Bismillahi Al-Rahman AlRaheem
Answer to the Question:
Obama’s Visit to Saudi Arabia and its Repercussions on Syria
“Al Hayat” site posted on 08/03/2014, quoting French news agency AFP said: “The Supreme Military Council of the FSA ratified the appointment of Brigadier Abdul Ilah al-Bashir al-Naimi as chief-of-staff to replace Major General Salim Idris…” it came in the framework of “completing the Supreme Military Council…”, and this completion included other appointments in the army… These events have coincided with leaked news about Turkey’s closure of the coalition’s offices and the possibility of moving these to Cairo. The question is: Do these changes and the leaked news have a relationship to Obama’s visit, particularly to Saudi Arabia later this month for the Saudi Arabia’s role in the fighting fronts in Syria, in particular the southern front? And what is intended by the closure of offices? Jazak Allahu Khairan.
Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia later this month, and the completion of the Supreme Military Council by discharging Maj. Gen. Salim Idris and the appointment of Brigadier General Abdul IIah al-Bashir in his place, are two routes that meet on the broad outlines of U.S. policy in Syria, but differ in details; each has a path to achieve its specific purposes. To clarify this we indicate the following:
First: regarding Obama’s visit to the region, particularly to Saudi Arabia later this month:
1. IIP Digital, U.S. Department of State site, quoted on 21/01/2014, a statement issued by the Office of Press Secretary of the White House that President Obama will be in the Netherlands on 24-25th March to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit to discuss progress made to secure nuclear materials and commit to future steps to prevent nuclear terrorism.. He will travel to Brussels on 26th March to attend a US-EU Summit…. On 27th March, he will continue his trip to the Vatican City to meet with Pope Francis… and will meet with the President and the Prime Minister of Italy… On 03/02/2014, i.e. after more than ten days, the Office of the Press Secretary of the White House issued a statement saying: “As part of regular consultations between our two countries, President Obama will travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in March 2014…” The statement added, “The President looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the enduring and strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia, as well as ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security. The president will travel to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia following his travel to the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.” (IIP Digital, U.S. Department of State site 03/02/2014).
It is clear from the foregoing that the visit to Saudi Arabia will be at the end of this month after Obama’s visit to Italy on 27th March 2014.
2. American CNN website published on 03/02/2014 that it had received a statement noting that “the U.S. president will meet with the Saudi King next March amid disagreements between Washington and Riyadh over recent interim deal on Iran’s nuclear weapons”. The website quoted statement by Press Secretary of White House, Jay Carney saying that, “Whatever differences we may have they do not alter the fact that this is a very important and close partnership”.
Also, the Washington Post published on 3rd February that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a press conference, “Saudi Arabia is a close partner of the United States, and we have a bilateral relationship that is broad and deep and covers a range of areas. The president very much looks forward to the visit, where all of those areas will be discussed in his meetings… and whatever differences we may have do not alter the fact that this is very important and close partnership”.
American newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, also mentioned on 02/01/2014, that U.S. President, Barack Obama, plans to visit Saudi Arabia next month for a summit with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, to soothe the strained relations between them because of the policies adopted by the U.S. administration towards the Middle East, specifically about the Iran’s nuclear program, and its unwillingness to get involved military in Syria’s civil war. A Syrian newspaper quoted one Arab official saying that this summit will be crucial, and it aims to aligning American and Saudi policies, adding that the visit “is about deteriorating relationship and declining trust”.
This means that there are issues that pushed America to add Saudi Arabia stop to his pre-planned visit, in a statement released after more than ten days of the issuance of the statement of Obama’s scheduled visit to the three European regions! To find out these issues and their motives we review the following:
A. The American rapprochement with Iran after the nuclear deal on 24/11/2013 which almost reaches releasing Iran’s hands in the region, besides America’s position of the events in Syria that demonstrated his support for Bashar directly and indirectly… All of this impacts in Saudi Arabia, in particular the release Iran’s hands in the region. Iran is known for its use of sectarianism in each country it has a sectarian link to it, so as to raise tensions in that country. Seeing what happened in Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen… Saudi fears Iran’s moves in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia to affect destabilization of the ruling security… All this made Saudi strained and withdraws its membership in the Security Council, protesting against the actions of the international community, and of course they intended the United States, This is in addition to statements by some Saudi officials directing criticism at America about their positions…
B. What Saudi is doing, of supplying weapons to the revolutionaries in the southern region of Syria i.e. through Jordan, especially those shipments that by-passes the American Coordination chamber in Jordan for monitoring arms to the rebels in southern Syria, these shipments annoy America… The French newspaper “Le Figaro” has published on 10/28/2013, a report by journalist Georges Malbrunot stated that (15 tons of weapons reach the Free Syrian Army stores each week, noting that they are funded by Saudi Arabia, purchased from black markets in Ukraine and Bulgaria before being sent onboard Saudi Arabia aircrafts to Airports in southern Jordan). The report is also pointing out that “during the first six months of this year, about six hundred tons of weapons have been delivered to the opponents of the (Syrian President Bashar Assad) by Jordan”… “As-Safeer” newspaper published on 21/2/2014: (… On 29 January, three military cargo planes landed in retail with weapons, including LAU rockets, encrypted communication devices and anti-tank missiles, light weapons and armored vehicles. An Arab source said the Americans remain reluctant to provide Chinese-made missiles and sophisticated weapons to the Syrian armed opposition…). It also added: “Western and Arab security crossing sources say that during the battle for Al-Ghouta Al-Sharqiya (Eastern Ghouta), and the weeks that followed, the Saudis transferred through Al-Mafraq Airport loads of weapons some of which were purchased in Ukraine. Convoys carrying 15 tons of weapons have weekly crossed the Jordanian-Syrian border trough passageways across the desert to more than 15 centers in the region, stretching towards Al-Ghouta Al-Sharqiya”. The arrival of the weapons is indicated by what was published by “As-Safeer” on 06/02/2014 that “the majority of armed factions in Daraa, had met yesterday and decided to unite under the banner of Firqat Al-Yarmouk which by then included 14 battalion and brigade, most notably the Armor Brigade South, Brigade Bara ibn Malik and the Armored Battalion”. It added “the unification of the militants came parallel with a battle they launched in southern Syria, under the name Geneva of Houran, led by five operations rooms, spread over the entire province of Daraa”…
