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Tuesday, December 29

CNN still trying to help Obama install Salafist regime in Syria

I said recently I'd never quote from CNN again but their latest propaganda piece is instructive. It contains a particular term: "opposition harmonization." You're probably familiar with 'lawfare,' which uses the court system in a liberal democracy to subvert the rule of law. Opposition harmonization uses a standard election campaign process in a liberal democracy to subvert democracy. 

The process in this case is getting factions in a political party that have conflicting agendas to agree on one platform, so they have a better chance against the opposition at the polls. 
   
It's as if they sit around in Riyadh and Doha, watch everything that happens in a democracy, then see how they can use its processes to install hard-core jihadist Islamist regimes in different countries and make it look like democracy in action.    

That's what they're trying to do in Syria, and the CNN piece is a textbook illustration of how it's being done. 

The author in this case, Lina Khatib, a "Senior Research Associate at the Arab Reform Initiative," fails to inform CNN readers that the opposition harmonization process Al Saud charitably organized in Riyadh -- on behalf of the Syrian electorate -- consists of groups that differ from al Qaeda in name only. 

There are other omissions in the piece and so many distortions and inaccuracies it looks as if CNN is trying to get past its critics by calling misdirection "opinion."

To give one example among several from the piece:
The regime has agreed to a deal that would allow fighters from ISIS and other rebel groups to withdraw fighters from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. This move would help the regime consolidate its control over the capital, but it would also benefit ISIS because the fighters are to be moved to the latter's stronghold Raqqa, where it is currently facing pressure from the north by U.S.-supported Kurdish and Arab rebels.
From FARS, December 24:
Preparations are underway in the neighborhood of al-Hajar al-Aswad and some parts in the al-Yarmouk camp in the Southern parts of Damascus to evacuate the ISIL terrorists from the region in the next few hours as buses were brought to the region.
[...] 
Some militants intend to move to al-Raqqa Northeast of Syria, while a majority have demanded relocation to Mare' city in the Northern countryside of Aleppo.
There's more to the real story of the planned relocation, which didn't happen -- at least not on the day it was scheduled -- because by some strange coincidence the Russians bombed a top-level strategy meeting in Damascus on the very day the relocation was to happen, December 25, killing Zahran Alloush, who was supposed to coordinate the relocation. 

(We know it was Russian bombers because while the Syrian military claimed it was their strike, Alloush and his fellow commanders had no time to scatter, meaning the bombs were dropped from an altitude the Syrian bombers can't manage.)  

TRANSLATION: Sure, you can relocate anywhere you want. You just can't take your commanders with you.

As to the link that CNN provides about Yarmouk, it delivers the reader to a heart-rending CNN report about the valiant efforts of MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) to bring medical assistance to the refugees. The CNN reporter forgot to mention what the FARS report above does:
Yarmouk is a camp for Palestinian refugees in the Southern parts of Damascus. The camp has been the scene of clashes among various terrorist groups and also crossfire between the militants and government troops for the last three years.
In other words,Yarmouk became a staging ground for pitched battles between the alphabet soup of Salafist groups -- and MSF treated them, as they treated the militants battling the Syrian Army.    
                            
As to Zahran Alloush and his group, last night Long War Journal provided John Batchelor's audience with the lowdown on that bunch of fiends. By the way, LWJ also reported on what's really happening with Islamic State in Iraq, and gave a sitrep on jihadi activity in Mali. (Podcast; first 2 segments) 

As to CNN's attempt to absolve itself of responsibility by adding the standard disclaimer that opinions in Khatib's piece are the writer's own -- say, I think I'll make the same disclaimer when I republish Thierry Meyssan's hit piece on CNN and other propaganda outfits that present themselves to the public as news organizations.

Come to think of it, that'll be the next Pundita post about Syria.      

Syria: A top rebel's death casts doubt over Bashar al-Assad's intentions

(CNN) The killing of Zahran Alloush and his deputy, the leaders of Jaysh al-Islam, raises serious concerns about the future of planned negotiations between the Syrian regime and the opposition, casting doubt over the regime's intentions.

Alloush had initially wanted to use Jaysh al-Islam as an alternative to the Syrian National Coalition, ultimately paving the way for claiming a leading political role for himself in Syria, post-Bashar al-Assad.

During the time when Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan was in charge of the Syria file in Riyadh, Alloush had utilized Turkish and Saudi support to attract different rebel groups to merge with his own, making Jaysh al-Islam one of the biggest armed groups in Syria. But his ambitions caused an antagonistic relationship between Jaysh al-Islam and both the Free Syrian Army in southern Syria and unarmed opposition figures in the area.

Following the takeover of the Syria file from Bandar by Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia cut Jaysh al-Islam's funding in an attempt at putting pressure on Alloush to agree to cooperating with the Free Syrian Army. The pressure seemed to be working. Jaysh al-Islam was one of the participants in the meeting held in Riyadh on December 10 that brought together the main factions of the Syrian opposition for the first time to agree on a uniform position regarding political transition in Syria.

The Syrian regime and its main ally, Russia, had hitherto been benefiting from divisions among the Syrian opposition. When the different opposition factions began to show serious signs of coordination, Assad and Moscow began to actively obstruct this process of opposition harmonization.

As Saudi efforts to bring the opposition together, first announced in spring 2015, appeared to be gaining momentum, Moscow took the decision to escalate its intervention in Syria through starting an airstrikes campaign that was marketed as targeting ISIS but that in reality mostly hit the Syrian opposition.

Alloush's death, the result of either a Syrian or a Russian air raid, comes just two weeks after an important milestone in the process of opposition harmonization, the Riyadh meeting. It also comes a month before negotiations between the regime and the opposition were meant to commence. Only a few days before Alloush's killing, the Syrian regime had announced that it would accept negotiations with the opposition -- once an opposition negotiating committee was formed that the regime considers credible.

The timing of Alloush's death therefore casts doubt over the sincerity of the regime's announced stance towards negotiations, especially as Russian air raids continue to primarily target Syrian rebel groups. Removing Alloush and other opposition leaders from the picture is an effort by the regime and its allies to split the groups, which would potentially make the Riyadh agreement obsolete. The regime could also then argue that there is no one credible among the opposition to negotiate with in the first place.

Assad has also been benefiting from the growth of ISIS. ISIS has been targeting the Free Syrian Army and other anti-regime groups. ISIS's growth at the expense of moderate rebels also serves to confirm the Syrian President's narrative that his regime is the only alternative to extremist groups.

The regime has agreed to a deal that would allow fighters from ISIS and other rebel groups to withdraw fighters from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. This move would help the regime consolidate its control over the capital, but it would also benefit ISIS because the fighters are to be moved to the latter's stronghold Raqqa, where it is currently facing pressure from the north by U.S.-supported Kurdish and Arab rebels. As Jaysh al-Islam is currently in control of the suburb of Ghouta, east of Damascus, eliminating its leaders is also an attempt to weaken it there, further increasing the regime's hold on the capital.

What this regime strategy aims to achieve is a scenario in which the two remaining actors in Syria would be the regime and ISIS. This would eliminate the negotiations scenario altogether, because Assad could then argue that the choices that Syria had were either his regime or ISIS.


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