Western left-opportunism, and “denying agency” in Syria.

Having last week expounded upon the duplicity of the western “liberal lefts” position on the imperialist-sponsored fascist coup in Ukraine, a particularly egregious example of the same petty bourgeois sophism so pervasive within western civilised dissent has once again reared its ugly head. In what can only be described as emo agitprop, the western petty bourgeoisie’s flagship of misinformation and imperialist propaganda recently published an article on Syria by self-proclaimed “leftist Artist” Molly Crabapple.

The article covers a demonstration organised by an anti-government Syrian activist, who has chosen to read the names of 100,000 victims of the Syrian war standing outside the White House for 72 hours. The intended symbolism of such a demonstration is quite difficult to ascertain, particularly considering a sound historical analysis shows that western imperialism – ergo: the White House – bears huge responsibility for the deaths of those very people now being used to “guilt” the western public into supporting some form of further “action” against the Syrian state – meaning, (overt) US military intervention, NATO freedom-bombs, etc. Moreover, it seems that both Crabapple and her subject have forgotten, or are intentionally omitting the fact that over half of those victims met their deaths at the hands of the western/Israeli/wahhabi monarch-sponsored fundamentalist dominated militia; the very same militia Crabapple is now lionizing as “revolutionaries”.

Naturally for the Guardian, the narrative fulfills the many western falsehoods propagated on behalf of the reactionary insurgency since it began, by doing so, it provides an opportunity to expand upon and expose the role that western left-opportunism has played in buttressing said falsehood throughout the Syrian crisis. Further still, it provides a chance to counter the twisted theories and phrasing being used to attack anti-imperialists and anti-revisionists from within the western petty bourgeois “celebrity-left” camp, through which Crabapple and Co. postulate the absurd notion that westerners with the tendency to focus on the role of western imperialism represent “perverse Orientalists”.

Barring the usual “40 year dictatorship” slogans so typical of the deluded and self-righteous cheerleaders of western bourgeois “democracy”, the historical context for Crabapple’s Syrian “revolution” is built via the rosy portrayal of a wave of protests that “swept the world”. In Syria, a “police state and neoliberal reforms” are the central material factors used to explain the crisis.

These puerile simplifications are employed to distort and minimise the primary role of western predatory imperialism, either that, or simply through blind stupidity and laziness. In such a decontextualised analysis, there is no space available to document the years of western-led economic sanctions and subversion; nor is any space permitted to analyse the sociopolitical effects of the five-year drought that had decimated Syria’s agricultural industry prior to 2011 – causing widespread impoverishment to the disaffected rural sections of society. There is no economic analysis whatsoever. More importantly, there is no space afforded to document the decades of western support and collusion with Saudi Arabia’s sponsorship of ,ilitant fundamentalist ideologues, with the direct aim of unleashing them and their sectarian hatred upon Syria (or any other target in the region, see: Libya, Hezbollah, Iraq, etc) when political needs required; no space is given for the direct sponsorship of western imperialism toward the ex-pat “SNC” puppet administrators travelling between hotel suites in Ankara, Doha and Riyadh, or the thousands of US State Department-trained “activists” and NGO workers flooding media and commentary with false or bias accounts, staged photos and misinformation. Any critique of the western corporate media, and its complimentary “tailored analysis” industrys disgraceful servitude to western government narratives is completely omitted – regardless of the fact that both form essential components of modern “soft” imperialism.

To suggest western imperialism has invested in any of these individuals, policies or organisations with any sort of altruistic intention is comparable to suggesting over sixty years of historical evidence to the contrary is worthless; negating any value in historical materialism and dialectics. Omission of context and crude historical revisionism are entirely deliberate and further prohibit the prospect of reaching a sound political or moral examination of events and their evolving processes. Dialectics, logic, critical distance and contradictory evidence are replaced with emotionally driven narrow-framed discourse to remove the wider context – therefore western culpability – and form the false depiction of a “popular peaceful uprising versus despotic regime”.

Crabapple informs us that “it took four months for Syria’s protests to become an armed insurgency”. This blatant lie is a most crucial one in upholding western Imperialisms false narrative on Syria. Yet, as we shall see, while the celebrity-lefts continue to blindly recycle the lie, it has long been refuted, in even the most loyal organs of western imperialism itself.

Once the underlying causes of the crisis have been distorted beyond any semblance of reality, whitewashing the “rebels” and their imperialist sponsors’ role as the instigators and primary actors responsible for excacerbating the crisis, Crabapple then attempts to bolster the false distinctions between the supposedly moderate and extremist rebel groups with the double fabrication that Al Qaeda took six months to enter the fray, and that Saudi Arabia took twenty months to “officially” start supplying arms; thereby portraying the fundamentalists emergence at around February to March 2012.

This is quite the perversion, and once again can only be interpreted as pure stupidity, or outright disingenuity in the aim of furnishing the imaginary “secular moderate freedom fighters” with unwarranted moral platform.

Contrary to such crude and uninformed analysis, and long known by anyone paying attention, the dominant proto-Salafi militia, such as Ahrar-al Sham – who form the vanguard of the insurgency throughout, and are inextricably linked to both overt Al Qaeda elements and ostensible “moderates” in thrall to Imperialism – openly admit to planning a violent insurgency before any protests in Syria began. These militia, sharing much in common with their overtly extreme counterparts, were most certainly active in the first weeks of the crisis, as evidenced by the oppositions own death-toll accounts: the one hundred-plus Syrian soldiers and police killed during March-April 2011 alone belies the fantasy that the violence erupted simply through state oppression of peaceful protesters.

Further contradicting the “peaceful protester-moderate rebel” narrative, corresponding incidents of organised violence against state security became widespread by the middle of 2011 (see: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), the massacre of 120 soldiers in Jisr al Shugour (20 miles from the Turkish border) in June 2011, provides but one prominent example. Either Crabapple is oblivious to all this, or is deliberately omitting it for the same reasons listed above. In attempting to skirt the issue, Crabapple regurgitates the evidence-free conspiracy theory that the soldiers were executed by their own superiors for refusing to fire on protesters, further dehumanizing the Syrian army.