All this is causing disturbance for America for the possibility of some rebels in the southern front getting out of its control especially that there are forces in Saudi that are loyal to British and follow on its steps in terms of perturbing American plans, as it is known of British politics… All this has made America afraid of Saudi activity in the southern front in Syria … Although America has on 13th December 2013 established the Syrian revolutionaries front of the FSA and its base in the South, in response to the Saudi’s movements in southern Syria, but America takes the movements of Saudi in the south seriously, especially those movements that go beyond coordination with the American Chamber in Jordan.
C. Then there is another factor; the Saudi family, although currently being led by British- loyal men; King Abdullah and his assistances, but it has also men who are affiliated with America. America needs not to highlight its hostility to Saudi Arabia from the perspective of trying to develop its men there and restore the ruling to its influence, as was in the reign of King Fahd, at the same time the American men in the royal family are interested in good relations with America…
3. Thus, both parties share a desire to resolve the dispute! This desire has moved into action by both sides as a prelude to the expected Obama’s visit later this month. The parties’ actions were as follows:
A. As for Saudi Arabia, they issued “a decree punishing those fighting abroad and those belonging to the extremist groups” (Al-Iqtisadiya, 03/02/2014) and of course, was aimed squarely at those fighting in Syria. This law was issued on 03/02/2014 which coincides with Obama’s decision to include Saudi Arabia in his visit schedule as we have mentioned above! All this to appease America … This is in addition to that, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (the Saudi Interior Minister) had met with U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and other heads of the intelligence in Washington to discuss a range of issues, including the issue of Syria … “Ar-Ruaya” news network quoted on 24/2/2014: (National Security Advisers; Susan Rice and Lisa Monaco, met last Wednesday with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi Interior Minister. After the meeting, U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman, Caitlin Hayden, issued a statement explaining that the trio “also exchanged views on regional issues and committed to continuing to strengthen our cooperation in a range of common interests”.
B. As for America, it has sent Kerry twice in recent months – in November 2013 and in January 2014. These visits were to reassure Saudi officials on U.S. policy on Iran and Syria. Kerry reiterated the resolve of America for not allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. Kerry has said ahead of the meeting that Saudi Arabia plays a key role in the Arab region. (BBC Turkish 6/11/2013).
4. Then Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes. It comes at the highest level of reconciliation and easing of tensions between both sides and to reassure the Al Saud on their system, which they fear about, and do not fear about anything else. It is just what worries them; they are not worried about what is happening in Syria, except by what can be reflected on their system. This is why they did not support or helped the people of Syria, rather they wanted America to resolve the issue of the Syrian regime in the Geneva Conferences 1 and 2, which are endorsed by Al Saud, and thus get rid of the repercussions of the Syrian Revolution. Their concern is for the thrones and not for the blood of Muslims and their support in Syria…
A visit here is to ease tensions with Saudi Arabia, and to clarify its rapprochement with Iran. And its position in Syria is not directed to destabilize the Saudi regime, and America understands that the focus of alert is that the rule of the Saudi clan is not to be affected in Saudi Arabia, and their chairs do not become vacant, this is what concerns them, which matters above and beyond the number of dead and wounded in Syria…
However it is likely that Obama during his visit to the region will stop at other places, but Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia is expected to be the touchstone… Obama will try to reassure the rulers of Saudi Arabia that their thrones are protected and that his relationship with Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen is not directed against the Saudi rule but it is against the so-called “terrorism”. It is expected that Obama will praise the steps of Saudi Arabia is taking in this area and in its decisions to prevent the Saudi citizens from going to fight in Syria…
Second: As for the subject of the dismissal of Salim Idris and the closure of some offices and transferring to Cairo … the matter probably is as follows:
1. On 7 December 2012 CE, between 260-550 military leaders met, and a representative of the armed Syrian opposition in Turkey; also attended the meeting were security officials from Western and Arab countries, the United States of America played an active role, an new military council was elected, composed of thirty of the Free Syrian Army commanders, and Brigadier General Salim Idris was elected as the new head of the Free Syrian Army, and became the head of the Supreme Military Council (SMC). (Associated Press, 7 December 2012)
2. The Washington Post reported on 07/05/2013 that “the U.S. administration headed by Barack Obama is betting on Salim Idris.” The paper said that “He is the cornerstone of the strategy of the new U.S. administration because of his responsible and moderate position making the administration to bet on it.” It stated that “Salim Idris sent a message to President Obama expressing his understanding of the cautious position of America of intervention in Syria, and requested American financial support and training and expressed his readiness to face the Jihadi groups.” The dismissal of Idris cannot be carried out without the knowledge of America or without its instigation. America appointed him and was betting on him to provide a service, America created his military council military and the coalition.
