The Assad Regime has played a very dangerous game for the last four years at the expense of millions of Syrians. Since 2012, Assad has leaned heavily on the Russians to help manage his political agenda, and the Iranians have been in charge of the Syrian Military. Assad often appears to be the confusing, and sometimes quirky guy that comes out on the interview circuit. The rest of the time, he is tucked tightly away in his palace out of the way “while the big boys play.”
Assad has made the media circuit over the last year, keeping both offbeat and mainstream Western Media panting after an interview. He gave the now “world renowned” BBC interview with Jonathan Tepperman of Foreign Affairs where he said: “We do not have Barrel Bombs … we don’t even have cooking pots.”
Assad is a man who at the beginning of the revolution clearly demonstrated he had “lost his marbles.”
Assad has gone to monstrous means to exercise his will while keeping a facade of reason. “Why does everyone want to give Bashar al-Assad media time?” Does he really have anything new to say? Earlier this week, Cecily Hillery of VOA (@VOAHilleary) tweeted, “I’d certainly rather know what he has to say than not. I’d interview him in a heart beat.” Aboud Dandachi (@AboudDandachi) responded “as long as your ready for a more fantasy than is in the entire LOTR [Lord of the Rings} trilogy.”
It was in 2012 when Assad was at risk of losing his Presidency that the Russians and Iranians rushed to his rescue. Both Russia and Iran have invested heavily in the Syrian War for different reasons, neither specifically being “en amour” with Bashar al-Assad.
The “Syrian War” is an ongoing Genocidal Massacre, precisely orchestrated by Bashar al-Assad to crush the opposition that began as a peaceful protest to demand civil rights. Assad has made it clear throughout his campaign that his intention is “to destroy anyone and anything that gets in the way of his desire to remain ‘Installed in the Palace until he dies.'”
“By all accounts, Assad has demonstrated over and over that he is a man unfit to rule; a human monster that must be caged.”
The Russian Factor
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov became the front man for all Syrian International Political Affairs such as the Geneva II Conference, international disputes, and negotiations regarding Security Council Resolutions beginning in 2012. The Russians have also been a major arms dealer to the Assad regime with armaments worth $4 billion over several decades.
Through the Syrian War, Russia has delivered military weapons, spare parts, and ammunition by plane and ship. According to The Free Beacon (October 30, 2014), “Recent sales also have been carefully calibrated to provide Assad’s forces equipment for countering ‘the Sunni insurgency.’ Russian sales to Syria of T-72 battle tanks, interceptor aircraft such as the very fast Mig-31, training aircraft, and attack helicopters are playing a pivotal role in inflicting heavy casualties on insurgent forces. Sales of air defense equipment deter the use of air power against the regime.”
Russia has had an active interest in seeing Assad remain in place, and this is confusing for some. They have a 20 year lease on the Tartus Naval Base located on the Syrian Coast. “Russia has intentions of making the Naval Base a permanent base once the Syrian War concludes, and Assad has won the war,” according to South China Morning Post (December 29, 2014).
Tartus may be the “jewel” that Russia wants to keep to maintain an entry way to the Mediterranean. But based on an analysis of Russia’s “Syria investment portfolio,” Tartus may be the ONLY JEWEL in their “Syria Package.” The question for Free Syria to consider: Will the lease to Tartus be revoked when Assad falls, considering Russia’s role in the slaughter of more than 250,000 people?
According to CNBC, the Russia-Syria axis is “rooted in strong political and economic relationships that have been cultivated since the late 1950’s. Most important to note, Russia wrote off nearly 70% of Syria’s $13.4 Billion debt in 2005 as part of a restructuring effort for the Syrian economy. In 2009, the Russians invested $19.4 Billion in infrastructure, energy, and tourism. They also have outstanding projects, including a nuclear power plant and oil & gas exploration. Richard Connolly, a lecturer in political economy at the University of Birmingham told CNBC, ‘The $20 billion [$19.4B] figure is notional and should be treated with some caution.'”