Another critical falsehood follows, and one that has been endlessly spewed to form unwarranted moral platform in the face of compelling contradictory evidence. Crabapple claims that “crimes are committed on all sides. But only the Assad regime, with its superiority of force … could kill on the scale and with the consistency that turned war crimes into a tactic of war.” Again, this is a blatant lie and distortion of the facts. The theory that the Syrian airforce’s bombardment of rebel encampments in civilian zones equates to a larger percentage of the death toll is complete logical fallacy void of any material evidence. The opposite is in fact true: according to the US Chief of Staff, 90% of deaths in Syria have been incurred by gunshot or ground-to-ground artillery; weapons which the rebels have had, and used in abundance since the early stages. It has been amply documented that every stage of western, Turkish or Gulf initiated military support to the rebels has resulted in a huge increase in both the death-toll, and civilian displacement – most notably in the period between late 2011, when Russia and China made it clear they would block any Libya-style No Fly Zone attempts, and July 2012, when the CIA and Gulf states dramatically increased the arms shipments to rebels.

Death tolls provided by anti-government activists such as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) – used as a principal source for western media, the UN, and western humanitarian “NGO’s”, no less – show it is the fundamentalist rebels that are likely responsible for the majority of killing. In its latest tally, the SOHR claims that 55,000 Syrian army and national defence force personnel have been killed during the conflict, accounting for almost 40% of total deaths, whereas rebel deaths – including 10,000 foreign fighters – amount to 33,000, accounting for almost 25% of the total, leaving roughly 50,000 civilian deaths, or 35% of the total.

Using these figures; if one were to equally divide the civilian deaths between government and opposition forces, then the “revolutionaries” would be responsible for close to 80,000 people killed, or around 55% of the total – unless of course one were to posit the absurd theory that thousands of disparate fundamentalist militia have the ability to kill twice as many professional soldiers than they lose, while avoiding a considerable toll on civilians within the urban zones they invade and militarize.

The equally false portrayal that a majority of Syrians oppose the government is omnipresent throughout such commentary, and of course, this is another blatant lie. An example of just how far-removed from reality this perception is was exposed way back in January 2012 – at the height of domestic anti-government sentiment and western agitprop – when a Qatari-funded YouGov poll found that 55% of Syrians,  a massive majority considering the political conditions, still supported the government. This majority has undoubtedly continued to rise as the conflict has dragged on, primarily as a result of the barbaric practices employed by the rebels in civilian areas they encamp, ethnically cleanse, militarize, and generally terrorize the remaining inhabitants of – a sentiment further intensified through the prolonged incompetence of the ex-pat puppets in five-star hotels, elevated to the lofty position of “the sole representatives of the Syrian people” by virtue of imperialism alone. Needless to say, the poll and its results were completely whitewashed from the western media narrative and was most observantly ignored by the western petty bourgeois opportunists, who find themselves parodying William Hague when claiming to speak on behalf of the “Syrian people”.

Based on the fact a majority of Syrians support the government, and would therefore face the wrath of the fundamentalist rebels rather than the army they see as protecting them, a fact which is further evidenced by the vast majority of internally displaced people fleeing “rebel liberation” for the refuge of government safe-zones; then the wilful misrepresentation of the death toll becomes evermore deplorable. It can only be explained by Crabapple and the opportunists being so indoctrinated by their own narrow parameters and dehumanizing terminology; they simply don’t see the tens of thousands of dead Syrian soldiers, their families, and the majority of Syrian civilians who support the government as people worth accounting for. Crabapple and the pseudo-lefts in turn defile the victims of the wahhabi mercenaries and imperialism in Syria by attempting to blame their fate on the very actors protecting them, effectively turning the victim into the oppressor. The only other explanation is, once again, blind stupidity.

Over and above, it has long been known that western special forces, alongside Gulf, Jordanian, Lebanese factions allied to Saudi Arabia, and their Turkish and Israeli counterparts, have been actively conspiring with, and militarily supporting, what are essentially fundamentalist militia – to the tune of billions of dollars and thousands of tonnes of arms. It is these actors accountable for setting in motion a violent insurgency via the fundamentalist proxies they had been fomenting since at least 2006, and now continue to do so without even the pretense of plausible deniability.

The argument the pseudo-lefts are now attempting to throw at western anti-imperialists is one of utter opportunism and deception. Crabapple mimics Zizek (and other servants of bourgeois intelligentsia), and asserts that the emphasis on predatory western imperialism’s role when analysing conflicts and crises abroad – the emphasis espoused by westerners no less! – is in fact a “perverse kind of Orientalism” that removes and belittles the “agency” (another delightful abstraction implanted into petty bourgeois leftist discourse) of indigenous people.

How damning one might say, but where does this “logic” end? For instance, if one opposed the imperialist rape of Iraq, then did one oppose the “agency” of Ahmed Chalabi and all the other reactionary cretins who allied with western imperialism? Did they who opposed the imperialist destruction of Libya – whose position has now been fully vindicated, despite the grotesque doublespeak of Bernhard Henri Levy and his acolytes – “deny the agency” of Al Qaeda, Salafi warlords and the criminals now running riot and destroying the remnants NATO left behind?

The glaring contradiction is lay bare with the aid of a further simple example that may especially perplex the western opportunists who feign support for Palestinian Resistance: if one opposes the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, is one opposing Zionist “agency”?

Applying this “logic” to the Syrian question, if western anti-imperialists “deny the agency” of Syrians by opposing a fundamentalist-led insurgency sponsored by imperialism, then what exactly do the opportunists deny when ignoring the majority of Syrians that oppose the wahhabi revolutionaries!? In the western liberal-left equation, this majority of Syrians simply don’t exist, they have no “agency” worth even considering, let alone their right to self-determination. The opportunists are in fact misrepresenting said “agency” they hold in such high esteem by falsely portraying a minority of localised dissent, alongside a fundamentalist insurgency orchestrated and sponsored by western imperialism, as representative of the entire Syrian population. The opportunists accuse us anti-imperialists of Orientalism and “denying agency” while committing the very act! A case of pure cognitive dissonance, or simply a feeble attempt at creating confusion.

