MESOP BACKGROUND : Muqawama Suriya Statement – Loss of Jisr al-Shughur: Translation & Analysis

by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi • Apr 26, 2015 – The Muqawama Suriya, as I have profiled previously, is a pro-Assad militia led by Turkish born Alawite Ali Kayali, who prior to the Syrian civil war had been focused on bringing the Sanjak of Alexandretta in Turkey under Syrian rule. Though the group is primarily based in Latakia, it also had considerable influence in Idlib province, including in Idlib city and Jisr al-Shughur, both of which recently fell to rapid rebel offensives spearheaded by jihadist forces, including Jabhat al-Nusra and the Turkestan Islamic Party. In the latest statement below from the Muqawama Suriya Aleppo office, the defeat in Jisr al-Shughur is portrayed as a strategic retreat and regrouping on the periphery, with emphasis on the need for Syrians to support the long war effort. Below is a photo from Jisr al-Shughur last year when the Muqawama Suriya advocated for the “re-election” of Assad as president.

The recent losses in Idlib province put into serious doubt the Muqawama Suriya’s effectiveness as a fighting force in holding and retaking territory from rebel onslaughts. This has also been in evidence in Latakia province, where last year it took the group along with the Syrian army and other forces months to regain Kassab on the border with Turkey. Despite much Muqawama Suriya trumpeting of operations in Latakia, little progress has been made to drive out rebels from the northeast of the province. The latest statement translated below is particularly noteworthy because it clearly implies growing war weariness among pro-Assad circles (e.g. conscription evasion) exacerbated by the recent losses in Idlib province, whereas the Muqawama Suriya, despite its status as an irregular force, portrays itself as staunchly loyalist to the supposed long war grand strategy. The stress too on the need for the war to become one of “the people” (sha’abiya) and spearheaded by the Syrian army as a professional force and other “national” forces is interesting for it implicitly acknowledges some of the increasing resentment in regime circles that the war effort is too dependent on foreign irregular forces, such as Hezbollah, Iraqi Shia militias like Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar (mainly Damascus based), Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada (notable role in the fighting in Deraa) and Harakat al-Nujaba (playing a notable role in the fighting in Aleppo province), as well as Afghan and Pakistani Shia militias (the latter embodied in a formation called Liwa Zainebiyoun: see profile here). The denouncing of capitalism at the end of the statement is in keeping with the Muqawama Suriya Marxist-Leninist ideology, and the statement concludes with the familiar group slogan “Suriya lan tarka'” (Syria will never bow).

“Muqawama Suriya media office in Aleppo:

We trust in our Syrian Arab Army in the state of attack and defence in advancing and withdrawing. When our intrepid army regroups and redeploys it is making good on the decision, implementation and use of tactics to employ the long war strategy with the soldiers of prostitution, the hyenas of existence who have gathered against our great Syria. And we don’t doubt for a moment that the decision adopted by the military leadership in Jisr al-Shughur is a correct decision at this moment. And we trust and believe that tomorrow has in store another equation being drawn up by your sons in the field.

If we expect anything from our brave, wise leadership, we expect them to have all the sons of Syria participate in this war…in all national forces and political frameworks so that this war may be turned into a war of the people whose vanguard is the Syrian army as a professional force and all national forces in confronting this barbaric expansion for the forces of oppression and whosoever is behind them, for it is a war involving all the people and it is a long, comprehensive war between truth, all of it represented in Syria and the front of the resistance, and falsehood represented in the hyenas and fossils of history and the forces behind them of criminal Western capitalism, evil Ottoman Wahhabi mentality, and global Zionism. And victory however much it may be delayed will come, because this is Syria and Syria will never bow.”