The Case Against Qatar

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The tiny, gas-rich emirate has pumped tens of millions of dollars through obscure funding networks to hard-line Syrian rebels and extremist Salafists, building a foreign policy that punches above its weight. After years of acquiescing — even taking advantage of its ally’s meddling — Washington may finally be punching back.

BY Elizabeth Dickinson SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

ABU DHABI and DOHA — Behind a glittering mall near Doha’s city center sits the quiet restaurant where Hossam used to run his Syrian rebel brigade. At the battalion’s peak in 2012 and 2013, he had 13,000 men under his control near the eastern city of Deir Ezzor. “Part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), they are loyal to me,” he said over sweet tea and sugary pastries this spring. “I had a good team to fight.”

Hossam, a middle-aged Syrian expat, owns several restaurants throughout Doha, Qatar, catering mostly to the country’s upper crust. The food is excellent, and at night the tables are packed with well-dressed Qataris, Westerners, and Arabs. Some of his revenue still goes toward supporting brigades and civilians with humanitarian goods — blankets, food, even cigarettes.

He insists that he has stopped sending money to the battle, for now. His brigade’s funds came, at least in part, from Qatar, he says, under the discretion of then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah. But the injection of cash was ad hoc: Dozens of other brigades like his received initial start-up funding, and only some continued to receive Qatari support as the months wore on. When the funds ran out in mid-2013, his fighters sought support elsewhere. “Money plays a big role in the FSA, and on that front, we didn’t have,” he explained. Continue reading

Saudi Arabia to supply Syrian rebels with anti-aircraft missiles – report

Published time: February 15, 2014 04:14

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Frustrated by the deadlock of the second round of Geneva 2 talks, Saudi Arabia has reportedly offered to supply the rebels with anti-aircraft missiles. Meanwhile Russia has accused the US of once again hijacking peace talks and pushing for regime change.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Russian-made antitank guided missiles and Chinese man-portable air-defense systems are up for grabs, already waiting in warehouses in Jordan and Turkey.
An Arab diplomat and several opposition figures with knowledge of the Saudi efforts have told WSJ that these supplies are likely to tip the battlefield scales, as the rebels will become capable of taking on the government’s air power and destroying heavy armored vehicles.

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Syria Threatens Chemical Attack on Foreign Force

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR and ERIC SCHMITT

Published: July 23, 2012

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian officials warned Monday that they would deploy chemical weapons against any foreign intervention, a threat that appeared intended to ward off an attack by Western nations while also offering what officials in Washington called the most “direct confirmation” ever that Syria possesses a stockpile of unconventional armaments.

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Syrian opposition fighters looked for snipers on Monday, after attacking a municipal building in Selehattin, near Aleppo.

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Reuters

Jihad Makdissi, the Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman, reading a statement on the country’s chemical stockpiles at a news conference in Damascus on Monday.

The warning came out of Damascus, veiled behind an assurance that the Syrian leadership would never use such weapons against its own citizens, describing chemical and biological arms as outside the bounds of the kind of guerrilla warfare being fought internally.

“Any stock of W.M.D. or unconventional weapons that the Syrian Army possesses will never, never be used against the Syrian people or civilians during this crisis, under any circumstances,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi, said at a news conference shown live on Syrian state television, using the initials for weapons of mass destruction. “These weapons are made to be used strictly and only in the event of external aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.”

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Syrian rebels abduct 5 top Hizballah officers, including Nasrallah’s nephew

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 1, 2012, 6:11 PM (GMT+02:00)

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HIzballah security chief Wafiq Safa married to Nasrallah’s sister

The Lebanese Shiite Hizballah, after a 25-year record of kidnap and murder against Israelis, Americans and other Westerners, was dismayed to find the shoe on the other foot this week when Syrian rebels, including members of the Syrian Free Army, announced they were holding two separate groups of its members.
The first group of eleven was captured May 22 in a bus heading home through Aleppo from a pilgrimage to Iran. The second episode sent shock waves rolling as far as Tehran and the Al Qods Brigades command. debkafile’s military and intelligence sources reveal that still unidentified commandos, guided apparently by precise intelligence, this week commandeered a Hizballah vehicle driving through Syria and captured five top-ranking Hizballah officers. A sixth escaped. Upon reaching Beirut, he reported the officers were being held hostage by the SFA.
Despite the veil of secrecy clamped down on the episode, debkafile exclusively names the kidnapped officers as Ali Safa, a senior officer of Hizballah’s intelligence service and nephew of Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. (His father Wafiq Safa, head of the organization’s internal security agency, is married to Nasrallah’s sister.)

