The fighting in Syria is becoming more convoluted and distorted by the day. When the fighting first started, it was in opposition of President Bashar al-Assad and his Ba’athist regime. It still seems as though the overarching goal of the Free Syrian Army (considered more of an idea than an actual organized single unit) is to topple al-Assad and any/all associates.
What They Believe
The al-Nusra Front (ANF) are the most ‘extreme’ of the rebels, and practice tried and true Islamism. I believe that Delwar Hussein, a researcher on South Asian communities in Britain, best defines Islamism as:
The set of political ideologies derived from conservative formulations of sharia law. It holds that Islam is not only a religion, but also a political system that governs the legal, economic and social imperatives of the state, the community and the individual Islamist movements generally seek to reshape the state by implementing this formulation of sharia law.
It must be believed that beyond the toppling of the current government administration in Syria, the ANF plan to install, by any means neccessary, sharia law upon the country of Syria. This includes fighting against other rebel factions – recently against the Farouq Battalions, who are thought to favor free democratic elections.
Where They Operate
There are an estimated 29 rebel groups fighting in Syria. Although group numbers, size, and areas of operation are fluid, the map below indicates where the ANF and other Islamic fighters operate.
How They Operate and What They Possess
The two propaganda videos below, release by the ANF, give an indication of the destructive power that they have within their grasp.
Figuring out how the ANF are being supplied weapons is a murky and muddy path. There are reports from the New York Times, CBS, FOX, and even as far as Presstv.ir (an Iranian news source – shouldn’t be surprised by that one) that are claiming the U.S. was directly responsible for the weapons shipments from Croatia to the Syrian fighters.
The fact that Croatian weapons are in the hands of the rebels is not what raises alarm–it’s how they got there. In the last month there have been videos and pictures surfacing that show the ANF with Croatian-made M79 portable 90 mm anti-tank guns and M60 recoilless anti-tank weapons.
As more sophisticated weapons fall into the hands of the ANF it slowly lays the path to Damascus. I equate this to ‘slightly’ more problematic than a tonado through a portapotty storage facility.
Where the ANF Originate
The majority of the ANF are Syrians, but this jihadist organization has drawn fighters from all corners of the Middle-East and Africa.
According to the Assyrian International News Agency:
A top secret memo sent by the Ministry of Interior in Saudi Arabia reveals the Saudi Kingdom sent death-row inmates, sentenced to execution by decapitation, to Syria to fight Jihad against the Syrian government in exchange for commuting their sentences…According to the memo, prisoners were of the following nationalities: Yemenis, Palestinians, Saudis, Sudanese, Syrians, Jordanians, Somalis, Afghanis, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Iraqis, and Kuwaitis.
Link to the article here.
If this memo is true and backed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, wouldn’t our intelligence agencies know of such dealings?
It seems that in some far corner of Washington there is a group of people that are just waiting for the day we deploy troops to Syria. What benefit would this bring to the West and to the United States? My hope is that I am wrong and that we will steer clear of Syria, including the shipment of weapons and non-lethal aid.
With the chaos on the ground there is no way to filter which aid goes to rebels that long for a democratic process and organizations such as the ANF. It is ignorant to believe that aid, whether lethal or not, is not reaching the ANF in some capacity. We need to cut ties with all involved parties who wish to support any action within Syria’s borders.
I know that this is unrealistic thinking , but I believe we need a statement that will renew our faith in the political process. Here is what I would like to hear and what would instill a trust in my government that I haven’t had since I was old enough to know better:
We are the most diverse country on earth. Since the birth of our nation we have have traveled the world with brave men and women who have vowed to fight enemies both foreign and domestic. We are in a constant fight against terrorism and the fight is long from over.
Over the last two years, since the Arab Spring began, we have made grave errors regarding Syria, Libya, and Egypt. The time has come to ask the american people for forgiveness. We have failed the very people who have chosen us as representatives and the children who will one day lead this nation.
At this time we are cutting ties with any and all nations that insist on aiding either the Syrian rebels or the al-Assad regime. Now is the time to right the wrongs. Now is the time to believe and concentrate on the greater good of the American people. We will no longer support the armament or non-lethal aid of Syria in any manner.
Any country who wishes to hold political talks with us regarding this issue is welcomed as we fully support the democratic election of a free and new Syria when the time arrives. Until that time, we have many other issues at our own doorstep that need to be addressed.
From hear forth, we will be a nation who is known to learn from a tarnished past and rise to the potential that we once knew.
But I digress. I fear that we will never hear these words or words similar. The brave men or women that would dare utter such words do not have the financial or political backing to lower themselves face to face with the American public. All I want to hear is that we, The United States of America, have screwed up, but we are working diligently to realign our compass in the direction of the people over the politicians.
Syria may be a great place to start.
(Featured Image Courtesy: Business Insider)