3. Idris failed to win over any side from the revolutionary and he failed to establish his own front inside, despite his attempts, but he was unable to prevent the fighters of the Free Syrian Army, and some battalions, to join Islamist fighters. Reuters reported on 30/9/2013 about this joining, “the fighters did not join only as individuals, but as full Battalions of small groups, but they are strong.” What worsen matters for America is the takeover by the Islamic Front of border crossing, and a weapon warehouse from the warehouses of the Western backed Free Syrian Army in December 2013 … American news magazine Time reported that U.S. officials have confirmed that the leader of the Free Syrian Army Salim Idris fled from Syria; the magazine reported in the context of the report on its website on 12/12/2013, U.S. officials saying: “that Idris fled from Syria to Turkey and then travelled to Qatar” that showed a dislike of Salim Idris’s actions. It appears that Americans was disturbed by the attack incident on their warehouses where it deposited its military aid to him on the condition that the weapons must not reach the hands of the revolutionaries who did not follow America’s side, did not recognize the coalition, and did not declare their acceptance of its project.
4. Salim Idris was appointed by America, as mentioned above and they has bet on him to make a standing for the Free Syrian Army inside Syria, with striking procedures which attracts factions of the Free Syrian Army… but they lost the bet. He could not attract factions of the Free Syrian Army inside at home, but he could not maintain it without decrease in the number, instead they left and joined the factions! What exacerbated the issue is that he was unable to maintain his weapons which were supplied by America and were taken over by the other factions from the warehouse. The rumor that Salim Idris fled to Qatar disturbed America more. Thus, America failed through Salim Idris to establish a stronghold for the Free Syrian Army inside of any significance, and America was betting on this matter because its agents, the coalition, are outside. America though that he can focus himself on the inside by carrying out influential operations to win the FSA, but bet was a lost as we have mentioned. So it decided to search for another leader who has internal roots through kin, tribes and clans, and is well established internally on the ground. As soon as it discovered Abdul Ilah al-Bashir, it appointed him in place of Salim Idris on 16/2/2014; the military Council issued a decision to that effect. It also appointed Colonel Haitham Afsih of Idlib province in the north as a deputy of Bashir. Washington hopes that Bashir in the south and Haitham in the north will be able to improve coordination of the fronts by creating bases for them at home. These newly appointed leaders prepared to work closely with the Syrian Revolution Front, which is headed by Jamal Ma’roof, and Washington hopes also to use Bashir’s relationships in the south of the country to form a force on the ground to be a pillar inside for the coalition abroad, at the same time to control the revolutionaries in the south, backed by Saudi Arabia.
Salim Idris’s initial reaction was one of anger and he accused Jarba, the coalition chairman, of being a dictator; he issued a statement on behalf of the leaders of the fronts and military councils blaming Jarba of being responsible for the decision of the Supreme Military Council; he said: “The leaders of the formations do not trust him and accused him of financial corruption and that he bribes the signatories of the decision.” (AFP 17/2/2014) knowing that Jarba and those with him cannot take any decision without the consent or instigation of America!
Idris calmed down, especially when the news was published on 06/03/2014, “that the head of the Syrian Coalition, Ahmed Jarba and the five military General Staff leaders and revolutionary leader of the Southern Front and the head of the Revolutionary Military Council ‘s military in Deraa, agreed that the defense minister Asaad Mustafa should resign to the President of the Coalition, and all of his deputies will be considered resigned… the leaders also agreed that Major General Salim Idris should resign from the presidency of the General Staff, and to be appointed as an adviser to the president of the Coalition for Military Affairs; as well as the expansion of the Supreme Military Council and increase the number of its members.”
This news on 6/3/2014 was then followed and confirmed by the news on 8/3/2014 published by Al Hayat site, quoting the French news agency AFP on 03/08/2014, “The Supreme Military Council of the FSA approved the appointment of Brigadier Abdul Ilah al-Bashir al-Naimi chief of his staff instead of Major General Salim Idriss.”
