POPULAR MOBILIZATION UNITS: ESTABLISHMENT, WAR ON ISIS, ROLE IN FUTURE OF IRAQ

South Front

Popular Mobilization Units: Establishment, War On ISIS, Role In Future Of Iraq

In June 2014, the so-called Islamic State (IS) occupied about one-third of Iraq’s territory, including Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. It meant the radical islamists were close to capturing Baghdad and imposing its authority over all of Iraq. At that point the Iraqi government recognized the real danger of the situation and started forming militia units to liberate the country from IS. The Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) played a decisive role in that process.

The PMU (Al-HashdAl-Sha’abi) are pro-government forces operating under the formal leadership of the Iraqi military and consisting of about 70 factions. They were formed at the directive of Iraqi religious authorities after IS seized large swaths of territory in several provinces north of Baghdad in 2014.

Establishment history

One of the internal political factors which led to the PMU’s appearance in Iraq was the failure of state capacity in the realm of national security, against the backdrop of the rise of IS influence. The fall of Mosul due to massive corruption and Iraqi army’s inability to carry out its key functions meant then-PM Maliki lost faith in the armed forces. According to former Minister of Interior Mohammed Al-Ghabban, “The PMU is a unique, successful and necessary experience that was produced by the period.”

Popular Mobilization Units: Establishment, War On ISIS, Role In Future Of Iraq

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Having armed loyal Shia militias, in contrast to the doubtfully reliable multi-ethnic Iraq units, turned out to to be a far more effective means of restoring order.

On June 15, 204, the leader of Iraqi Shia Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani issued a fatwa calling for struggle against IS and establishing the PMU. One should note here that Sistani did not limit his fatwa to Iraqi Shia. He insisted on characterizing the national mobilization forces as a national institution with the participation of all ethnic, religious, and social groups.

Composition

The core of the PMU are such armed Iraqi Shia formation as the Badr Organization, Asaib ahl al-Haq, Kata’ib Hezbollah, Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, Harakat Hezbollahal-Nujaba, Kata’ib al-Imam Ali, and Kata’ib Jund al-Imam. These units collaborate with certain Sunni tribes in the Salaheddin, Niniveh, and Anbar provinces that were occupied by IS. In addition, PMU includes units consisting of Christians, Turkmen, Kurds, and Yazidis.

Badr Organization. This formation was created in 2003 from the Badr Brigades, the paramilitary organization of the Shia Islamist party “Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq” (ISCI). Its leader is Hadi Al-Amiri. At present it is not only a military organization but also a political party with 22 seats in Iraqi parliament. Its military units are 10 to 15 thousand troops strong. Its units were spotted in every PMU operation against IS.

Asaib ahl al-Haq (League of Righteous People).  This group was formed in 2006 and is closely tied to Lebanese Hezbollah. Its ideology supports the official line of Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Its leader is Qais al-Khazali. As of 2016, it had about 10 thousand troops. Its subunit, called Haidar al-Karar Brigades, is operating on Syria’s territory.

Kata’ib Hezbollah (Battalions of the Party of God). This organization was formed in 2003 in order to resist the US invasion of Iraq. Led by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and has up to 30 thousand troops. Its fighters also support government forces in Syria.

Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (Martyrs of Sayyid Battalions). Militarized Iraqi Shia militia. Formed in 2013 to defend “Shia holy sites around the world” and preserving the country’s unity. Led by Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani who used to be a member of Iraq’s Supreme Islamic Council. These units also fight in Syria in support of the government, mainly in Damascus province. No information on personnel strength.

Harakat Hezbollahal-Nujaba (Movement of the Party of God’s Nobles). Formed in 2013 in response to the drawn-out war in Syria and to disputes with Asaib ahl al-Haq leadership. The two groups still maintain close ties and often cooperate on the battlefield. Led by Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi whose ideology is consistent with that of Ayatollah Khamenei. No information on strength. These units also operate in Syria.

Kata’ib al-Imam Ali (Imam Ali Battalions). Armed wing of the Iraq Islamic Movement. Formed in June 2014 in response to IS aggression. Led by Shibl al-Zayd who earlier fought in the Mahdi Army under Moqtada al-Sadr. Its distinguishing feature is a unit formed from Christians, the Spirit of God Jesus Son of Mary Battalions. No data on strength. Its units participated in liberating Palmyra, battles for Tikrit, and the siege of Mosul.

Kata’ib Jund al-Imam (The Imam’s Soldiers’ Battalions). Its leader ‘Abu Ja’afar’ Ahmed al-Asadi is the PMU press secretary. Its ideology is consistent with that of Khamenei. No data on strength. Its units participated in the liberation of Baiji (2014-15).

Popular Mobilization Units: Establishment, War On ISIS, Role In Future Of Iraq

Ahmed al-Asadi

By various estimates, the PMU today is 60-90 thousand strong. The national mobilization reserve on Iraq’s territory is up to 3 million, including women. National mobilization forces also include support units (combat engineers, medical, logistics, media). Most PMU fighters have significant combat experience amassed during the US invasion of Iraq.

The PMU is headed by Falih al-Fayyadh whose deputy and military commander is Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an engineer. In military respects the PMU are subordinate to the Iraqi army and executive authority. One should also add that the PMU has several HQs in Baghdad and Najaf.

Popular Mobilization Units: Establishment, War On ISIS, Role In Future Of Iraq

Falih al-Fayyadh

Iraqi government is supporting the PMU both militarily and financially. Its budget is about 1.16 trillion Iraqi pounds. Iraq’s population is making major financial contributions to the PMU. Weapons and munitions come mainly from neighboring Iran. The government of Iran, Hezbollah, and the Syrian Arab Army have sent their best-trained officers and junior commanders to the PMU units in order to increase their combat effectiveness.