With Russia’s economy tanking, do you think the Russian Leadership is grinding their teeth at how well Assad has taken care of their investment? Russia’s ROI is sharply slipping, with an outlook of grim.
The Iranian Factor
The Iranian Government has been spreading their tentacles through the Middle East for years, most notably in Iraq and Lebanon (Hezbollah) until the Syrian War. Less notably, they have been supporting the Hamas militants who have been lobbing rockets over the wall from Gaza into Israel’s space. As Assad began to fear falling from the wall, it was the perfect opportunity for Iran to reach in and prop him up before they had to scrape him up off the ground. Assad, Iraq, and Iran had a long standing relationship, so there was no surprise that Iran came in for the save.
According to Iranian Strategy in Syria (May 1st, 2015), “The Islamic Republic of Iran has conducted an extensive, expensive, and integrated effort to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power as long as possible while setting conditions to retain its ability to use Syrian territory and assets to pursue its regional interests should Assad fall.”
The information on the “Iranian Strategy in Syria” report validates both Iranian Security and Intelligence Services are actively advising and assisting the Syrian military preserve Assad’s hold on the Presidency.
They go on to make an important point which both the Iranian Government and Assad have repeatedly denied. The report states, “They [Iran] have been carrying out ‘expeditionary training missions using Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Forces, Quds Force, Intelligence Services, and Law Enforcement Forces, to train Assad’s forces.'”
What the Iranian Strategy in Syria report doesn’t say “is Iran’s multiple forces have been in the dirt fighting the Assad battles!” In addition, “Iran has been recruiting foreign Shiite fighters into their QUD forces from Afghanistan and Yemen to augment their needs in Syria as the need has been growing.” Many Free Syrian Army and moderate Islamic Front groups have validated that these Iran fighters and their proxies are fighting Syria; they have fought them, killed them and arrested some of them as prisoners.
Afghan Hazaras’ in Syria: Iranians pay us to fight for Assad
The Iranian Strategy in Syria also says, “Iran is also assisting pro-government Shabiha militias, partly to hedge against Assad’s fall or the contraction of the regime into Damascus and a coastal Alawite enclave.” The most meaningful point they had to make was these militias will become even more dependent on Tehran when the Assad regime “contracts or falls.”
The report says at the point when Assad is no longer viable the Shabiha militia will come to the aid of Iran. They will “allow Iran to maintain some ability to operate in and project force from Syria.” Many Syrians and the International Community will find the reports statement about Iran’s relationship with Syria’s Shabiha troubling. It means that Iran is developing a “sleeper cell” of Shabiha in Syria who will be available to come to their aid when Assad fall to help Iran as they desire.
Isn’t this a scary thought? This theory is consistent with Iran’s “End Game.” You might think that the poster about “The destruction of the oppressive systems …” is in an Iranian newspaper or journal. However, it was found in the Islamic Invitational Turkey, a Hezbollah Journal.
Lebanese Hezbollah Factor
The Christian Monitor (March, 2015) stated, “Nasrallah was once hailed in regional polls as the most admired leader in the Arab world.” Now he is reviled by Sunnis and his party alike as “Hizbu Shaitan,” which means the “Party of the Devil.” In fact, “Party of the Devil” is the antithesis of the meaning of Hezbollah which means the “Party of God.”
Although Hezbollah may have had supported the Assad regime’s military effort as early as 2012, their involvement went full throttle on May 25th, 2013. It was on May 25th that Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, often known for his “flamboyant” manner, decisively committed his followers to Syria. He said he was bringing an “all-out battle in Syria to defeat the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad,” according to the New York Times (May 26th, 2013). Nasrallah said, “It is our battle, and we are up to it.”
Ali Rizk, the Beirut bureau chief for Press TV, the satellite channel for Hezbollah’s funding agent Iran said that Nasrallah “revealed that Hezbollah is in it militarily and is in it very deeply.” The New York Times (May 26, 2013) reported that Nasrallah said, “Victory means you’re in it to the very end, and you’re going to go all the way. Hezbollah is going to go all the way.” Should anyone be surprised at the flamboyant and provocative tone Nasrallah used?
