Category Archives: Syria

The Real Enemy in Syria: Can Russia Preempt a Policy Shift by Clinton and the Democrat-Neocon Alliance?………..

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American involvement in Syria has been in a ‘trial-and-error’ mode since late spring of 2011.

Early on, the Obama administration took its cue from the Arab tribal kings and princes of the Persian Gulf, who also happen to be very close to the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (all heavy Clinton Foundation donors and all that).
The Wahhabi regimes of Qatar and Saudi Arabia saw an opportunity to spread their own intolerant version of Islamic rule and to deal a blow to a secular but repressive Syrian regime that is an ally of the Iranian mullahs. As they poured money and weapons into Syria, the early uprising shifted into a confessional and sectarian war rather than a fight for democracy as envisioned by some naive Western interventionists. This situation was made worse by the strong promotional campaign waged by the rich and powerful Salafi (and Muslim Brotherhood) movements on the Gulf.

Thus the Syrian uprising of 2011 was doomed from the start as money, weapons, and Salafi volunteers poured in through Turkey and Lebanon and Jordan. All of it from the Gulf region, although soon the Jihadis started flowing in from other Arab countries and then from Europe.

So, the early mantra quickly became: Bashar Al Assad Must Go!
Soon this shifted to a new hopeful mantra: Bashar Al Assad’s Days Are Numbered!
Or, later on: Bashar Al Assad’s Remaining in Damascus is Untenable!

Even the hapless Saudi foreign minister boldly declared (and mimicked by his Qatari counterpart) that: Assad Will Go Either by Diplomatic or Military Means! (Presumably they mean American military means since these two countries don’t have enough forces to occupy one city in Syria)

All this was bought by the U.S foreign policy establishment, especially Secretary Clinton, as inalienable gospel, part of the policy Sharia as preached and taught to the Americans by the meddling kings, princes, and potentates of the Persian Gulf region. Even as the same kings, princes, and potentates were eagerly oppressing and repressing and persecuting their own peoples. Even as they were pouring money into a military coup in Egypt which re-instated the Mubarak regime.

Pressure by some U.S. lawmakers like John McCain and Joe Lieberman (where the hell is he now, by the way) helped nudge the Clinton State Department toward the Gulf position, especially after every visit by these senators to Riyadh, Doha, and Abu Dhabi, none of them known as a bastion of democracy and freedom of expression.

Now Turkey has shifted its position. Initially it was an enabler and conduit of weapons and money and Jihadis into Syria (what I called the Erdogan Trail). But the complex Syrian war spread into Turkey itself. Even as post-coup Erdogan announced a shift in Syrian policy, Turkey has become more involved in Northern Syria. Mainly a result of gains by the Kurdish minority with American help.

Now we know that the Turks have their own Islamist/Jihadist proxies fighting in Northern Syria. All composed of Arab Jihadi fighters.

Iran, Russia, Lebanon and others (including some Iraqis, some Afghanis, etc) are siding with Assad.

Part of the Obama administration is fighting against ISIS and the regime, or thinks it is. This fight is based on Arab Salafist Jihadis.

Part of the Obama administration is siding with the Kurds against ISIS and against other Jihadis. And presumably against the Assad regime.

So, at least two groups that are American supported are fighting each other in Syria.

Saudis and/or Qataris have apparently recently supplied their own favorite Salafi Jihadis with advanced American and other Western weapons. Some of these weapons, like anti-tank or ground-to-air missiles require prior approval by the exporters.

Even as the Assad regime gains ground on some fronts, like the Damascus area and Aleppo, the war becomes more complex and more intractable. Hence it is now almost impossible to structure a political solution that can stop it.

When and if Clinton becomes president, her instinct will be to expand the American military role in Syria (why else do you think all these hawks and Neocons are supporting her?). The media, what is called mainstream American media, are in their 2002 pre-Iraq War mode now. They are heavily “reporting” on regime atrocities, reviving the old WMD stories, talking about the old but now defunct “Red Lines”. The CNN network is now, as it did in 2002-2003, leading the military charge into the morass of Syria. It, and other media, are working to make a new more Americanized war in Syria as publicly acceptable as they did the war in Iraq in 2003. (FYI: the American people have not seen any uncovered Iraqi WMDs, yet).

