Syria: Seyfullakh al-Shishani On Capture Of Kindi Barracks & Truck Bombings

Joanna Paraszczuk
By Joanna Paraszczuk December 23, 2013 13:31 Updated

Syria: Seyfullakh al-Shishani On Capture Of Kindi Barracks & Truck Bombings

UPDATE, Dec 24: Seyfullakh al-Shishani’s faction, Jaish al-Khilafatu Islamiya, has announced that it has joined Jabhat al-Nusra:


Emir Seyfullakh al-Shishani (Ruslan Machaliashvili), the leader of the predominantly North Caucasian faction Jaish al-Khilafatu Islamiya, has made a video address following the insurgent capture of the Kindi barracks in Aleppo City.

The Kindi barracks, formerly a hospital, had been taken over and used as a barracks by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Insurgents from a variety of factions including the Islamic Front cooperated to capture Kindi. The operation included two suicide truck bombings. (According to UmmaNews, a Russian-language pro-jihad website, one of the suicide attackers was named Abu Marwan and was from Iraqi Kurdistan. The second suicide bomber was from Iranian Kurdistan, the western part of Iran bordering Iraq and Turkey.)

(WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES OF BADLY BURNED CORPSES AT 3:02)

In the video, published on the Usudusham YouTube channel — Seyfullakh’s official channel — Seyfullakh is shown sporting a fur hat as he tours the area outside the devastated Kindi barracks.

Seyfullakh shows the destruction of the former hospital and says that there are no infidels remaining there.

Alhamdulillah (Praise God), there was a martyrdom operation and we took this place.

This is the will of Allah, in short. In short, a lot of infidels were killed here.

(Seyfullakh points out the place where the suicide operation took place. He then continues to walk around, pointing at the building and explaining that there are no more infidels left.)

Muslims are working here. Muslims, al-hamdulillah, are waging jihad here. Here, in short, there are no more infidels.

(Seyfullakh now gives a message to the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov.)

So when Kadyrov says he’s gonna send people here, I say this, send ‘em — we’re waiting here.

….

Who should we fear but Allah? We’ll kill you all….We’re establishing Islam here, we’re establishing the religion of Allah.

(The video now shows badly burned corpses, including one with a severed head.)

They’re infidels!

(The camera zooms in on the severed head. There’s a child’s or woman’s voice in the background, as unseen people mock the corpse in Russian.)

(Child or woman:) Just like a dog!

(The video now shows us Seyfullakh, who mocks Kadyrov in Chechen or Azeri. He seems to be mocking Kadyrov’s threats to send Russian special forces after Chechen fighters in Syria.)

(The next part of the video shows a group of fighters holding a black jihadist flag with a green emblem. Seyfullakh is present in the center right. An Arabic speaker lists the groups involved in the captured of Kindi including the Islamic Front, Jabhat al-Nusra and Harakat Ahrar ash-Sham al-Islami. It is not clear with which faction Seyfullakh and his men fought.)

Joanna Paraszczuk
By Joanna Paraszczuk December 23, 2013 13:31 Updated
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25 Comments

  1. radioyaran December 26, 01:24

    @gunniy

    -> “This video shows people chanting “the army is with us.” Moments later, however, the army opens fire on the people who were chanting.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-46NfCv6do&feature=player_embedded

    This video is interesting but not for the reasons you had in mind.
    1. The civilian crowd is no more than 25 people
    2. Those chanting “Jaish wahda´t” are at most 4-5 people
    3. In the background a tank and less than 10 soldiers are visible
    4. The soldiers at one moment fire, but apparently in the air and not into the crowd as one neither sees anyone falling, nor see any blood or anything resembling casualties.
    5. The crowd does not seek cover. At 1:30 – after the firing – a guy walks calmly from left to right

    So, what does this video prove?

    Reply to this comment
  2. gunniy December 25, 15:46

    comment radioyaran from December 24, 2013 at 21:16

    Quote: “””there were many casualties among the police in Deraa.This implies that either some of the protesters were armed and violent or that a “3rd party” killed the police”””

    Your comment includes so many errors and attempts to twist history as the number of sentences of your comment. To discuss all is not possible.

    Therefore, as a prove how you twisted history – the events in Darraa March 2011:

    The uprising at Daraa was sparked by the arrest of children aged 9 to 15 years who had written anti-government graffiti on a wall in Daraa.

    On 25 April 2011 the Syrian military launched a large operation in the Syrian city of Daraa. The government said it was targeting terrorist groups, while the Syrian opposition called it a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. The operation lasted until 5 May 2011.

