[Marxism] Syrian Coalition: Assad Squandered Syria’s Sovereignty to Israeli, Russian and Iranian Aggressors

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Oct 18 10:30:59 MDT 2015

On 10/18/15 11:53 AM, Mark Richey via Marxism wrote:
> nd wasn't it already a breeding ground for terrorists before the
> Iranians or HIzbollah showed up?  EVer hear of ISIS, al Nusra, etc.?
> I'm pretty sure Assad didnt bring them to Syria.. I don't believe I
> have to document that, it's pretty much a fact recognized by
> everyone.

The most significant, long-term consequence of Assad’s policy arose from 
the opening up of Syria to international jihadist networks. Before he 
turned his country into a transit point for foreign fighters, Syrian 
jihadists had been largely homegrown. If international links existed, 
they were to neighbouring countries. Al-Qaida had always had prominent 
Syrians as members – the strategist Abu Musab al-Suri, for example, or 
Abu Dahdah, who was sentenced to a lengthy prison term in Spain – but 
they had fled the country in the early 1980s, and there is no evidence 
that they directed jihadist activities inside Syria, sought to organise 
them, or even showed any interest in doing so. The terrorism experts 
were not entirely wrong, therefore, in believing that – for some time at 
least – Syria was outside al-Qaida’s orbit.

This changed in 2003 when Assad allowed the jihadists in his country to 
link up with Zarqawi and become part of a foreign fighter pipeline 
stretching from Lebanon to Iraq, with way points, safehouses and 
facilitators dotted across the country. With the active help of Assad’s 
intelligence services, Syria was opened to the influx – and influence – 
of experienced and well-connected jihadists from Libya, Saudi Arabia, 
Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen and Morocco, who brought with them their contact 
books, money and skills. Within a few years, the country ceased to be a 
black spot on the global jihadist map: by the late 2000s it was familiar 
terrain to foreign jihadists, while jihadists from Syria had become 
valued members of al-Qaida in Iraq, where they gained combat experience 
and acquired the international contacts and expertise needed to turn 
Syria into the next battlefront.

When the current conflict broke out, it was hardly surprising that 
jihadist structures first emerged in the eastern parts of the country, 
where the entry points into Iraq were located, and in places like Homs 
and Idlib, which were close to Lebanon; or that it was jihadists – not 
the Muslim Brothers – who could offer the most dedicated and experienced 
fighters with the skills, resources, discipline and organisation to hit 
back at the government. They were also the ones who found it easiest to 
prevail on international networks of wealthy sympathisers, especially in 
the Gulf, to supply weapons and funding. The clearest example is the 
Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), a viciously sectarian 
player in the current conflict, descended from Zarqawi’s al-Qaida in 
Iraq, which draws on the same networks and supply lines that enabled the 
transfer of fighters from Syria to Iraq – except that now, of course, 
the traffic flows in both directions.

full: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n07/peter-neumann/suspects-into-collaborators

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