Assad – Portrayed as Tyrant to Serve Western Interests

Interview with Fahad Al Masry, member of the Syrian opposition and coordinator of the Syrian National Salvation Front

Fahad al-Masri

 

The US and Russia have intensified their military efforts in Syria with the help of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG). Do you think an end to the crisis is now near?

You must remember that during the ISSG meeting, held last May in Paris, there were many disagreements, caused by the difference in Russian and American policies. This also led to the creation of two different groups: one supported the US and Russia, while the other supported Europe, led by Germany and France (and also included Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar). They created a European, Arab and Muslim coalition; the dozen or so Arab and European countries which formed the Group of Friends of the Syrian People continues to declare its support for the opposition.

This situation is due to Obama’s disastrous Middle East policy which left Russia free to intervene in the conflict, while sidelining Turkey and the Gulf countries. This split within the support group can be clearly seen because, during the Paris meeting, there was tension between the Europeans (France and Germany) and the other countries.

There are a number of unresolved issues, even if all parties claim that the target date for political transition is a real goal. The Vienna talks aimed to strengthen relations between the partner countries and to rebuild alliances which had became too narrowly focused during the Paris meeting.  Russia, an ally of Bashar al-Assad, reported in early May on active negotiations aimed at bringing an end to the conflict in Aleppo.

Moscow, however, had warned that it did not intend to put pressure on Damascas to stop carrying out air strikes on the city, even though that’s what had Washington’s demanded. All these alliances and disagreements make the Syrian issue very complicated. An alliance, or several alliances even, within the same support group does not necessarily help attempts to find a resolution to the crisis. The post-Geneva period is only just beginning, and the hope is that we do not go down the road of a Geneva V, Geneva VI…etc

The United States does not see a future for Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it is one of their priorities: remove him from power. What’s your opinion on this matter?

As Lakhdar Brahimi once put it, Bashar al-Assad is finished. This declaration can be justified given that Bashar al-Assad had supported the Iranian and Russian attacks on civilians demanding freedom and respect.

History will remember that Obama was the worst American president ever because his policy pushed Syria and the entire region into endless conflict. From the beginning, Washington severly criticised Assad’s policy. But while Assad was free to transgress all limits, the US did nothing but interfere in our internal affairs rather than finding a solution to both the conflict and Bashar al-Assad.

The image of Bashar as a tyrant merely served the interests of certain world powers who aim to destroy our country and destabilise the entire region to serve interests beyond our own. Syria is not the only target. This strategy of destruction targets other countries, too, in particular the countries in Northern Africa, such as Algeria.

Do you think that recapturing Rakka from ISIL could have an impact on other towns in the country?

The liberation of Rakka is important and, without a doubt, constitutes a defeat for ISIL. The international media distracted us with “the destruction of archaeological sites” in order to conceal an international illegal trade in archaeological treasures, supported by both the Syrian and Iranian government.  By destroying a country’s memory, you destroy its future. The other problem in Rakka is that the US had brought Kurdish militia forces into Syria to help liberate the city. We can now expect a civilian massacre.

Translated from French

The original author was Faten Hayed

Source: France-Irak Actualité

http://www.france-irak-actualite.com/2016/05/interview-de-fahad-al-masri-opposant-syrien-et-coordinateur-du-groupe-salut-national-en-syrie.html

 

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SYRIA – Palmyra and the Limits of Propaganda in the War against ISIL

Russia and Iran pulled out all the stops to make Bashar al-Assad “the liberator of Palmyra” before the continuation of the Geneva talks in April. Syrian government forces would have been incapable of this task without support from Spetsnaz, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and members of the Iraqi Shia militia. By mid-March, the Russians declared that their air-force was carrying out “20-25 air-strikes per day” and that they had destroyed “158 ISIL targets”. We can imagine the sheer scale of the devastation in the oasis.

