Tuesday, May 14, 2013

When Jihadists are the only ones left standing

Banyas massacre changed a lot of perceptions ,both home and abroad, on the Syrian war. It clearly showed Assad’s will to destroy any semblance of Sunni presence in Alawite dominated regions on and near the coast. Regarding machinations by Western MSM, unlike Houla, Banyas was largely ignored.

The reason being : this is a different time.
This time, US, UK, France agree with Russia, for the need to force a negotiated settlement on the Syrian rebels, which in reality will likely lead to Assad prolonging his rule, and massacring Sunnis till the point they are subdued. At near about the same time, the Syrian dossier was snatched from Qatar and Turkey, under heavy US pressure, and given to the ‘geniuses’ in KSA ,a move supported by the monarchies of Jordan and UAE. They are clearly sick of despots being toppled.

Coupled with this was the almost full drying up of all Croatian weapons deliveries to southern rebels via Jordan. This led to rebels losing control of the key Syrian city of Khirbet Ghazaleh, though the city has changed hands a few times more since then.

Also, as the arms embargo on the rebels was in full swing, Assad troops and Hezbollah made some bold advances in Qusayr (Homs countryside),as in the South.

Enter Jabhat an Nusra

Jabhat an Nusra had very little presence in Homs previously; mostly carried out special operations so the other rebels can move in. But recently, more and more local Homsi rebels have been pledging allegiance to Jabhat an Nusra. Zu al Nurain brigade is one of them.

After regime troops advanced in Homs, Jabhat an Nusra suicide bombers inflicted some tactical defeats on the regime, which due to the very nature of the war, was temporary.

Syrian rebels are putting up a tough fight in Qusayr, while facing the superior weaponry and better trained soldiers of Hezbollah and Assad, and it is evident that even Jabhat an Nusra has not stepped in as much as they are knee-deep in the conflicts in Aleppo, Idlib and elsewhere.

It is known among rebels that unless Jabhat an Nusra is totally confident of its capabilities, it doesn’t jump headlong into a particular battle. That is one of the reasons for their reluctance for more involvement in Homs.

But recent developments suggest JN is prepping for a major , all-gloves-off stand , soon.

Like how they are expanding and taking control of the Deraa front, along with their jihadist allies in Harakah Ahrar ash Sham al Islamiya and others. This is significant in light of the fact that Selim Idriss’ West,GCC supported Supreme Military Command has failed to arm these southern rebels recently. Whom do you think they will ally with now?

Also, videos of a self-styled group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham(ISIS) started floating on Youtube,even though Jawlani seemed to rebuff Baghdadi’s call for the same.(h/t Aymenn Jawad al Tamimi and Mr0rangetracker )

Then more and more Jabhat an Nusra fighters were spotted across Syria waving the Black Rayah al Uqab of the Islamic State of Iraq design, especially in the eastern regions.

And then finally,today emerged this video from United Media Centre of Raqqah, of Jabhat al Nusra openly executing 3 Assad army officers, in broad daylight, in Raqqah city, in revenge for the Banyas and Homs massacres.The speech clearly was signed off in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham,not Jabhat al Nusrah.

 Loud chants of ‘Allahu akbar’ , and approval from the locals followed.

Jabhat an Nusra has clearly chosen this massacre as the launching point where they drop all gloves and choose to fight with much more vigor, as I believe future incidents will show.  All these unofficial videos of the purported Islamic State of Iraq and Sham seem a way of softening up the public opinion that the united Islamic State is already a reality everywhere JN-ISI territorial control is present. A formal acknowledgement will seal the deal. Only this time it is apparent that JN’s crucial allies in the Syrian Islamic Front are already aware of that.

This is a huge opportunity for jihadist expansion. All the regime advances are happening at the expense of the mostly SMC-allied brigades which are losing ground, partly due to lack of weapons. A logical next step for these hapless fighters would be to ally with the one force that very rarely loses territory to Assad regime : Jabhat an Nusra and allied jihadists.

The next few days are crucial. Keep up.