The Syrian Civil War has the potential to become a regional event attended by the United States and whatever vassal will follow US troops, yet again, into battle.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding and ignorance about why the Syrians are fighting each other and many arguments against the United States getting involved.
Even Syria’s rebels and Assad’s soldiers agree: military strikes will change nothing. “Syria’s rebels and President Bashar al-Assad’s soldiers agree on next to nothing. They’ve killed each other by the tens of thousands in a war mired in stalemate. But they’re now agreed on one thing. The military strike America is preparing will not change anything.”
There are different and often antagonistic branches of Islam and the differences to a Muslim can sometimes be both extreme and deadly. The Western world dominated, by Christianity, is far too often ignorant of the Differences within Islam.
Many people in Muslim countries believe the United States engages in State Terrorism, something which most journalists seem to be either blissfully ignorant of or just do not care about. Fred Reed wrote in his article “Burning the Koran“, “I append here a list of all Christian countries conquered by militant Moslems since 1529“… (NOTE: 0 countries listed)
Fred then goes on to make “a partial list of Moslem countries conquered by Christians:
Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq (the first time), Iraq (again), Iran, Pakistan, East Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Abu Dhabi, Dubai…”
Syria is home to many ethnic and religious groups, including Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Turks, Christians, Druze, Alawite Shias and Arab Sunnis. Its capital city, Damascus, and Aleppo, its largest city, are among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Syria is engaged in a Civil War, which threatens the region, because there are so many disparate groups with a long and bitter history of conflict between them.
Bashar Hafez al-Assad is an Alawite, the members of which are a sect of Shia Islam. Shiites and Alawites revere Ali ibn Abi Talib and the name Alawi means followers of Ali. The differences between Shiites and Sunnis stem from who should have rightfully succeeded their Prophet Muhammed. Shia and Sunni Muslims have been killing each other since the early 8th Century.
Assad is the leader of the Syrian Ba’ath party a politically elite and secular Alawi organisation and government. Unfortunately for Assad, Arab Sunnis make up a majority of the population of Syria and they seem to be a majority who oppose his regime. The Ba’aths claim they want unification of the Arab world into a single state and freedom from non-Arab control and interference. After an Islamic uprising in the 1970’s, the Assad regime has been in a near state of civil war, culminating in this most recent conflagration.
Supporters of Assad
Assad has some seriously strong allies in the region. There is something called the “axis of resistance” comprising Syria, Iran and Palestinian groups which are opposed to both the PLO and Israel, these fall along the Shiite vs Sunni religious side of things. The other big players are Russia and China who have other interests.
Russia has a naval base there and sells the government a basic boatload of weapons, plus they are fearful of a spread of Jihadists into Russia along with an increase of the opium trade.
China supports Assad for now, they have trade agreements and oppose external intervention in the region.
Iran is a Shiite nation and one of its few allies in the region is Syria. Syria also “gives Iran access to the Mediterranean and a supply line to Iran’s Shia Muslim supporters in southern Lebanon.”
Hezbollah, yet another Shiite group, “views any threat to the Assad regime as a threat not only to Syria, but also the Palestinians and Lebanon.”
Opposition to Assad
The Syrian National Council (SNC) is a coalition of opposition groups in the Syrian civil war based in Istanbul. In November 2012, the Syrian National Council agreed, under pressure from several other opposition groups, to form the Syrian National Coalition. The Coalition has been recognised as the “sole representative of the Syrian people” by several nations including Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom and France.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is the military arm of the opposition to Assad. Most of its members are Sunni Arabs who defected from the Assad military but it also includes battalions made up of Kurds, Turkmen, Palestinians and Druze. The FSA is often seen as the more moderate and secular part of the opposition, in contrast with Jihadist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda associate, which calls itself “The Support Front for the People of Greater Syria.”
The Higher Military Revolutionary Council (HMRC), a rival group of the FSA, made up of Syrian army defectors, was rejected by the FSA leadership and field units because the FSA believes some may serve Assad and others only themselves.
The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamic political organization which has been around since 1928. It has many ties with Jihadist terrorist groups although there are “moderates” within the ranks. It is nearly impossible to sort out who is friendly with whom according to this article in the Washington Post called “In Search of Friends Among the Foes.”
Assad is a hated enemy of the Muslim Brotherhood, his father destroyed many of them in 1982 during the so-called “Hama massacre.” Their belief is; “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and dying in the way of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.” I believe there are many Muslim women who live in fear to see these guys take power.
Tactics and Dissent
There is a great divide and hatred between the secular forces and the Islamist groups, allegedly fighting for one cause-the elimination of Assad. This hatred has often resulted in fighting and killing.
The SNC established a military bureau to try to control military operations against Assad. The FSA protested this decision because they had not been included in the decision.
The Muslim Brotherhood has also tried to assert themselves into a decision-making position but FSA leadership rejected their attempt. The FSA has played down the internal disputes and said that despite their differences, the opposition remained united against Assad and in their call for arms and other assistance.
These differences bode ill for Syria if Assad is toppled. This disparate and disagreeing group of, Secularists, Christians, Muslim Jihadists and other factions will undoubtedly then be at each other’s throats in the rush to seize State power.
Options? No Good Ones
Jim Wright has written in his article titled “Red Lines” (Wednesday, August 28, 2013), “American cruise missile strikes sure won’t keep anybody from killing anybody else – especially Assad, especially al-Qaida, especially Hezbollah. Honestly, haven’t you people been paying attention?”
“If that tactic actually worked, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we?”
The United States is doing a good job of getting Muslims to band together, despite their differences, and fight off what they see as “Christian” imperialism and a religious Crusade. Syria is just the latest example. So why is the President of the United States so willing to light yet another fuse under the Middle East powder keg? Because someone, some group, allegedly Assad, but possibly one of his minor military commanders, or possibly an opposition group, used poison gas and killed a lot of people. And as Mr Wright says so well, “The line has been crossed…But gas? Boy Howdy, we’re going to draw the line at poison gas…Because, it’s not the killing, it’s the method. That’s the real moral issue, isn’t it? The method.”
Mr Wright is a former retired US Navy Chief Warrant Officer who knows what he is talking about when he asks us “Doesn’t it seem reasonable that those who send our soldiers into battle – not to mention the soldiers themselves – at least know where they’re going? Who they’ll be killing? And why?”
It is time the people of the United States demand from their government a higher level of accounting for the lives of those it sends into harm’s way. One way is to organise a calling campaign to your representative, flood them with phone calls and emails and another is to sign this petition: Tell Congress: Don’t Attack Syria
After 9/11 the authorization by Congress given to Dubya Bush is what gave great impetus to the idea that regime change and intervention in foreign countries without much thought is a good idea. We have now seen that it may not be a good idea. The authorization was not an act of war and if read carefully, it was limited to those who “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks. Below is the link to the full text of the The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) signed by President George W. Bush on September 18, 2001. “Pub. L. 107-40, codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001. The authorization granted the President the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.”
This is what Obama wants: Authorization For Use Of United States Armed Forces (Against Syria)
Syria the very very basics – Washington Post
In Search of Friends Among the Foes (Muslim Brotherhood)
What Would Be the Probable Consequences of an Attack? (The Atlantic)