    On 15 March, a protest movement against the Syrian government began to escalate, as simultaneous demonstrations took place in major cities across Syria.The uprising was sparked by the arrest of children aged 9 to 15 years who had written anti-government graffiti on a wall in Daraa.

    Thousands of protestors gathered in al-Hasakah, Daraa, Deir ez-Zor, and Hama. There were some clashes with security forces, according to reports from dissident groups. On 18 March, the most serious unrest to take place in Syria for decades erupted. After online calls for a “Friday of Dignity” after Friday prayers, thousands of protesters demanding an end to alleged government corruption took to the streets of cities across Syria.The protesters were met with a violent crackdown orchestrated by state security forces. The protesters chanted “God, Syria, Freedom” and anti-corruption slogans.

    On 8 April, heavy clashes erupted in the city between protestors, the military and unknown groups of gunmen in which 23 protestors and 19 soldiers were killed. The military also stated that 75 soldiers were wounded by, what they called, terrorist gunmen.

    On 25 April, the Syrian government deployed tanks to Daraa killing at least 25 people.

    During the whole siege, opposition members claimed that rooftop snipers were constantly picking off any males trying to go into the streets and were only letting the women go out to the bakeries and only at a pre-determined time.

    The military was also reported to have shelled parts of the city and used heavy machine guns against opposition members. The Army, for its part, stated that during the operation they engaged terrorist groups and managed to kill or capture dozens of them and seize weapons and mobile phones with foreign cards in them.

    EA reports on April 26, 2011

    1440 GMT: The latest from Daraa, Syria.

    This video shows people chanting “the army is with us.” Moments later, however, the army opens fire on the people who were chanting.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-46NfCv6do&feature=player_embedded

    The Syrian teenager (from Daraa) whose arrest ignited the Syrian revolution, said later he had no regrets.
    After returning from jail and torture, he wasn`t unrecognizable by his father.

    http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2013/02/09/265284.html

    sources of the events in Daraa:

    EA, http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2011/4/26/syria-libya-and-beyond-liveblog-the-army-moves-in-1.html see the following and the days before, too
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Daraa

    Conclusion: The Baath regime enjoys almost no legitimation (except among the core of hardliner Alawites – security forces ) and has a track record of violence and human rights breaches, which isn`t comparable to the human rights breaches of different rebel factions.

    Why?

    The systematic campaign by the poison gas murder Assad of arrest, torture, assassination, expulsion and forced migration against key youth leaders responsible for advocating the nonviolence approach.

    The first few months of the Syrian Revolution witnessed a mass arrest and intimidation campaign that targeted, in particular, the advocates of nonviolence, a reality amply documented by reports from human rights organizations and the few foreign correspondents that made it to the country.

    The fate of some of these advocates, epitomized by the cold-blooded murder of nonviolence activist Ghiyath Matar from the town of Daraya in Damascus Suburbs, and the subsequent gloating phone call made to his family by one of Assad’s security chiefs demonstrate that this was an orchestrated campaign by the regime.

    The elimination of the most vocal and active champions of nonviolence deprived a movement that is already fragmented of the only grassroots leaders it had.

    The systematic campaign of extreme violence perpetrated by the regime and its supporters, unleashed against protest communities and targeting women and children taking part in nonviolent protests, had the express aim of coaxing a violent response.

    Reply to this comment
    • radioyaran December 25, 17:33

      You are reconstructing events in a misleading way:
      -> “Therefore, as a prove how you twisted history – the events in Darraa March 2011:

      The uprising at Daraa was sparked by the arrest of children aged 9 to 15 years who had written anti-government graffiti on a wall in Daraa.

      On 25 April 2011 the Syrian military launched a large operation in the Syrian city of Daraa. The government said it was targeting terrorist groups, while the Syrian opposition called it a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. The operation lasted until 5 May 2011.”

      Why jump from March 15 to April 25th? By March 21st already more police were killed in Deraa than “unarmed protesters”.
      Who killed them?