5. The new Brigadier and paratrooper Abdul Ilah al-Bashir Al Nuaimi, Chief of Staff of the Free Syrian Army is from the sons of the village of Rafid in the province of Quneitra in southwest Syria on the border with the Golan Heights occupied by Israel, he is one of the influential of the Naimi clan, one of the largest clans in Syria. Bashir defected from the forces of the Syrian regime in July 2012, and since then he worked to build the foundation and form the nucleus of FSA in the province of Quneitra, before he received the presidency of the operations there and therefore the presidency of the military council there later, where he led the operating room by himself and organized military plans that contributed to the control of more than 90% of the rural southern province under his leadership. A statement by the President of the Coalition Ahmad Jarba Commenting on the decision of the military council said, “that the coalition has received the decision of the Supreme Military Council to appoint Brigadier General Abdul Ilah al-Bashir to the position of Chief of Staff of the Free Syrian Army Colonel Haitham Afeesah in the position of Deputy Chief of Staff with greater satisfaction.” (Aljazeera Agencies).
These qualities of Bashir of belonging to the clan in the south and bing the field commander on the ground is what made America appoint him with the hope that he can establish the roots internally for its agents abroad … It will be disappointed, by permission of Allah, as they were disappointed before, and Allah is Mighty and Wise .
Third: The closure of some offices in Turkey and the discussion to transfer to Cairo:
Yes, it has been reported in the site “We are all partners” on 12/2/2014, which was the site of Panorama in the Middle East on 5/2/2014, of the closure of some offices as well in Turkey.
But the news did not last long, it was denied in the Middle East Newspaper on 25/2/2014: “Representative of the Syrian coalition in Turkey Khaled Khoja denied to the Middle East news paper that the Turkish government asked the coalition to relocate its headquarters to Cairo, revealing a meeting yesterday between him and the representatives of the Turkish Foreign Ministry that confirmed that the members of the coalition are welcome in Turkey; it is a position emanating from the principles associated with the support of the Syrian people’s struggle against dictatorship.”
As stated in Rosna site also on 24/02/2014 in Paris, “Bahiya Mardini, media adviser to the Syrian opposition coalition, said that the Turkish government has not closed the offices of the Coalition in Turkey”, Mardini confirmed in a special radio call to Rosna that this news came as part of a campaign initiated by the Syrian regime against the coalition prior to the Geneva II, and it was promoted in sites belonging to the Syrian regime. Mardini explained that the coalition did transfer offices from the region, Birgili to the region, Florea in Turkey. As a result of information of threats from ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Sham) and the Syrian regime they have been transferred by the Turkish Government for security reasons and that is what made the coalition transfer its office to a quieter place after it was in a crowded area.”
It seems that the rumors on the subject have actually happened, but the move was from one place to another place inside Turkey. The focus of the transfer to outside Turkey was intentional in order to send a message to the Coalition and the National Council to rejoin together again, but the move from Turkey to Cairo is scary for them because it keeps them away from Syria, which means their death, as an alternative for them in Turkey will be established after the “expulsion” of the veterans to Cairo! This leak out of news has paid off. The National Council announced its reunion with the Coalition! AFP published on 1/3/2014, “The Secretariat of the Syrian National Council decided at its meeting on 27 and 28 February in Istanbul, the mass return of the National Council including all its components to the ranks of the National Coalition for the forces of the revolution and the Syrian opposition.”
Fourth: this is what I see as most likely the answer to your question with the three points mentioned, we are following the subject, though if a reason is found to further clarify or explain, we will do that, Inshallah, Allah (swt) Guides to the straight path.
7 Jumada I 1435 AH
It is known that the Geneva Conference 1 and 2 are projects planned by America to maintain its influence in Syria, by maintaining the secular system that follows America by switching some of the people and to prevent the establishment of the system of Islam and the announcement of the Khilafah. The Ma’had site cited on 30/01/2014 that Erdogan stressed during his meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rohani on “the agreement with Iran on the face of terrorism.” They mean terrorism in the context of the West i.e. the work of any honest and sincere person for Islam. As well as citing this site, which is pro-Iranian policy, has quoted official sources who announced ahead of the arrival of the Turkish delegation that: ” Iran will re-launch its project with its vision for the solution in Syria and will provide a full explanation.” Thus Turkey and Iran have worked to strengthen the relationship to achieve full agreement about the Syrian issue, as mentioned above, and Erdogan’s visit is to complete what both sides have been preparing for to serve the American project.
#Homs Abdel Basset Sarout Addresses the Rally Where a Banner Reads: In Life Or In Death, Islam Is Our Need!
Rally against the western backed truce between some rebels and the regime. We do not need the kuffar to decide for us. The ummah of Mohammad (saw) can decide for itself what it wants – Khilafah!
TUESDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2014 11:26 OSMAN BAKHASH
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday, 14/02/2014 that “President Barack Obama had again asked for U.S. policy options in Syria, but none have yet been presented to him.” Kerry told reporters, “Obama is concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria and also that the peace talks between the opposition and the government had not produced a discussion of a transitional government as has been planned.” Kerry said, “As a result of that, Obama has asked all of us to think about various options that may exist or may not exist.”
It appears that Kerry and his President, Obama, are confused of the options available to subjugate ash-Sham revolution:
– The political solution stew is being prepared in the Geneva negotiations between America and his cronies of the criminal regime of Bashar, and the so-called political opposition represented by the National Coalition led by Jarba… Everyone, the distant and the near, knows for sure that Bashar does not reject any order from America, not in the handing over of the chemical weapons, nor in the slaughter of the revolting people in Syria. Also, everyone knows that Robert Ford is the guardian of the Coalition, which he created with his own hands. Hence, the Coalition would have only to obey the wishes of the High Commissioner in anticipation of a post thrown to them in the post- Assad era, as Britain did with the so-called Sharif Hussein and his son Faisal, in the distribution of the spoils after the demolition of the Khilafah state.
