ENKS Insists on Reopening Headquarters in Rojava Soon – 40 ENKS headquarters have been closed by PYD across Rojava

MESOP NEWS : MORE ABOUT THE STALINIST PYD/PKK-REGIME OF ROJAVA-WEST KURDISTAN (SYRIA)

Basnews English – 19/04/2017 –  ERBIL — The Syrian Kurdish National Council (ENKS) will reopen all its headquarters in the cities across Rojava (the Syrian Kurdistan region) after they were closed down by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).Ibrahim Bro, the head of ENKS, told BasNews on Thursday that 40 headquarters belonging to the parties within ENKS have been closed down by PYD across Rojava. All political activities of ENKS have also been prohibited, he said.”We have decided to reopen all our headquarters in the upcoming days,” Bro said.

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MESOP NEWS FORECAST : Russia In Syria – All Pain And No Gain

April 18, 2017  – Special Dispatch – No. 6880

An article by the leader of the liberal Russian party Yabloko, Grigory Yavlinsky, titled “Russia’s Deadlock in Syria” was posted on his party’s website on April 13, 2017.[1] In his article, written in the aftermath of the chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhun and the American retaliatory strike on the Shayrat base, Yavlinksy flayed Putin’s policy in Syria. He claimed that Assad was a loose cannon who controlled Russia more than Russia controlled him despite Russia’s costly investment in the Syrian regime. Furthermore, Russia’s policy had left it without reliable allies in the region, while alienating the Trump administration in which Russia had placed such high hopes.

Russia, argued Yavlinsky, had pressing needs at home and could not financially sustain a quagmire in Syria, while simultaneously overextending itself in Ukraine, Libya, and conducting an arms race with the Americans.   In sum, the military involvement in Syria would soon resemble the tragedy of the Soviet Union’s involvement in Afghanistan and if Russia sought to avoid a recurrence of that nightmare it had to withdraw immediately from Syria. We republish Yavlinsky’s article below:

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MESOP NEWS FLASH : – Russian Attacks Overtake Those of Assad Regime

By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – 19 Apr 2017 – The Syrian opposition says Russian attacks have overtaken those of the Assad regime this week.

Truce violations by Russian forces have outnumbered those of Assad’s forces since Sunday, the Syrian National Coalition said on Wednesday. The Coalition’s media department said it has recorded at least 50 attacks by the Russian air force on about 40 villages in opposition territory on Sunday and Monday, compared with at least 40 assaults by pro-Assad forces. Russia has bombed opposition areas intensively since its military intervention in September 2015, killing thousands of civilians. Despite supposedly guaranteeing a ceasefire from December 30, it has recently escalated the strikes, especially after the Assad regime’s chemical attack in northwest Syria on April 4 and US missiles fired on a regime airbase three days later.

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MESOP NEWS REPORT : Syrian regime evacuates civilians from Homs’ last rebel-held area

18 Apr 2017 –  AL MONITOR  – ISTANBUL — On April 9, the fourth batch of evacuees left the besieged al-Waer neighborhood in Homs, northern Syria. The group headed for the city of Jarablus, which has been controlled by opposition factions since its liberation from the Islamic State (IS).

Batches of civilians and fighters continue to evacuate al-Waer under the Russian-brokered deal between the neighborhood committee and the regime on March 13. The “reconciliation deal,” as the Syrian regime calls it, calls for a halt in military hostilities against the neighborhood and the evacuation of opposition fighters to other opposition-held areas. Homs was the epicenter of the revolution during the first year of the rebellion and saw numerous uprisings since the outbreak of the rebellion.

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MESOP NEWS THE STALINIST PYD/PKK REGIME IN ROJAVA – WEST KURDISTAN (SYRIA)

Against strict UN regulation forced recruitement of young people

PYD Arrests 25 Youths in Sari Kani, Rojava –  PYD forcibly enrolls youths in military forces

ERBIL — The ruling Democratic Union Party (PYD) has begun a campaign of random arrests in Rojava (Syria’s Kurdish North) against the youths, in an attempt to conscript them into its military forces.

