As the death toll in Syria continues to rise, the month of March 2013 was the Syrian war’s most deadly to date. With estimates of death tolls in the region of 6,000 people in one single month. The US, along with its regional allies in the Middle East is now undoubtedly coordinating and waging a multinational covert war against the Syrian government, its security apparatus and the civilian population caught in the crossfire. In a recent article I attempted to show a synonymous rise in casualty numbers and refugees fleeing Syria, with the parallel increase of US/GCC military operations on Syria’s borders, along with CIA coordinated illegal arms programs. Another parallel is that since the US/GCC have stepped up their military efforts against the Syrian govt, it has only been the more extremist Salafi dominated groups that have gained in recruitment, equipment, funding, and ultimately success on the ground. Whether these things are mutually exclusive remains to be seen or proven. How much exactly US/GCC efforts have affected the composition of the Syrian insurgency and groups fighting on the ground emerging from US coordinated “nerve centres” or ‘staging grounds’ also needs more investigation. Here I will try to provide some more, and continuing evidence to bolster what is, whilst highly unorthodox, becoming a popular theory: that the US and its Gulf allies are responsible for at least vastly exacerbating the conflict in Syria, at most engaging in a full on proxy war, once again in the name of ‘humanitarianism’.
As anyone who has followed the Syrian conflict knows, data of any verifiable nature has been more than difficult to come by, especially when analysing the conflict from afar. The graph below gives us an idea of the periodic increase of casualty since the Syrian conflict erupted in Daraa in March 2011…
As we see above, overall casualty figures took a dramatic increase toward the end of 2011, early 2012. Almost doubling in week 45 and continuing to rise, taking a dip around March of 2012 and rapidly increasing again around June/July 2012. What do we know happened from a US/GCC perspective around this time? According to this NYT report, US officials state that the illegal CIA involvement in GCC arms programs to Syrian ‘rebels’ began on a “small-scale” around “early 2012”. Obviously it can only be coincidental that this illegal CIA/GCC arms program into Syria coincides exactly with the same period the death toll takes a dramatic increase. Or not so coincidental, as CIA/US military history tells us. Diplomatically speaking, the end of 2011 also saw Russia and China declare their intentions to veto any US led plans of a No Fly Zone over Syria. Scuppering any Libya-esque ideas of rapid regime change, via illegal NATO bombing campaign. (3,000 plus NATO bombing sorties as a “rebel” airforce in the name of humanitarianism, quickly followed by Gaddafi’s sodomy with a bayonet and assassination.) We also learn from extensive reports that the CIA’s involvement in the ‘nerve centre’ at Adana in Turkey also started around this time, in the above Reuters report it is claimed the US’ involvement in Adana began around June/July 2012, again, this directly correlates with a rise in death toll increase. Rebel operations took a massive upsurge in and around Aleppo and Turkish border towns in this period. Later still the US chose to push for “defensive” Patriot missile batteries to protect Turkey from mortar shells fired from Syria. How a Patriot battery is supposed to defend against random mortar shells I will never know. (The origin or type of shell that struck a house in a Turkish border town is still to be identified.) The last of which was successfully installed in February along the Turkish border. This US “nerve center” in Adana simply could not have popped up overnight, it sits right beside the huge joint US/Turkish airbase Incirlik. So to recap, we know the US’ plans for a NFZ were put down, early 2012, we know that US operations (including “early 2012” CIA arms program) on the Turkish border increased a great deal, in turn, Salafi/Jihaddi groups were starting to become ever more exposed and prominent. Crucially, we also know, that violence and the death toll in Syria increased dramatically at the same time. Mere “coincidences” one might argue.