      The “activists” and their msm who called SANA and co. simply “propaganda” brushed off the regime claim that the “revolutionaries” were hiding weapons in Deraas Omari mosque. How good that the Saudis later admitted this fact that paints an entirely different color to the romanticized version of the “uprising”:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_N0oeGgpjg

      Reply to this comment
  3. radioyaran December 25, 01:15

    In case someone thinks the massacring of Shia civilians by Al Qaeda in Iraq is only (an apparently endless) revenge for the Iraqi army´s killing of Sunni protesters in April, read this:
    http://iraq2013.rt.com/en.html#about

    Reply to this comment
  4. radioyaran December 25, 00:03

    I might add some points to make clear I am not a “supporter” of the Syrian regime.
    It is sickening to read news that the Syrian Airforce drops barrel bombs on populated civilian areas. There is no “moral” excuse for this, and the military value of such attacks is highly questionable.
    For sure the lack of precision weapons or adequate protection against heatseeking MANPADs is “technically” a valid reason to resort to such a measure both desperate and insane.
    Or maybe they simply learned from the “civilized world”, from Britains Arthur Harris and his “moral bombing” or “enthousing” of Germany in WW2.

    Then there is the siege of places like Muadhamiya where the army apparently thinks it´s OK to starve out the rebels even if the civilians will suffer more. Such military strategies are like dynamite fishing. They hit those intended but on a much higher scale they hit those who have the bad luck to be there, too.
    It is a crime, but here too the rebels are party to it and accomplices in that they and their backers did and do everything to sabotage negotiations and keep the fighting going on. You cannot control Salafis – look at Libya and Stevens´s killing or Iraq post Saddam. You cannot contain them once they are numerous, armed and encouraged by success.

    Where will it all lead? An Algeria pattern is just as possible as a Sri Lanka pattern cannot be ruled out where the civil war took decades to end.

    And I am also reminded of Afghanistans post-soviet era. There, too, was no really “good” side. I remember when the Shia Hazara allied with Massoud even though Massouds men were accused of having killed and raped many Shia in a district of Kabul. All the while Hekmatyars men were shelling the capital of the country they had “liberated” from the Sowjets. In the background the Taliban emerged who would have been devastated had not their later enemy Gen. Dostum the Uzbek destroyed Ismail Khans airforce in Herat and thus enabled the Taliban to take that city. Later Dostum and Massouds men would have beaten or at least halted the Taliban, had not Dostums commander Malik defected temporarily and handed over Mazar i Sharif to the Taliban.
    In Afghanistan, the Taliban strongly profited from mostly arab foreign Jihadis bolstering their ranks and Bin Laden provided fighters as well as the notorious Toyota FWDs with mortars or heave MGs mounted on them. Since then this new weapon became a trade mark of similar guerillas.
    Another analogy to Afghanistan 1995-2001 is that the West and the Gulf Arabs – at least for a long period – were persistently claiming that the Islam of the Taliban is not as bad as Irans Islam (Zalmay Khalilzad) and that they could be partners.
    In retrospect it all sounds bewildering and puzzling but that was the logic of the mid and late 90s.
    And today in case of Syria we are told that the insurgents are “bad” but that Assad is “worse” and once he´s gone….yes, then Syria will be just as much a liberated paradise on Earth like Iraq, Libya or….Afghanistan.

    Reply to this comment
  5. radioyaran December 24, 21:16

    Dear Buenos Aires,

    I fully believe your experience with dictatorships.
    Still, the reference to Syria 2000-2011 was not irrelevant. Assad (and his wife) met with western and arab leaders and enjoyed friendly and close relations with many of those (like Erdogan, Qatars emir or even John Kerry) who today use to demonize Syria and particularly Assad.
    If they (the adversaries) are honest when they complain about 40 years of Assad Clan government (as an indication for an autocratic non-democratic system), then why did they visited and hosted Assad and his government members all the years?
    If they accuse the Baath regime of torture and of maintaining a police state why did they cooperate with that regime in the case of some CIA prisoners?
    If especially the Gulf monarchies accuse him and the Alawites of being sectarian and hating Sunnis (while Assads and his brothers wives as well as their paternal grandmother are/were Sunnis, not to mention several of the most influential syrian ministers, heads of security service and many Generals), why did they kept good relations with him until short after the outbreak of the uprising?
    I find all the sudden referrals to the Hama massacre of 1982 or the suppression of a prison revolt few years ago hypocritical when the complainants were good friends of the accused person AFTER these incidents.