Confidential sources confirmed to BasNews that armed forces belonging to PYD, an offshoot of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), raided houses and commercial places in Sari Kani town near Qamishlo city on Monday and abducted 25 youths, including a judge named Yusuf Basho Haji Khalaf. PYD forcibly enrolls the Rojava youths into its military forces, the source said adding, that a number of people have fled to the rural areas to evade PYD’s conscription.

PYD, under PKK’s influence, does not accept any political parties whose views do not go in line with PKK’s ideology. The ruling party has been cracking down on the opposition parties and closed their headquarters across the region. www.mesop.de

MESOP NEWS HEADLINE : MORE TRUMP ACTIVITY

BY CHARLES LISTER  – 17 Apr 2017 – Multiple bills are being prepared in US House & Senate to sanction #Russia & #Iran for their support to #Assad regime: http://wapo.st/2oEd8OO?tid=ss_tw-bottom …

MESOP NEWS INSIDER : Al-Ghalibun: Inside Story of a Syrian Hezbollah Group

by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  • 

The rise of multiple militia factions in Syria that come under the mantra of ‘Syrian Hezbollah’ is now a well-established aspect of the conflict. The most well-known of these groups is Quwat al-Ridha whose origins lie in the Homs area. One problem in researching these groups is the difficulty in obtaining much concrete information about them, with a general reluctance on the part of their members and leaders to talk to outsiders.

A case-in-point of this open-source obscurity is al-Ghalibun (“Those who overcome”- a reference to Qur’an 37:173: ‘And indeed our soldiers are the ones who overcome’). The group has a social media presence that emerged in 2015, but aside references to some areas of operations (e.g. in Aleppo and Quneitra provinces and Palmyra), some ‘martyr’ claims and name and emblem changes, precious little data of value can be found in that social media presence.

However, a friend who was in al-Ghalibun was able to speak with me about the group. When I first came to know him, he was still in the group and refused to tell me anything about it, indicating at the time that he was not authorised to speak about it. In subsequently speaking to me about al-Ghalibun, he was not doing so as a ‘defector’ purporting to expose inside dirt on the group. Rather, he had simply left al-Ghalibun out of a desire to find a better source of income to support his family. This friend still knows people in the group, and prefers the regime in Syria over the rebels/opposition. His information has proven helpful in the account I present below.

While, as stated above, al-Ghalibun’s social media profile emerged in 2015, its origins apparently go back much further to the 2012-2013 period. Its existence was simply kept low-key in those earlier years. From elsewhere in the Syrian civil war, there are of course many examples of groups that trace their beginnings to the earlier years of the Syrian civil war but did not emerge with a clear profile on social media until much later (e.g. Liwa al-Baqir in Aleppo and the Leopards of Homs).

At the head of al-Ghalibun has been a man going by the name of Abu al-Meqdad, his real name being Rami Yusuf. Originally from Latakia province, he was of Alawite origin but is said to have converted some time ago to Shi’i Islam (that is, the Twelver denomination, which is hereby the denomination specified in this piece). He has also had long-standing connections with Hezbollah, reputedly participating in the 2006 war against Israel. For comparison, the same claim of participating in the 2006 war against Israel is made about the two brothers who established Liwa al-Baqir: al-Hajj Hamza and al-Hajj Khalid. A current al-Ghalibun member from Jablah in Latakia province also affirmed the claim that Abu al-Meqdad participated in the 2006 war against Israel.

Abu al-Meqdad

However, the foundational base for al-Ghalibun was not in Latakia province, but rather the Sayyida Zainab area, home to Syria’s most important Shi’i shrine and a number of militia faction bases. Along with Abu al-Meqdad in the initial stages came a number of people from the Syrian coastal areas (Arabic: al-Sahel al-Souri) who knew Abu al-Meqdad personally. For example, one important figure in al-Ghalibun is a man called Abu Hayder, who has played a role in training personnel. He is from Latakia and is of Alawite origin, but has been Shi’i since 2012.