– Whereas, the actual negotiation is taking place in the fields of Syria, where Obama is confused in the adoption of the options necessary to impose its solution on the honorable and the firm revolution of ash-Sham: should he resort to Scud Missiles, or to explosive barrels, or to chemical weapons? Or is Iran, and its followers who raise the Karbala Revolution slogan against injustice and evil-doers, able to subdue the revolutionaries of ash-Sham for Uncle Sam (who was quick to extend a lifeline to the Iranian regime through the nuclear deal and began pumping hundreds of millions of dollars to the treasury of Iran to be able to finance its war in Syria), under the banner of combatting apostasy (Takfir) terrorism?
– But the answer came in Dar’aa: Added to the above-mentioned options, are car bombs exploding in crowds of Friday worshipers coming out of the prayer; as happened yesterday in the town of Yadodeh- Daraa, where the regime’s agents planted a car bomb that exploded after Friday prayers leading to the martyrdom of 32 worshipers and wounding dozens, some of whom are in critical condition.
– And we do not rule out that among the options is issuing out of Fatwas from some of the ‘Sheikhs’ on the prohibition of turning against the guardian (Wali ul Amr). When the political stew is cooked with Washington all that is needed is a fatwa from the Saudi intelligence and needs only the guardian’s initiation. While, the call to swear allegiance to a Khaleefah who governs by the Laws of Allah and end the bloodshed in the land blessed by the Truthful, the Almighty, in ash-Sham, is “a blind sedition “Fitnah”” that the scholars of Sultan distant themselves from it for fear of angering the Wali ul Amr. Whereas, defying the Lord of the universe is subject to considerations by them; they are keen to “life”, whatever the state of humiliation and indignation of the Mighty.
There is good atop good in all this; the ash-Sham revolution has exposed the truth about the American enmity for Muslims, and the truth of its production in the coalition, and the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime, the owner of “the Great Satan slogan”. It also revealed the quackery of the “sheikhs” of the Gulf, who croak and give fatwas only to the satisfaction of their Wali ul Amr, which lead to their destruction in the world and the Hereafter…
The Ummah’s only option is to derive the reasons for victory from the Causer of the reasons, and beseech in sincere servitude and submission to the Lord of the Worlds, and then to engage in the hard and glorified work with the faithful to establish the second Khilafah on the method of Prophethood… The Lord of Glory says and His Saying is the truth:
وَمَا النَّصْرُ إِلاَّ مِنْ عِندِ اللّهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ
“And victory is not except from Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”
And the promise of the Truthful, the Glorified:
وَلَقَدْ كَتَبْنَا فِي الزَّبُورِ مِن بَعْدِ الذِّكْرِ أَنَّ الْأَرْضَ يَرِثُهَا عِبَادِيَ الصَّالِحُونَ
“And We have already written in the book [of Psalms] after the [previous] mention that the land [of Paradise] is inherited by My righteous servants”.
Director of the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir
Sunday, 16th Rabii’ II 1435 AH
The FSA has sacked leader Selim Idriss for being “ineffective” and lacking experience in leading military operations.
Source: Al Jazeera
The rebel Free Syrian Army has fired Selim Idriss as its military chief calling him “ineffective” and lacking in experience to lead military operations on the ground.
In a video broadcast on the internet on Sunday, the rebel coalition said its military council had decided to replace Idriss with Brigadier General Abdel al-Ilah al-Bachir.
Colonel Qassem Saadeddine said the decision was taken due to “the paralysis within the military command these past months”.
A source inside the Syrian opposition told AFP news agency that Idriss, who was appointed to the role in December 2012, had faced criticism for failings on the battlefield.
Al Jazeera’s Omar Al Saleh reporting from Istanbul said the Supreme Military Council said Idriss was “ineffective” and “lacked the military experience to run operations on the ground.”
They also said he had bad relations with other rebel forces fighting on the ground.
“Combined with the failure of the Geneva talks, the head of the Syrian National Coalition returned to Syria and promised rebels in Idlib that they would soon be receiving more weapons and support,” added Al Jazeera’s reporter.
This restructuring is intended to raise morale amongst the FSA, once the country’s strongest armed opposition force but now increasingly becoming marginalised by rival groups.
It has been weakened by internal rifts and by competition from other rebel coalitions such as the Islamic Front, a powerful alliance formed last year that is now the largest rebel force with tens of thousands of fighters.
In December the United States and Britain suspended non-lethal aid to the FSA, dealing a major blow to a group that appears caught between advancing regime forces and the increasingly unified Islamic Front.
(Source: Financial Times)
By Borzou Daragahi
Jabhat al-Nusra has become one of the most effective, dangerous and popular groups battling the Assad regime
To the west, al-Qaeda’s avowed arm in Syria is a terrorist group and a dangerous threat to Europe and North America. To many Syrian rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad, and even for some of the liberal, secular activists opposed to the regime, the fighters of Jabhat al-Nusra are invaluable allies. They are among the most powerful armed groups taking on forces loyal to Damascus.