    I do not support and in fact I condemn and regret the actions of the syrian security services and the army, but I keep the following things in mind:
    a) There was a sincere popular peaceful and unarmed movement in the early beginnings (March 2011), however at a very early stage (according to some accounts by March 21, 2011) there were many casualties among the police in Deraa. This implies that either some of the protesters were armed and violent or that a “3rd party” killed the police
    b) The security forces DID react excessively and irresponsibly violent, more or less in the same unjustified manner that protests were handled in Iran 2009 or Bahrain 2011 with one major difference, namely that – for some reason – the protesters were quite quickly armed and even began to go in the offensive like in Banias in May 2011, where an army bus was ambushed and 12 soldiers killed.
    This again implies that the “uprising” was not entirely a spontaneous one as we were supposed to believe and that some extent of pre-planned scenario and organisation existed.
    When the government stormed the Omari mosque in Deraa and found many weapons the news was ridiculed as typical propaganda of a repressive state but interestingly BBC arabic interviewed a Saudi official who openly admitted exactly the same facts.
    c) The original uprising was not a mass movement and mostly contained to rural and/or border areas. At the same time much bigger pro-regime demonstrations took place that were either not reported or brushed off as “staged”. The west criticizes states like China for news and internet censuring but they (and the arab states) did the same with Syria by simply switching off all government or pro-government channels from the arab satellite stations. Anyone who wanted to know anything about Syria could only listed/view Al-Arabiya or Al-Jazeera, both totally biased sources run by countries that were expressed opponents of Assad.
    d) The original native uprising was quickly hijacked by violent and explicitly sectarian protagonists.
    e) The western reporting was exaggerated and biased and often fed by dubious sources like Syrian Danny or Khaled Abu Saleh (the voice of Homs). For many weeks these two were quoted until it turned out that they faked news coverage for Aljazeera.
    There was neither a siege of Homs nor any hermetical sealing off of Deraa as claimed in 2011 and early 2012. This is well reported in the articles and books of Jürgen Todenhofer, a former German parliamentarian who visited Syria several times.
    f) Both the mission of the Arab League led by a sudanese General and the later Annan initiative in June 2012 were not sabotaged and torpedoed by the syrian army but by the rebels.
    g) While syrian forces have resorted to enormous violence and committed massacres some if not most “publicized” massacres later turned out to be either none or committed by the rebels (Tremseh, Aqrab, Darayya and some even say Houla)

    To summarize: While the Baath regime enjoys little legitimation and has a track record of violence and human rights breaches, it is – compared to the relevant rebel factions – SYRIAN, non-sectarian and secular. Contrary to the Jihadist insurgency, the regime does not strive for the establishment of an islamic caliphate where “Dhimmis” have to pay special taxes, women are denied many rights they enjoy today and where neighbours (Lebanese Shia, Iraqi Shia) have to fear that the new caliphate will attack them next.

    These are the reasons why I prefer the Assad regime to the insurgents.
    If the outside world is really interested in the fate and well-being of Syrians, they should stop arming the Jihadists and allowing them to enter Syria and help organizing controlled elections within 6 months after the stop of the war. The Syrians should decide whom they want and whom not.

    Reply to this comment
    • Richard Rittenburg December 24, 23:03

      radiorayan,
      the bulk of early regime casualties was regime on regime. Immediately after jisr al shugr the regime released a casualty report. At that time the total among soldiers and security was 1500. If you read the report you noticed that 700 of them were field executed for “failure to obey orders”. Now, if 700 armed men tried to defect and were shot at then what would you expect them to do? Shoot back? The regime quickly realized their mistake and withdrew the report. It was the last report they made because it was in direct contradiction of their official SANA account. It became impossible to explain their “armed gang” and “terrorist” dialogue when the official government report demonstrated that the regime was killing more of its own than the “terrorists”. Compounding their problems with this report was a memo leaked from intelligence HQ instructing mukhabarat to deploy snipers and shoot at both soldiers and demonstrators in oreder to provoke and justify violence.

      Now, about the west making allies. It is a western belief that the best way to change any system is from the inside. They do not hold mid-east values with regards to dissent and change. For a westerner dissent from within is a sign of strength and wisdom. It is their belief that if you gain admission into the king’s court then you can influence him with reason and logic.

      Reply to this comment
      • radioyaran December 25, 11:18

        Richard,
        that disappearing report sounds rather dubious to me. Has noone managed to save a snapshot of it? It is never mentioned in any mainstream reports of the Jisr al Shughour (JAS) massacre. Not when it occured and not later.
        Besides, noone ever claimed that the army lost 700 men in JAS. Talk was always of 80-120 men with one side speaking of them being killed at the hands of armed insurgents/residents and the rebel side saying they were soldiers who were executed because they refused to shoot unarmed protesters.
        To be honest, I think the claim of “unarmed protesters” is an often repeated myth, at least in many of the cases.

