Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham
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Phlegethon
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Post: #1171
RE: Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham
In Memoriam: Archbishop Hilarion Capucci

The Arab community lost their beloved Archbishop of the Arabs, the champion of Palestine. Hilarion Capucci, the exiled Greek Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem (Melikite) who dedicated his life to defending Palestine died on Sunday in Rome, Italy. He was born in 1922, in Aleppo, Syria. Capucci will be buried next to his mother in Lebanon.

Early in his career he was posted in Damascus, Syria. During his time in Syria he started youth camps and programs for children of all faiths. In 1965, Capucci was appointed Archbishop of Jerusalem. His deep Christian faith and justice in Palestine defined the Archbishop’s story. On August 18, 1974, the Israeli authorities arrested the Archbishop alleging that he used his diplomatic status to smuggle weapons for the Palestinian resistance. The Israeli press accused the Catholic Church of aiding terrorists. Archbishop Capucci maintained his innocence and denied all charges against him. Archbishop Capucci was sentenced to 12 years in prison but was released after four years of Vatican and international pressure to secure his release.

Archbishop Capucci was an influential international diplomat with extensive relationships with foreign leaders worldwide. Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Syria, honored the Archbishop by issuing postal stamp bearing his likeness. The Archbishop played an active role during the Iran hostage crisis. He succeeded in securing the release of the bodies of the American soldiers who had died during a failed rescue attempt. President Ronald Reagan recognized his efforts.

In 2009 the Archbishop delivered the Keynote Address at the ADC Annual Convention. Proud of his Arab roots, “mark your records,” Capucci voice rising, “I am an Arab. Each Arab country is my homeland. I share with them their joy and their sadness. This is my message, nationally. This is my creed, religiously.” Jerusalem, the cradle of Christianity was a constant concern for him. “Israel is erasing its Christian character, its sacred nature. Our Jerusalem has become obliterated and effaced. It is fading away”, Capucci warned during his address.

In 2010, Archbishop Capucci was an active participant in the Free Gaza Movement’s aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip. He was a passenger in the MV Mavi Marmar, which was arrested by the Israeli Navy and nine people were killed and many injured. The Archbishop was arrested by the Israeli Navy and later was deported.

For more than seventy years, Archbishop Capucci’s unwavering dedication for Palestine and his sacrifices inspired generations. ADC extends it sincere condolences to Capucci’s family and to the entire Arab community.

May his memory be eternal.


Not in haunts of marble chill,
Temples drear where ancients trod,—
Nay, in oaks on woody hill
Lives and moves the German God.

2017 Jan 03 00:47
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Mustapaita
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Post: #1172
RE: Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham
The southern front is basically done for (may be). Dormant for something like a year and now they're packing their things. This could very well be related to recent statements by Jordanian chief of staff that they were never anti-Assad, they simply trained rebels to fight ISIS Big Grin and that they will re-open the border once SAA secures it. Big Grin

Quote:Rebels surrender most of Damascus-Golan Heights border

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:25 P.M.) - The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is now in control of almost all of the Damascus-Golan Heights border after the rebels agreed to surrender 3 villages in the western countryside of Damascus.

According to a military source in Damascus, the villages of Beit Sabr, Kafr Hawr, and Beit Timah were surrendered by the rebel forces to the government in exchange for safe passage to the Idlib Governorate.

Also, at the same time, in the coming few weeks I suspect the future of the Idlib rebellion will be decided without any loyalist intervention. There is a lot of pressure for a merger in rebel ranks. Aleppo made it acute and with the ceasefire deal that would isolate Jabhat Fateh as-Sham (ex-Nusra front), the second largest group by most accounts, the merger question has reached boiling point. Either way, the Idlib rebels will be fucked.

This was a main objective of the ceasefire all along I suspect. It will force the non-AQ rebels to confront an impossible dilemma: abandon their brothers in arms and arguably their most effective fighters who are embedded in their midst (cannot be done without internal mini civil war they might not win) or join the AQ-franchise and lose their claim to "moderate rebel status" and their only chance to any place at any negotiations and probably most of their foreign sponsors. Either way, a split and internal conflict seems inevitable. I personally predict that those willing to continue to fight will choose a merger (if they are able to negotiate one that would satisfy all major players) and JFS will become top dog in Idlib with Ahrar as-Sham disintegrating and diminishing greatly.