Over the past month the Syrian rebels seeking to bring down the Assad regime have battled another al-Qaeda inspired group: the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or Isis, while tolerating al-Nusra. Although listed as a terrorist organisation and welcoming foreign jihadis to its ranks, al-Nusra’s agenda has been more focused on Syria and its actions less alienating to other rebels.
This week there were signs that al-Nusra was taking sides by joining non-jihadi fighters against Isis and chasing it out of an oil-rich region.
As shaky talks meant to hammer out Syria’s future resume in Geneva, the greatest puzzle of the civil war may be al-Nusra. It is perhaps the most effective of the armed groups opposed to Mr Assad, but one described by western officials as among the most dangerous.
Over its two years in existence, the group has pulled off increasingly complex operations, employing explosives-laden vehicles and suicide bombers with often devastating results. It has also found sources of international and local funding, and tapped into global networks to draw fresh fighters into its ranks. Despite joining the battle late, it has become a spearhead of the revolution.
“Almost all the major battles won by [the rebels] were led by Jabhat al-Nusra fighters,” says Pieter Van Ostaeyen, a Belgian historian and Arabist who closely tracks the conflict. “They were always or almost always on the front line, whether by suicide attack, car bombings or frontal attacks. The other guys just come in to clean up the mess afterwards.”
Most important, it has managed to do what few other jihadi groups have achieved: win over a large number of civilians, even some of those who vehemently disagree with its extremist ideology.
It is popular despite evidence of human rights abuses, including summary executions of alleged regime supporters and the imposition of harsh Islamic mores on women.
“Of all the groups on the hardline end of the rebellion, Jabhat al-Nusra has played the most pragmatic political game,” says Charles Lister, a Syria specialist at the Brookings Doha Centre. “That’s contributed to the situation where they’re an al-Qaeda group but also among rebel groups and among some sections of the political opposition. Most rebel groups on the ground either support or accept Jabhat al-Nusra’s role in the fight.”
A video posted on the internet on January 11 highlights their approach. A hooded figure points to a map. The narrator explains that, after the people of the eastern Damascus district of Ghouta “sought our help against the torture and detention” in a security services office, “your brothers in Jabhat al-Nusra answered the call”.
The images show several explosives-laden vehicles being prepared, two for a building and one for a nearby checkpoint. The commentator describes how two squads are recruited for the operation, as masked men crawl along the ground holding their guns in a training exercise. The combatants facing certain death read out their wills. The operation takes place at night, the hooded figure explains.
A man named Abu Addoha detonates the first vehicle, filled with a ton of explosives at the checkpoint. Abu Omar drives a truck loaded with 2.5 tons into a compound. An explosion and a bright light appear in the distance. Footage purportedly taken the next morning shows a building reduced to rubble.
It is just one of many operations that has strengthened the group’s reputation for ruthlessness and efficiency.
Jabhat al-Nusra, which means the Victory Front, was launched at the beginning of 2012 by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Iraqi who later became the leader of the cult-like Isis, the Syrian rebel group now at odds with most other armed fighters in Syria. Isis is considered to be so extreme that even al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri disavowed it.
Abu Mohammad al Golani, a charismatic and mysterious Syrian, now leads al-Nusra. Even in meetings with trusted commanders of other rebel units, Mr Golani is said to hide his face. Syrian by birth, he is thought to be in his late thirties and to have fought against US troops in Iraq.
Under his leadership, the group has grown into a broad, relatively well funded network with a presence in almost every corner of the country. It is estimated to have as many as 12,000 men, about a quarter of them foreign fighters.
Despite ties to global jihad and its relations with Mr Zawahiri, al-Nusra has pursued a vehemently nationalist Syrian agenda – although a Lebanese branch of the group has launched deadly attacks against the Lebanese Shia group Hizbollah, which has been aiding Mr Assad’s forces.
“We started with eight fighters and now can talk about entire liberated regions, destroyed airports and high-security headquarters,” a man described as Mr Golani said in an hour-long December 18 interview with Al Jazeera.
“We actually have legislative bodies that take care of a lot of things like the judiciary system and public services. They [the legislative bodies] also manage electrical power and oil facilities, and recently we started managing oilfields that we took back from the regime,” he said.
Like Mr Baghdadi, Mr Golani has built an organisation with strong name recognition and the ability to draw funds and resources from sympathetic patrons abroad, mostly in the Arabian Peninsula. His group’s expanding control of lucrative oilfields, including some at Deir Azzour in the east, gives it a funding mechanism unavailable to most rebel groups.
But unlike Mr Baghdadi, Mr Golani has built strong relations with other rebel groups. Al-Nusra frequently takes part in operations with other factions, especially the Islamic Front, a coalition that includes the powerful Ahrar al-Sham and the moderate Liwa al-Tawhid.
“We used to consider Isis and Jubhat al-Nusra the same but once they split there were big changes,” says Ahmed Abu Obeidah, a Turkish-based former rebel fighter still affiliated with Liwa al-Tawhid. “They got very strong, with better weapons, and they started to work with everyone else.”