Popular Mobilization Units: Establishment, War On ISIS, Role In Future Of Iraq

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis

Weapons and equipment

PMU have a large number of Soviet-made APCs provided by the Iraqi army, and also many repaired and overhauled armored vehicles. Armor provided by Iran (such as BMP-1s, as well as T-55 and T-72 tanks and their clones) is also found in PMU. Moreover, PMU has been observed using US-made armor (M1 Abrams, M113 APCs, Humvees, MRAPs). PMU manufactures and makes extensive use of improvised rockets and munitions, and also perform major engineering preparation of the battlefield, including river crossings, fortifications, and airfields.

Popular Mobilization Units: Establishment, War On ISIS, Role In Future Of Iraq

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Operations

Since the moment of its creation, PMU conducted many defensive and offensive ops against IS. The first major success is the lifting of the blockade off Amirli, in Salahaddin province in June-August 2014. Turkmen units and fighters from Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq particularly distinguished themselves in this fight. From October through December 2014, PMU liberated Dhuluʿiya and Jurf Al Sakhar.

In November 2014 the operation to liberate Anbar province capital Ramade was launched, which resulted in a decisive victory of popular mobilization forces and the Iraqi army. Radical islamists brutally killed over 1200 inhabitants, whose bodies were found in the city and its outskirts. This victory had a major psychological impact and revealed the true face of the adherents of the “one true Islam.”

The operation to liberate Baiji took place between December 2014 and October 2015. The city was home to a large oil refinery and also a construction materials factory. Participants in this battle included Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata’ibHezbollah, Badr Organization subunits, and others. The road connecting Baiji to Baghdad was seized by government forces which allowed them to use the city as a jumping off point for offensive on Mosul.

The battle for the capital of Salahaddin province, Tikrit, took place in March and April 2015, with PMU support. This operation saw the participation of Asaib ahl al-Haq, Kata’ib al-Imam Ali, Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, subunits of the Badr Organization, Turkmen formations (16-th Brigade) as well as Sunni militia, the Martyrs of Salahiddeen (up to 5,000 fighters).

In early March 2016, the Operation Imam Ali al-Hadi was initiated in order to liberate Samara in Salahaddin province. All PMU units participated in support of federal police and Iraqi army. This operation had several objectives: liberating Baghdad and Salahaddin provinces, ensuring access to the tombs of two military imams, surrounding Anbar province, and liberating Samarra.

On May 23, 2016, Iraqi PM Haidar al-Abbadi announced Operation Destruction of Terrorism to liberate Falluja. This operation saw the participation of Iraqi army, federal police, the Golden Division, PMU units, and local militias. PMU participation was limited to fighting IS militants on the outskirts of Falluja and the Khaldiya island. The city was liberated on June 26.

It’s possible that the most important PMU achievement is its contribution to liberating Mosul, which began on October 17, 2016. PMU did not participate directly in the assault, but played an important role in besieging the city from direction of Tal-Afar. These operations cut off IS fighters’ retreat corridors toward Syria, and blocked possible reinforcements from Syria. The Mosul city itself was taken under control by government forces, but the operation is continuing since not all the militants have been eliminated.

Separately, the PMU also launched an effort aimed at reaching the border with Syria west of Tal Afar. PMU fighters liberated a large area from ISIS, including Al-Baaj, al-Qayrawan and Hatar, and reached the border with Syria. Controlling a part of the Syrian-Iraqi border, the PMU once again confirmed its important role in the ongoing anti-ISIS effort in Syria and Iraq and set a foothold for further operations in the border area.

The PMU are also playing an important humanitarian role, using their volunteers to collect contributions, distribute humanitarian aid, and provide medical assistance to civilians forced to leave their homes by the fighting. The PMU dramatically transformed the battlefield since it is they who undermined IS ascendancy. They were able to rapidly concentrate a large number of troops in a given sector and deploy units without the need to coordinate with higher HQs. One should also note the media component of PMU operations, which use IS’ own weapon against it. Media were used to organize objective coverage of operations which took public criticism into account.

Role in future political life of Iraq

The liberation of Mosul, IS military defeats in Syria, and the announced death of its leader, have placed a new question on the agenda—who will govern Iraq.

Western media are circulating information that Iraq’s Sunnis have begun to form a new insurgency. Tarikat Nakshbandi, Revolutionary Brigades of 1920, and Khavija City Baathists in the Kirkuk province have declared their intent to fight against the current Iraqi government after IS is destroyed.

Popular Mobilization Units: Establishment, War On ISIS, Role In Future Of Iraq

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Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order. The armed wing of the Tarikat Nakshbandi Sufi order. By some estimates, its size and influence are second only to the IS. It has some 5 thousand fighters. It waged guerrilla warfare against US forces and Iraqi government forces. Remarkably, in June 2014 they participated in the assault on Mosul alongside IS. Its leader, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was the Deputy Chairman of Iraq’s Revolutionary Command Council between 1979 and 2003, and right now is one of the most US-sought high-ranking Saddam Hussein-era officials.

Therefore the defeat of IS will only be to their benefit, since it will eliminate the main competitor, and moreover after IS terror any other group looks more attractive to the Sunnis.

Moreover, with the defeat of IS Al-Qaeda could also reinvent itself, though it seems unlikely. IS collapse may show islamists of the whole world that Al-Qaeda’s strategy to establish a khalifate only in the final stage of the jihad, when the entire population already unconditionally shares jihadist ideology, is more productive than a khalifate established by violence. However, al-Qaeda currently does not play the role in the world of radical Islam that it played 10-15 years ago.

One also shouldn’t dismiss IS. The physical suppression of IS and Shia celebrations will hardly have a positive effect on Iraqi and Syrian Sunni dispositions. One can’t rule out new Sunni terrorist groups. Since the start of the Mosul battle, IS militants were able to carry out several major and bloody terror attacks in various parts of Iraq, including Kirkuk, Tikrit, Samarra, and Baghdad. With IS transitioning to guerrilla war after military defeat in Iraq and Syria, one can expect more of them. And it will be more difficult to determine who, radical Sunnis or IS survivors, is behind them.

One may draw a conclusion from the Middle East chaos that US policies have totally failed. But that would be incorrect. US will continue to exert significant influence on political processes. If one were to leave everything as it is, Iran would fill the created vacuum using Shia militias which exist to varying extent in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq. This will threaten the positions of such countries as Israel and Jordan.