The Russians probably know all this about the prospects for 2017. They are now solidifying and expanding their presence in Syria, possibly as a means of preempting this expected Clinton policy next year. The Russians and their allies seem to be making it impossible to establish the no-fly zones that are so dear to Democrat hawks, except maybe in the Kurdish regions which border Turkey.

A repetition of Iraq? Possibly a different version of another mistake. But who is the “real enemy” in Syria that seriously threatens the West in its own homeland: in Paris, London, and New York? That is the question that should decide expanded intervention.




Arabs and the Nusra Front: Marketing Their Own Cutthroats in Syria…….

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More than a year ago I posted here that Al Qaeda may be brought in from the cold by some Arab regimes. With the goal of using it in Syria and Iraq. Here is a link to NUSRA FRONT: ARE THE PRINCES BRINGING AL QAEDA BACK IN FROM THE COLD?…... A month later I posted another rant about NEW WAHHABI INTERNATIONAL: AL QAEDA AS THE NEW GREAT HOPE OF JIHADIS IN SYRIA…… 

There were several others posted here:



All that was then. Now we probably see a culmination of the moves made by some Arab potentates and Persian Gulf Salafis. Salafi activists on the Gulf, especially in my hometown, have been trying for years to bring Al-Qaeda and the Wahhabi royal princes together. Al Qaeda has remained faithful to the Bin Laden line of no compromise: after all it doesn’t have much more than that these days.

In the past few weeks many opinions and social media comments by Gulf Salafis have urged Al Nusra, the Al Qaeda franchise in Syria, to break from the mother group. Gulf Salafis are nothing if not unfaithful and treacherous partners and allies, in addition to being a reliable fifth column for the wishes of the absolute tribal princes. They have been willing to flush their mother Al Qaeda organization, now headed by the hapless Egyptian Al Zawahiri, down the Salafist toilet. They see the big prize as being Syria. Besides, Al Nusra cutthroats have long been the most effective of the Syrian Jihadis (outside of ISIS). Tempting the West to support them might be do-able, by the mere fact that they are not-ISIS.

It seems that Jabhat Al Nusra, Front of Islamist Support, has listened to its Gulf Salafi brothers’ call and will join forces with the Arab princes in order to defeat Bashar Al Assad and establish their own Umayyad Caliphate in Damascus. A tall order if the battle trends of the past two years continue. It is now finally “breaking up’ with Al Qaeda headquarters, wherever that be, likely in preparation of fellow Wahhabis, the Saudis and Qataris, trying to sell its virtues to the Western allies.

The leader of Al Nusra, this Al Julani (meaning Man from Golan although he may not be from there) possibly aspires to declare himself the new Caliph of Wahhabism, even as the Iraqi ISIS-Baathist Caliph of Raqqa and Mosul moves closer to losing his realm.
Al Nusra now seems the last remaining (no so) White Hope of the absolute undemocratic Arab tribal monarchs and the Gulf Salafis to liberate Syria for the joys of Salafi fundamentalism. Perhaps that also applies to a few deluded politicians in the West.

(Turkey’s Mr. Erdogan seems too busy these days in internal matters to dabble as much in internal Syrian affairs. He has his own version of repression to impose).


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Raqqa as Berlin: Is the Myth of Islamic Caliphate about to Crash Down?…..

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Al Raqqa in Syria is not exactly Berlin circa 1945. That was when the Soviet (Russian) armies were about to enter Berlin, while Dwight Eisenhower’s forces were speeding to join them. It was almost like a race, which the Russians won.

Al Raqqa is the chosen temporary capital of ISIS (DAESH), pending the capture of Damascus or Baghdad. But Al Raqqa faces a similar situation that Berlin faced in early 1945. At least two armies are racing towards it. The most substantial one is the alliance that supports the Syrian regime (Syrian Army, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, etc). Then there is an alliance that is armed and supported by the United States, dominated by Syrian Kurds in the north.

Then there are the Iraqi military and their Iranian and local militia allies moving steadily if slowly towards Mosul. If Mosul falls, the Iraqis could find themselves tempted to join the race towards Al Raqqa as well.

The Saudis and their putative Turkish allies have been reduced to repeated futile threats by Adel al Jubeir, the Saudi Foreign Minister, that Al Assad must go. Al Jubeir adds: by peaceful or by military means. He must be waiting for Hillary Clinton to save his bosses nuts from the Syria fire.

This is how it stands now. Mosul and Al Raqqa might well fall this year. At the latest they will fall no later than 2017.