        These links both show that there are differing accounts as to what happened, so it is not proven at all that the dead were defectors:
        http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Jisr_Al-Shughour_massacre
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13679109

        Then there are video clips clearly showing armed “civilians” standing around the corpses of killed soldiers and police.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rytNSnb8BhI
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA8eF6L-x2w
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7kbwjRFses

        The rebels claims are contradicting and inconsistent. First they said the victims were (Sunni) soldiers killed by (non-Sunni) officers for refusing to shoot peaceful demonstrators.
        If this is true then why did the regime army lost the town and could only recapture it, when the 4th division sent a major detachment some days later?
        Then the rebels claimed the army victims were killed by defecting soldiers who switched side and killed their former comrades.
        This is unlikely. Given that JAS was known as purely Sunni restive town near Turkey it is improbable the military would expose a couple of dozen non-Sunni soldiers to Sunni soldiers with the former asking the latter to kill unarmed peaceful fellow Sunnis and Syrians.
        This is more a scenario of a melodrama than a realistic reconstruction of events.

        Reply to this comment
        • Richard Rittenburg December 25, 17:12

          It was an official report intended to inform ba’ath leadership but was accidentally released to public. It was not about JAS but was a summation of all causualties sufferred by the regime up to that date. It would have included any casualty since daraa from any location or cause. JAS is only significant because it was the dominant Syrian news article at the time of release.

          At the time a hezzbollah friend I were arguing over the uprising. He is a palestinian who did not want to see the resistance weakened. I mailed him the link to report and it was at that time he realized that the SANA reports were lies and that there really were no “armed gangs” and that the demonstrations were not a bunch of foreign wahabis but common Syrian peasants. Within 24 hours, the report was pulled and my email link was dead. It was the very last official casualty statistic I ever saw released by Assad regime. If you can track down their very last report and it shows 1500 casualty, then you will have found it.

          Reply to this comment
    • Buenos Aires December 25, 00:39

      Dear radioyaran ,

      I see things other way but I really appreciate your honesty, this world is very difficult to fathom.

      Reply to this comment
  6. kirsmaoyo December 24, 19:12

    I don’t understand what people expected. When Syrians begged the west to help them they found the doors closed. The opposition at that time was constantly saying that the inaction of the west will spawn extremists and here are we now. The whole world shut their ears except the extremists. I wonder what kind of extremists are the ones who are willing to help people in need.

    Reply to this comment
  7. gunniy December 24, 00:04

    Hezbollah and the three misfortunes – opinon piece

    Hassan Nasrallah’s speech in Lebanon did not pass without angry reactions. Ashraf Rifi, former chief of the Internal Security Forces, commented on Hezbollah’s recent speech via Twitter, saying that he rejects “the language of the Middle Ages of [accusing] others of treason and infidelity and of threatening them.”

    1. The first misfortune is the massive exhaustion of its forces in Syria and the

    2. second is the emergence of extremist groups confronting it within Lebanon. The Ahmad al-Assir group has become a real problem for Hezbollah – a problem that refuses to disappear.

    3. The third and most dangerous misfortune is that Hezbollah will be the first to pay the price of the American-Iranian reconciliation to be sealed during the final agreement that will be signed at a later date.

    This is why Ahmad al-Hariri, the Future Movement’s secretary-general, was right when he advised Nasrallah to behave modestly as the coming days will be harder than the days of the past. Nasrallah’s party is bleeding in Syria like it’s never bled since its establishment three decades ago and it’s losing more than it lost during its previous confrontations with Israel.

    The party is still garnering losses.

    In addition to this, the collapse of the Assad regime will besiege the party (Hizbollah) as Syria protected it.

    (..)

    http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2013/12/23/Hezbollah-and-the-three-misfortunes.html

    Reply to this comment
  8. Richard Rittenburg December 24, 00:02

    it is not surprising to find foreign fighters and terrorist groups. not in the least. If you shout terrorist! long enough then some are bound to show up. The ba’ath regime has been shouting terrorist ever since it was just fourteen children and a can of spray paint. In Jisr Al Shugr they even shot their own soldiers in the back and blamed it on “armed wahabi gangs”. If you have been following this conflict, the ba’ath have declared war on any sunni peasant man, woman, or child who does not agree to put bashar before allah. Exactly what type of response were you expecting?

    Reply to this comment
  9. radioyaran December 23, 21:07

    Is it not breathtakingly insane that foreign fighters are so omnipresent on the rebel side?
    Are we now to believe that Chechens, Azeris or even Iraqi and Iranian Kurds had suffered from Assads undemocratic regime or had been tortured in his prisons?
    The presence of so many Jihadi foreign fighters in the ranks of the rebels proves the clearly sectarian motivation of the “freedom fighters”.
    You should not hype or admire this as it often subtly appears but condemn this.