Al-Akbar (April 30, 2015) said, despite a growing alliance between Moscow and Tehran, Nasrallah is the “go-to man” when Putin wants the “get to the heart of the matter without frills truth.” There is some irony when Putin selects Nasrallah as the guy he goes to when he wants an update on information about dealings that Russia is having with Tehran … even if they are concerning Syria issues.
Do we need to worry that Putin and Nasrallah may be sitting down for a cup of tea talking Middle East politics? According to Rehmat’s World, Hezbollah is a “major force in the war on terror in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon which makes it a prominent partner in any future vision for a political solution to the Syrian crisis.”
Considering Russia’s close ties to Iran and Nasrallah, are the current US politicians saavy enough (or crazy enough) to play in the same pen with Putin, the Mullahs and Nasrallah? If the Russians are using Nasrallah as their “go-to man,” wouldn’t that put one more check on Putin’s “psychotic diagnostic inventory?”
Shia Post English (December 26, 2014) reported that, “Nasrallah met with Deputy Minister Foreign Affairs Bogdanov [and Nasrallah said] without the slightest ambiguity, we [Hezbollah] are ‘waging a battle against terrorism’ in defense of Syria, the Syrian state and its strategic choices, but at the same time, ‘we are waging a battle for the president.’ There is no solution without the president. ‘Assad is a red line.'”
Nasrallah’s Red Lines
According to the Shia Post, Nasrallah said:
Assad was always a resistance leader, but today after four years of war, he has turned into a symbol of the resistance and its axis; a symbol that holds high moral value that cannot be bartered in a political solution deal.
Assad, in his person and with his symbolism and the direction he took represents the epitome of the Syrian state and a leader capable of managing the war on terror.
Assad is a symbol of Syrian unity.
Assad is experienced with the threats made by Washington against him, with the armies of aggression and Iraq’s fate. If he does not abandon the strategy of:
1. Symbol of Arab Unity
2. Standing up against the West and Israel
3. Supporting Arab resistance movements
4. Standing up to boycott and siege since 2005
5. Standing up against the Israeli aggression on Lebanon in 2006, Gaza in 2009
6. Leading the Syrian war on terrorism since 2011 which secured his place not only as President of the Syrian Arab Republic but of the resistance forces and their supporters in the region.
Within these delineations, Moscow is offering to broker dialogue with no conditions or guidelines, except those that violate the Nasrallah Red Lines or anything that undermines Syria’s sovereignty, and most importantly are considered an interference in Syrian affairs or Assad as President.
NASRALLAH TRANSLATION: Assad is a great leader, who has done no wrong in the eyes of the Key Partners (Iran, Hezbollah, Iraq & Russia). That being said, Russia is so happy with how the effort in Syria is going under Assad that they are willing to host a dialogue to settle the whole Syrian problem. The only “off-limit topic” is Assad leaving the Presidency or questions about how he does his job. Other than that, he is willing to broker a deal to form a unity government. Shall we all cheer with excitement?
Will the Syrian War Be Looked Back In History As Hezbollah’s Vietnam
Hezbollah has fought the good fight in Syria and indeed has propped up Assad’s weakening ground forces for several years. Nasrallah’s army, trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, has led many battles in Syria since 2012, and Hezbollah has contributed to Assad’s “hanging on ability.”
Hezbollah’s first serious Syria confrontation was in Qusayr, Syria. What was expected to be an “in and out” job, ended up being a hard 17-day battle.
Hezbollah suffered the loss of dozens of fighters. According to the Christian Monitor, “At the time of Qusayr, Michel Mouawad, a Lebanese Christian politician who opposed Hezbollah, said “The battle in Qusayr [Syria, 2012] will act as Hezbollah’s Vietnam and it will have repercussions on the whole of Lebanon.”