My Fatwa (humble but almost certainly accurate) on the violent gruesome brief reign of the Wahhabis of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ( or the Levant).

M Haider Ghuloum

Conflicting Plans for Syria: Hezbollah Plan A, Saudi Plan B, and American Plan C…..

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Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah gave a public speech today. That was in the aftermath of the death of yet another senior Hezbollah military leader in Syria: Mustafa Badreddine who was suspected of anti-American violence in Beirut bombings and also convicted of terrorism in Kuwait in the early 1980s (before Hezbollah was established).

Nasrallah asserted that his group will remain in Syria until the Jihadi “Takfiri” terrorists are defeated. He added that there is no evidence of an Israeli involvement in the assassination. He also noted that even the Israelis know that he always says what he means and does what he says. Oddly hinting that the Israeli “enemy” knows the truth and tells it publicly, unlike some “Arabs”, meaning the Saudis & Qataris. (I have to agree with him on that point).

Nasrallah also said that the Saudis are leading and arming and financing the Jihadist campaign in Syria from Jordan, with some cooperation from Qatar and Turkey. That the Saudis are sabotaging a political solution.

It is still not clear to me how the general Shi’a population of Lebanon now feel about the Syrian involvement. Clearly if there is any opposition it is limited and muted, although some Arab and Western media tend to magnify it. The Jihadi terrorists themselves may have helped solidify support for Syrian involvement by destroying historical shrines and monuments of all faiths, a favorite Wahhabi pastime. Many Shi’a would be willing to fight and die for the Shrine of Zainab in Damascus (as they would for Karbala). That is Plan A of one side.

For his part, Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir repeated that “it is time for Plan B” in Syria. Nothing new there, just the same mantra. Someone once called him the Saudi version of Baghdad Bob.

My guess for this Saudi Plan B?
The Saudis and Qataris and Turks are waiting for a hawkish American president to take over next year. Maybe even someone who will allow supplying the Jihadists with anti-aircraft missiles (as in Afghanistan in the 1980s). That is not likely to happen: the Syrian regime and its Russian and other allies are creating facts on the ground.

Besides, there is also a well-known popular American plan, I call it Plan C. Plan C has been devised by the American people. The American public largely does not care who rules in Syria, as long as it is not a Wahhabi-type regime like ISIS or Al Nusra or Jaish Al Fath or………. never mind, I should quit typing now while I am ahead.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Riyadh Bob of Saudi Arabia………

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Saudi foreign minister Addle Al Jubeir has been making an unusual number of statements on Syria (and some other issues) for days. I would call them a frantic spurt of daily statements:

Al Jubeir: Assad will go, through a political solution OR a military solution.

If Assad does not leave, he will be forced to go.

We are ready to send ground forces into Syria.

We are ready to send ground forces to fight ISIS.

We will really send ground forces to Syria (if we have to?)

We will send troops to Syria IF the USA is willing to lead the campaign. (He didn’t say if the troops will be Sudanese, Somalian, Senegalese, Mauritanian or Klingons).

Ad nauseam, and on an almost hourly basis….. He is almost like Baghdad Bob, Saddam Hussein’s last minister of propaganda.

Then the headline of this morning (Friday 2/19): Saudi FM al-Jubeir: “We believe introducing surface-to-air missiles would change balance of power.” Which means he is threatening to wreck civil aviation in the eastern Mediterranean by supplying the Jihadists with anti-aircraft missiles. The region is not Afghanistan of 1980s where only Russian military jets flew the skies. Maybe someone in Washington will call this minister and read him the Riot Act on weapons.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
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Shocking Breaking News: Syrian Regime NOT About to Surrender!……

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““The regime is not going to surrender,” said Robert Ford, former US ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014 and now a senior fellow at the Washington-based Middle East Institute. “This is going to be a long war. Not a short war. We’re not near the end. We may still be only in the first half.”………..

Ambassador Robert Ford said: ““The regime is not going to surrender,” , which elicits a loud WTF from me. That is shocking news indeed. If the regime is on the march and winning, along with its allies, as the media report now, why should they surrender, pray tell?
Unless it is because Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Saudi princes and the Qumquat of Qatar said so four years ago.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
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Anniversary of an Illusion: Arab Revolutions Going All the Way……..

