Showing posts with label 2011 War. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2011 War. Show all posts

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Turkish-Qatari dispute may break apart the Syrian opposition

    April 07, 2022   No comments

by Alaa Halabi

The opposition known as the “Syrian Coalition” is experiencing difficult days. After Turkey began a large-scale arrangement process in its corridors, which was manifested in the dismissal of its leader, Salem al-Maslat, by 14 members, followed by the withdrawal of an opposition bloc in protest against the decision, which it considered "arbitrary", at a time, a great rift emerged between the wings of the opposition affiliated with several parties, most notably the Qatari wing, which saw what was happening as a "coup to monopolize the opposition." Amid the current state of tension between opposition members and bodies, the parties began exchanging accusations of dependence, even on the “regime” (the Syrian government), which some considered “signaling the disintegration of the opposition and the collapse of the coalition.” Others think the opposition will come out of the political context sponsored by Ankara, which is represented by the tracks of the Constitutional Committee and Astana.”


During the last period, a clear rift emerged between the Turkish and Qatari positions regarding the performance of the Syrian opposition, as Doha tried to escalate and return to the stage of “overthrowing the regime”, a stage that was bypassed on the international scene. Turkey thinks that Qatar’s new position is biased towards the US position at the expense of Russia, with which Turkey is trying to maintain a balanced relationship.


According to opposition sources, the crisis experienced by the opposition began a few months ago, when Qatar tried to reimpose Riad Hijab, the dissident former Syrian Prime Minister, who announced the holding of a conference to “unify the opposition” in Qatar, before this “conference” was reduced to a mere “dialogue seminar”, due to Turkey’s openly opposing the Qatari efforts.


A Turkish security official met with the leaders of the "coalition" more than once, as the latter's officials received a clear order not to be drawn into the Qatari project, and not to boycott it at the same time, but rather to participate in a symposium.


According to the opposition sources, the "Coalition" and its "Interim Government" sensed the danger of strong Turkish support for "Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham" led by Abu Muhammad al-Julani and its "Salvation Government", especially with Turkey opening the door for al-Julani to expand in the countryside of Aleppo.


In light of the state of great chaos experienced by the factions that receive great financial support, Turkey showed a desire to reduce it, compared to the state of “relative stability” experienced by al-Jolani areas, which do not receive similar support, which turned the latter into a “project that Turkey can build on.”


Turkey began to reduce the budget allocated to the opposition, whether political or even to the fighting factions in northern Syria, which prompted the opposition "coalition" to close its headquarters in Ankara, in addition to stopping several projects in northern Syria, where Turkey's attention focused on building residential communities on lines close to the Syrian-Turkish border, to resettle Syrian refugees who are being pushed out of Turkey with the aim of forming a population belt that trends toward Turkey on the one hand, and to get rid of the largest number of Syrian refugees in Turkey, on the other hand. It seems that the Turkish move harmed the interests of several opponents and opposition bodies, which receive funding from different countries, including the United States, Qatar and some European countries, as their exclusion from the political scene will lead to cutting off funding for them, in light of the futility of this funding.


 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Terms of the #IdlibDeal: Copies of the official document released by the governments of Russia and Turkey

    September 19, 2018   No comments
Leaders of Russia and Turkey have agreed to create a demilitarized Idlib buffer zone in Syria’s northwestern province to separate government forces from rebel fighters based there.

The Russian president said that under the deal, all heavy weaponry, including tanks, rocket launch systems and mortar launchers operated by rebel groups would need to be pulled out of the buffer zone by 10 October.

Copies of the document the
two leaders signed was forwarded to the UNSC are displayed below.



Cover letter



Terms of the Idlib Deal
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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Has the Syrian government used chemical weapons in ISIS -held territories?

    September 12, 2018   No comments
With every military operation in areas held by the so-called moderate opposition fighters, Western governments accuse the Syrian government of having planned to use chemical weapons or of having used chemical weapons. In the latter case, they responded by bombing sites and assets that allegedly enabled the government to use such weapons. So has the Syrian government used chemical weapons and if so, why?