Palmyre et les limites de la propagande de guerre anti-Etat islamique

(Photo of Palmyra taken before the civil war)

So “Syrian government troops” regained control of Palmyra (Tadmor in Arabic), a town which they let fall into the hands of ISIL in May 2015, after having offered practically no resistance. We will continue to wonder for a long time to come about the curious blindness of Russian and American spy satellites which failed to spot the columns of jihadi troops moving towards “the pearl of the desert” and its terrifying prison where over a thousand opponents to the government, most of whom were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, were shot dead at point-blank range in 1980. Anyone would think that the occupation of the ancient ruins was advantageous from a media point of view for the Assad regime, which was in desperate straits at the time.

Archaeologists the world over breathed a sigh of relief when the Syrian government regained control of Palmyra.  They will never forget that ISIL destroyed the Temple of Bel (comparable to the God Zeus) and the Temple of Baalshamin (Lord of the Heavens) in order to again wipe out the traces of pre-Islamic religions. Nor will they forget that they smashed the Lion of Athena statue and blew up three towers in the Valley of Tombs. This is obviously excessive. But UNESCO, which refers to “war crimes” when talking about the damage caused, should not forget that the jihadi terrorists are not the only ones to have exploited this site.

From about 2012, rumours began to circulate that gangs obtained archaeological permits in exchange for their support for the Syrian regime. Many ancient treasures were stolen during this period. A group of armed rebels once seized control of the site and raided the tombs to finance their activities. In 2013, following the liberation of the town by Bashar al-Assad’s army and the Shabiha militia (Alawaite mercenaries), photos of soldiers carrying Palmyrene busts were published.

This time, the damage caused by ISIL would appear to be not as extensive as the Western war propaganda claimed, which is good news. In any case, ISIL had shown the damage it caused in its videos.

According to the head of Syrian antiquities, it will take five years to restore the damaged treasures.

Translated from French

The original author was Gilles Munier

Source: France-Irak Actualité

http://www.france-irak-actualite.com/2016/03/palmyre-et-les-limites-de-la-propagande-de-guerre-anti-etat-islamique.html

 

SYRIA – Towards an Islamic Emirate in Idlib Province?

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the chief of Al-Qaida, had previously opposed the creation of a Syrian Islamic emirate in the areas controlled by the Al-Nusra Front and its allies. Today he supports the idea, believing that the conditions on the ground would allow this.

Syrie : Vers un émirat islamique dans la province d’Idlib?

With this in mind, he is reported to have sent a delegation of leaders from his group to the Idlib province in order to assess the feasibility of the project. Among the delegation was Saif al-Adel, a former colonel of both the Egyptian Special Forces and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He was accused by the American government of having participated in the 1988 US embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and in Nairobi (Kenya).

Imprisoned in Iran, Saif al-Adel was apparently released in 2015, along with four other Al-Qaida members, within the framework of an exchange of prisoners with AQAP (Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula) and the Taliban.

An Arab Spring which is on the right track…

In a message broadcasted last May, Ayman al-Zawahiri declared: “Syria today represents hope for the faithful….the only Arab Spring revolution which is on the right track”. He also declared that jihadi fighters should unite “to defeat the war machine of the eastern and western crusades” and that this is “a matter of life or death for them”. He added that the West “aims to create a regime in Syria which will appear to be Islamic but which will be based on a corrupted version of Islam”. And he described the members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an organisation which he considers to be illegitimate, as “extremists” and “renegades”

The entire world has risen up against Muslims

The initiative taken by Ayman al-Zawahiri is backed by Hamza ben Laden – the 23 year-old son of Osama – who also urged all jihadi fighters to unify their ranks, stating that “there are no longer any excuses for those who still want to argue and divide, now that entire world has risen up against Muslims…”

Hamza ben Laden reminded jihadi fighters that the purpose of their combat is the “liberation of Al-Qods” and that “the path to the liberation of Palestine is today shorter thanks to the revolution in Syria”.

The Al-Nusra Front, led by Abou Muhammad al-Joulani, has not yet come to a decision because its allies within the Jaish al-Fatah (The Army of Conquest, which comprises several Islamic groups) fear that news of the creation of an Islamic state in the Idlib province will lead to division in its ranks.

Translated from French

The original author was Gilles Munier

Source: France-Irak Actualité

http://www.france-irak-actualite.com/2016/05/syrie-vers-un-emirat-islamique-dans-la-province-d-idlib.html