Such fallacious arguments and semantic trickery is employed in the vain attempt to shut down critical analysis that does not abide by western bourgeois political ideology and partisan agenda. In reality, it is the western pseudo-lefts who act as the agents of western imperialism, betraying self-determination and the foundations of internationalist socialism. To engage in such pointless obfuscation and theorizing is to deliberately obstruct simple material fact, historical dialectics, a “ruthless criticism of all that exists” and the correct examinations and conclusions to be drawn in the international sense.

Lenin was forced to spend great energy in combatting the same strands of left-opportunism one hundred years ago, rightly describing it as “the principle enemy within the working class movement”. The modern celebrity-lefts’ distortions and twisted theories represent nothing more than the vile opportunism witnessed within the socialist parties during the outbreak of WWI, when the so-called Marxists chose to side with their national bourgeoisie against the bourgeoisie and the working classes of hostile nations. The European opportunists who chose to employ the catchphrases of social chauvinism and act as the agents of their own bourgeoisie in “defending the fatherland” are today reflected by the western petty bourgeois “socialists” and “leftists” that endlessly obscure the international characteristics of modern capitalism and its inevitable antagonism, in turn diminishing the pre-eminent role, and therefore culpability, of western imperialism.

Israel and Saudi Arabia’s priorities in Syria.

Current developments both inside and outside of Syria have shown that the primary sponsors of the extremist-dominated insurgency – namely, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Israel and Turkey – aren’t quite ready to throw in the towel.

One may be forgiven for thinking the Obama administration had decided to abandon the policy of regime change following the failed attempt to incite intervention, through the chemical weapons casus belli in August. But the harsh reality remains that the above mentioned alliance is indeed continuing its covert military support of the insurgency, in one form or another, in the full knowledge the vast majority of rebels are religious fundamentalists with a sectarian agenda, and vehemently opposed to any form of democracy or political pluralism.

Primarily, the continued support is a product of the American Empires’ overarching strategy of Full Spectrum Dominance over resource-rich and strategically placed regions of the globe, via subversion, economic and military aggression; a policy imposed to varying degrees upon any state unwilling to accept full US subordination. This aggressive US stance is by no means exclusive to periods of heightened tension or crises; it is a permanent one, brought forward to its violent climax purely through Machiavellian opportunism. In Syria’s case, the Arab uprisings provided the United States and its allies the perfect opening to set in motion the subversive plans they had been working on since at least 2006. The possibility of removing an opposing government that refuses to abide by American/Israeli diktat was simply too good a chance to be missed. Accordingly, and from a very early stage, the US made attempts to facilitate and support the violent elements in Syria, while its media arms were busy conflating them with localised legitimate protesters.

Since the US took the typically reckless decision to support, widen and exacerbate the militant elements, the policy has been an abject failure. Clearly, from the tone espoused by Western diplomats and propagandists, and the oft-repeated slogan of “Assads days are numbered”, they expected swift regime change. These desires were largely based on American hubris and the hope that the Libya No Fly Zone scenario would gain traction in the UN security council.

Contrary to such desires, Russia and China’s anger regarding NATO’s destruction of Libya and Gaddafi’s assassination, meant that any similar resolutions put forward on Syria would face immediate veto. In turn this has proven to be a turning point in the modern relationship between the permanent members of the security council, the full ramifications of which are yet to materialise. Moreover, it proved to be a turning point in the Syrian crisis itself; knowing Russia and China would block any attempts to give NATO its second outing as Al Qaeda’s airforce, the US once again chose the policy of further covert militarism, drastically increasing funds and weapons deliveries to the rebels – parallel to the sectarian incitement campaigns espoused by Salafi-Wahhabi clerics across the Gulf – in the hope they could overturn the Syrian army through terrorism and a brutal sectarian war of attrition.

As a consequence of the failure to remove Assad or destroy the Syrian government and its apparatus, the Obama administration, reluctant and politically incapable of engaging in overt acts of aggression, is employing a realpolitik strategy; using primarily covert militarism to appease the desires of NeoConservative hawks in Congress, and its more zealous regional influences emanating from Riyadh and Tel Aviv, while avoiding the possibility of being dragged into another overt military intervention.

In turn, this double-edged strategy feeds the false public perception of the American Empire, which the pseudo-pragmatists and neoliberal propagandists are so eager to uphold and is so fundamental to US Empire-building; that of an inherently altruistic force, acting as global arbiter, grudgingly subverting, invading, bombing, and intervening in sovereign nations affairs for the good of all mankind. As long as this false perception is upheld, the sharp-edge to the grotesque charade of US realpolitik – that of covert militarism and state-sponsored terrorism – continues unabated. Clearly, the US Empire is in no rush to end the bloodshed in Syria, its priorities, as they have been since the start of 2011, are to remove, or at least severely disable and weaken the Syrian government and state, regardless of the consequences to the civilian population.

By using its control of state-funding, the arms flow, and therefore the strength and capabilities of the insurgency as a whole, the Obama administration has employed futile carrot and stick tactics in attempts to pressure the Syrian government during the current negotiations phase into acceding to US demands and giving up its sovereignty – with both the US-led alliance, and Syria and its international allies, primarily Russia and Iran, in the full knowledge the rebels lack both the domestic support, and manpower necessary, to oust Assad or defeat the Syrian army alone. Reports allude to the stick of US Democracy having its most recent outing in the form of “new”  and improved weapons supplies to the rebels, allegedly including MANPADS. This comes immediately off the back of the designed-to-fail Geneva “peace” talks and can be interpreted as a direct result of Washington’s failure to enforce their objectives: the stick is an endless supply of state-sponsored terrorism, the carrot is turning off the tap.

Whether the “new” arms shipments actually increase the rebels ability to inflict damage on the Syrian government remains to be seen, and is highly improbable at this stage as the Syrian army moves into the Qalamoun mountains to liberate the rebel-held town of Yabroud, in turn securing vital transit and logistical routes from Lebanon. The likely outcome of an increased arms flow to the rebels in the south, as evidenced at every interval of US-instigated militarization, will be a repeat of the same devastating results: more civilian displacement, adding to the already critical refugee crisis; more rebel destruction of civilian infrastructure, adding to further food and utility shortages; and many more lives lost.

