truth to that narrative at first, but geopolitics quickly took over.

Now that a full blown civil war has been stirred up, what the skeptics alleged months ago is leaking out, like how the US has been secretly helping the Syrian opposition (Atlantic Wire):

President Obama apparently gave the go-ahead for U.S. intelligence agencies to do everything they can to get Bashar al-Assad out of power in Syria, short of supplying weapons to the rebel forces, according to a new Reuters report. Obama signed a secret order, officially known as an intelligence “finding,” earlier this year authorizing the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies to help out the opposition forces.

The extent of the intelligence support is unknown. Publicly, the State Department said Wednesday they had $25 million set aside for communications equipment for Syrian opposition forces. American officials have been running their support through a rebel command center set up in a town in Turkey that also has a U.S. air base. The air base has a strong population of intelligence officials stationed there.

These kind of revelations may have been shocking a few decades ago, but they’re just the ho-hum of World War Meh now.

The influential (and, I would add, nefarious, but that’s just me) Council on Foreign Relations is even openly extolling the boost provided by…wait for it…Al-Qaeda.

Here’s Ed Husain, senior fellow of Middle Eastern Studies:

The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective. Feeling abandoned by the West, rebel forces are increasingly demoralized as they square off with the Assad regime’s superior weaponry and professional army. Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale. The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.

In Syria, al-Qaeda’s foot soldiers call themselves Jabhat al-Nusrah li-Ahli al-Sham (Front for the Protection of the Levantine People). The group’s strength and acceptance by the FSA are demonstrated by their increasing activity on the ground (BBC)–from seven attacks in March to sixty-six “operations” in June. In particular, the Jabhat has helped take the fight to Syria’s two largest cities: the capital of Damascus, where 54 percent of its activities have been, and Aleppo. Indeed, al-Qaeda could become the most effective fighting force in Syria if defections from the FSA to the Jabhat persist and the ranks of foreign fighters (Guardian) continue to swell.

It’s fascinating. Sometimes our tax dollars blow up humans associated with Al-Qaeda, but other times it goes toward supporting humans associated with Al-Qaeda who blow up other people like Syrian soldiers and civilians.

Instead of just cynically pointing all this out, I’d like to repost the two observations from Helena Cobban, a British-American writer who started Just World Publishing. Her post from Just World News is below the fold. Continue Reading »

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