“We are the Last Dam that is Holding Back the Flood of Islamists in Europe”

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


There are several tiers of irony here. Syria, which has spent a good deal of time training and harboring terrorists, is fighting terrorists in its own cities. And its lead support comes from Iran, which is an Islamist regime and global sponsor of terrorism. But after all that is said and done, the General does have a point.

A Syrian general in charge of operations in west Aleppo has told AFP that Europeans are exhibiting “blindness” in supporting the rebels against President Bashar Assad’s regime. Assad’s forces are “the last dam that is holding back the flood of Islamists in Europe,” he said.

It’s an obvious propaganda argument and not strictly true. Assad’s forces aren’t holding back the Islamist tide in Europe. They’re holding back a Sunni Islamist tide locally and they are protecting Syrian Christians and helping keep the Muslim Brotherhood from trying to create a Greater Syria over the prone corpses of Jordan and Israel. But European Islamists are primarily immigrants and fed by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Assad’s forces were closely tied in with Shiite Islamists, include some like Hezbollah that carried out terrorist operations in Europe.

The general, a member of the army’s elite Republican Guard, is running the regime’s operations in some of the most brutal battles in the city.

“We must take the terrorist-held areas, while minimizing the destruction to the city and keep the civilian population on our side,” said the 53-year-old, using the regime’s standard term for the rebels….

“We have in front of us terrorists who occupy land with gunmen carrying out ambushes, or bombings,” said the colonel. “We should therefore first check the buildings, and then defuse the bombs to ensure that the area is safe.”

American members of the military who served in Iraq and had to deal with a Baathist insurgency fed by terrorists coming out of Syria have to find the situation just a little bit delicious. Syrian forces are now up against the same problems that American forces faced in Iraq. Ten years ago the General was probably aiding the passage of foreign fighters into Iraq and is now fighting them in Syria.

But this is also par for the course. Most governments fund terrorist groups only to have to fight other groups a decade later. Sometimes even the same groups. Alliances assemble and fall apart. The default mode is either the totalitarian military or the militia raid. Everyone kills civilians and parades the casualties in front of the cameras.

Syria is the Middle East and the Middle East is Syria.