“Lebanonization” a substitute for regime change?

As is proving to be the case, if the United States and its allies are incapable of removing the Syrian government via proxy forces without an increasingly unpopular Western military intervention, and Assad’s position and domestic support remain steadfast, then a Lebanonization strategy may well be the substitute “optimal scenario” the US and its allies are now working toward.

Encouraging, exacerbating, and inciting division between Arabs has been the long-term strategy for the Zionist establishment since the colonialists first usurped Palestinian land in 1948 – with specific effort made toward fomenting conflict along sectarian lines. The strategy of division is directed toward any Arab state or government that refuses to abide by Zionist demands. Israeli strategist Oded Yinon’s now infamous “A strategy for Israel in the 1980’s” – dubbed the Yinon Plan – provides perhaps the clearest account of Israel’s intentions toward its Arab neighbours:

The total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional local governments is the precedent for the entire Arab world … The dissolution of Syria, and later Iraq, into districts of ethnic and religious minorities following the example of Lebanon is Israel’s main long-range objective on the Eastern front. The present military weakening of these states is the short-range objective. Syria will disintegrate into several states along the lines of its ethnic and religious structure … As a result, there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state, the district of Aleppo will be a Sunni state, and the district of Damascus another state which is hostile to the northern one. The Druze – even those of the Golan – should forma state in Hauran and in northern Jordan … the oil-rich but very divided and internally strife-ridden Iraq is certainly a candidate to fill Israel’s goals … Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation … will hasten the achievement of the supreme goal, namely breaking up Iraq into elements like Syria and Lebanon.

When viewed in this context, it can be no coincidence that US Secretary of State John Kerry is desperately pursuing a fait accompli with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Contrary to the sickening media portrayal of the US as impartial peacebroker, Kerry’s eagerness to pursue a “deal” at this moment in time is a direct result of the Syrian conflict, and the divisions within the resistance camp it has created. The US and Israel are now attempting to force through an Israeli-oriented “peace deal” with the corrupt PA that will inevitably be both a failure, and against the Palestinians interests. Staunch allies of Palestinian resistance, currently bogged down fighting Al Qaeda ideologues in Syria and defusing car-bombs bound for Dahiyeh, are in no position to support the Palestinians against Israel in their hour of need, the US and Israel fully grasp the importance of isolating genuine Palestinian resistance from the few Arab states and actors it receives support. In his latest speech, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah reminded his listeners of this very crucial issue:

“the US Administration is seeking, along with the Zionist Administration to put an end to the Palestinian cause, and it considers that this is the best time for that because the Arab and Islamic worlds are absent today, and every country is occupied with its own problems.”

In a similar fashion, the US has used the Syrian conflict as a lever against Iran in the nuclear negotiations, Washington’s longstanding attempts to pacify and subordinate an independent Iran has undoubtedly played a major role in US policy on Syria – perhaps the defining role. Consequently, both the Palestinian and Iranian conflicts with Israel and the United States are now, as they have always been intended to some extent in US calculations, inextricably linked to resolving the Syrian crisis.

True to form, Israel’s evident glee at the destruction in Syria and overt preference for the removal of Assad and the Syrian government, with the devastation that would entail, has proven at times hard for them to conceal. Furthering the point, just one of many examples of Israeli-rebel collusion came in a recent report from the National (falsely portraying the rebels Israel is “reaching out” to as ostensibly “moderate”) which relayed that hundreds of rebels have received treatment in Israeli hospitals and been sent back into Syria with up to a $1000 in cash. Israel have made further efforts to consolidate contacts with the rebels in the south, regardless of the level of fundamentalism, and cooperated with rebel factions during the Israeli bombings on Latakia and Damascus.

In a feeble attempt to whitewash this collusion, Israeli propagandists are busily spreading the misinformation that Israel is facilitating the Druze community in the south of Syria; yet the Druze community are firmly allied with the Syrian government. In reality, Israeli attempts to cultivate relations with the communities and rebels in the south should be correctly viewed as attempts to create enforced “safe-zones” around the occupied Golan Heights, in furtherance of the Zionists land-grabbing expansionist aspirations. Accordingly, Israel’s fraudulent neutrality is completely exposed by their collusion with the rebels to meet their own interests, and overt acts of aggression against the Syrian army.

There are many other indications that allude to prominent factions of the US alliance being preferable of, and encouraging an outcome of division, most notably Israel, but simple logic determines that Saudi Arabia, Israel’s most vital strategic partner in the region, and the actor from within the US alliance that possesses the most material influence and political will to support fundamentalists and terrorism, would also approve of the disintegration of the Syrian state, primarily viewing it as a blow to “Shi’a expansion”. The Saudi and Gulf fixation on sectarian themes, to mask what are essentially politically oriented conflicts, is also intentionally built to intensify the strategy of division in multi-ethnic, religiously plural societies – as evidenced in virtually every country fundamentalist Gulf proxies have been unleashed upon, most recently in Libya.

Yet even the Saudi’s have limits to their own capabilities and decisions, ultimately they rely on the military largesse and protection of the United States, and will therefore reign in the terrorist networks if push comes to shove. Hence, the recent Saudi attempts to dissociate from Al Qaeda and the various extremists fighting in Syria can be seen as largely cosmetic and for public consumption. In reality, the Saudi leadership see Al Qaeda and its extremist confrères as malleable proxies of no real threat to themselves, while constituting a critical component of Saudi foreign policy and covert aggression.

Of far higher importance to both Israel and Saudi Arabia’s confluent interests in the region, which in turn play a critical role in US calculations, are the very actors and states the fundamentalist proxies are currently being sponsored to wage war upon; namely, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. The disintegration of the resistance axis is the utmost priority for the states that drive US policy in the Middle East, the supposed “threat” faced by militant fundamentalist ideologues, originally created, and intermittently sponsored by the US and its allies, is merely an afterthought.