Abu Hayder

From this basis, other people from the Syrian coastal areas could have joined al-Ghalibun via knowing one of Abu al-Meqdad’s personal connections. The two brothers Daniel and Darid al-Atrash, originally from the Latakia village of Ayn al-Bayda (primarily Alawite village) and converts to Shi’i Islam reportedly killed while fighting for al-Ghalibun in Quneitra in 2015, were apparently friends of Abu Hayder. It is important to remember the role that knowing someone in a particular group plays in recruitment of people into that group, as my colleagues Shiraz Maher and Peter Neumann have also demonstrated with regards to the recruitment of Western foreign fighters into Sunni jihadi groups in Syria.

The other main contingent of recruits into al-Ghalibun in the early days seems to have come from the Damascus area, where many Syrian Shi’a reside. My friend is himself of Syrian Shi’i origin. He joined the group on hearing about it from friends, who noted the group was offering a salary. This salary amounted to $100 a month. The salaries for the group have been distributed in cash via the Iranian embassy in Damascus, illustrating Iran’s role in helping to finance al-Ghalibun. In a similar vein, officials in Hezbollah have played an oversight role over Abu al-Meqdad. This shows the level of Iranian and Hezbollah involvement in the Syrian Hezbollah groups, rather than an analytical model that conceives of these factions as mere wannabe start-ups.

In the beginning, it was required for members of al-Ghalibun to be Shi’a, whether through being of Shi’i origin or through conversion to Shi’i Islam. This policy though has shifted to accepting non-Shi’a without the requirement for conversion. Hints of this shift could be observed in the evolution of the group’s names and symbols on social media. Indeed, the group’s first full name and emblem reflected a clear Shi’i “Islamic Resistance” identity. Observe the first emblem below.

First emblem of al-Ghalibun. Note the familiar extended arm and rifle as well as the globe, characteristic of Hezbollah and Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps imagery. The group’s first full name, as per this emblem, was: “al-Ghalibun: The Islamic Resistance Brigades in Syria.”

The group’s emblems and names have subsequently taken on a more Syrian nationalist image. In August 2016, the group adopted a new name and incorporated the Syrian flag into its emblem, as per below.

The second emblem of al-Ghalibun. Note that the extended arm and rifle as well as the globe remain. However, the Syrian flag has been incorporated into the top-left of the emblem. Note also the name inscribed on the bottom: “al-Ghalibun: The National Resistance Brigades in Syria.”

Yet another change occurred in January 2017, shifting further away from Hezbollah and Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps imagery.

The January 2017 emblem of “al-Ghalibun: The Syrian National Resistance Brigades.” Note the dropping of the extended arm, rifle and globe. In their place are two rifles flanking the main emblem, and a Dhu al-Fiqar style sword image around much of the main emblem and rifles.

A final change occurred in March 2017, according more prominence to the Syrian flag.

It should be noted that the shift towards a more Syrian nationalist image among ‘Islamic Resistance’ groups is not unique to al-Ghalibun: compare with the emblem shift of Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya.

The group is now said to have many non-Shi’a in its ranks. There are no compulsory ideological indoctrination classes. Thus, in so far as conversion of non-Shi’i members is a goal, it is pursued through more subtle means: that is, alongside the financial and military support from Iran for the group, recruits might be given books on Shi’i Islam for perusal. The idea is that you should wish to convert to Shi’i Islam out of your own conviction and contentment.

The most recent developments surrounding al-Ghalibun this month are that Abu al-Meqdad has apparently moved on through ‘promotion’, taking on a more senior role with Hezbollah in Syria, and that his position as leader of al-Ghalibun has been assumed by one Abu Hadi Abbas, originally from Lebanon but residing in the Sayyida Zainab area. This new leader had worked with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and had trained in Iran. Some personnel are said to have been brought in from Lebanon, along with some personnel from the ranks of the National Defence Forces. Meanwhile, a recruitment office has apparently been opened in Aleppo, but not using the name of al-Ghalibun, rather only part of its name: “The National Resistance Brigades.” This move is likely meant to facilitate further recruitment among non-Shi’a.