The relations between Iraqi Kurds and the government are also complex. The Iraqi Kurdistan is a self-sufficient autonomous entity with own administration, economy, police, and army. Moreover, a referendum is planned for Sept. 25, 2017 on Iraqi Kurdistan independence, which can’t help but create tensions with Iraq’s federal government and with minorities who live on IK territory (Turkomen, Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs). The Arab-Kurd relations are mde worse by the memory of Saddam Hussein’s repressions during the Iran-Iraq war, and the Kurds’ active support of the US administration during its occupation of Iraq.

As far as PMU future is concerned, there are several nuances. PMU has no single political leader as it is a militarized entity. There are current and potential frictions within PMU due to competition for power among three factions: Khamenei’s, Ali al-Sistani’s, and Moqtada al-Sadr’s.

The Khamenei faction includes several relatively small entities formed by Iran. Its leaders are proud of that affiliation, emphasizing their religious obedience to Khamenei. These groups include, for example, Saraya Khurasani and Kata’ib Abu Fadhlal-Abbas. This faction has the aim of furthering Iranian interests in Syria, and protecting Iran’s border regions. These militarized formations are either fully formed political parties, or are becoming them in anticipation of planned 2018 provincial and parliamentary elections. These groups are close to former PM Maliki, who convinced them to join the Coalition for Rule of Law during the Iraq parliamentary elections in 2014. Though initially formed as military organizations, these formations have become genuine political parties under former PM’s leadership.

Popular Mobilization Units: Establishment, War On ISIS, Role In Future Of Iraq

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The second PMU faction includes several military formations which swore allegiance to the supreme leader of Iraqi Shia, Ayatollah Sistani, and whose interests are non-political. They were formed exclusively by Sistani’s fatwa to protect Iraqi Shia holy sites and literate territory from IS. In 2014, there was a real threat that IS could destroy Shia holy sites in Baghdad and other provinces. This faction’s main formations are Saraya al-Ataba al-Abbasiya, Saraya al-Ataba al-Hussainiya, Saraya al-Ataba al-Alawiya, and Liwa ‘Al ial-Akbar. Each of those names corresponds to one of the four sacred mosques in Kadhimi, Karbala, and Najaf. According to some of leaders and members of these groups, they will be disbanded as soon as IS threat dissipates. This view is based on Sistani’s fatwa being issued in response to a specific threat and having a temporary character. Their key mission is protecting Shia zones and obeying Sistani’s orders. It means this faction’s groups could be disbanded or integrated into Iraqi military.

Peace regiments (Sarai al-Salam) were formed by radical Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr right after the slaughter perpertrated by radical islamists in 2014 in Camp Speicher. This amounted to rebranding the Mahdi Army which was disbanded in 2008 but retained its core of commanders and specialists. They were easily remobilized, since Sadr had more experience working with militarized formations than other leaders. By some estimates Sarai al-Salam could quickly mobilize up to 100,000 men. According to faction leaders, its power is not limited by number of volunteers but by shortage of resources, particularly money and military equipment. That’s because, unlike other factions, Moqtada al-Sadr’s group is largely cut off from Iranian funding. The movement, and its semi-military character, is popular in Iraq due to its activities in Iraq prior to US invasion in 2003. Unlike other parties and military groups, Sadrists were not part of the elite that returned to Iraq after US-led invasion. The movement was embedded with ordinary Iraqi citizens, not elites. Sadr has charted his own course, to the disappointment of Iran’s leaders who poured resources into Mahdi Army in 2003-10. Today Sadr and his militarized formations have a strong pro-national position, reject Khamenei’s politics, and are against the presence of any foreign troops in Iraq. This stance has introduced confusion concerning the role Sarai al-Salam in PMU. From time to time, Sadr’s supporters claim they are part of PMU, yet in other instances they claim they are not. This is partly the result of not recognizing Khamenei’s faction as part of PMU, and an even greater rejection of Iranian influence and of former PM Maliki in Iraq. However, this faction finds it useful to declare itself part of PMU due to its popularity among Iraqis.

Matters of contention within the PMU

Involvement in Syrian affairs. Khamenei’s faction remains close to Iran and favors aiding Assad’s government. Many of those groups, particularly the core of seven militarized formations, still support the legitimate government of Syria and are ready to help defend Damascus. But Sistani’s and Sadr’s supporters were against getting involved in aiding Assad. Sadr even criticized Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah for its official involvement in Syria in 2014. He claimed that Shia movements and parties ought to observe their own jurisdictions and not complicate their politics by intervening in other countries’ affairs. He also criticized Iraqi Shia militiamen for their presence in Syria. Moreover, many of Sistani’s unit commanders are more concerned with protecting Shia territory and holy sites in Iraq than intervening in Syria.

Integrating PMU into the existing Iraqi security institutions is another contentious matter. Khamenei’s faction is wary of being integrated into the Iraqi army or police, since they are still too weak post-2014. For their part, most groups tied to Sistani and Sadr voiced readiness to integrate into state institutions or even disband some of their military formations.

Whether PMU is integrated into existing armed forces or preserved as a separate branch of forces will have consequences not only for Iraq’s security but for its politics. If the acting Prime Minister Abadi is able to effectively and painlessly integrate PMU into Iraqi military, it will be a convincing argument in favor of his leadership. But the fact that Abadi kept PMU from participating in assault on Mosul and send them to a secondary sector, even though Iraqi military showed weakness and PMU could have been used effectively along the main axis of advance, shows that PMU will continue to have a decisive influence on the political balance of power in Iraq. Thus next year PMU will inevitably become a political instrument used by all parties in their efforts to attain power in Iraq.