Western governments explain the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons this way. The chemical attacks occurred in areas where the Syrian government encountered stiff resistance. The Syrian government uses weapons of mass destruction to speed up military operations or to force armed groups to surrender. However, based on this reasoning, one would expect the Syrian government to use chemical weapons against the most hardened fighters, again, for speedy victory or to force surrender. 


By all accounts, ISIS fighters are the most zealous and committed fighters who are willing to fight until death. Moreover, these fighters often carve territories and rule them alone without intermixing with other opposition groups. For instance, the city of Deir Ezzor was controlled exclusively by ISIS until the group lost it to government troops about two years ago. Similarly, Yarmouk refugees camp (south of Damascus) and Yarmouk Basin (near the border with Jordan) were under the control of ISIS until the group lost them this summer. Currently, government troops have been battling ISIS fighters in the rugged country side of Damascus and Suweida for nearly two months. ISIS fighters have built fortified shelters in the rugged volcanic desert in the south east of Damascus, far from any major civilian presence. Yet, in all these cases, and unlike the operation in East Ghouta, there were no reported use of chemical weapons. This raises the more important question: If the Syrian government does use chemical weapons to speed up operations, kill hardened fighters, or force a surrender, why hasn’t the Syrian government use chemical weapons against ISIS fighters in Deir Ezzor, Yarmouk Camp, Yarmouk Basin, Suweida, or Damascus country side? In the case of Damascus country side, and since ISIS fighters are hiding in rugged terrain far from civilian areas, one would think that using chemical weapons will achieve a quick victory instead of dragging the battle for months, risking the lives of troops and committing the overstretched armed forces, which are needed elsewhere.

Possible answers to these questions raise even more questions. 

If the Syrian government had used chemical weapons in these ISIS controlled areas but Western media and governments did not care to report on and react to such use, then that would reveal the selective outrage on the part of these actors. That is, Western governments don’t mind the use of chemical weapons against peoples they don’t care for. In other words, their problem is not with the use of chemical weapons, but against whom such weapons are used.


If the Syrian government did not use chemical weapons in these cases, despite its need for speedy victory against hardened fighters, then the logic used by Western governments to explain the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons collapses.

For the Syrian government to use chemical weapons against Western supported opposition groups is to intentionally invite an attack on its troops and facilities at a time when it is making advances. That does not seem to be a rational choice at all. But, that is not a problem in the eyes of those who want the world to believe this narrative, because Western supremacists often peddle the idea that non-Western communities, especially Muslims, and their leaders are irrational beings. Therefore, there is no need to find a rational explanation for a decision by people, who unlike white Westerners, are genetically prone to make irrational decisions, lie, commit war crimes and genocides, and use weapons of mass destruction!
  
Syrian government troops battle ISIS fighters in volcanic desert southeast of Damascus.

Suweida desert

ISIS held desert in southeast Syria

ISIS held Yarmouk Basin
   

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Depravity of Racism is Rooted in its Selective Outrage

    April 12, 2018   No comments

Reacting to news reports that an attack with chemical weapons took place in the city of Douma (Syria), president Trump tweeted the following:

Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!


Evidently, Trump’s statement was intended to express outrage: how could someone kill his own people! The outrage, then, justifies attacking Syria. This selective outrage is present in the minds and attitudes of all individuals who suffer from the pathology of supremacism, be it race-, ethnicity-,  religion-based supremacy.
They would like us to believe that not all human lives are equal and they would jump on every opportunity to qualify the loss of life, the cause of the loss of life, the method of taking away life, and the kind of person losing her life.

In this particular case, Trump thinks that when the head of a state kills his own people, that is worse than when the head of another state kills people of another state. It explains the joy he feels as he brags about unleashing a salvo of “nice, new, “smart!” weapons.” It does not matter if these “beautiful” weapons kill people, as long as they are killing people of other nations. It explains the lack of remorse of launching an illegal war on Iraq under false pretext in 2003, killing nearly a million people. It explains the peace of mind European leaders felt when they colonized African nations and killed millions of people.