As far as the size of the group goes, al-Ghalibun is relatively small. Its fighters likely do not exceed the hundreds in number. Yet there is a clear desire to expand recruitment. In the aggregate, the Iranian desire to turn the Syrian Hezbollah movement into a real political force in Syria is evident. Yet the immediate problem such a project apparently faces is that the Shi’a constitute only a very small proportion of the Syrian population. It cannot realistically be expected that Syria can be transformed into a country with a Shi’i plurality or majority that can create the Islamic Republic of Syria on the model of Iran’s system of government. Even making the Shi’a a substantive minority of 10-20% in Syria would present a significant challenge. It should also be remembered that in Lebanon, where Shi’a constitute a much larger proportion of the population, the powerful existing Hezbollah movement cannot transform the entire country into the Islamic Republic of Lebanon.

Incorporating more and more non-Shi’a into Syrian Hezbollah, with any conversions to Shi’i Islam through more subtle means a bonus, is a logical step in trying to make the movement a meaningful political force- something that will give Iran more staying power in Syria’s affairs. In the nearer term, promoting Iran’s ideology of wilayat al-faqih (‘guardianship of the jurist’) among the existing Syrian Shi’a populations through Syrian Hezbollah, and other Shi’a across the region through the jihad in Syria more generally, is a realistic goal for Iran.

www.mesop.de

http://www.aymennjawad.org/2017/04/al-ghalibun-inside-story-of-a-syrian-hezbollah

MESOP FOCUS : PUTIN HOLDS ON ASSAD ! The Hezbollah future in Syria

Assad’s departure still non-starter for Putin – By Maxim Suchkov – AL MONITOR  – Is there a Syrian Medvedev? (Part 2)

17 Apr 2017 – Maxim Suchkov writes that following the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Moscow this week, “the departure of President Bashar al-Assad was and remains a non-starter for Russia. What neither Lavrov nor Putin would probably say to Tillerson, but do expect him to understand, is that Russia has invested so much into Syria now, politically and militarily, that Moscow’s primary concern is less about Assad than about the principle, power and prestige of maintaining its position. Hence, any plan that might move Moscow from this standing would have to involve some face-saving mechanism that the Kremlin could package as a win-win internationally, and as a ‘decision made in Russia’s best interest’ domestically.”

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MESOP NEWS TODAYS ANAYLSIS BY FABRICE BALANCHE – ASSAD’S CHEMICAL ATTACK SIGNALS AN IMMINENT IDLIB OFFENSIVE

By Fabrice Balanche –  Fabrice Balanche, an associate professor and research director at the University of Lyon 2, is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute.

PolicyWatch 2786 – April 14, 2017 – The regime’s latest atrocity was spurred by clear military motivations, and the situation will likely worsen as the army begins a wider ground campaign against rebel strongholds in Idlib province.

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MESOP NEWS “FULL TEXT” : Tillerson’s Visit To Russia – Lavrov: ‘In Syria… We Are Not Backing Any Particular Person, Be It President Assad Or Somebody Else’

April 14, 2017 – MEMRI SPECIAL DISPATCH – No. 6879 –

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow on April 11-12, 2017 came against the backdrop of a recent U.S. missile strike on a Syrian airbase that was followed by political tensions between Russia and the U.S.[1] However, Tillerson’s visit was perceived as positive and was described by Russian political analysts as “productive” and as “the start of dialogue.”[2] During a joint press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that the two counterparts agrees to continue bilateral cooperation. Lavrov said: “Russia is open not only to a dialogue with the United States in the most different areas but also to joint actions directed at achieving results in spheres that meet the interests of both countries.” Lavrov also underlined that Tillerson did not threaten Russia with sanctions and that both parts are committed to overcoming “barriers.”

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