Popular Mobilization Units: Establishment, War On ISIS, Role In Future Of Iraq

Iraqi PM is in Mosul

Conclusion

The PMU may be considered one of the biggest military and civilian organizations in the Middle East. They are the most likely and desirable center of  political power in Iraq. The PMU unites numerous Sunni, Shia, Christian, Yazidi, Turkoman, and Kurdish armed formations, which means that the PMU, in spite of internal disagreements, is a platform for dialogue on military and political matters, and also a guarantee against the internal or external threat of radical Islam. Currently only the PMU has major experience of conducting military operations, working with local population on humanitarian matters, and ensuring objective media coverage. Most ordinary Iraqis believe the PMU should have a political future, because it is they who broke the back of ISIS in Iraq and are ready to aid neighboring Syria.

For Iraq to be able to address own problems, it should strengthen local and federal institutions in order to combat armed terrorists and reach mutual understanding among ethno-religious communities. Only then will Iraq be able to translate its current military victories into long-term political dividends and ensure peace and stability in the region.

 

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PeakProsperity interviews The Saker (podcast)

July 11, 2017

Mosul Liberated, What Next?

Mosul Liberated, What Next?

PETER KORZUN | 11.07.2017 | WORLD

Mosul Liberated, What Next?

On July 9, Mosul was declared liberated from the Islamic State (IS). Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in the city to announce the mission’s success. After nine months of fierce and grueling fighting and human suffering, the terrorists lost the city, which has been their stronghold for the last three years. Around 915,000 residents have fled Mosul since the start of the battle for the city last October.

Every piece of terrain recaptured from the extremist group is a step forward. The liberation of Mosul is an important victory but it is also the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end. Those who routed the IS – the Iraqi Security Forces, Sunni militias, Kurdish Peshmerga, Shia-dominated Popular Mobilization Units and Christian militias – all of them pursue different interests and belong to different sectarian fractions.

Animosity exists between Shia and Sunni Muslims. There is discord between the Kurds and Arabs. Without a single military or political leader over the battle, the chances of discord or fratricide are substantial. With IS no longer a common threat, pent up animosities among current allies might be released. An enormous effort will be required to prevent them from coming to blows with each other.

Mosul is Iraq’s second largest city and is predominately Sunni Arab but also consists of Kurds, Shi’as, Turkmens, Yezidis, Christians and other ethnic groups. Who exactly will control the city with Sunni-dominated population? Is the possibility of clashes between Shiite and Sunni militias excluded? Will the forces controlling the city be under a central command? And if Mosul is not administered well after liberation it will become the birthplace of another terrorist group. Securing peace may be harder than winning the war.

The Shia Popular Mobilization Forces answer to their individual militia commanders – or directly to Teheran. The Kurdish Peshmerga reports exclusively to President Masood Barzani, the head of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The Sunni National Mobilization Forces answer to militia commanders. The US Central Command has no authority over the Iraqi elements. Unlike the coalition, the IS forces are a single entity under a single commander.

The same questions will inevitably be raised after the IS is squeezed from Raqqa, Syria. Nobody knows what comes next after Raqqa is retaken. Who and under what authority will govern? Like in Iraq, the actors involved in the Syrian conflict also have opposing visions of the country’s future and pursue different goals.

The battle against the IS in Iraq itself is far from being over. The jihadis still control large swathes of land in Nineveh and Anbar provinces, as well as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk. As the so-called caliphate crumbles, the surviving IS fighters not captured by Iraqi army will head for Syria.

In Syria, the terrorist group still controls large chunks of territory. When finally driven out of their two main bastions: the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, the IS will still control large areas of the Euphrates River Valley, southeast of Raqqa stretching into western Iraq and has a few other strongholds in both Iraq and Syria that will need to be cleared as well.

The territory under the militants’ control in Syria includes large parts of Hama and Homs provinces. The Deir ez Zor province is largely under the group’s control. The town of al-Mayadeen in Deir ez Zor has been announced to become the caliphate’s new capital where the group’s leaders have moved.

And even if the group is driven form those positions, the desert in the eastern part of Syria and the adjacent Iraqi province of Anbar may remain under the IS control for a long time. The desert warfare is waged in the environment unhospitable to regular army forces.

Even if the caliphate did not control land, the group’s leadership and hardcore fighters would likely remain in Iraq and Syria, forming an underground resistance. Many militants will move to North Africa, especially Libya, while some of them will join the fighting in the Asia-Pacific while others will go to Europe and join terrorist cells there.

When the international force launched the operation in Afghanistan, many Al Qaeda jihadis vanished in the hays waiting for another chance to take up arms. The same way the IS will fade into the woodwork to lay low to the ground, waiting for an opportunity to re-emerge. The group has developed networks skilled at raising money, obtaining weapons and clandestine organizations in the Middle East and other parts of the world. They wait till the moment is right for them to come back and retake the cities in the countries where internal instability creates proper conditions for invasion.

The IS may lose territory and be retreating but its ideology lives. It’s not so much a fight on the battlefield to seize land but rather a struggle for domination of people’s minds – that’s the gist of the problem.

The US-led coalition is scheduled to meet in Washington this week to discuss stabilization in liberated areas of Iraq and Syria. Stabilization is important but there appears no significant discussion on what comes next.

An international threat can be effectively countered only by an international effort. That’s what made this problem be included into the agenda of US and Russian presidents’ meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg. There is a long way to go and only joint efforts will bear fruit.

Russia can mediate between Iran and the US, Iran and the Saudi-led coalition of Arab states. The actors divided on other issues should coordinate efforts to prevent the IS from finding safe havens. It should always be hiding and on the run to be finally defeated. International efforts should go much farther than just Iraq and Syria. They should not be limited to statements of condemnation made by the Security Council or the General Assembly. An effective international mechanism should be created to counter the evil. It cannot be achieved without Russia and the US joining together. So, that’s what they should do, while setting aside other issues the parties disagree on.