The US Empire, in its efforts to contain, and therefore dominate and control such a strategic and resource-rich region, is more than content to allow its reactionary and sectarian clients to incite the conflict necessary to subvert, fracture and divide the inevitable power a unified Middle East could claim: if only their progressive aspirations and unity were not repeatedly “set back” by Zionist occupation and manufactured antagonism.

The reactionary essence of the Syrian insurgency.

Western corporate media, its Oil and Gas counterparts (GCC), and the various acolytes and paid-propagandists in the “tailored analysis” industry, are once again attempting to bolster and rebrand the public image of the fundamentalist rebels in Syria.

In the space of a week, two new formations of armed rebels mysteriously appeared across the mass-media lexicon and declared war on the dominant extremists through the usual “activist” social media accounts. The new brigades have virtually no historical record in the conflict, and appear to be largely a creation of the impotent exile opposition and its western sponsors. An abundance of reports relay stories of the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) simply abandoning their posts and being turned over by this supposedly “moderate” new force. Yet, in reality, the most predominant militia in Syria – those of a Salafi-Wahhabi fundamentalist bent, who now fight under the umbrella of the Islamic Front (IF), and are led by Hassan Abboud of Ahrar al-Sham, and Zahran Alloush of Liwa al-Islam – have made a concerted effort to avoid sowing discord between themselves and the overt Al Qaeda affiliates of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (JaN).

The new narrative emerging draws heavily from the Sahwa (Awakening) in Iraq, in which Sunni tribes from the western province of Anbar took up arms against, and eventually defeated, the Al Qaeda insurgency that followed the US invasion and occupation of that country. Western and Gulf media are now attempting to reinvigorate the rebels’ public image by concocting a portrayal of brave “moderates” taking on the extremists within ISIS. Yet contrary to the Syria-Sahwa narrative, the vast majority of opposition forces, as much as one can generalise, have in fact been shown to share far more in common with their extremist equivalents than they have differences, particularly in regards to their reciprocal – and sectarian-laden – religiopolitical ideologies.

According to Western and Gulf propagandists, Jabhat al-Nusra ostensibly represent the “homegrown” Syrian Al Qaeda branch, whereas in actual fact, the claim is entirely false; JaN’s militia hold a distinct foreign contingent and many of its commanders have been found to be of foreign descent – particularly Iraqi. Jabhat al-Nusra, therefore, should be correctly viewed as a semi-Syrian militia at most, built and sustained by ISIS under its former incarnation: the Islamic State of Iraq, (ISI) also formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

The ideologically aligned Salafi-Jihadists of Ahrar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra, and more recently ISIS, have formed the spearhead of the insurgency throughout the entire Syrian crisis, leading offensives against Syrian army installations, whilst also having enough manpower, funds & materiel to attack, encamp and militarily fortify civilian areas across the country. Most notably in Raqqah, which has become a virtual Al Qaeda statelet under the control of either Jabhat al-Nusra or ISIS.

Examples of the dominant role fundamentalists have played in the insurgency are abundant, during an interview with TIME magazine, Ahrar al-Sham fighters – who, as we have seen through a plethora of evidence, are inextricably linked to Jabhat al-Nusra – freely admit they were planning a violent insurgency in Syria well before any peaceful protests occurred in 2011, and that recruits with underlying sectarian agendas made efforts to sanitize and mask their true Jihadist cause during the earlier phases of the conflict in order to win over the Syrian population. Whats more, a recent report in the National relayed much the same admissions from supposed “FSA” rebels operating in the south of Syria around Dar’aa. The rebels interviewed admitted that “They [JaN] offer their services and cooperate with us, they are better armed than we are, they have suicide bombers and know how to make car bombs,” rebel sources went on to say that “the FSA and Al Nusra join together for operations but they have an agreement to let the FSA lead for public reasons, because they don’t want to frighten Jordan or the West,”. During the interview rebels further elaborate on the efforts made to boost the public image of the western-backed imaginary moderates saying that “operations that were really carried out by Al Nusra are publicly presented by the FSA as their own,” and that supposed moderate FSA fighters “say that Al Nusra fighters are really from the FSA to enable them to move more easily across borders,”. The reports bolster earlier analyses that contradict the dominant narrative, often dismissed as “conspiracy theory”, which indicated such actions were being undertaken, and that the armed groups responsible for the initial violence in March-April 2011 were indeed religious fundamentalists, not the secular “freedom fighters” endlessly lionized by the lackeys of western governments and media.

Such candid rebel admissions once again expose the falsehoods that liberal opportunists rely on when blindly repeating the Imperialist narrative of a peaceful protest movement simply morphing into an Al Qaeda-led insurgency. In reality, the generally small and legitimate protests calling for reform were used as a fig leaf by Syria’s various internal and external enemies to hide the extremist-led militant insurgency they were orchestrating and colluding with.

As evidenced in numerous interviews and statements from Abboud and Alloush, the Islamic Front is not by any stretch of the imagination a “moderate” force opposed to JaN, ISIS, or Al Qaeda ideology in general (unless one utilises the doublespeak of the US State Department when describing their “moderate” Wahhabi-Salafi monarchical clients in the Gulf). Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa a-Islam and other various proto-Salafi militia operating under the umbrella of the Islamic Front have repeatedly fought alongside Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, and taken part in offensives that have targeted towns and villages on the specific criteria of the sect of the civilian inhabitants. The massacres committed upon the civilian residents of Latakia provide just one recent example of such sectarian barbarity – committed not only by the extreme elements, but with the full cooperation and participation of supposed moderate “FSA” militia. A more recent example of the Islamic Front cooperating with its Al Qaeda-affiliates came in December, when the IF took part in the attack and ensuing massacre of civilians in the workers district of Adra, Damascus – another rebel war-crime almost totally omitted from western media, regardless of the fact the BBC’s chief foreign correspondent was a mere 20 miles away while the massacres were occurring.

