Written by Gabriel Huland and Elisa Marvena
Wednesday, 17 June 2015 00:14
The latest weeks have been very busy in Syria and all the Near East. Diverse mass media have been echoing the enormous fragility of al-Assad regime, which is now more isolated than ever.
Even its nearest partners, such as Russia and Iran begin to talk about a negotiated transition. The number of deserting soldiers increases continuously. The palace intrigues are constant. Ever since the beginning of the revolution, the butcher of Damascus has never been in such a difficult situation. In spite of the crisis, he continues to discharge all his cruelty against the unarmed civilian population, with the solitary goal to cling to power and so defeat the population that rose against one of the cruellest regimes in the world.
The military headway of the rebels
The rebels, on the one hand, and the ISIS, on the other, have achieved important victories recently in the south, in the north and in the centre of the country.
Along the Southern Front (formed in February 2014 in the region of Daraa, Quneitra and Rif Dimashq), the reason of the headway was the unification of more than 50 brigades associated to the Free Syrian Army to struggle against the Regime, Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Recently they issued a public statement in which they marked the difference between themselves and al-Nusra, disavowing them to speak on behalf of the revolutionaries in this area (alleging the connection between al-Nusra and al-Qaeda) and rejecting any kind of political or military cooperation with that group or with any other with the same type of extremist mentality. What triggered this decision was the suspicion of cooperation of al-Nusra with the Islamic State (IS) during the last assault of the latter against the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk. According to different sources, the Southern Front receives support from the Special Operations Training Centre in Amman, Jordan, that coordinates the military activity of the different groups.
In the North, the main achievement was the conquest of Idlib by an alliance between brigades of the Free Syrian Army with the Front Jeish al-Fatah, a coalition of Islamisc groups. In this case, the Islamic groups involved, such as al-Nusra or Ahrar a-Sham have pledged not to seek unilateral control, to act always in cooperation with the remaining groups and not to interfere in the issues or ways of life of civilians. This headway has become possible due to the military cooperation sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, that wish to increase their influence in the area as a reaction to the Iranian offensive in Yemen, where it is said to fund the Houthi Shiites rebellion against the current government, ally of Saudi Arabia.
In the central region of Syria, the great change has been the seizure of Palmira by the IS. It is associated not only to the domestic crisis of the regime, but also to Assad’s strategy of allowing the expansion of the IS to strengthen it to cause major confrontations between the latter and the rebels, in an attempt to buy time before the final defeat. The headway towards Palmira opens the way for IS to reach Damascus, where they have very little presence and support, as well as to reach Aleppo, where the regime is suffering serious defeats. In early June, the rebels cut the main line of supplies, between Aleppo and Latakia, to the loyalist Assad’s troops, leaving them completely isolated.
The objective of the regime is to transform the current struggle between the revolution and the regime into a struggle between the IS and the revolution. Before withdrawing from Palmira, for example, the troops of the regime abandoned a military depot full of weapons and tanks as a gift to the fundamentalists.
The counterrevolutionary role of the al-Nusra
The al-Nusra Front has never denied its connections with al-Qaeda, but it has always tried to be regarded as more tolerant than the remaining Islamist factions. The truth is that its grassroots consist mostly of Syrians whose main target is to defeat al-Assad and that this is the reason for which they have joined a group that has more weapons and resources, apart from its ideology. The IS, on the other hand, has a huge contingent of foreigners with a neo-colonialist and openly fascist-theocratic agenda.
There are Syrian activists who say that even though al-Nusra grassroots are scarcely interested in fundamentalism, its leadership makes use of an Islamist discourse in order to lure funds. When the leader of al–Nusra, al-Jolani, was asked about his differences with the Muslim Brotherhood in a recent interview to al-Jazeera, he asserted that the latter had departed from the teachings of Islam when they accepted the “modern democratic rules.” He also asserted his affiliation with al-Qaeda, denying the rumours that his group was about to split away from the group founded by Bin Laden in order to get more directly linked to Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
US try to reach an agreement with Iran and Russia
The latest military victories of the rebels have left the U.S. and other superpowers quite worried, above all because it is not clear what would come after Assad. Up to a great extent, the Syrian revolution will be defined on the international arena.
The possible agreement between the U.S. and Iran is not simply all about Iranian nuclear programme but also about the role that Iran will play in the region as a whole. The dispute between Saudi Arabia and the country of the Ayatollahs on the hegemony in the Middle East has achieved international dimensions with the outbreak of the crisis in Yemen. On the other hand, Russia does not wish to lose its influence in Syria, where it is located its only military base in the Mediterranean.
Add to this situation the international economic crisis and the low prices of oil in the world market, something that affects very much but very unevenly the economies of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia, three countries with important involvement in Syria. The regional and international powers have neither reached an agreement on the division of the country nor, for the time being, have succeeded in winning an opposition armed sector for their project of a negotiated solution.
Strengthen international solidarity with the Syrian revolution
Syrian revolutionaries have survived more than 4 years of air raids and intermittent attacks carried out with the complicity of the so-called “international community.” They keep on fighting because they have no other alternative: enemies on all sides surround them. Imperialism wants that Syrian revolution becomes an example of how it will treat revolutions in the future; but it have not yet been defeated and it is our bounden duty to keep on supporting it with all our forces.