It looks like the Western coalition + partners are trying to stall this by taking out pro-merger rebel leaders with drones and air strikes but this might just convince fence-sitters that they're fucked either way and a merger at least means they'll have a more effective fighting force.

While all this is playing out under the so-called ceasefire, loyalists can concentrate on the remaining pockets around Damascus.

If we are lucky, things can move quite rapidly this year on several fronts. Stay tuned.

"Devil, I am devil." ― Pekka Siitoin
2017 Jan 03 20:38
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Post: #1173
RE: Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham
^
Quote:Ahmad Abazeid: “This is a jungle.”
Posted on January 5, 2017 by Sam Heller

Below I’ve translated a set of tweets from Syrian revolutionary writer-analyst Ahmad Abazeid, newly out of besieged east Aleppo and now in the Idlib-centric rebel-held north.

Abazeid’s tweets provide another glimpse of how Idlib is, by all accounts, a rough place.

It was rebel-held eastern Aleppo and its surrounding countryside that had been the locus of revolutionary civil society and non-jihadist “Free Syrian Army” rebels in Syria’s north. Now, with the conclusion of the Aleppo siege and the evacuation of many of east Aleppo’s rebels and civilians, the east Aleppo residents bussed out of the city have been dropped into “greater Idlib,” where they have to either navigate between or nestle under Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham, people mysteriously turn up dead in rivers, and unaccountable, masked men have the run of the countryside.

Abazeid’s tweets:

“In only ten days, there have been kidnappings, robberies, assaults, and murders committed against the revolutionary factions (especially those that left Aleppo) that, if they had happened over a period of months, would have been a ‘breakdown of security.’ This is a jungle.

“The factions that have been attacked over the previous days: al-Jabhah al-Shamiyyah, al-Sultan Mourad, Tajammu’ Fastaqim, Jeish Idlib al-Hurr, Jeish al-Mujahideen, Feilaq al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham.

“In the jungle of the ‘liberated’ Syrian north, you find the slogans ‘shari’ah’ and ‘teaching aqidah (creed)’ on every wall, as if our people are the infidels of Qureish. Meanwhile, on the ground, it’s the shari’ah of force that rules everyone.

“These fatwas from men of unknown provenance and the sea of filth from unknown users on Twitter are inseparable from the crimes of those with unknown faces [i.e., masked men] on the ground. We aren’t absolving the regime, but we won’t hide from our reality to accuse it exclusively.

“Before we left [Aleppo], I spent nearly a year in which I didn’t sleep a single night outside Aleppo. Truthfully, we only felt safe in the most dangerous city on earth, where bombing and battles were daily weather.

“Aleppo taught us – with the harshest lesson possible – the meaning of the verse, ‘And fear a trial that afflicts not only those among you who have done wrong’ [8:29]. When we don’t deter the unjust and fools control our fate, the ship will sink.

“Whoever doesn’t protect his weapon doesn’t deserve it. These weapons are our dignity, and our pride. Timidly granting criminal gangs the weapons of our revolution, without resistance, is a betrayal of the people that entrusted you with this responsibility.”

"Devil, I am devil." ― Pekka Siitoin
2017 Jan 07 14:50
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Post: #1174
RE: Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham
Quote:Staring Into Syria’s Diplomatic Fog

Syria enters 2017 in a state of diplomatic confusion. On December 30, a truce agreement brokered by Russia, Turkey, and Iran came into effect. It was endorsed by the UN Security Council on the following day and has been blessed by the United States, but war still rages in many areas of the country.

Meanwhile, the gaze of the international community has turned to an unlikely location: Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, where Russia is trying to organize Syrian political negotiations backed by Turkey and Iran. The Astana meeting has been scheduled for January 23, before the resumption of the UN-led Geneva III peace talks on February 8, but despite a frenzied diplomatic activity between Moscow, Tehran, and Ankara, there is so far little clarity on what the talks are going to be about. No one expects a solution to the crisis to magically pop out of Kazakhstan, but surely one might assume there is some plan beyond talking for the sake of talking.

...