Mr Golani has emerged as a much more astute political player than Mr Baghdadi, mostly refraining from injecting sectarian venom into official statements. He has largely kept a vow not to overtly target civilians, including members of Syria’s Allawite and Christian minorities – in part at the behest of Mr Zawahiri.
“Ever since the break with Isis, Jabhat al-Nusra has become more sensitive to environmental circumstances than Baghdadi is,” says Kirk Sowell, founder of Uticensis, a risk management firm based in Jordan. “Jabhat al-Nusra has tried to work with the Islamist wing of the opposition, especially the Islamic Front, and sort of left the secularists alone.”
Mr Golani has maintained good relations with many groups that present a big problem for western countries wanting to aid the opposition.
Al-Nusra’s affiliation with al-Qaeda alarms western governments who fear that once the war in Syria is over the jihadis, particularly those who have flocked into Syria from Europe and the US, will return home to wage jihad. James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, said in Congressional testimony last month that the group “does have aspirations for attacks on the [American] homeland”.
Analysts, however, say that Mr Golani, although critical of the US as well as the Assad regime’s patrons Iran and Russia, has never threatened to launch attacks outside the Levant.
More worrying is what al-Nusra means for Syria should the war end with the jihadi fighters able to claim some credit for its conclusion and expecting to be rewarded. The group’s radical vision is at odds with what most Syrians are likely to want in a future state.
. . .
Al-Nusra has been accused of convening Islamic courts and imposing regulations on women’s dress and movement on unwilling populations.
The group has managed to soften its image, however. When a secular Syrian family living abroad sought to deliver humanitarian aid to the country last year, it collaborated with al-Nusra despite large ideological differences. Although undoubtedly in the most radical Islamist camp, close observers say al-Nusra includes fewer radical fighters than other extreme groups.
“Al-Nusra will always be al-Qaeda but we can’t forget that most of the Nusra men in the rank and file aren’t Qaeda-spirited fighters,” says Cedric Labrousse, a French researcher monitoring the Syrian conflict. “Many are forgetting today the huge waves of Free Syrian Army men coming to Nusra for guns and money for their families.”
Unlike Mr Baghdadi, his one-time mentor but now arch-rival, Mr Golani keeps a low profile. In the December broadcast with Al Jazeera journalist Tayseen Allouni, he attempted to present a moderate image of himself.
“The west describes us as a majority of Sunnis who want to eradicate the other minorities,” he said in the interview, which was filmed from behind his shoulder, with Mr Allouni the only person in the shot. “I am not worried about the post-regime fall because Islamic law maintains well minorities’ rights. We strongly condemn those who go to extremes in declaring individuals or groups of people apostates.”
Despite al-Nusra’s extreme ideology and frequently ruthless violence, Mr Lister from the Brookings Doha Centre says Mr Golani demonstrates an evolution in the tactics and rhetoric of jihadi groups that have failed because of their inability to win sustained levels of popular support.
Even as more moderate rebels take on Isis, few believe an attack on al-Nusra could follow.
“Jabhat al-Nusra is spread more across the country, while Isis is not in many areas of Syria,” says Ahmed Khalil, a Syrian Kurdish human rights activist based in Istanbul.
“It would be really risky to declare war on Jabhat al-Nusra. I have spoken to many people inside Syria and they all support Jabhat al-Nusra and see it as a very powerful faction in the opposition, not as an enemy.”
Mr Lister says that the possibility of foreign fighters going back home and fighting cannot be counted out.
But he adds: “Ever since they emerged in Syria, they [al-Nusra] have shown zero sign of carrying out attacks beyond Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. The real fear is the fact that an al-Qaeda group has managed to attain such strong and mass popular support on the ground.”
Casualties: Rebel groups turn on each other in bloodiest month
Jabhat al-Nusra turned on its founder and former leader this week when it joined other rebel groups in an attack on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
Al-Nusra all but declared war on Isis, an al-Qaeda splinter group, in the eastern city of Deir Azzour, chasing it out of the oil-rich region. In so doing, it brought its immediate goals even more closely in line with the west and moderate rebel groups hoping to bring down the regime without offering up Syria as a haven for transnational terrorism.
“They’re the good guys,” says a western security official in southeastern Turkey who has had dealings with al-Nusra. The official had used the group as a mediator in efforts to release western hostages held by other jihadi groups.
After heavy fighting, Isis withdrew its forces from Deir Azzour. Isis activists on Twitter said the group had pulled out of the city to prevent further bloodshed among rebel factions who are fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Isis’s supporters said the estimated 200 fighters leaving Deir Azzour would probably turn to assassinations and car bombings against the remaining rebel groups in the province – a tactic Isis has used in other opposition-held areas.
The group’s territorial influence traces a line along the Euphrates river from Fallujah in Iraq – barely 60km from Baghdad – across to Raqqa in Northern Syria.
Isis has alienated many civilians and opposition activists by imposing harsh rulings against dissent, even beheading its opponents, in areas it controls.
More than 2,300 rebels have been killed in the past month of infighting, making it the bloodiest such episode since the Syrian conflict began nearly three years ago.