As the Syrian War has entered its fifth year, Hezbollah has found they are facing a stronger enemy in the Syrian Opposition with “staying power” and lately “winning power.” Has Hezbollah come full-circle considering the heavy losses they have suffered in the Aleppo and Idlib?
The Shehba Press Interview About Hezbollah, Assad & Leewa al-Quds Forces Arrested in the Aleppo Countryside
At the beginning of April, the Aleppo countryside was lit up with horrific battles that concluded in bloodshed between fighters and a high number of deaths. The opposition rebels killed more than three hundred enemy militia and arrested more than sixty. A massacre of Free Syrian Army fighters and their families occurred in Handrat, and many more battles took place throughout the countryside. Forty-eight of the Assad regime or regime proxy prisoners was gathered and interviewed by Shahba Press in Aleppo.
The forty-eight fighters belong to Hezbollah, the Assad regime, and Lewaa al-Quds. The interviewer introduced all the prisoners by name and where they came from, then engaged them in a discussion about the battles they just faced. What becomes clear from the interview is that the Hezbollah fighters feel betrayed by their leadership, and no longer subscribe to the dogma being preached by Nasrallah or Assad.
Wael Ali Zaydan, of Hezbollah, said that their leaders appointed at the front of the Syrian groups, then “we didn’t see them [their leaders] again after the second day. They ran away.” Mohammed Abdullah Skeef of Hezbollah said they came to lead the attack on Nubul and al-Zahra towns. When ask if the officers were still in Hadrat, Mohammed Abdullah Skeff told Shahba Press “I don’t think so.” He also said, “too many had died.”
The most interesting thing that Mohammed Abdullah Skeef had to say was about Nasrallah and Bashar al-Assad.
The interviewer asks him, “Where is he [Nasrallah] now and [what did] he give you?” Mohammed answered, “He is in Lebanon, and he lives in a big illusion about “Nubultowns.” I wish that Bashar al-Assad removed the idea of removing terrorist. No one has destroyed the country [Syria], but his ideas, that he has spread it in people’s minds.”
The interviewer also asks Mohammed, “What was the plan?” He answered, “They [Hezbollah leaders] betrayed us and ran away, I’d give advice to everyone to not follow anyone and don’t go where they’re going.” The interviewer asked what their mission was? Shadi Hussain Lahlouh said, “It was to make Ratyan a military way toward Nubul and al-Zahra towns like a reinforcement way,” but Wael Ali Zaydan acknowledged “this was not accomplished.”
Then the interviewer ask Hussain Ali Fawwaz, “What do you say to the soldiers, those who are still with Assad forces from Nubul and al-Zahra towns, or elsewhere?” Ali Zakari Khalil said, “Surrender and don’t kill anyone, and don’t hear anyone because they will leave you to death.”
Speaking of the massacre that took place in Handrat, which killed members of the Free Syrian Army and their families, including women and children. The interviewer asks, “Who did the massacres? You were the first people who entered the town. What did you see in the town?” Basil Jumma Fawwaz of Hezbollah answered, “Civilians! Only Civilians! We captured in the houses, and the Assad soldiers came and started to kill the civilians. Killing civilians and putting them on the ground.”
The Shahba Press Video Interview With Aleppo Countryside Fighters
Syria Grand Mufti Uses Religion To Justify Assad’s Oppression and Extremism
EXTREMISM fronted by religion is a current event fanning through Islam! Assad has his very own Grand Mufti. The Grand Mufti of Syria is especially willing to mold his religion to fit Assad’s warped needs; using religion as an excuse to justify Assad’s bad acts.
Mufti Hassoun says he is a both Sunni and Shiite. In his 2007 interview with Al-Arabiya, he said, “I follow all sects of Islam. I am Sunni in practice, Shiite in allegiance. My roots are Salafi, and my purity is Sufi.” His own thesis has invalidated him with both Scholars, Imams and Muslims in general. One gentleman in Syria told me, “he says he is a Sunni, but he doesn’t represent any Islam at all.”
According to International Business Times, the Grand Mufti of Syria has used his “personal belief statement” to issue a slew of Fatwas that justify Assad’s tyranny. Recently, the Mufti’s Fatwas have created a backlash from the scholarly community of Islam.