Turkey’s flirtations with Russia are already causing rifts within the Syrian opposition. Anti-Erdogan sentiment is on the rise among hardline Islamist factions such as Fateh al-Sham, which has links to al-Qaeda. Much of the intra-rebel debate currently revolves around rival plans to unify the opposition, with Fateh al-Sham trying to suck Ahrar al-Sham and other Islamists into an alliance that would once and for all render the northern rebellion untouchable to Western nations. More pragmatic and typically Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sham members have resisted this as best they can, but their hand is now weakened by the impression that Erdogan has cast his lot with Vladimir Putin and Ali Khamenei.

...

Read the whole thing

"Devil, I am devil." ― Pekka Siitoin
2017 Jan 08 01:31
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Post: #1175
RE: Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham
Interview with Syria analyst Joshua Landis.

Quote:America's Failure — and Russia and Iran's Success — in Syria's Cataclysmic Civil War

Joshua Landis is head of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and publishes the influential blog “Syria Comment.” He is, perhaps, the nation’s foremost expert on Syria. He has been consistently right about the events of the last five years. When most Washington policy-makers were predicting that Syrian President Basher al-Assad would fall, Landis warned that he would hang on to power. While liberals and conservatives were calling for military intervention in Syria to overthrow Assad, Landis advised caution. In this interview, he assesses the Obama administration’s policy in Syria and the prospects facing the new Trump administration as Russia and Iran consolidate their hold over the Northern tier of the Middle East. It is, in my opinion, the clearest and most comprehensive analysis of why the United States failed to get its way in Syria and what it should do now. – John Judis

Judis: What’s your assessment of the Obama administration’s intervention in Syria. How has it gone? Is it a success or a failure?

Landis: You know, I think that in one important respect, it’s a success. That’s because he kept his foot on the brakes and resisted what he has called “the playbook” of foreign policy circles in Washington, which is to get sucked into these civil wars in the Middle East. There is no way that the United States was going to solve the Syria Problem in any constructive way – and just keeping us out of it to the extent he did was a boon.

Everyone wanted us to solve their Syria problem, whether it was Lebanon or Israel or Turkey or Iraq, because they couldn’t figure out how to do it themselves. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, they all had different visions of who we should be helping and what kind of Syria would come out of the other end of the meat grinder. And had the United States gotten in there, it would not have made a better sausage. We’ve seen that regime change has been a bad idea.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/americ...syrias-war

"Devil, I am devil." ― Pekka Siitoin
2017 Jan 11 13:22
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Post: #1176
RE: Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham
The Israeli air force attacked the military airport near Damascus
http://www.timesofisrael.com/damascus-ai...um=twitter




"The secret to happiness is freedom... And the secret to freedom is courage."
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"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." Thucydides
2017 Jan 13 01:52
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Wink RE: Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham
Quote:Return to Aleppo: A squandered legacy

This is the second in a series of stories from Al-Monitor correspondent Fehim Tastekin, who is traveling in Syria.

...

When we reached the hotel, we were challenged by Russian security personnel who would not allow us in. We contacted its manager, who told us the hotel is reserved for the Russian military and hasn’t had any other guests for a long time. He called the Meridien manager, security units were mobilized to check our credentials and, finally, we were given rooms. There was no water, no electricity, no heating, no breakfast, not even tea-coffee service. But the price was the same as before: $110.

Russian soldiers were suspicious of us. One of them who heard us speaking Turkish came over to ask if we are Turks. He turned out to be an Azerbaijani Turk from the Russian Republic of Dagestan. The soldier with him was Chechen. We thus found out that the Russian military police sent to Aleppo were mostly Chechen. All 250 of them were said to be loyal to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

My knowledge of the Caucasus facilitated my conversations with him. I asked him, “Ah, you were serving under Shamil Basayev.” He panicked and signaled me to shut up. From 1992-1993, Basayev was tolerated by Russia and had recruited volunteers from Caucasus and participated in the battles of Abkhazia. Basayev later emerged in the battles for Chechnya's independence and fought against the Russians. In the second Chechen-Russian war, Basayev's forces split; some joined Kadyrov, and those continuing to resist Russia set up the Caucasus Emirate. These two groups became dedicated enemies. Some from the Caucasus Emirate joined Jabhat al-Nusra (now Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) and the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. Now Basayev's former soldiers were allied with the Syrian regime to confront their former comrades. It was not wise to share a hotel with these soldiers: Finding another hotel became the first task of the next day.

...