ROBERT FORD ADMITS SYRPER WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG; TRUMP OUT OF THE LOOP; U.S. IGNORANCE TRUMPS LOGIC IN SYRIA AS AMERICANS PREPARE FOR ANOTHER SWAMP

أبرز التطورات الميدانية على الساحة السورية

Ziad Fadel

 

Robert Ford addressed some Syrian traitors in Berkeley, Michigan, back in July of 2012 after he was booted out of Syria.  If you all remember, he was the U.S. “ambassador” to Damascus whose legacy will surely be that he participated in the evolution of the war there by openly fomenting discord in that nation and visiting known enemies of the state, especially in Hama and Homs.  He performed these positively unlawful acts under the noses of the Syrian intelligence services who seemed to be taking their orders directly from President Assad.  Assad was extremely confident at the time that his country would never go the route of the utterly mislabeled “Arab Spring”.  So confident was he that it appeared he was taunting the criminal Ford and his ever-present sidekick, the wino-French ambassador, Eric Chevalier.  Dr. Assad did not know at the time that the U.S.had plans for his ouster back as far as 2007 and that the disturbances in the Arab World were merely the setting up of the proper scenario for exactly that outcome.

Ford, described invariably in SyrPer as a common criminal and imbecile, appeared before that group of mostly Muslim Brotherhood supporters and promised them the end of “Assad’s Reign”.  He mumbled a few words in mispronounced Arabic and told the cheering crowd that there would no longer be any more “Makhloof, Assad or Shaleesh”.

I was given a heads-up about the speech by a good friend who had ties to the traitors who would be the majority in attendance.  I tried to get many of my fellow Syrians to attend with me and my wife but could only secure the accompaniment of John Esq.  We entered the den of the rats like some Daniel dipping his toe in a sewer.

When Ford had finished his speech and John Esq.devastated him with a question about how Abraham Lincoln fought his Civil War with the South killing over 800,000 people and Ford reacting with the lamest answer I have ever heard, Ziad left with his wife and shouted over the bellowings of the mostly Sunni crowd:  “Our president will still be in office after yours has returned to his cesspool in Chicago.”  I was right, except about where Obama would return.

Ford has experienced an epiphany.  He was interviewed by the Saudi-owned, London-based rag “Al-Sharq Al-Awsat” and told the interviewer that “Assad has triumphed”.  He also stated that Russian FM Sergei Lavrov treated U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, like a “child”.  He also chided Obama for leaving the Trump regime with “few options” and predicted that Dr. Assad would reunite his country “sooner or later”.  He also warned the Kurds about the tragic mistake they were making in trusting the U.S.  Ford should be tried as a war criminal for his acts in pushing Syria toward this horrible war.

Robert Ford seen here trying to avoid the stench of Syrian traitors and child molesters who dreamed they could overthrow the Ba’ath Party and Dr. Assad.  

But, you know, in penitence there is redemption.  As Ford laments his sordid history of murder and mayhem, he can take solace in the fact that he still might finagle a painless death on this earth.  He might still cheat the wishes of every loyal Syrian citizen who has had to live with the aftermath of his folly-ridden crusade to bring Syria down in ashes.

And what of Trump?  Why, Trump, who appointed his son’s wedding planner to the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is so far at sea his advisors hold security meetings without him.  He has defaulted on every issue and has ceded decision-making to the wolves, weasels and Zio-Nazis who infest his “regime”.  And as Saudi Arabia verges on total anarchy, the former vice-heir now the only heir to the throne of the vultures, continues to arrest members of the “royal” family insuring his expeditious descent into the same abyss waiting for Mr. Trump.

Read more 

Saudi Hijinks, US Policy Stinks

June 22, 2017

US President Donald Trump - Saudi King Salman

Finian Cunningham

The whimsical Saudi rulers are playing musical chairs again, with the king’s favorite son jumping the succession queue in what some observers have called a “soft coup” to become heir to the oil kingdom throne.

The medieval-like House of Saud has always been a lynchpin in US foreign policy for the Middle East. More so under President Donald Trump who has struck up a chummy relationship with the young Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This relationship is like the blind leading the blind. No wonder US policy is fast becoming a disaster for the restive region.

America’s deepening and reckless military involvement in Syria is a result of Trump cozying up with the Saudi despots. That, in turn, is leading to the US brazenly flying air force cover for Saudi-sponsored terrorists in Syria at the risk of going to war with Russia and Iran. Russia has warned that any more US shoot-downs of Syrian jets will not be tolerated.

This week the obscurantist Saudi rulers decided to shake up their bizarre rules of succession in the kingdom. The ailing King Salman (81) decreed, overnight, that his heir Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef would no longer be the heir. Bin Nayef was pushed aside, to be replaced by the king’s own son, Mohammed bin Salman.

At age 31, the new Crown Prince could soon become the future Saudi ruler who will govern the country for the next half century. On one hand, the shake-up is aimed at giving the impression of stability in a strategic American ally, given that, potentially, Mohammed bin Salman could rule for several decades to come, owing to his youthful age.

On the other hand, however, the upending of Saudi succession rules is fraught with risk that the Arab state could become even more unstable from internal power rivalries and social discontent. Not to mention that the country has already become more embroiled in regional problems with neighbors Yemen, Qatar and Iran. All of which stems from the rapid elevation of the young prince to a position of immense autocratic power.

The United States’ decades-long “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia has always carried major downsides. Yes, the Saudis are a pillar in maintaining the American petrodollar system to prevent the collapse of the US economy; and, yes, the Saudi rulers are lavish spenders on US weapons, which props up the Pentagon military-industrial complex – another lifeline for American capitalism.

However, the Saudi rulers are also longtime sponsors of Wahhabi fundamentalism which has injected deadly sectarian poison into the Middle East region and beyond. Washington is complicit in fomenting sectarianism through its relationship with Saudi Arabia, and the price for that Faustian pact is a world in turmoil from terrorism.

Donald Trump’s presidency is an unfortunate marriage of interests with Saudi Arabia. Trump is capricious, ignorant and impetuous. His understanding of international relations and history seems woefully inadequate. He also appears to be unscrupulous and reckless. It’s all about making money that matters to him.

From the earliest opportunity, the Saudi prince wheedled his way into Trump’s court. He was greeted in the White House back in March, one of the first foreign leaders to do so. Then two months later, Trump ventured on his maiden foreign trip as president in which he made Saudi Arabia his first stop. Trump was royally received by the House of Saud with sword-waving ceremony. And then the Saudis signed record arms deal with the US worth up to $350 billion – the biggest ever in history.