The abducted party also included Hussein Hamid, Dep. Commander of Hizballah forces in South Lebanon;  Ali Zerayb, member of the Hizballah Jihad Council – the equivalent of its general command; Hassan Arzouni, chief of intelligence in the Bint Jbeil district bordering on Israel; and Aras Shoeib, head of training in the Beqaa Valley of E. Lebanon.

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Jabha al-Nusra – a New Jihadi Group in Syria

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Announced a couple of days ago, as an important and urgent message without providing further information, users already ‘hoped’ a new jihadi group would be announced. Their hopes are being held up high, as of today Syria ‘officially’ has a jihadi group of its own, with, as it is en vogue for years and years to come, its own media outlet. The media outlet, al-Manarah al-Bayda, something like the white lighthouse, the beacon of light/hope in contrast to Hizbullah’s al-Manarah channel, perhaps, addresses the “people of Sham” for this is a “historic event”

 

We shall what the video reveals, so far the content provided shows the usual rhetoric and ideology that we know of. The focus on Sham (greater Syria) is not really new, but now, since the Arab Spring is increasingly being hijacked Continue reading

The Muslim Brotherhood Reborn The Syrian Uprising

by Yvette Talhamy

Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2012, pp. 33-40
(view PDF)

As Syrian president Bashar al-Assad struggles to contend with a massive popular uprising, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (SMB) is poised to dominate whatever coalition of forces manages to unseat the Baathist regime. Though in many ways the Brotherhood’s official political platform is a model of Islamist moderation and tolerance, it is less a window into the group’s thinking than a reflection of its political tactics. Unlike its parent organization, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which often kept its ideological opponents at arm’s length, the SMB has repeatedly forged alliances with secular dissident groups even as it secretly tried to negotiate a deal with the Assad regime to allow its return from exile. Since the moderation of its political platform over the past two decades has clearly been intended to facilitate this triangulation, it does not tell us much about the ultimate intentions of the Syrian Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood’s Background

 

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has openly declared its support for the current protests but has denied responsibility for organizing them. The demonstrations, they claim, are not led by the SMB but by the newly formed Syrian National Council, which proposes to unite all opposition groups including SMB members.

The SMB was established in 1945-46 by Mustafa as-Sibai as a branch of Hassan al-Banna‘s Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Though favoring the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria,[1] it participated in parliamentary elections after the country gained independence in 1946 (winning 4 seats in 1947, 3 seats in 1949, 5 seats in 1954, and 10 seats in 1961) and even had ministers in two governments.[2]

When the secular, nationalist Baath party took power in 1963, it quickly moved to weaken the SMB and the urban, Sunni merchant class that supported the movement. The group was outlawed in 1964, and its leader Isam al-Attar was exiled. That same year, a revolt led by the SMB erupted in the city of Hama and was quelled by force.[3] During the 1970s, relations between the SMB and President Hafez Assad (r. 1970-2000) deteriorated into large-scale violence.

Although the Brotherhood’s opposition to Baathist rule was expressed ideologically in polite company, there was a deep sectarian undercurrent, as the Assad regime was dominated by Alawites, a schismatic Islamic sect viewed as heretical by religious Sunnis. Armed elements of the SMB assassinated government officials and carried out bombings of government buildings, Baath party offices, and other targets associated with the regime.[4] In 1979, the SMB carried out a massacre of eighty-three unarmed Alawite cadets at an artillery school in Aleppo. In June 1980, it is said to have made an assassination attempt against the president, who allegedly retaliated by ordering hundreds of captured SMB prisoners gunned down in their cells. Although the SMB has always maintained that it had no connection to underground, armed factions responsible for violence,[5] few take the claim seriously. Continue reading

Breaking: Al-Qaeda affiliate posts video showing preparations for Damascus twin suicide bombings

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bashar al-Assad may be a murderer, but at least some of his opponents are no better. An al-Qaeda-affiliated terror organization has posted a video that shows preparations for twin suicide bombings that took place in Damascus on January 6.

Let’s go to the videotape.

So Bashar al-Assad is telling the truth – at least in part. At least some of his opponents are connected to al-Qaeda and to its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. And therefore it’s probably just as well that for the most part, the West has kept out of the fighting in Syria. On the other hand, I have little doubt that things in Syria are headed for a civil war. Bashar and his Alawite sect, who constitute the Syrian army’s officers corps, know full well that if they lose to the Sunni majority, they will all be killed. So this is quite literally a battle to the death, with a lot of innocent civilians caught in the middle. Like in Egypt, the democrats and liberals are unfortunately the least likely people to end up in power.

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