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Revolution: a single complete turn (as of a wheel) <The earth makes one revolution on its axis in 24 hours.> 4 : a sudden, extreme, or complete change (as in manner of living or working) 5 : the overthrow of a ruler or government by violent action.” Merriam-Webster

We are living the anniversary of what used to be called the Arab Spring, or Arab Uprisings, or Arab Revolutions. All misnomers.
Now we (most of us) know that there was no Arab Spring. But this is an old story: we all know what happened and why, but I’ll go ahead anyway.
From the beginning, the cards were stacked against their success. Local military and bureaucratic forces as well as Persian Gulf Arab oil money conspired from the outset to make them fail. Some of the early revolutionaries in places like Egypt and Syria sold out to Saudi, Qatari, and Emirati money.
The rest failed to heed the simple lessons of history:

  • When the American colonists rose against the British monarchy in 1776, they overturned all the institutions of the old state and created their own.
  • When the people of France rose and overthrew the ancien regime in 1789, they had one way to make sure it does not come back. The French revolutionaries managed to talk themselves into overthrowing all the institutions of state, destroyed them and replaced them with new ones.
  • When the Bolsheviks (Communists) rose against the Tsarist feudal regime in Russia, they made sure of the success of the revolution by replacing all institutions of state.
  • The same occurred in China in 1949, in Cuba in 1959, and in Iran in 1979.

Fast forward to the so-called Arab Spring. The Arab uprisings of 2011 failed, all of them, because they did not learn the lessons of the earlier revolutions. A revolution cannot succeed by allying itself with the old institutions of the old regime. Or by relying on repressive foreign regimes for support. The Egyptian “revolutionaries” started their uprising by praising the army of Hosni Mubarak and then by allying with it. They ended up supporting a military coup staged by the same army and financed by repressive Persian Gulf tribal ruling families. The Syrian uprising was quickly bought off by the Saudi princes and Qatari potentates, withe the Turks opening their doors for Jihadists from around the globe to get into Syria (and Iraq). Yemen fell apart, as did Syria and Libya and Tunisia. Bahrain was occupied by Saudi army and security forces, with a British military being established now.

The lesson? If you go revolutionary, go revolutionary all the way. Overthrow the old system, and rebuild a new state with new institutions an new people. Never fear to go all the way. Half-baked revolutions always fail, by definition (my definition).

Of course, the results of a revolution may not turn out as its supporters wish, but…………

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
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Mediocrity in Syria: the Turkish-Saudi Camel Gives Birth to a Mouse………

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تمخض الجمل فولد فأرا
“The camel went into labor and gave birth to a mouse” An excellent Arab saying.

The Saudi king and officials met this week with the new Caliph of Turkey, the Sultan Erdogan. They met in the Saudi capital Riyadh, and came up with a very unoriginal outcome. They called the outcome a “Strategic Cooperation Council”, not a good start. Not an original title at all, and hence not promising at all for the future of this arrangement. Most likely a product of the mediocre mind of Mr. Addle Al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister. As Arabs have wisely said for centuries: this camel went into labor and gave birth to a mouse. Unsatisfying to all.

The Saudis (and Qataris as well) face a couple of dilemmas, in Syria and Yemen. Syria is safely far away from their borders, so any mischief would not spill over the border. They may think they are “playing with the house chips“, in Las Vegas gambling parlance. If they win in Syria they would have struck a hard blow at their Iranian rivals; if they lose, well, nothing has changed since before 2011. They, their proxies, are not winning in Syria now. All the early predictions that Al Assad would be out of Damascus within weeks or months are coming back to haunt Western governments (and some Arab regimes). Even I started to believe and expect it in those late months of 2011.

But that prediction was mostly Arab propaganda created by Salafists and Wahhabis on the Persian Gulf and accepted by Western media as the truth. It was sold to the Obama administration by some Gulf princes and potentates and some Western “intellectuals” like Bernard-Henri Levy and and non-intellectuals John McCain and Joe Lieberman. They all, from Clinton to Cameron waited for the announcement of the scheduled departure of Assad and his cronies. It worked in Libya, or so they thought, so why not in Syria?

They have failed, but their money and weapons and Salafist volunteers also created and enabled the violent Caliphate of ISIS or DAESH. With active Turkish help and connivance. But like their other creation Al Qaeda, ISIS is also now threatening to bite them.

Erdogan will not solve the Saudi/Qatari dilemma in Syria. There are hints that it may be spilling over his own border.