1) He called for the immediate extermination of all areas of Aleppo where rebel shelling was initiated from. After this Fatwa, the barrel bomb activity in Aleppo increased exponentially.
a. Most recently, Assad has cranked up the dropping of barrel bombs. In some cases up to 700 per day in the same area.
b. On May 1st, Chlorine Gas was also dropped killing one child.
c. These actions are justified by Assad due to the Fatwa of the Grand Mufti.
2) On April 6th, the Grand Mufti issued a Fatwa that said all Muslims [of the world] are obligated to come and fight beside Assad.
a. Talking to Syrian Mothers about their sons of all ages, the Mufti said, “push them toward this sacred duty, and do not worry, for they will not be killed, only rewarded by God.”
3) Muftis and Scholars from around the world responded with strong words against the Fatwa.
a. One Scholar said: “I promise you, Hassoun if we notice that even one fighter has entered Syria after your wicked fatwa, then know that shedding your blood has become halal,” he said. Halal is a religious term that means “permitted.”
b. One Saudi Scholar promised: It is “the likes of Bashar who should be killed. He is responsible for the blood of innocent men, women and children.”
c. Another cleric promised Hassoun would end up with “hot coal in your mouth,” a theological reference to Hell.
The Assad Factor
The Assad regime maintains several different arms of the military, with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) being its “foot soldiers.” As early as 2012, , “The Syrian Arab Army today consists approximately of 178,000 troops, which is estimated to be one-half of its pre-war strength.” Matthewaid
What happened to the SAA? According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “tens of thousands” of soldiers have fled since the anti-regime revolt broke out in March 2011; although, not all have joined the armed rebellion. The SOHR cited the killing of innocent victims, especially women and children as the reason for the high number of military desertions.
On August 2012, The Daily Star spoke with Kassem Saadeddine, who was the spokesman for the Free Syrian Army at the time. He said, SSA soldiers who were “reluctant to defect for fear of reprisals were supporting the rebels with weapons, intelligence and logistics.” On December 26th, 2012, Major General Abdul-Aziz Jassem Al-Shallal appeared on Al-Arabiya television saying he is “joining the people’s revolution.” General Al-Shallal had held one of the most senior posts before he left. In his departing statement he said, “The army has derailed from its fundamental mission of protecting the people, and it has become a gang for killing and destruction. The military is destroying cities and villages and committing massacres against our innocent people who came out to demand freedom.”
Assad has joined the unconventional and created a “Syrian International Force” to back fill for his dwindling Syrian militry. He has often criticized the opposition of using “foreign fighters.” The rising presence of foreign fighters appears to be among regime forces, with a marked presence in Damascus. These fighters are known to come primarily from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen.
On May 3rd, the Assad regime released a directive to the Syrian Arab Army in Idlib to “kill all old men, children, and women in their way when Jisr al-Shughur is liberated. This really completes the picture regarding the Assad regime. Nothing more needs to be said.
The Dangerous Quadrangle
The irresponsible international community has spent the past five years trying to make their existing methods and paths work to resolve Syrias problems. They have failed repetitively. Rather than do the right thing, the entire world has sat paralyzed watching a cataclysmic humanitarian disaster unfold in front of them. Isn’t the problem that no one want’s to take on this formidable “Quadrangle?” Hasn’t NATO and the Arab League really been handing the “Quadrangle?” the power to do their will?
There have been many “RED LINES” in this disaster. Syrians expected the leader of the “Free World” to LEAD saying “enough to Assad and his proxies and MEAN IT.” However “ENOUGH” hasn’t happened! Assad and his proxies are empowered rather than weakened. As a result, 250,000 people have been slaughtered. Possibly a million lie dead under bombed and crumbled buildings. More than 600,000 are disabled. Other deaths not considered are due to illnesses not treated, deaths due to lack of shelter during inclement weather, and other violence not tracked.