When framed in the correct context, it becomes clear that the vast majority of rebels in Syria are in fact ideologically allied to the very Al Qaeda affiliates the media is trying to portray them as opposed to. A recent communique from the political head of the IF, and leader of Ahrar al-Sham, Hassan Abboud, was disingenuously portrayed as a Islamic Front “warning” to ISIS. Opposition-friendly media outlets and analysts are in effect conflating the Islamic Front with imaginary “moderates” and in turn attempting to portray them as ideological opponents to their more extreme Al Qaeda counterparts. This narrative is turning reality on its head, as Abboud’s recent statement is actually a “warning” against discord with ISIS. Abboud encourages the Syrian population to treat the Muhajirin (foreign jihadists busy murdering Syrians) “kindly”, and further encourages ISIS to emulate the “more healthy” manner of their supposed “home-grown” incarnation Jabhat al-Nusra. Accordingly, one can safely conclude that Abboud, Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Islam, and the various Salafi militia operating under the umbrella of the Islamic Front – the largest militant force of the opposition – have close to zero ideological disparity with ISIS or JaN.

Even if what seem to be inflated reports of discord and infighting between the Islamic Front and the supremacist ideologues in ISIS were to result in a considerable loss for the latter, it would simply be replaced at the top of the fundamentalist food-chain by the next militia willing to impose its barbarity and coercion in the most effective way. This is ultimately the inherent nature of fundamentalist militant insurgencies, they are designed, indoctrinated, equipped, and funded to impose upon states and peoples through murder, coercion and fear, not through the appeal of a popular political doctrine and the mass support of the people. The simple facts that the insurgency as a whole is under no central hierarchy, and holds little to-no support inside Syria and is therefore susceptible to becoming subordinate to its foreign patrons, are clear indications that it will not be cohesive, regardless of the varying shades of fundamentalism the dominant groups have attempted to enforce.

The historical record of Western-GCC-backed insurgencies in the Arab and Muslim world provides copious amounts of evidence to show that invariably the United States and its Saudi partners have always utilised, fomented, and sponsored reactionary forces to meet geopolitical ends, particularly when subverting or attacking nationalist governments that refuse to abide by the Anglo-American capitalist order – with disastrous consequences for the countries in which the fundamentalist proxies are set upon. One needs only to glance at the very recent history of Libya to negate the establishment falsehood that if the Syrian government had been overthrown quickly the fundamentalists would not have gained in strength. Again, this is turning the historical record on its head, as the joint NATO-Al Qaeda war on Libya has once again shown; the swift overthrow of a state’s government and leadership inevitably results in reactionary fundamentalists taking advantage of the power vacuum left behind. The US-Saudi-backed insurgency in Afghanistan during the 1980’s, which fought against the Soviet-backed Communist government, provides perhaps the definitive example of the type of proxies the United States and Saudi Arabia choose to employ to destroy target states. As with Syria and Libya, the original “Afghan Arab” insurgency – which helped to create and empower Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, Hekmatyar, the Haqqani network and a host of other fundamentalist militancy – was wrought with infighting, extremism, warlordism, and reaction, this trend has continued in virtually every state the US and its GCC partners have targeted for “liberation” via jihadist proxies.

Perpetual infighting evidenced throughout the Syrian insurgency is in fact a result of the long-standing fragmentation of the various opposition forces, their varying degrees of fundamentalism, and the battle to win influence, arms, and funds through foreign donors and exploitation.

The evidence-free narratives of supposed existential disparity between what actually represent ideological allies, the patterns of ever-changing nomenclature and rebel rebranding, and the efforts to scapegoat the most overtly extreme elements for the systematic crimes of the opposition as a whole, are nothing more than public relations exercises, designed to whitewash the massive crimes of the “rebels”, whilst extricating the Western NATO states and their GCC partners from the criminal act of sponsoring extremists for geopolitical ends.

Syria: The Army of Islam; Saudi Arabia’s finest export.

Recent developments regarding “rebel” groups inside Syria have shed further light on the ideologies and political aims of the militants waging war upon the Syrian state.

On the 24th September, under the moniker of the “Islamist Alliance”, 11 of the largest and most recognisable rebel brigades – a mix of supposed “moderate Islamists” such as Liwa al-Tawhid, the largest “FSA”-branded brigade in Aleppo, alongside more hardline Salafi/Jihadi brigades such as Ahrar al-Sham, and Al Qaeda ideologues Jahbat al-Nusra – released a joint statement denouncing the western-backed expatriates of the “National Coalition” (NC), along with its equally impotent military arm, the “Supreme Military Council” (SMC). Following this statement of intent, on the 29th of September, up to 50 rebel groups operating primarily in the area of Damascus merged to form Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam). The Damascus merger also included a wide-ranging demographic of militant groups, from the supposed “moderate”, to overt Salafist hardliners. Jaish al-Islam is dominated by Liwa al-Islam, a large rebel group formerly of “FSA” branding, and led by Saudi-backed Zahran Alloush. Liwa al-Islam were also a signatory to the aforementioned statement of denunciation toward the western-backed political opposition.

These announcements have effectively put-to-bed the western propagated myth that was the “Free Syrian Army”. Militant groups the west ostensibly touted as “secular moderates” yearning for “freedom and democracy” from a tyrannical regime; have now openly declared their Salafi/Jihadi fundamentalist ideology, with the ultimate aim of creating a Syrian state ruled by Islamic law.

Already, these announcements are being portrayed as an attempt by Saudi Arabia – yes, ever tolerant and inclusive Wahhabi-preaching Saudi Arabia – and other leading Salafi factions supporting the insurgency to steer “vetted, or moderate Salafi” rebels away from the Al Qaeda aligned groups; particularly the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), who are now portrayed as simply “foreign jihadists” and have become the leading fall-guy in Western and Gulf media for every atrocity committed by the rebels. This false perception has been built as a result of a Western and Gulf initiated public relations campaign to “moderate” the image of the Salafi/Jihadi fundamentalists (aswell as those more inclined to basic criminality, killing, and destruction) who may be more willing to meet the requirements of their Gulf donors and the United States. Yet, contrary to this divisive narrative, the same “moderate” Salafi’s who are now supposedly being encouraged to  disassociate from their Al Qaeda affiliates have happily fought alongside – more often than not as a junior partner – the West’s supposed “number one enemy” (AQ) since the insurgency began in 2011.