What ought to make Americans of diverse backgrounds uneasy is this: when supremacists say “own people”, they don’t mean “own citizen.” They mean “own kind.” That means, killing Black people would not qualify as “killing one’s own people” therefore it should not elicit outrage. That means, killing Native American people would not qualify as “killing one’s own people”, therefore it should not provoke outrage. That means, killing Hispanic people would not qualify as “killing one’s own people”, therefore it should not prompt outrage. That means, killing Muslim-Americans would not qualify as “killing one’s own people”, therefore it should not educe outrage. That means, killing any non-White people would not qualify as “killing one’s own people”, therefore it should not cause outrage.

The Syrian people, who endured seven years of brutal war, lost hundreds of thousands of their family members, sustained mental and physical injury may not be so eager to live through another barrage of “nice, new, “smart!” weapons” that can only increase their suffering.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The disintegration of the GCC could create a True PGC

    December 13, 2017   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

During the last of week of November, the Emir of Kuwait sent out formal invitations to all leaders of member states of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, originally and still commonly known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to attend the 38th summit (December 5, 2017). The rulers of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates, declined, sending instead political appointees of the 3rd order to represent them, which must have been seen as a personal insult to the elder Emir of Kuwait, Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah. I believe that this event will mark the unofficial end of this regional intergovernmental organization and perhaps the creation of a better intergovernmental organization in that region. This conclusion is not based just on the snub described above. Rather, it is based on the very reasons that led to the creation of the GCC in the first place and the motives that sustain it.

The GCC was born out of fear and bigotry among undemocratic authoritarian rulers who felt threatened by any event that introduces a political process that would diminish the legitimacy of their own form of government. Throughout its history, the creation of the GCC was motivated by fear, rooted in ethnicism, steeped in bigotry, and driven by elitism.

The GCC was founded in 1981, two years after the fall of the Shah and a year after the Iraqi invasion of Iran (1980), a war that lasted until August 20, 1988. Membership was limited to Arab states bordering the Persian Gulf including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain but excluding Iraq. While one could presume that Iran might have been excluded from this organization on account that it is not an Arab country, the founders provided no logical explanation for the exclusion of Iraq, which borders the Persian Gulf as well. However, it is the original exclusion of Iraq and its exclusion from a 2011 proposals to transform the GCC into a Union that signal the sectarian bias.

The GCC was formed with the aim of protecting the clan or family rule. Iraq was not ruled by a clan or family. Jordan and Morocco are.

The GCC was formed to protect the interests of Sunni Muslims. Iraq was and still is a Shia-majority country.

The GCC was created to preserve the supremacy of ethnic Arabs. Iran is a majority-Persian country. In their pursuit for promoting Arab supremacy, the founders of the GCC intentionally removed the word Persian from the name of the Persian Gulf--the name recognized by the UN and all other international organizations. The adjective “Arab” is used to name the Arabian Sea, on which the Persian Gulf opens and Iran has the longest shores along the Gulf than any other country bordering it, justifying the naming of the body of water, the Persian Gulf.

The idea that the GCC was created out of fear and to preserve an outdated political order can be further supported by its rulers’ attempt to expand its membership when they were also threatened by the 2011 uprisings popularly known as the Arab Spring. Then, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain pushed a proposal to transform the organization from a cooperative into a union and invited Jordan and Morocco to join. Justifying the need for these changes, the prime minister of Bahrain explicitly stated that “current events in the region underscored the importance of the proposal. Oman and Kuwait resisted the proposal, causing it to fail.

Most recently, the failure of the Saudi interventions in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen forced its rulers, again, to seek tighter control over decision making within regional organizations--like the GCC and the Arab League--to protect the clan rule from challenges spurred from neighboring countries. The drive for tighter control ruptured the artificial bond that connected the GCC member states, when Qatar refused to surrender all decision making to Saudi Arabia.

While the GCC summit was under way in Kuwait city, the rulers of UAE announced that they created a "committee for military, economic, political, media, and cultural cooperation between UAE and Saudi Arabia.” This announcement is essentially a step towards the creation of an alternative, but much weaker, GCC, which would be limited to Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain. This alternative is unlikely to bring peace and stability to the region for it is still based on the same irrational fears and self-serving goals of the rulers. However, its creation may nudge the other members of the GCC to create an alternative--one that is based on inclusion and mutual interest and respect.