    It is also not good when Iraqi Shias take part in the syrian war but in contrast to Chechens or non-syrian Kurds the Shia have a good reason to take part: They have been subject to severe Salafi/Jihadi violence in Iraq for almost a decade. It is a late reaction to almost daily butcherings at the hands of radical Sunnis who deliberately and intentionally target Shia civilians.

    Reply to this comment
    • gunniy December 23, 23:29

      If you compare the number of foreign jihadis with the number of the internal 1000 rebelgroups your impresion becomes relative.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24403003

      Note: Assad is the one who is responsible that syria had become a place for violent offenders. As long russia and iran are surporting the poison gas killer Assad this situation will not change.

      I don`t like Lavrow but he is right saying there is no purely military solution in Syria.

      Reply to this comment
      • radioyaran December 24, 10:06

        Nobody says that the “1000 internal groups” are 100% Syrians. From both the success videos and also the nationalities of the rebel casualties you can easily conclude that both the percentage and the relevance of the non-Syrian Jihadis is huge. “Huge” does not mean that they are the majority, but it is already huge when they constitute 15%. Non-Syrians with their Salafi/nihilist worldview have much less problems blowing themselves up. Just take the capture of Mingh airbase. For months the “regular” rebels achieved nothing until the Chechens arrived and a Saudi suicide bomber drove into the outer walls. And at the “press conference” after the success 7 out 0f 10 fighters clearly appeared non-Syrian.

        Assad is not single-handedly fighting the insurgency. It is the Syrian Army and the NDF (among others), both fielding a Sunni majority. So, the myth that a totally hated president is standing ground with only minorities behind him is crap. It might be that the majority of the Sunni never would vote Assad in real free elections but apparently the same majority dislikes the rebels at least at that much. Otherwise they would have long won the war. And no, the reason why this does not happen is not a few thousand Hezbollah and Iraqi Shia fighters.

        Assad is in place since 2000, but neither did he destroy the country nor his army killed people all the time until the insurgency began. None of the destroyed cities or suburbs displayed even 1% of todays ruinous level BEFORE the rebels moved in and turned entire blocks and civilian houses into sniping and RPG firing platforms or before they IEDed streets and highways.

        Reply to this comment
        • gunniy December 25, 14:38

          It`s not a myth that Bashar al Assad
          is the inventor of the Syrian Armageddon

          For the Sunni Arab population of Syria, it’s the overt sectarian and violent nature of the crackdown, underscored by the willingness to kill unarmed protesters, including women and children, and to defile mosques and Sunni religious symbols, that have in time posed an existential threat.

          While in terms of the demographics involved, the Sunnis are under no real threat of being physically wiped out by Alawites, in reality, over the last 20 months, the very structure of their existence has been severely undermined.

          With millions of Sunni refugees now on the run inside and outside the country, and entire Sunni towns, villages and neighborhoods laid to waste, entire ways of life and a worldview that used to be more encompassing and tolerant have been, perhaps irrevocably, shattered.

          The Syrian Sunni identity is changing. Sunnis see that they are being treated as if they were all extremist Salafists, as indicated by the pejorative term “Ar’ouris” (after the Salafi Sheikh Adnan Ar’our) concocted by Alawite militias. They see that the majority of members of other confessional minority groups seem to remain sympathetic to Assad, that Kurds seem to have been spared the brunt of the crackdown through their adoption of a more nuanced stand, for the most part expressing vocal sympathy with the revolution while maintaining operational neutrality.

          And they see that the international community remains undecided in terms of its approach to the revolutionaries, at a time when some of its members, especially Russia and Iran, have clearly opted to support Assad by all available means including provision of arms and diplomatic support. From this, a common albeit battered Sunni identity is emerging, uniting Islamist and secular elements, bestowing an “official” Sunni garb on the armed rebellion.

          There are two forms of Jihadism clashing in Syria today. The first is exemplified by Jabhat Al-Nusra, the Islamist rebel group that was recently designated as a terrorist organization by the US Treasury Department, due to its affiliation with Al-Qaeda. Jabhat Al-Nusra emerged on the scene in the context of growing despair among rebels and local populations, increased sectarian massacres on the part of pro-regime militias, the all too visible dysfunction of Syria’s political opposition groups, and continued international dithering and indifference.