It was during Trump’s Saudi visit that the policy of increased hostility towards Iran and isolation of erstwhile Saudi and American ally Qatar was hatched. This reckless, clueless embrace of Saudi Arabia by Trump has led to a dangerous escalation in tensions across the Middle East, which are seen playing out in Syria and towards Iran and Russia.

Trump the tycoon and the Saudi upstart-prince are a duo who are plunging the world into danger of all-out war. The pair are a match made in hell, both being rash and irresponsible in their behavior.

Nobody outside Saudi Arabia had heard of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman until his father become king in January 2015 on the death of King Abdullah. In the space of two years, the young prince has been made defense minister and de facto chief of Saudi’s oil economy. Now, this week he has been shunted into becoming heir to the throne, sidelining his elder cousin and nephew to the king.

The precocious prince has only enjoyed this meteoric rise in the House of Saud because of his father’s favoritism. Other more senior royals feel ousted and see the new Crown Prince as undeserving of his assigned authority. In short, he is out of his depth.

In the Saudi succession rules, the royal line is supposed to pass from brother to brother. There are still surviving brothers of the Saudi founding king, Ibn Saud, who have been removed from the succession. The present King Salman first broke the rules when he made his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef the Crown Prince back in April 2015. Now he has broken the rules again by making his own son the heir and unceremoniously pushing bin Nayef to the side. Such are the hijinks of despots.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the architect behind the disastrous war in Yemen, which is turning into a Vietnam-style quagmire for Saudi Arabia, costing the kingdom billions of dollars every month. He is also reportedly the architect behind the policy of renewed hostility towards Iran. In an interview before Trump’s Saudi trip, Mohammed bin Salman said he would never talk to Iran and even threatened to unleash violence on Iranian territory. That threat was followed by the deadly terror attack in Tehran on June 7 in which up to 17 people were killed by Daesh suicide squads.

The hiked-up hostile policy towards Iran has, in turn, led to Saudi Arabia blockading Qatar and causing a bitter rift in the Persian Gulf because Qatar is perceived as being too soft on Iran.

The power-struggle antics among the absolute rulers of the House of Saud have promoted a prince who has a reckless outsized ego and lust for dominance. President Donald Trump seems cut from the same cloth. Courting the young Saudi heir may be lucrative for American weapons-dealing and no doubt the Trump business brand in the oil-rich region. But the consequences of such capricious and clueless “leadership” are throwing the region and the world into increasing conflict.

This week the US State Department flatly contradicted Trump’s policy of supporting the Saudi-led blockade on Qatar. It said it was mystified that the Saudis had not presented any evidence to justify the blockade. This is just one example where Trump is being made to look a total fool by following stupid Saudi policy – policy that is made by a prince who has gathered a record for disaster in several other spheres.

What a double act. Saudi despotism marries Trump cluelessness. And the world is reaping the calamity of clowns.

Almanar.com.lb is not responsible for the content of this article. All opinions expressed are solely those of the author

Source: Sputnik

The Real Reasons the West Cannot Topple Bashar Assad

The Real Reasons the West Cannot Topple Bashar Assad

Posted on June 13, 2017

Sarah Abed has posted a fascinating article at her blog, The Rabbit Hole, providing an analysis of how, and why, Syrian President Bashar Assad–despite nearly eight years of sweat poured by scheming Western regime changers into the goal of toppling his government–has managed to hang on.

What the heck is it about this guy? How has he piloted his way through every single Zionist effort to rip his country apart and install a puppet government favorable to the West? What’s his secret? For after all, hordes of Western-trained terrorist head-choppers have been poured into Syria equipped with shiny fleets of Toyotas and advanced-grade military weaponry, yet Assad, almost miraculously, has remained at the head of the government, and for the most part has kept the country together. How has he been able to do this? Abed supplies four main reasons.

Reason # 1 she gives is the president’s strong spiritual faith, and in discussing that faith she furnishes some interesting information about the Alawite religion. Here is an excerpt from her article:

First and foremost there is Bashar al-Assad’s unwavering dedication to his family’s spiritual traditions and religious faith.  Being an ardent practitioner of the Alawite religion like his father and forefathers before him, Assad has drawn great strength from this mystical and tolerant branch of Shia Islam. He went into the medical profession and trained as an ophthalmologist because of his desire to serve the Syrian people.

Also known as Alawis, Alawites “are a prominent religious group, centered in Syria, who follow a branch of the Twelver school of Shia Islam but with syncretistic elements.“[1]  Because his religious community had suffered religious persecution and many other indignities over generations prior to his father’s presidency, he is quite sensitive to the need for religious tolerance.  Particularly within the context of Syria’s historical religious diversity, did the Alawites rise to provide the cohesive leadership necessary to maintain the peace and mutual acceptance?  This remarkable achievement occurred over decades when many neighboring nations suffered the fate of one failed government after another.

For those who are cognizant of the well-known Hindu religious tolerance in India, Alawites are quite similar.  They not only believe in reincarnation as in the East, they have also absorbed many other aspects of the predominant religions in Syria especially those found in Islam and Christianity.  Because of their syncretic approach in both philosophy and practice, Alawis have evolved into a genuinely tolerant spiritual community who actively cultivate a climate of mutual respect.  However, it is the mystical aspects of their spiritual practice which has earned them the respect of the Syrian people.  Because they are known to walk their talk, they have been trusted to lead as they have done for almost 5 decades.

Alawites consider themselves to be Muslims, although some Sunnis dispute that they are. Alawite doctrine incorporates Gnostic, neo-Platonic, Islamic, Christian and other elements and has, therefore, been described as syncretistic.

Alawite beliefs have never been confirmed by their modern religious authorities. Alawites tend to conceal their beliefs (taqiyya) due to historical persecution. Some tenets of the faith are secret, known only to a select few; therefore, they have been described as a mystical sect.