He certainly will not solve their Yemeni problem, but that is a topic for another posting. Perhaps the next one.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Republican Debate: Going Silly over Syria and the New Communist Crescent………

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So, Republican candidates met two nights ago for a debate. It was completely focused on foreign policy, and almost all of it on ISIS (DAESH), Syria, Iraq, and Muslim refugees. Oddly they ignored the huge gorilla that has been roaming within the American room for many years:

  • In 1993, Wahhabi terrorists tried to blow up one of the World Trade Center Towers in New York.
  • Then they blew up the U.S. embassy in Tanzania, killing and wounding .
  • In the fall of 2000 the Wahhabi terrorists attacked the USS Cole in a Yemeni port, killing and wounding .
  • In Sept. 2001, the Wahhabi Mother of All Terror Attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon killed almost three thousand Americans.
  • Then came the attacks in Madrid, London, Bali, and Paris. Then the attacks in Kenya.
  • Then they attacked in West Africa, Libya, and Egypt (The Russian Airliner), and inside Russian cities.
  • Then the Wahhabi attacks on Shi’a mosques in Kuwait in 2015.
    And the suicide attacks across Iraq since 2003. And the sectarian attacks on non-Wahhabi worshipers in Pakistan.
  • And the beheadings and burnings and mass killings of people of other faith in Syria and Iraq, those who are Shi’as, Alawites, Yazidis, Christians, etc.
  • And the attacks in Boston and San Bernardino (2015).
  • All driven by Wahhabi ideology and by Wahhabi volunteers and Gulf Salafi money.

So the Republicans met in Las Vegas and talked about what?
How better to ally the USA with the repressive tribal Wahhabi powers that theorized for and (still) finance and arm and man the terrorist groups. And the Turkish Caliph Erdogan who opened his borders to allow the Jihadists and their weapons to get into Syria.  A couple of them bandied about something called “a Shi’a Crescent” that the silly humorless King of Jordan and the Wahhabi media have publicized, just to divert attention. You’d think Joe Stalin was back and eyeing the Middle East. The famously one-dimensional Senator Graham tried to out-Wahhabi the real true-blue Saudi and Qatari Wahhabis by demanding a re-invasion of Iraq.

Oh, and several of the Republican military service-evaders also promised to shoot down Russian planes over Syria, whether the Syrian people want them to shoot Russian planes over ‘their’ country or not. Whether the UN sanctions it or not.

A couple of them were more sensible, but the trend was toward showing ersatz muscularity and toughness overseas. At least over a Las Vegas microphone.

One saving grace: unlike the GOP debates of 2012, they did not all publicly and verbally kiss the posterior of Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu. In fact none of them did, except in denouncing the ‘international’ nuclear deal.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Syria: Bringing the Terrorist Patriarchs In from the Cold…………

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“David Cameron was derided for claiming that there are “about 70,000 Syrian opposition fighters …who do not belong to extremist groups” and who might be potential allies of the coalition against IS. The Kurds are not included in that count………… In fact, most experts agree with the prime minister’s intelligence-derived assessment. Charles Lister of Brookings Doha Centre reckons that there are over 100 armed factions with a total of 75,000 fighters, many of whom operate under the Free Syrian Army umbrella, who could be considered “moderate” by Syrian standards. Even more problematic from a Western point of view is the idea of partnering with either Ahrar al-Sham or Jaish al-Islam, two big Salafist groups that have connections with Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), al-Qaeda’s increasingly powerful Syrian affiliate………..”

Interesting but predictable. The Economist agrees with David Cameron about the 75 thousand “moderate” fighters in Syria, something  I doubt very much. It quotes the Brookings Doha Center (in Qatar, hardly a neutral party) as confirmation. Then it notes that more than 30, 000 of these are Al Qaeda affiliates (probably some 50 thousand in this case). So again they tag Al Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham cutthroats as “moderates”.
Remember when the Al Qaeda, the creator of Al Nusra and later ISIS, were considered the worst of the worst? Not anymore.

I wrote a couple of years ago that Al Qaeda may be invited to “come in from the cold“. I repeated last spring when the Nusra seemed the last great hope of the Arab oil potentates in Syria. Now it is being invited in from the cold. Not only in Syria: in devastated Yemen, the Saudi and allied mercenary bombings have allowed Al Qaeda to take over more towns in the south.
Will ISIS be too far behind? Perhaps with a little push from the moderate Wahhabi “allies”?
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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