This brings us to what the US, along with its Gulf allies and the UK and France, have been implementing on Syrias southern border with Jordan, in Russeifeh, close to the town of Mafraq. In turn we need to assess the immediate ramifications throughout the southern province of Daraa and along the Quneitra region, reaching to the Golan heights. Contrary to Leon Panettas claims of a small training force of 150 soldiers being sent to Jordan, in a report in October 2012 from the National Post we learn that “thousands” of US special forces are training supposed rebels. The report claims that “troops, including intelligence officers, are coming from France, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as from the US and the United Kingdom.” Quotes from Jordanian and Western diplomats allege “more than 1500 elite US soldiers have been moving across Jordans border for several months now” and that “hundreds of French troops are doing their work in the Northern city of Mafraq, let alone the assistance from the Gulf”. The report goes on to state that International involvement in Jordan began in May of 2012 when 1200 Arab soldiers from Gulf states held a chemical weapons attack response simulation. In a recent report from RT on March 11th 2013 on rebels being trained in Jordan, it states in the past three months, some 200 men have already received military training that focuses on anti-tank weaponry. Again, in a report in todays Washington Post titled “US, Jordan Stepping up training of Syrian opposition” it spells out the military measures being taken by the US and its allies in full knowledge of who is making gains in Daraa: “Training begun last year has been expanded and accelerated after rebel gains in the south, including capture of a stretch of the Jordanian-Syrian border near the Golan Heights, two military outposts and the country’s main border crossing with Jordan. Jordanian security officials said a previous timetable to complete training of about 3,000 Free Syrian Army officers by the end of June has been moved up to the end of this month in light of the border victories.” This “training base” which sits next to both a Jordanian airbase and refugee camp (exact set up as that in Adana, Turkey) in Russeifeh Jordan, has undoubtedly been used as another staging ground where US/GCC military and intelligence agencies are providing training and support to supposed rebels currently attacking Syrian government forces.
What are the immediate ramifications of opening up this staging ground and corresponding increase in rebel activity on the southern front? And which ‘opposition’ groups are gaining ground in the same regions? In the majority, its the same Salafi/Jihaddi ‘rebels’ that have been gaining ground across the rest of the country. A speech on the 23rd March by a Daraa lawmaker in Syrian parliament, which was broadcast live on Syrian TV, helps to give us an idea of what is happening in Daraa. Walid al Zohbi told parliament: “Syria is no longer going through a crisis. It is plunged in total war. Terrorism has spread in Syria and so has chaos. This is reality, and all Syrians know it,” Zohbi goes on to warn: “This is also happening in all towns and villages in Daraa province, which is torn from east to west after the army withdrew from many positions,” Under pressure from fellow MP’s to stop, Zohbi refused to be silenced and continued to tell MP’s that the Jordan border crossing, and subsequent highway leading to Damascus is under the control of “armed groups”, this proves to be correct. After a 16 day siege Jahbat al Nusra had taken a major border crossing, several checkpoints and crucially the highway and military base Zohbi was alluding to. That location was air defense Base 38 near the town of Saida, on the road linking Damascus to Amman. A key supply route if rebels are to make any inroads toward Damascus from Jordan.
These “armed groups” that are currently overrunning checkpoints and bases in Daraa are primarily Jahbat al Nusra and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, the former being a US designated terrorist group and the latter, whilst being under investigation for the extra judicial killing of SAA soldiers decided to kidnap 20 UN peacekeepers from the Golan heights. Democratic grassroots revolutionaries? Or extremist shock troops? Unless these groups, whose main source of funding, arms and prominence is still somewhat an unsolved mystery, have extremely proficient intelligence, it seems impossible for them to pre-empt US/GCC operations in the same region. This suggests that at least to some extent, members of rebel battalions and groups in Daraa are acting in collusion/coordination with those being trained and supplied from the multinational HQ just across the border in Mafraq. Sporadic battles have broken out in towns all across the Daraa province, resulting in large gains of territory and rebels taking the key town of Dael. This long battle was orchestrated by the Dawn of Islam Brigade. In this NYT report The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is quoted as saying that Dael was a specific rebel target due to its strategic position on the highway to Damascus from Jordan, and that weapons were funnelled for this battle from Jordan (Mafraq multinational HQ) to Dael.
Despite the obvious bolstering becoming apparent of what are determined extremist groups in first the North, and increasingly Eastern regions of Syria. As the militarism, fighting and violence spreads. The southern regions of Syria and Daraa are evolving in much the same fashion. Not that it appears to deter the US and Jordans attempts to “expand” and “accelerate” military training and enablement of such ideologues as Abu Molem :
“Whether we fight under the banner of Jabhat al-Nusra or the Free Syrian Army, we are all defending our families in the name of God,” said Abu Momen, who crossed the border last week along with the nightly influx of about 2,000 people. The 22-year-old said he was a fighter with the Jabhat al-Nusra group, which the Obama administration has said is a wholly owned subsidiary of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
“No buffer zone can stop our jihad in Syria,” Abu Momen said.