Article at Al-Monitor

"Devil, I am devil." ― Pekka Siitoin
2017 Jan 15 00:10
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Post: #1178
RE: Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham




KEK

"Devil, I am devil." ― Pekka Siitoin
2017 Jan 16 17:27
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Post: #1179
RE: Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham
Things kicking off in Idlib?

Quote:Jabhat Fateh al-Sham launches a general offensive against rebel groups in Aleppo, Idlib CS

Tensions within the Jihadist-rebel alliance throughout northwestern Syria (Idlib and Aleppo provinces) have reach a boiling point with Jihadist militants of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) terrorist group launching a campaign of conquest against rebels of the Ahrar al-Sham (Muslim Brotherhood franchise) Islamist group and the Jaish al-Mujahadeen wing of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) armed opposition faction. There are rumors that the Harakat Noor al-Din al-Zenki jihadist group is siding with JFS in this operation.

So far the JFS offensive has seen the Jihadist group conquer the towns of Anadan, Hayyan and Kafr Hamra from the latter mentioned Islamist-opposition groups, who were forced to retreat from these population centres. In addition to this, JFS has laid siege to the rebel held town of al-Dana in Idlib province.

Furthermore, JFS has denied key civil infrastructures which they control, imposing an internet blackout throughout the Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

Locals from the rebel-held town of Saraqib are protesting this aggressive move by JFS against the rebel factions.

The Jaish al-Mujahadeen media wing released a statement expressing surprise and shock for JFS's attack.

Historically speaking, all parties involved in these clashes have worked together against the pro-government forces under the Jaish al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) and Fatah Halab (Conquest Aleppo) joint-operational command structures. Since being dealt a total defeat in the Battle for Aleppo, and the destruction of the Fatah Halab operations room, tensions have been extremely high between the various factions of the Jihadist-rebel alliance.

More updates to come.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/jab...-idlib-cs/

"Devil, I am devil." ― Pekka Siitoin
2017 Jan 24 07:41
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Post: #1180
RE: Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham
Quote:Syria’s Former al-Qaeda Affiliate Is Leading Rebels on a Suicide Mission

Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate and a set of hardline allies have taken over the country’s rebel-held northwest, the last bastion of determined opposition to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. They’re apparently convinced they can reverse the rebellion’s downward trajectory and kneecap “defeatists” within the opposition who might settle for anything less than toppling the regime. And they think they can rebalance the opposition’s lopsided relationships with its foreign backers, forcing countries like Turkey and the United States to engage them on their terms.

They’re wrong. And by hijacking Syria’s armed opposition and placing its core under unambiguous jihadist control, they’ve likely sealed its fate.
Syria’s New Jihadist Super-Faction

In January, the Fateh al-Sham Front—formerly known as the Nusra Front, Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate—broke Syria’s northern factions. While most of Syria’s rebel brigades were negotiating with the Assad regime in the Kazakh capital of Astana, Fateh al-Sham rolled through the northwest, forcing the Astana factions’ local subunits to yield and surrender their weapons stocks. It also seized effective control of the northwest’s main supply lines.

The point, Fateh al-Sham made clear, was to ruin these factions’ ability to credibly negotiate on the opposition’s behalf. “Everyone who tries to negotiate with what he doesn’t actually possess ought to expect something like this, as a natural result of his political offices’ efforts abroad,” Fateh al-Sham said in a written statement. “And we say to the outside world: The people from whom you’re trying to purchase the sacrifices of the Syrian people’s revolution don’t actually own them.”

Days later, Fateh al-Sham and others announced Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or the Body to Liberate the Levant. It brought together the rebel north’s malcontents: opposition elements that had been designated terrorists and droned, that had been made pariahs, or that were just offended by the opposition’s increasingly pragmatic, realist bent. Fateh al-Sham Front merged with rogue Aleppo faction Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki, several smaller rebel units, and whatever pieces they could pry off of major opposition faction and Islamist movement Ahrar al-Sham.

Now Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (or simply Tahrir al-Sham) runs the rebel northwest, centered on Idlib province, and day by day it assimilates more of the remaining armed opposition. Syria’s former al-Qaeda branch had previously worked to camouflage itself with the rest of the rebellion. With the announcement of Tahrir al-Sham, it took outright control.

"Devil, I am devil." ― Pekka Siitoin
2017 Mar 01 17:30
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