In further contrast to the aforementioned “Awakening” narrative, Jabhat al-Nusra (JaN) – the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda ideologues – are still very much in the mix. Although various pundits and analysts have made efforts to publicise tensions between ISIS and JaN, the two groups still share a similar Jihadist ideology and cooperate in key areas, particularly on paramilitary operations; as do the hardline Salafi groups such as Ahrar Al-Sham, who in turn fully cooperate with the western friendly “moderates” forming the backbone of Jaish al-Islam. In the recent ISIS takeover of the “FSA” held town of Azaz from the western-friendly Northern Storm brigade (of John McCain fame), Liwa al-Tahwid quickly offered to broker a ceasefire and acted as interlocutor between the two warring factions. ISIS in turn, rejected any “FSA” authority and have since taken control of the town – not that Liwa al-Tahwid could have stopped them anyway. These events directly contradict the notion that the new “Army of Islam” is in any rush to disassociate, let alone be able to wage war upon the ISIS or its extremist affiliates. Moreover, the leader of Jaish al-Islam, Zahran Alloush, publicly disowned his own “captain” after he warned ISIS there would be open conflict if they “continued this chaos”. The leader claimed that the comments were “dangerous” and designed to “cause strife between muslims”.

Furthermore, in a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Alloush, free of his “moderate” chains, lets loose on his ideals for a future Syria, in which he aspires to resurrect the Umayyad Empire (2nd Islamic Caliphate with Syria at its core and Damascus as its capital), and “cleanse” Damascus of “Majous” (pejorative Arabic term for Iranians) “Rafideh” (Shi’ites) and “Nusayris” (Alawites). Rebel leaders openly espousing sectarian rhetoric has been a running theme throughout the conflict; in line with this trend, Alloush’s statement can be taken as a clear indication that his new “Jaish al-Islam” is not in the least bit concerned with abiding by a western-friendly moderate image. Alloush, like the majority of rebel leaders, is a fundamentalist Salafist, who looks on at the minorities of Syria as kafir (unbelievers) who must submit to his interpretation of Salafi Islam or be killed.

The western/Gulf media narrative surrounding this new “Islamist Alliance” is a re-hash of failed PR campaigns of the past, which attempted to mitigate the inherent fundamentalist ideologies of the insurgents waging war upon the Syrian state. In stark contrast to the Caliphate-inspired visions held by the majority of rebel leaders, Syria has been a pluralistic secular society for decades, the majority of its Sunni muslim population are conservative and have coexisted peacefully alongside the many other religions and ethnic minorities that make up Syria’s diverse society, history, and culture. The people of Syria do not aspire to a Saudi sponsored Salafi/Wahhabi leadership or doctrine of law. Contrary to the popular narrative emerging in western and Gulf media that this new force will represent an indigenous “moderate Islamist” coalition capable of taking on the foreign elements and Al Qaeda, the majority of Syrians will be repelled by the sectarian language and ideologies of Zohran Alloush; his groups overt affiliations and pandering to Al Qaeda ideologues; and his “Army of Islam”.

Considering the above context, the narrative of home-grown Salafis somehow being more amenable to the Syrian population than their ISIS/JaN fundamentalist colleagues becomes even less tenable. Alloush’s formation of Jaish al-Islam, alongside the “Islamist Alliance” denunciation of the western-backed political opposition, show a marked shift of the insurgency further toward the Al Qaeda ideologues fighting the Syrian regime, not further away from them.

The “FSA” is not going to defeat Al Qaeda in Syria.

Recent reports within mainstream media are pushing the theory that divisions are forming within the various camps of opposition militants in Syria, while also making attempts to highlight the disparity between the supposed “moderate” rebel forces of the “FSA” – which does not exist beyond a small cadre of defectors with no autonomy inside Syria – and the Al Qaeda affiliated militia of Jabhat al Nusra, (JaN) or the Islamic state of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), while also whitewashing the presence of the larger Salafist brigades that fight alongside them, predominantly Ahrar al-Sham (SIF).

To comprehend these alleged divisions, it is fundamental to understand what exactly the “FSA”, or “Supreme Military Council” consists of. In short, these Western-backed outfits and the oft-referenced “spokesmen” that carry them hold no value inside Syria, or any amount of authority among the plethora of militia fighting on the ground. This has been the case since day one of the Syrian crisis. The “FSA” was a retroactive PR stunt implemented by the West and the GCC to uphold a facade of “moderation”, and bolster the false image of militants fighting for “freedom and democracy”. In reality, the FSA represents a branding exercise; enabling foreign powers to rally behind disparate groups of militants – often led by extremists – to undertake their desired use and mask the true identity of what are, by western legal standards, “terrorists”.

When the media refer to the “FSA”, at best it is lazy journalism, at worst it is disingenuous and designed to mislead the reader – otherwise known as propaganda. Yet the “FSA”, or “SMC” seem to have a new lease of life within the media. Furthermore, General Salim Idriss has been at the forefront of recent media campaigns to persuade foreign powers to increase military aid to the rebels (including a photo-op with renowned peace advocate John McCain); rebels that Idriss, nor any other commander in the “SMC” or “FSA” have any control over. I posited the theory in early May that the US and its GCC partners (now minus the deposed Qatari Emir) were attempting to marginalize the very militants they fomented, sponsored and armed in order to build a new “moderate” force under their control that is agreeable to the public, and the many European and American Parliamentarians and Congressman that have expressed concern about the “rising” influence of radicals among the militants they are indirectly supporting.

Recent attempts to purport divisions could be construed as part of this “re-branding” policy. In a Reuters report titled “New front opens in Syria as rebels say Al Qaeda attack means war” we learn that a “Commander” from the Supreme Military Council was assassinated by ISIS’ Emir: Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Whether this is even true remains to be seen; several prominent analysts have cast doubt on the report, claiming it may be a psy-op on the FSA’s behalf; presumably in order to marginalize Baghdadi and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham militants that follow him. This bears hallmarks to recent reports and analysis covering the supposed “split” between the Syrian wing of Al Qaeda, otherwise known as Jabhat al Nusra (JaN), and the Iraqi wing of Al Qaeda,  known as the Islamic state of Iraq (ISI). When Baghdadi, the Emir of ISI retroactively announced the “merger” of these groups and declared the militia should now be addressed as the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham, a spat broke out between him and Jabhat al-Nusra Emir Abu Mohammed al-Jolani. The following analysis and reports covering the dispute were blown out of all proportion and have continued in this vain ever since. Again, actual divisions on the ground between ISI and JaN were minimal and did not affect either tactical, nor ideological cooperation and kinship.