People inside Syria are besieged without aid to this day, with the Assad regime doing nothing to facilitate a change — violating UN multiple UN resolutions. This results in people dying of starvation every day! Without a No-Fly-Zone, the Assad Regime drops barrel bombs daily on towns throughout Syria. In one area recently 700 barrel bombs were dropped on the same day. Since March, Chlorine Gas has been added to Barrel Bombs at least 10 times most recently twice on May 1st in Aleppo and Idlib.
So many people in Syria die every day, it is gut wrenchingly sad. As one person tweeted, regarding Syrian children “it strains our souls.” It is impossible to tell everyones story, although they should all be told. I want to conclude with stories in brief of Syrian children who have died due to lack of action, causing untold pain on families and communities.
Over 25,000 Syrian Children have been killed during the Syrian War
Khlood Mahameed, age 10 years, was killed on May 2, 2015 in al Ballad area of Daraa, which is a liberated area. Klood was gunned down by a regime sniper while she played outside. It is not safe to be a child in Syria, even if it is in the liberated area.
@Abdullah_daaraa tweeted “My heart is weeping … what a beautiful child. What made cruel to kill her.”
@Dlockyer tweeted “Barrel bombs fall anywhere but that a sniper target a child is beyond me.”
Over 9,600 Syrian Children have been tortured in Assad’s custody
These two sisters were out of their home in Busra al-Harir when it was attacked by the Assad regime reinforced by Afghan militia. The two girls and their cousin were fleeing from rockets when the young man was hit by fragments from a rocket which killed him.
The girls were captured. @Abdullah_daaraa tweeted “they were in the hands of the regime, Afghan and Hezbollah, who tortured her and beat her severely.”
Children are innocent victims in the Syria, who receive no mercy or justice.
Conclusion: The Day After Assad
Many people are talking about Assad falling. With that in mind, I ask Syrians what they thought about the post-Assad Syria. We received answers from a variety of people, who all had great answers that were all interesting certainly worth further discussion.
A conversation with Hadi Albahra, Member of the Political Committee of the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces
Hadi Albahra said he is hopeful “in coming months there will be major developments that will allow for a peaceful transition of power.”
He said peaceful transition will not come easy. “It will take military action to prove to the system that he [Assad] cannot achieve any decisive victory and certainly not a military solution. Hadi said that there are efforts in several areas where we seek to consolidate and organize battalions to benefit from the training and equipment program by the United States, and form the nucleus of a disciplined force. This will be the organization of the Free Army that will operate under a unified command.”
Additionally, Hadi said the Syrian Coalition which is a political organization has begun the process of dialogue with Syrians of oppositional groups to start the transitional process. With regards to support from the the US, he said “we seek them to put pressure on Russia and Iran in order to convince them of the need to abandon support the Assad regime and pushed him toward a serious political solution according to the Geneva statement.” Regarding Russia and the recent Moscow Conference, he said “The question that arises here is the logic in holding brainstorming sessions and dialogue between the executioner and the victim?” Hadi said “Syria is looking forward to making the transition to a democratic society of pluralism in Syria.”
Comments from Islam Aloush, Spokesman for the Islamic Front and Islam Army
On April 26, 2015 I chatted with Islam Aloush on Skype about comments Zahran Aloush has made in the past regarding the post-Assad transition. I said, “Zahran Aloush has been very outspoken saying when Assad falls, he does not support elections.” In a video statement he said “Syrians thirst for Islam.” Based on Zahran’s statement, the question I am asking is “What is your political vision for Syria once Assad falls? What type of government do you believe will best serve the people of Syria? Why?” Islam Aloush stated, “This future issue is up to people of politics and religion, they can decide it.”
I spoke to twenty Syrians who were of different situations about their vision regarding the future of Syria. Some were activists, others, active FSA, and others were in exile. Everyone that I spoke to through Skype or twitter said they “wanted an elected President of Syria.”
When I asked about how heads of Provincial government and local councils should be decided, the answers varied. Some said that the positions should be elected, and others stated those positions should be appointed.