Syria: The Messed Up Neighborhood

22 May 2013 — Moon of Alabama

The recent bombing that killed 51 in the Turkish town Reyhanli received only scant coverage in the local media. While the Turkish president Erdogan accused the Syrian government of committing the crime he did not want the facts to be out in the public. But he is not the only one to have power in Turkey.

The Turkish hacker collective RedHack liberated several documents from the Turkish gendarmerie intelligence. The documents mention that Turkish intelligence had since April 25 information that the Jihadist Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria was preparing three car bombs for attacks in Turkey. If these documents are as genuine as they look the Turkish press will hardly ignore them and Erdogan will have to do some explaining.

The Reyhanli cover up and this leak point to a growing spat between the Erdogan followers and the followers of his former allies in the Gulen movement:

Beyond such arguments that there might be a cover-up in the establishment, there are even bigger mysteries. For instance, nobody explained yet why a corpse was tied to one of the car bombs with copper wires, even though this photo was in almost all newspapers in Turkey including Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah and Aksam just after the bombing.

In the end, fifty people died, Turkish society is even more divided and many people don’t have any trust for the official investigation. The only indisputable outcome of this process is how the crime scene became another arena in the silent fight between the Gulenist-dominated police force and the Erdoganist-dominated national intelligence service (MIT).

The other countries in Syria’s a neighborhood also experience related interior trouble. In Lebanon the issue has turned bloody and the northern city of Tripoli has seen several days of now heavy fighting including mortar barrages:

Around 4:30 a.m., a 300-strong force of Salafist fighters from the mainly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood, which backs the uprising in Syria, tried to launch an offensive against gunmen loyal to President Bashar Assad in the opposite area of Jabal Mohsen.

They were repelled by Lebanese soldiers, who opened fire with heavy machine guns.

The complicate relationships between various religious trends in Lebanon is well describe with this report of clashes over where a Sunni turned Shia and Hizbullah fighter who died in fighting in Qusayr should be buried.

Iraq has seen many serious bombings in recent weeks against various sides and against different population groups. These seem to be calculated to induce a new sectarian war. Reidar Visser finds that Iraq can pull back from the brink and avoid another civil war. The leader of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Massoud Barzani closed the border with Syria after the PYD which rules in the Kurdish parts of Syria detained some people belonging to his Kurdistan Democratic Party. In Israel a commentator warns prime minister Netanyahoo of reckless behavior especially toward the Russians. He mentions that in one of Israel’s wars some planes on the other side where actually flown by Russian pilots. The writer, as I did earlier, seems to think that a further Russian intervention on the Syrian government side is possible. Should the Syrian government fall the military situation for Israel would be even more complicate.

For the Jordan king Abdullah the political problems over nearly half a million Syrian refugees are getting bigger. Jordan now closed its border for any new refugees coming from Syria. But traffic in the other direction still seem to flow:

A good summary of the rebels’ conditions for Geneva came in a telephone interview Monday with Gen. Salim Idriss, the commander of the rebels’ Supreme Military Council. He spoke from Jordan, where his forces had just received a new shipment of 35 tons of weapons from Saudi Arabia; Idriss said these weapons will help, but they aren’t advanced enough to combat Assad’s tanks and planes in Qusair.

Idriss said he would not attend the Geneva talks unless the United States and its allies establish “military balance” by giving him modern anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. “It’s not valuable to go to negotiations when we are weak on the ground,” he said.

Rebel forces are chronically short of ammunition, Idriss said. According to one rebel source, he has privately asked the United States for 700 tons of ammunition each week over the next month to help strengthen the rebels’ hand and provide leverage before Geneva.

King Abdullah is openly arguing for negotiations over Syria. He fears that a victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria would cost him his throne. But one wonders how that fits with weapon deliveries through Jordan’s borders. When he recently was in Washington his escorts leaked what might be future U.S. plans.

[S]ources from the king’s escorts in Washington confirmed to Al-Monitor that the Americans informed him that attempts at a peaceful political solution will not last beyond the end of this year. If these efforts were to fail, Jordanian diplomatic sources told Al-Monitor that they expect the Americans will resort to powerful military intervention in Syria, either with extensive logistical support for the armed opposition or what has been dubbed the “Serbia scenario,” in which air strikes would weaken Assad and lead to a final shift in the balance of the forces.

Having again messed up the whole neighborhood the colonial “friends of Syria”, now shrunk down to a mere 11 countries, are today meeting in Jordan. This is the first time that no one from their sponsored exile Syrian opposition is attending such a meeting. Those SNC folks will meet tomorrow in Istanbul to quibble again and to receive the new orders of their colonial masters. The SNC still demands that Assad must go before they can agree to any serious negotiations. As this does not fit the current “western” plan for negotiations the group, already in terminal crisis, will fall even further apart.

I do expect that today’s meeting in Jordan will here some arguing for more weapons to flow to the foreign supported insurgency in Syria during the time the sham Geneva negotiations take place. Even the German intelligence service, after predicting Assad would soon fall, now believes that the Syrian government is likely to win. Without more supplies the insurgents will continue to lose their hold on the Syrian countrysides and with each town that falls back to the government the “western” parts of the Geneva negotiations will lose leverage. But the problem of who should receive those weapons is still not solved. Even “suck on this” Thomas Friedman is now warning against arming the insurgency without further deeper thought.

Meanwhile the fighting in Syria continues. The insurgents have send some convoys from Aleppo and Homs to reinforce their colleagues in Qusayr. They threaten to wipe out Shia and Alawite towns should Qusayr fall to the government. The town is now the propaganda Schwerpunkt for both sides.

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