          By showing the usual bravery expected from Jihadi elements during battle; by meting out their brand of harsh justice against captured loyalist militias and soldiers while supporting the local communities through the provision of basic goods such as bread and heating oil; by downplaying their international Jihadi agenda, for now, Jabhat Al-Nusra and its affiliates managed to win hearts and minds in rebel towns and villages throughout the country, emerging as the strongest rebel faction on the ground and gaining praise even from some secular elements in the opposition. They have become the unlikely spokespeople for a battered majority who feel betrayed by all those countries and groups believed at one point or another to represent their natural allies.

          During the brief civil war of the early 1980s, which, in many ways, has set the psychological and ideological scene for the current conflagration, no one seemed to have noticed the suffering of Syria’s Sunnis, or so runs the current litany. But what’s the excuse today, when all massacres seem to take place in full daylight and are covered around the clock by activist networks and international media? And why do world leaders continue to express their concern over a potential future retribution against the Alawite community, while ignoring the all too real crimes currently being perpetrated against the Sunnis by Alawites? Inquiring and increasingly suspicious Sunni minds want to know.

          The other form of Jihadism on the scene is of course Alawite. In fact, in the context of the Syrian Revolution, Alawite Jihadism seems to have emerged first, before actively encouraging the emergence of a Sunni counterpart within the ranks of the revolutionary movement by providing a justification for its existence and tactics. Indeed, the release of Sunni Jihadi elements from state prisons within weeks of the launch of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, and the leaking of videos showing Alawite soldiers defiling mosques, mocking Sunni beliefs, torturing their Sunni prisoners and praising Assad as a god seem to have come as part of a tactic aimed at soliciting a response in kind. The tactic worked. Today, Jabhat Al-Nusra members, led in some cases by those who were amongst the prisoners released in March 2011, usually kill their Alawite prisoners and have, on several occasions, defiled Alawite and Shia shrines.

          But there is something unique about Alawite Jihadism. Rather than developing as a strictly religious phenomenon, as is the case with other Shia Jihadi movements such as Hezbollah and the Mahdi Army, Alawite Jihadism is more of a national Alawite pride movement. Indeed, by taking part in Assad’s bloody crackdown, Alawite youths, irrespective of their level of education, seem to be expressing pride in who they are. In their leaked videos, Facebook pages and twitter accounts, young Alawite men in particular seem to feel quite empowered, liberated even, by the acts of brutality being perpetrated in their name by their “patriotic” militias, or which they themselves are directly perpetrating. The leaked video of the Alawite soldier who called his mother and had her listen in as he executed a “terrorist” is a grisly and poignant example. For the first time, young Alawite men are now able to celebrate their identity and declare the superiority of their ways and beliefs, while expressing publicly what they must have felt for so long vis-à-vis their Sunni compatriots. Young Alawite men are now telling the world that they are followers of Amir Al-Mu’mineen Haydarah Ali Bin Abi Talib and believers in the Divine Wisdom of one Bashar Al-Assad for whose sake they are willing to set the entire country on fire, and have in fact been doing so.

          Most minority communities have either assumed a neutral stand, or sided with the regime, despite its by now overt sectarianism, allowing both sides of the conflict to become more and more radicalized: the Sunnis as a result of being abandoned, and the Alawites as a result of the endorsement they received, no matter how tacit. Through the filter of communal identity, deployed by the country’s myriad minority communities, one side (the Sunnis) can do no right, while the other side (the Alawites) can do no wrong. So it seems that the glue that used to keep these communities together through thick and thin, that element of trust, that live-and-let-live ethos stemming from centuries of relatively peaceful coexistence under the millet system, has dried up under the Assad regime’s continuous and vindictive assault on civil society. But there is nothing to replace it today: neither a covenant nor an accord, nor even a respected elite that can put something together then sell it to the people.

          http://www.syrianrevolutiondigest.com/p/an-unbridgeable-divide.html

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          • radioyaran December 25, 18:23

            Sorry, you wrote a lot (or copy and pasted) but actually said little of real relevance.
            This passage alone is proof to the weakness of your argumentation line:
            “For the Sunni Arab population of Syria, it’s the overt sectarian and violent nature of the crackdown, underscored by the willingness to kill unarmed protesters, including women and children, and to defile mosques and Sunni religious symbols, that have in time posed an existential threat.”