ISI and JaN are one and the same, in both a tactical and ideological sense, there are slight differences in their outlook for a possible future Syria, but crucially, both the tactical relationship and core ideologies remain untouched and unified. Furthermore, JaN was concieved through ISI funding and logistic cooperation. Journalists and analysts suggesting these groups are separate do not understand their mutual ideology, or they are being purposefully misleading to suit an agenda – that agenda seems to be to highlight ISI as the “bad rebels”, this could be to allow space for the “good rebels” under JaN’s leadership – which are predominantly led by Syrians and not foreigners, therefore more likely to win “hearts and minds” – to join the “moderate” brigades under the SMC command.

The first paragraph of the Reuters report fulfills the false narrative that the “FSA” represents a larger force than that of “Islamists”: (NB: Reuters lazy wording not mine)

Rivalries have been growing between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Islamists, whose smaller but more effective forces control most of the rebel-held parts of northern Syria more than two years after pro-democracy protests became an uprising.

One has to wonder how the supposed “Islamists” which, according to Reuters are a smaller force than the “FSA” can possibly hold more territory than the Western-backed moderates. Again, Reuters is pushing a false narrative upon its readers to uphold the image that the majority of “rebels” fighting inside Syria are moderate secularists under the command of the “FSA”, or “Supreme Military Council”. The truth of the matter has always been that Jabhat al Nusra – who are one and the same as Al Qaeda in Iraq with slightly different outlooks for their respective homelands – along with the more populist, and larger in number Salafi militia, such as Ahrar al-Sham, who operate under the umbrella group the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF), represent the vast majority of opposition fighters in Syria. These groups have close links, and it is likely that fighters often interchange depending on expertise, experience and geographical requirements. Since the onset they have cooperated closely with logistics and paramilitary operations.

Supposed “secular” opposition forces in Syria simply do not exist; under the “FSA” command or anywhere else. There are many smaller groups that espouse an inclusive, and indeed, moderate outlook for a future Syria. These groups have in the majority been rampant with criminality, infighting, and a lack of funds. Leaving disillusioned fighters with the option of joining the better organised and funded Salafi brigades; which have consistently received funding and arms from both state and non-state actors in the Gulf.

The “FSA” commander quoted in the Reuters piece claims: “we are going to wipe the floor with them”. Presumably this is aimed at Baghdadi and his fellow ideologues, or as Reuters labels them: “Islamists”. Again, we are supposed to buy the theory that the FSA is in a position to strike anyone militarily inside Syria – let alone a commander of one of the strongest opposition groups operating. At this moment in time, the “FSA” as a fighting force could possibly be at its weakest since its artificial inception. Reports have suggested there are up to 6,000 foreign militants fighting against the government in Syria. It is likely that the vast majority of foreigners have joined the more radical outfits such as ISIS, for the same reasons as mentioned above, but can also be explained by the public sectarian tone being applied to the conflict, and calls to the regions Sunni community to engage in “Holy War” against the Syrian state from influential clerics such as Yusuf Qaradawi.

Several political developments also shed light on the “re-branding” of the Syrian opposition. The Emir of Qatar’s unexpected departure from the throne – to be replaced by his son – may have been an indicator as to Qatar’s failures in leading the Syrian insurgency. It is common knowledge that Saudi Arabia have been given the “Syria File”. A fact that is portrayed with no irony by western analysts; who manage to conveniently whitewash exactly which state actor is delegating the “files” – could it be “Mother”? This handing over of the baton was solidified with the departure of SNC Prime Minister Ghassan Hitto – a Muslim Brotherhood member chosen by Qatar in attempts to consolidate the Muslim Brotherhood’s hold on the SNC. Hitto was replaced by Ahmed al-Jarba, an influential tribal figure with close links to the Saudi Monarchy.

Reports on the ground in Syria have also suggested that the rebels weapons flow – including such basics as ammunition – have come to an almost standstill. And several rebel commanders have relayed their frustration at the lack of promised US weapons. Recent developments in the US Congress have also given Obama the back-door escape he was looking for; at least to buy himself more time to build a more suitable fighting force able to undertake the task at hand – if such a force ever materializes. Direct US arms supplies – or, to be precise; the official funding for arms supplies – have been blocked by Congress until the administration can determine exactly which rebel groups it intends to arm, and what exactly the administration intends to achieve from what seem to be futile efforts to validate the now almost two-year covert policy of arming the rebels, and achieving nothing but bloodshed and destruction – of course, it would be ridiculous to suggest that was the plan? US allies in the region will undoubtedly be working under their own terms with regard to their destructive policies in Syria, to some extent.

Contrary to the Saud monarchies renewed efforts to wrest control of the insurgency; recent developments on the ground, along with Russia’s steadfast support and mass public opinion against supporting the extremist dominated rebels; the Syrian Army have kept the insurgency at bay whilst they choose their strategic victories. Homs is about to become the latest “rebel stronghold” to fall, as rebels announced this morning another “tactical retreat”.

One imagines the rebel siege being laid upon 2 million civilians – a war-crime that Western “diplomats” seem reluctant to “intervene” on, or make any mention of –  in government controlled Western Aleppo will be the Syrian military’s next priority. The Saudis through their new puppet al-Jarba have promised a huge influx of “game-changing” weapons, but without a massive influx of military hardware, and indeed, trained fighters to use them, it appears the trajectory of the conflict will remain in the Syrian military’s favour. What the various actors supporting the insurgency are willing to do to change that trajectory in the short-term, if anything substantial, remains to be seen. There are at least three interested and powerful parties whose objectives can be served by allowing the Syrian conflict to drag on for years to come; yet none of them necessarily want to see Assad fall.