Unlike other Islamist groups such as al-Nusra, which share similar austere interpretations of Islam, Isis has tried to set up an Islamic caliphate in territory it has seized in Iraq and Syria.
Other Syrian rebels want to topple the Assad regime first before deciding on a ruling system, although many also seek an Islamic government.
(Note: This article is originally from the mainstream western media house and not everything mentioned here reflects our views)
The Geneva 2 conference has raised the stature of the Syrian regime and despite being engaged in the most brutal crimes against the Syrian people that have included every imaginable evil against the whole people including their children, women and elderly they have been presented as equal partners in these negotiations.
This current conference ended without any results or resolutions and was reported by news agencies to have ended in argument and sharp disagreement whilst Lakhdar Ibrahimi said that the talks were planned to resume on February the 10th. This indicates that the US and all those who support the unified position which has clearly established the aim of preserving the regime whilst bringing in some new faces from the supposed opposition, it indicates that they are not in a rush to see these negotiations come to a quick resolution. This is clear by the relaxed attitude of the Syrian regime which is speaking and acting as if no pressure is upon them.
It must be clear in everybody’s mind that both sides in these negotiations are firmly in the American camp. The regime has been protected up until now and been allowed to continue in its slaughters and merciless war against the Syrian people without facing any serious challenge or obstacles from outside. Indeed the policy of chemical weapon destruction has allowed Syria more time to fight the revolutionaries bringing as much slaughter, death, destruction and starvation as it desires whilst all world leaders can talk about is getting both sides to the table. They have even managed to turn the focus to fighting terrorism and raised that to a higher priority than removing or stopping the Asad regime!
The Syrian National Coalition on the other hand have already conceded that the regime will pretty much remain in place but have been promised by America that they will have a future in the rule. As such they are eager for the transition to take place however the US will continue to tell them that they are doing everything they can and that they need to remain patient until their promises come into fruition.
Whilst the US and the world behind it continue to play the games of Geneva and their like they will continue to attempt to weaken the revolutionaries on the ground by instigating fighting between the factions and by trying to divide them upon lines of being moderate and extremist. They will use their agents from inside and outside including the rulers of Turkey, Saudi, Kuwait, Iran, Jordan and Iraq to assist them in this, in addition to relying upon the media to focus on the real problem and enemy in Syria which is terrorism and Al-Qaeda etc…
When the US decides that the groundwork has been accomplished sufficiently inside Syria and outside Syria, it will quickly apply the required direction and pressure upon the Syrian regime and the opposition who will obey the commands of their master just as quickly and a resolution will be made which will be sanctioned by the world and declared as a groundbreaking peace deal. Anyone who then rejects this will then be labelled legally by the UN and by the media as an enemy of peace or extremist or terrorist and the whole world including the new Syrian regime (which will in reality still be the same old regime with a few new faces) will then declare a unified war against them in the name of peace.
This is the plan of the disbelieving US colonialist and the world order that it leads that gives no value to human life and the only justice they believe in is the one that guarantees that their interests will be preserved and their influences maintained to continue to control and exploit the Muslim lands. The Syrian regime is a secular regime and the US manufactured opposition represented in the Syrian National Coalition are calling for a secular regime and the whole world is unified and striving with all their efforts to derail the revolution in Syria which declared war on secularism, colonialism and the policies of Sykes and Picot and declared their allegiance to Allah (swt) and his Messenger (saw).
This is the plan of the enemies of Islaam and the Muslims but:
وَيَمْكُرُونَ وَيَمْكُرُ اللَّهُ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ
And they plot and Allah plots (as well) and Allah is the best of plotters (Al-Anfaal 30).
However the Muslims in Ash-Shaam have proven that they will not be an easy push over and even if the world as a whole has united against them and their revolution. There may be some who will compromise, make concessions and fall into the clutches of the enemy and indeed some already have but this revolution was established upon the basis of reliance upon Allah alone when they threw away the flags of Sykes Picot and raised the banner of Islaam and said: ‘O Allah we have none other than you O Allah’ and ‘We will never bow down to other than Allah’ and ‘Our leader forever is Muhammad Rasoolullah’. This revolution was for Islaam and you O Muslims of Ash-Shaam have sacrificed everything for the sake of Allah so we ask Allah (swt) to reward you with the highest rewards and to magnify them and we ask Allah (swt) to make you strong and firm on your Deen and to never compromise it and not even by a hairs breadth. If you do this then you will have the greatest abode awaiting you in the hereafter and you will also be hastening the downfall, demise and collapse of the enemies of the Deen by the permission of Allah (swt). On that day the believers will rejoice and their breasts will be healed when they hear the news of Allah’s victory that he has given to His servants with the reestablishment of His Deen, Shari’ah and Khilafah upon the path of the Prophethood.
In regards to the believers He (swt) said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا إِنْ تَنْصُرُوا اللَّهَ يَنْصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ
O You who believe! If you support Allah he will support you and make your foothold firm (Muhammad 7).
And in regards to Himself (swt) He said:
وَاللَّهُ غَالِبٌ عَلَى أَمْرِهِ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not (Yusuf 21).
Abu Abdil Hasib
(Taken from Al-Waie in English and more)