            First, of all the Baath system despite its numerous faults, its autocratic and undemocratic nature and its maintaining of a police state is definitely not sectarian. Point.
            The system does not sideline or even humiliate people along ethnic or religious lines. Syria is not Bahrain where the Shia majority has no role in the security services at all while the Sunni minority rulers “import” jordanian or pakistani Sunnis, naturalize them in order to balance out the demographic advantage of the Shia.

            Second, as a wellknown and indisputable fact the Sunnis occupy relevant ministerial posts such as foreign minister, premier minister, defence minister. The Sunnis are represented in the top military and security services leadership, many of them Generals as well as Pilots.
            The single biggest group among the army soldiers are the Sunni, with some estimating their percentage above 60%.

            With this circumstances and backgrounds it is both irrational, ridiculous and impossible to think and claim that a government and army full of Sunnis takes part, facilitates and tolerates systematic sectarianism against their fellow Sunni Syrians.

            Third, during Bashars years thousands of Sunni mosques were built. I doubt this could happen if the system was sectarian.

            I have no love for Assad and I am aware that he and his regime have committed severe crimes against humanity, but I don´t buy the one sided and biased narration of the months long purely peaceful demonstrations by secular people simply asking for reforms.
            I am sure that there were peaceful demos but I am sure – as I have seen it in Iran and Lebanon – that there were much bigger counter demos in support of the government. Obvious that western news agencies and Gulf arab state-owned outlets had no interest in revealing this other side of the story.

            Today Jisr al Shughour was mentioned, and even before that on April 10, 2011 ten soldiers were ambushed and killed in Banias without that they were killed by demonstrators in “self defense”.
            So, if the unarmed peaceful protesters were killing police and soldiers in March in Deraa, in April in Banias and in June at Jisr al Shughour what remains of the fairy tale of “months of peaceful protests”?

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    • Buenos Aires December 24, 00:26

      The reason why Shia foreign fighters take part it´s not revenge as you claim but religious motivation (same as islamic Sunnis). Assad secular ideology It´s not a kind of sectarianism also?, comunists were secular and they killed more people than the bubonic plague, but at least comunists had a positive ideology, Assad´s ideology is the worst of all because it´s a non existant one, just a pure nothing, a negative, zero. It´s a war between what it´s left of religion and the void. If you support Shia islam say it but please dont sell Assad´s rotten fish, dont fall into a subhuman state.

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      • radioyaran December 24, 10:25

        You don´t see Shia fighters from Iran travel to Afghanistan, Pakistan or even Iraq to kill Sunnis, simply because they consider them “infidels” or “apostates”. Shia Iran has not spend billions of USD to establish Salafi teachings spreading Madrassas in Pakistan and Afghanistan and elsewhere where people are taught that the Shia are unclean and non-muslims and deserve to be killed.
        The Shia fighters moved to Syria at least one year after Shias had been abducted there or besieged.
        Rebels in Idlib and Deraa where long threatening Hezbollah (“Hassan Nasrallah, we will come for you” before Hezbollah entered the Syrian battleground.
        It is no secret that both the JN (Nusra) and ISIS/ISIL have the same masterminds/ideologues and financers (Gulf states) as their Iraqi (Anbar and Diyala) based affiliates who started massacring Shias as early as late 2003. This has all been very well documented in the excellent books by Patrick Cockburn.
        Why should the Shia stand idle and watch the same Jihadis first kill the Syrian Alawites and desecrate Shia tombs and shrines in Syria and then refocus on Iraq and intensify attacks on the Shia, all the while getting bolder and better armed due to weapons captures?
        This is clearly a reaction and not just religious zeal or even sectarianism.

        It is undisputed that Assads Syria from 2000-2011 was a peaceful and secure place even though it has hardly natural ressources and was always partly isolated due to its stance in the near east conflict. This kind of secular state, even though a corrupt police state, has nothing to do with communism and its Gulags and expansionist military policy.
        Everybody could practice his belief and live in a more or less free market economy in Syria. What has this to do with communism?

        Of course, Syria was all but a model state, but do you think you can insult the Saudi king and openly call for its demise without being arrested and very probably mishandled?
        Do you think in the Gulf states the “opposition” can shoot at (riot) police, burn public buildings and ambush army convoys without the state power hitting back?

        Syria was a country with female pilots while in Saudi Arabia women are not permitted to drive cars even. So, dont tell me the secular ideology is a “negative zero”. It is a huge difference whether a state does not allow real political opposition (which I condemn) or whether it controls peoples private life and discriminates people on ethnic or religious grounds.
        Look at Bahrain, where the Shia majority are absent in the security forces and judiciary.

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