All religions, of course, are syncretic to one degree or another, so perhaps the Alawites are not unique in that regard. But they certainly are a religious minority in Syria, representing just 11 percent of the population. For the Syrian people to support Assad to the extent that they do (he won the 2014 election with 88.7 percent of the vote) would suggest not only a remarkable degree of trust in the man, but also respect for his religious faith.

As I said, Abed gives a total of four reasons, in the main, why Assad remains standing despite everything the West has thrown at him. Reason # 2?  The strength of his wife, Asma. As Abed puts it, “the Assad marriage reveals how a strong woman often exists behind every great leader.” Reason # 3–the guidance and training he received from his father, Hafez Assad. Reason #4 — no surprise — the alliance with Russia.

All in all, as I say, it’s a fascinating article. Click here to access it in full.

Syria of Assad سورية الأسد Updated

 

“Syria of Al-Assad”

يونيو 14, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Maybe the linkage between the name of Syria and the name of the President Hafez Al-Assad and then the President Bashar Al-Assad can grant the right to some people to say that it is a diminution of homeland as Syria by linking it with the name of a person whatever his name is great and his status is high. It seemed before as a kind of sanctification of a symbol that gave his country a privacy that is related to his name, and a status that is difficult to obtain by any other person. The opponents would have also the right to link the dispute with the linkage between Syria and Al-Assad in order to show their Syria which can liberate from this linking to be more beautiful, greater, and bigger.

After the war on Syria, the matter is no longer how to conduct those who were recording their protest on this linking, since we saw their Syria which they foreshadowed that this linkage diminishes and devitalizes it, the reality has summarized their actual project of Syria through what the seculars, the clerks, and those who calls for Arabism offered, what is intended here are examples that have symbols in the formations, and figures that were at the top of the Syrian oppositions that were gathered under what they called the Syrian revolution and which led to the formation of emirates of killing and slaughter over the Syrian land, threatening its unity, selling its national independence, the abandonment of its Golan, turning it into a free land for the invaders and the ambushers, appointing the oil sheikhs through their ignorance and their remoteness from every freedom, democracy, and estimation of the rights of people as references in the jurisprudence of the revolutions in Syria  and the Syrians, and improving the image of Janissaries with a new Ottoman dress and the nostalgia of the French colonialism  with a democratic desire, so the example of “Syria of Al-Assad” has surpassed in the eyes of the simple people of Syria especially those who were believed in the lie of the revolution and now they mourn over  those days.

“Syria of Al-Assad” which we mean was built by the President Hafez Al-Assad and was under the auspices of the President Bashar Al-Assad, it is Syria which gave the priority for the building of the strong country supported with freedom and democracy, it expanded the contribution of the country in bearing the burdens of the livelihood of its poor, it built their villages, took care of their agriculture, helped in strengthen their health and in the way of getting their sciences, and supplied every village in the Syrian geography with all the services, this has not been a subject of controversy in the life of the President Hafez Al-Assad and what preceded the war on Syria through the responsibilities of the President Bashar Al-Assad, because Syria can be described as the abbreviation of “Syria of Al-Assad” as an indication to this special mixture of the social aspect of the country, freedom and democracy, the secularism of the country and its modernism. Its constitution based so much on the Islamic law as a main source for legislation, but it is a country that prevents the clerks from dealing with politics,  it restricts the limits of religion between the places of worship and homes, it chases the extremists and prevents any sense of sectarianism, in return, it opens up to a common livelihood lived by the Syrians through sharing the joy of living, they made what was described by the Pope John II as a dialogue of life that is rare, although it is an example that did not satisfy many seculars and clerks, as the equation between the belonging to Syria and the Arabism for an identity that it difficult to imagine a substitute of it, but through dividing between the religious and the tribal fanaticism.

The concept of the national security of “Syria of Al-Assad” based on the equation of the hostility to Israel as a compass, so according to this compass, it supported the Iranian revolution, it  opposed the Iraqi war on Iran,  it made the widest possible range of the Arab solidarity to secure it, so every resistance based on it wins, it grants the country a diplomatic concept that links it with the widest alliances on the basis of applying the international law and the UN resolutions, it is certain that Israel is incapable country to go on in peace in way that concords in form and essence with the texts of the international law and its essence, furthermore, it formed its strategy on the basis of the bilateral of the openness to all the international initiatives for a political solution according to the international law and forming the force under the slogan of the strategic balance which paralyzes the aggression and creates the ability to liberate. All of that is a special diligence in respect of “Syria of Al-Assad”, but this neither satisfies the advocates of peace nor those who suggested that the announced war is the solution.

In the experience witnessed by Syria during the years of war on it, there was a golden opportunity for judging scientifically on this example in building a state in the third world under the open US hegemony on the oil stored in our lands and the defense of Israel’s. Although it is early to have a final judgement on the equations which were embodied in the example of the state of “Syria of Al-Assad”, but the indicators show that the freedom and the democracy as well as the complicated relation with religion and the interrelated relation with the concept of the national security between sticking to the international law and the resistance and reluctance are the genius mixture which made the status of Syria, its strength and its stability and which it is difficult to imagine its formation on other one , so tampering in it in order to have more of its features will be a source of dangerous imbalance.

In the remembrance of his departure, God’s mercy be upon the soul of the President Hafez Al-Assad and protect the President Bashar Al-Assad the national, the loyal, and the well born man. God bless “Syria of Al-Assad” and make it more beautiful, powerful, securer, and more sublime

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

 

سورية الأسد

ناصر قنديل

– ربما كان في ربط اسم سورية باسم الرئيس حافظ الأسد، ومن بعده الرئيس بشار الأسد، ما يمنح الحق للبعض بقولهم إنه تحجيم لوطن بحجم سورية بربطه باسم شخص، مهما عظم اسمه وعلت مكانته، إذ كان الأمر يبدو من قبل كمجرد نوع من التقديس لرمز منح بلده خصوصية ارتبطت باسمه، ومكانة صعب أن تنالها مع سواه، وكان يحق للمناوئين أن يربطوا النزاع على الصلة بين سورية والأسد، حتى يظهروا سورياهم التي تستطيع أن تتحرّر من هذا الالتصاق، لتشرق أجمل وأعظم وأكبر.

