They’re baaaack! All those missing pundits who had little to say about the tragic developments in Syria over the last few months are now back and at it again, tackling their favorite topic in the whole wide world and making their usual sweeping assertions about its centrality to the regional woes: who cares about authoritarianism and corruption, it’s the Arab-Israeli Conflict baby. What they have missed in the midst of their ideological orgy is the simple fact that the Conflict has long morphed into an Israeli-Iranian affair with Turkey trying to work herself in, and Arabs, rich and poor alike, being nothing more than glorified proxies. Meanwhile, Russia and China play the spoilers when it suits them, as America stands disinterested, and perhaps a little puzzled, if not clueless. Meanwhile, in Syria, the Islamists pursue their hijacking of the revolution.
A group of Islamist Rebels convened in Aleppo City earlier on Sunday and issued a statement rejecting the recently formed National Coalition as a conspiratorial body established by external powers, and said that consensus has been reached on establishing an Islamic State. Unsurprisingly the main groups represented in this meeting were Jabhat Al-Nusra, Ahrar Al-Sham and Ahrar Syria, long believed to be al-Qaeda affiliates. But the other main group taking part was Liwa Al-Tawhid, which is somewhat surprising considering the more moderate tone and stature that its leaders tried to project earlier. Other major Islamic groups like Al-Farouq and Suqur Al-Sham (Al-Sham Falcons) were noted for their absence, but it will be interesting to see what their reactions will be now that the genie is out of the bottle http://youtu.be/XOazhu3LB1Y
The timing of the statement itself is quite telling. European countries are already discussing the possibility of lifting the arms embargo on Syria, which, if it happens, can help empower moderate rebel groups by giving them more advanced weapons allowing them to stand up both to pro-Assad militias as well as the Islamist groups. Jabhat Al-Nusra and affiliates are right then: the Coalition is a conspiracy against them. The Coalition was established specifically to save this revolution from an ongoing extremist takeover.
By Monday, the improvised announcement drew fierce denouncements from moderate and secular rebel groups, forcing a retraction by Al-Tawhid, and more vocal support to the Coalition by major rebel groups and activists throughout the country. As such, rather than weakening the Coalition, the rejection by Islamists served to shore up its popular appeal, at least for the time being.
But a showdown between moderate and Islamist forces is looming, and the best that can be done at this stage is to defer it until a vision for an endgame in Syria emerges in opposition circles. With the clashes taking place between Islamist rebels and Kurdish militias in Seri Kanye on the Turkish border, there is enough side drama in rebel camps going on at this stage. Cool heads will probably prevail for few more weeks, but a conflict pitting moderates against extremists seems unavoidable, especially as extremists control more territory and more border crossings with neighboring countries. Indeed, Jabhat Al-Nusra either directly, or through smaller affiliates, some of which pretend to be moderates control all border crossings with Turkey. Recently, Jabhat Al-Nusra moved to take control of the town of Alboukamal along the borders with Iraq. The Jabhat and its extremist partners and affiliates were allowed too much leeway in the last few months, thanks to international dithering and opposition incompetence, and they cannot be reined in eventually without some measure of force. The die is cast, Alea Jacta Est, the Kraken is released, and all that sort of things. Putting Syria back together is fast becoming a herculean undertaking. And now we have to deal with Gaza.
After weeks-long siege, rebels manage to capture a key army-based in Al-Atareb, Aleppo Province. The base is the headquarters of the 46th Battalion of the regular army still loyal to Assad. http://youtu.be/9kny-Ur-KxM Showcasing the supplies that they have gained http://youtu.be/Rlu_KqLO_2s