By Mike Whitney
A Saudi-led plan to draw “moderate” Syrian opposition groups into a unified political front collapsed on Wednesday when a powerful Islamic militia refused to participate in the meetings after their demands were rejected. Ahrar al-Sham, a hardcore amalgam of Wahhabi extremists and fanatical jihadis, withdrew from the anti-Assad confab because, according to the Washington Post: “some of its comments and recommendations have been disregarded at the meeting.”
Not surprisingly, the Post failed to explain exactly what those “comments and recommendations” were. The reason for this is easy to understand. The media doesn’t want the American people to know that the so called “moderate” militias their government is backing are actually homicidal maniacs who are determined to topple a secular government and replace it with an Islamic Caliphate. Here are a few of the group’s demands which have not appeared in any of the western media:
1 All Iranian and Russian military personnel must leave Syria.
2 The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) should be disbanded, along with their paramilitary units.
3 Syria will become an Islamic state.
4 No negotiations with the Syrian Government.
5 Fighting ISIS is secondary because rebels have lost family members because of the war with the Syrian Army.
6 A secular Syria will only empower ISIS
(“Largest Rebel Group Calls for an Islamic State in Syria“, Almasdarnews)
Ahrar al-Sham is anything but moderate. According to the Telegraph, “the group was established by Islamists and originally included internationally known jihadists with long-standing ties to al-Qaeda.” The group receives significant financial support from Saudi Arabia which is a country that is vehemently opposed to democratic government, which has a long history of support for terrorist organizations, and where citizens convicted of sorcery can face beheading. The whole idea of holding these phony negotiations in the terrorist capital of the planet is laughable.
According to the New York Times: “All parties signed a final statement that called for maintaining the unity of Syria and building a civil, representative government that would take charge after a transitional period, at the start of which Mr. Assad and his associates would step down.” (“Syrian rebels form bloc for new round of peace talks“, New York Times)
That sounds impressive, but what the Times fails to mention is that all of these conditions were inserted into previous agreements (Geneva) and insisted upon by Russia and Iran. If democracy prevails in Syria, it will be because the Russian’s and Iranians refused to accept anything less.
Here’s more from the New York Times:
“In two days of meetings hosted by the Saudi government that ended Thursday, more than 100 opposition leaders created a new high commission to oversee negotiations with the government….The high commission contains 33 members, about one-third representing armed factions. It will select a negotiating team of 15 people to face the Assad government at talks that could begin in January….
Mohammed Baerakdar, a representative of the Islam Army, one of the armed brigades, said that foreign military support had not been enough to ensure victory so the group had to pursue a political solution.
“We did not take up arms to spill blood,” he said. “We took up arms to spare blood.” (New York Times)
The ” high commission” is not going to have any impact on future negotiations because its leaders don’t represent the most powerful groups of fighters on the ground. The most powerful groups are the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), Jahbat al Nusra (and other al Qaida-linked militias), ISIS and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units or YPG. None of these groups participated in the Saudi talks even though their delegates will eventually play a big role in determining the country’s future.
As for Baerakdar’s claim that, “We did not take up arms to spill blood. We took up arms to spare blood.” That is transparently false. In fact, most of the fighters active in Syria today, are foreigners that are funded, armed, and trained by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the US. Their job is to tear the country to shreds in order to topple Assad, replace him with a compliant stooge, and divide the state in a way that best serves the commercial and strategic interests of the three main perpetrators.
The idea that prominent western media like the New York Times and the Washington Post would take these Saudi-led meetings seriously is simply mindboggling. Does anyone need to be reminded that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9-11 were from Saudi Arabia, or that Saudi royals have been arming and funding terrorist organizations for the last 30 years or that Riyadh is presently backing many of the Sunni militants now prosecuting the proxy war in Syria today?
The Saudis are up to their eyeballs in terror, in fact, it seems to be the national pastime much like soccer in Brazil or baseball in the US. The problem is that– this time around– their terror tactics aren’t working, in fact, their jihadi militias are getting beaten quite badly the by the Russian-led coalition, which is why they’ve moved on to Plan B, a political strategy for uniting the anti-Assad opposition to improve their chances for success in the next round of negotiations in Vienna.
But how do the Saudis measure success?
Here’s a clip from the Washington Post which spells it out in black and white:
“Speaking at a news conference earlier on Thursday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said Assad has two choices, “either to leave through negotiations” or be forcibly removed from power.”
(“Syria opposition groups set framework for proposed talks“, Washington Post)
So nothing has changed, right? This whole fiasco about convening “talks” between opposition leaders is just a smokescreen to conceal the real objective which is regime change.
But does anyone really think the Russians and Iranians are going to be fooled by this “opposition conference” charade?
Not on your life. They’re not going to let any of these foreign-born whackos from Chechnya, Libya or Saudi Arabia decide Syria’s future. That has to be decided by the Syrian people themselves, which is what the Geneva Communique was all about: Self determination, sovereignty and free elections. Those are the foundation blocks that are needed to rebuild the Syrian state, but they can’t be put in place until the foreign meddling stops and there’s an honest dialogue between the various stakeholders about the way forward.