– بعد الحرب على سورية لم تعُد المسألة كيف نجري كشف حساب مع الذين كانوا يسجلون اعتراضهم على هذا الربط. وقد رأينا سورياهم التي بشروا بأن الربط يقزّمها ويختزلها، وقد اختصر الواقع مشروعهم الفعلي لسورية بما قدّموه في الواقع علمانيين ودينيين وعروبيين. والقصد هنا نماذج لها رموزها في تشكيلات وشخصيات تصدّرت واجهة المعارضات السورية، اجتمعت تحت ما أسمته بالثورة السورية والذي أفضى إلى إقامة إمارات قتل وذبح فوق الأرض السورية وتهديد وحدتها واستجلاب كل أفاعي الأرض إليها، وبيع استقلالها الوطني والتنازل عن جولانها، وتحويلها مشاعاً أمام الغزاة والمتربّصين وتسييد شيوخ النفط بجهلهم وبعدهم عن كل حرية وديمقراطية وتقدير لحقوق الإنسان كمراجع في فقه الثورات على سورية والسوريين، وتلميع الإنكشارية بثوب عثمانية جديدة والحنين الاستعماري الفرنسي بثوب ديمقراطية حنونة، فتفوق نموذج سورية الأسد بعيون بسطاء السوريين، خصوصاً من أخذ منهم على حين غرة بأكذوبة الثورة، يترحمون على تلك الأيام.

– سورية الأسد التي نقصدها هي سورية التي بناها الرئيس حافظ الأسد ورعاها الرئيس بشار الأسد. وهي سورية التي منحت الأولوية لبناء الدولة القوية على مساحات الحرية والديمقراطية، ووسعت مساحات مساهمة الدولة في حمل أعباء حياة فقرائها، وعمّرت قراهم ورعت زراعتهم وساعدت في تحصين صحتهم وتحصيل علومهم، وأوصلت كل الخدمات إلى آخر قرية في أقاصي الجغرافيا السورية. وهذا ما كان موضع جدل في حياة الرئيس حافظ الأسد وما سبق الحرب على سورية من مسؤوليات الرئيس بشار الأسد، لأن سورية هذه يمكن وصفها اختصاراً بسورية الأسد كتدليل على هذه الخلطة الخاصة من عيارات الطابع الاجتماعي للدولة ومقادير الحرية والديمقراطية فيها، ومثلها عيارات علمانية الدولة ومدنيتها، فهي دولة تستقي كما يقول دستورها كثيراً من الشريعة الإسلامية كمصدر أساسي للتشريع، لكنها دولة تمنع رجال الدين من التعاطي في السياسة وتحصر حدود الدين بين أماكن العبادة والبيوت، وتلاحق المتطرفين وتكتم كل حسّ طائفي حتى لا يجرؤ أحد في سرّه أن يفكّر في طائفته وطائفة سواه، وتنفتح بالمقابل على عيش مشترك يعيشه السوريون بتنوّعهم بفرح التشارك في العيش ويقيمون ما وصفه البابا يوحنا الثاني بحوار حياة قلّ نظيره. وهو نموذج لم يرضِ العلمانيين ولا الدينيين، وكذلك كانت المعادلة بين السورية والعروبة لهوية يصعب اليوم تخيّل بديل منها إلا بالتشظي بين العصبيات الدينية والقبلية.

– سورية الأسد هي التي قام مفهومها للأمن القومي على معادلة العداء لـ«إسرائيل» كبوصلة لا تحيد عنها، فتنتصر للثورة الإيرانية وفقها، وتخالف الحرب العراقية على إيران بسببها، وتقيم أوسع مدى ممكن من التضامن العربي منعاً للتفريط بها، وتنصر كل مقاومة على أساسها، وتقدّم للدولة مفهوماً دبلوماسياً يربطها بأوسع تحالفات على أساس تطبيق القانون الدولي والقرارات الأممية، ولا يزعجها وجود مفردة السلام هنا ويقينها أن إسرائيل دولة عاجزة عن السير بسلام ينسجم بالشكل والجوهر مع نصوص القانون الدولي وروحه، فتنشئ استراتجيتها على ثنائية الانفتاح على كل مبادرات دولية لحلّ سياسي وفق القانون الدولي، وبناء القوة والقدرة تحت شعار التوازن الاستراتيجي الذي يشلّ يد العدوان ويهيئ القدرة للتحرير. وهذا كله اجتهاد خاص يختص بسورية الأسد ولم يكن يرضي دعاة السلام ولا الذي يقولون بأن إشهار سيف الحرب المعلن هو الحل.

– في الاختبار الذي عاشته سورية خلال سنوات الحرب عليها، كانت فرصة ذهبية بالمعنى العلمي للحكم على هذا النموذج في بناء دولة في العالم الثالث وسط بحيرات الهيمنة الأميركية المفتوحة على شهية النفط المخزون تحت ترابنا، والدفاع عن وجود «إسرائيل» المتشبث بما فوق التراب وتحته، ليسهل الحكم لهذا النموذج بما له وما عليه، وإذا كان مبكراً الحديث بحكم نهائي للمعادلات التي تجسّدت في نموذج دولة سورية الأسد، فإن كل المؤشرات تقول إن مقدار الحرية والديمقراطية ومثلهما مقادير العلاقة المركبة بالدين، وكذلك العلاقة المتشابكة في مفهوم الأمن القومي بين التمسك بالقانون الدولي والمقاومة والممانعة، كان المقدار العبقري الذي صنع مكانة سورية وقوتها وثباتها والذي يصعب تخيّل قيامتها مجدداً على سواه، والذي يشكّل العبث به بداعي طلب المزيد من أي شيء من ميزاتها مصدراً لاختلال خطير لميزانها.

– رحم الله الرئيس حافظ الأسد في ذكرى الرحيل، وحمى الرئيس بشار الأسد الوفي القومي الأبي الأصيل، ونصر الله سورية الأسد وأعادها أجمل وأقوى وأشدّ منعة وأرفع مكانة.

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