Given the importance of the Persian Gulf to the world, not just to the region, nations bordering it should establish a new intergovernmental organization that will work to improve the quality of life of all the peoples in those countries and to safeguard the region against armed conflict and man-caused disasters. Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman should take the lead and work with the governments of Iraq and Iran to found the Persian Gulf Cooperative (PGC). Such an organization will be built on mutual respect and mutual interests, immediately bringing peace and prosperity to an estimated 100 million people living in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Iran, and Iraq. And when the rulers of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and UAE reconsider their bigoted beliefs and policies, they should be able to join in as full members along with Pakistan and Afghanistan as Observers. Together, these ten nations, would combine their abundant natural resources and vibrant, youthful societies to create better opportunities for their collective population of more than 320 million people.

Because many ethnic, racial, religious, and sectarian communities live in these countries, such an organization would reduce sectarian and ethnic tension, utilize natural resources and water ways responsibly, strengthen civil society and respect for human rights norms, and enshrine cooperative leadership in a region that has been struggling for too long under unstable governments and authoritarian regimes. It will be an organization that is good for member states, good for the region, and good for the world as it inspire cooperation, mutual respect, and shared future.

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* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa. His most recent book, Anatomy of Dissent in Islamic Societies, provides a historical and theoretical treatment of rebellious movements and ideas since the rise of Islam. Opinions are the author’s, speaking on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

“No Place for Assad” is not a Plan

    September 07, 2017   No comments
Syrian troops who took part in Deir Ezzor battle against ISIL
The so-called Syrian opposition and their Arab and Western governments’ backers are responsible for the failure in realizing a political transition towards broader representative governance. Now that even the strongest armed militant groups are facing defeat, the possibility of seeing these various opposition groups and personalities exert any significant role in shaping the political future of Syria is non-existent.

It should be noted that the peaceful protest movement that preceded the armed conflict did not set its agenda the overthrow of the Syrian government of even insist that Bashar Assad be ousted. Ousting Assad was primarily the dream of armed groups, especially the Wahhabi-Salafists, and some Arab and Western governments who don’t believe in any form of government except theirs.  They thought that the wave of anger that ousted Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Saleh of Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen, respectively, could be leveraged to rid the Middle East of those who did not fall inline and accept the oversized roles played by undemocratic, authoritarian rulers of the rich Gulf nations. After all, that strategy worked in Libya when Qatar, backed by NATO nations, financed and armed a ragtag of rebels to overthrow the mercurial, unreliable Mu`ammar Qaddafi. 

For seven years, money and weapons were poured into Syria with the singular objective in the mind and in the mouth of all those opposed to the Syrian government: There is no place for Assad in Syria. That singular goal meant that all those opposed to Assad are lesser “threats” than Assad, including ISIL and Nusra. When Assad outlasted many of the heads of these anti-Assad governments, Like Cameron, Hollande, Davutoğlu, Hamad, and Obama, many realized that “No place for Assad in Syria” is not actually a political platform or plan. 


The French president who replaced one of France’s least competent leaders admitted that much when he acknowledged that “there is no credible or capable alternative to Assad.” But even that view, accurate as it may be, does not represent the full truth. 

Syria is not a one-man show kind of country that can be compared to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, or UAE. Syria, despite the fact that it has been ruled by a single party, is a nation of institutions and fairly sophisticated civil society. It has a professional military, very efficient bureaucracy, highly educated citizens, diverse and inclusive society, and durably functioning political process and more. That reality might explain the fact that, even during the times when the Syrian government’s hold on power was weakest, major Syrian cities remained loyal to the Syrian state.

So it is no surprise now that, when the Syrian government has regained control over nearly 65% of the country, that the political opposition groups are having hard time finding international sponsors. Even the UN sponsored talks that were routinely held are now less frequent, if not fully absent. The hubris of the opposition groups and its leaders perverted belief that undemocratic regimes like those of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, or UAE would be reliable partners to help them establish a modern Athenian democracy in Syria are stunning. Their bet on self-interested and authoritarian regimes betrayed the hopes of the Syrian people for stronger Syria and produced a destroyed country that will need nearly half a trillion dollar to rebuild, and decades to heal from a war that touched, through death or injury, every Syrian family. 
  
Syria Control Map as of 09/05/2017

The Syrian government recently breached the 3-year old siege ISIL imposed on Deir Ezzor

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