Islamists Rising in Syria

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The SNC met earlier in the week, trying with little success to paper over its differences. The Kurdish delegation walked out in the middle of the conference, claiming their concerns were not being met, while several secular members had quit in disgust last month, saying that the organization was “undemocratic” and was being dominated by Islamists. Working feverishly, Turkish diplomats managed to save the conference from catastrophe by luring back many of those who quit, getting the SNC to agree to expand its membership and try to work more democratically. The Kurds, however, refused to return citing the SNC’s unwillingness to include a reference to Kurdish autonomy in its statement on a post-Assad Syria.

So far, the SNC and the rest of the Syrian opposition has been hopelessly fractured in almost every way — from agreeing on an immediate agenda to help the FSA to violent disagreements over the future of a post-Assad Syria. But there is one group within the SNC that is organized, dedicated to throwing Assad out, and clear about both its immediate goals and long term plans.

The Muslim Brotherhood – once banned in Syria – is on the comeback trail and its resurgence should give Western powers pause before agreeing to arm any of the opposition groups.

The Brotherhood was last seen in Syria during the 1980s when Assad’s father Hafez cracked down on its headquarters in the city of Hama, murdering up to 10,000 during a bloody insurrection. But in reality, the Brothers had never left – they simply went underground. While most of the leaders were in exile, the structure of the group remained intact through a network of cells and activists. It was the same tactic used in Egypt after Hosni Mubarak’s crackdown and has led to victory at the polls there. While Assad continued to arrest and execute Brotherhood members, he could never stamp out the movement completely.

Now, with the secular opposition in disarray, the Muslim Brotherhood is re-emerging with surprising strength and cohesiveness. Some opposition members say that the Brotherhood is using money and weapons to gain influence in the council, tapping its donor base spread throughout the Middle East. One secular dissident who broke away from the SNC last month, Kamal Labwani, claims the SNC is “a liberal front for the Muslim Brotherhood. ” Islamist members of the council deny this, saying that they want a pluralistic Syria where all factions and sects are represented in government.

What’s clear is that at the SNC meeting last week, the Muslim Brotherhood was forced to compromise and expand the SNC to include more secular groups. Of the 350 members of the SNC, it is believed that 270 are Islamists, Salafis, and other Sunni radicals who want to depose Assad both because he is a member of the Alawite sect of Shia Islam and because of his oppression.

This is obvious from the growing radicalism of Sunnis in next door Lebanon. While many Syrian religious figures have stopped short of calling for jihad against Assad, fearing a bloody sectarian conflict, no such restraint has been shown by Lebanese clerics who are urging their flocks to go to war against Assad and “grind him into dog meat.” To that end, several independent battalions of fighters have formed, including the “God is Great” brigade whose fighters march under the black flag of Islamism:

To our fellow revolutionaries, don’t be afraid to declare jihad in the path of God. Seek victory from the One God. God is the greatest champion,” the brigade’s spokesman said in the January video. “Instead of fighting for a faction, fight for your nation, and instead of fighting for your nation, fight for God.

“We don’t want to accidentally wind up supporting extremist groups,” said Joseph Holliday, of the Institute for the Study of War, in Washington. Holliday added, “The fundamental question is: What happens in the future? And does our involvement make this turn better or worse?”

The FSA is not making a distinction between defectors from the army who are fighting for Syria, and groups of radical youths who fight for an Islamist state. They will no doubt distribute arms based on battlefield success. Who is to say whether the independent groups who claim allegiance to the FSA are fighting to depose Assad or “fight for God”?

Then there are the unknown connections that might exist between the opposition and the shadowy terrorist groups who have begun a campaign of bombings in Damascus and Aleppo. A terrorist organization calling itself the Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing that killed 27 in Damascus over the weekend. This follows on the heels of several other high profile bombings targeting police stations, intelligence headquarters, and regime supporters. It is also believed that al-Qaeda’s Iraqi branch has moved into Syria to assist in overthrowing Assad. Any thought to arming the FSA should take into account the idea that the diffuse leadership of the FSA may contain officers who feel no compunction about working with terrorists to achieve their goals.

As the Syrian revolt gets bloodier, the temptation to give arms to the opposition will grow. But given the re-emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the growing influence of radical Sunnis in the SNC and FSA, and the possibility that heavy weapons would fall into the hands of terrorist groups, that temptation must be resisted and a true democratic opposition to the odious rule of Bashar Assad be encouraged. Whether that is even possible remains the biggest question to be answered if Western countries are going to aid the rebels.

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  • Michael

    We don't have a horse in this race. Today I read that we'll be helping to support the rebels (or at least one rebel group) with cash and communications equipment, but no weapons. In other words, we've chosen a side but we'll only help them a little for now, hoping that we can claim we were neutral if it turns out bad. More likely, we'll be dragged in, little by little. If the Muslim Brothers and Hezbollah want to kill each other, why would we want to get involved?

    • kentatwater

      One word: caliphate. Whenever there are two bad choices wrt islam and Muslims hell-bent on killing each other, the one that is less likely to lead to formation of the caliphate is the less-bad choice.

      • Michael

        I hear what you're saying but I guess I have a problem with helping Assad. I think he could stand on his own if we stop helping the Sunnis. If I were a military commander, I wouldn't consider communications equipment to be non-combat aid.

      • sinanju

        If there's one thing I'm not worried about, it's the return of the so-called caliphate. Version 1.0 flew apart within a few decades of Big Mo's demise and, while there were a series of fractured empires over the centuries, the Ottoman Empire was the last gasp. I'm of the personal opinion that the rise of technology ended Islam's time on the world stage. A collection of pathetic, tyrannical, oppressive, anti-intellectual societies cannot hold together let alone hold their own in the modern world. Iran's bomb notwithstanding, the 1973 Yom Kippur war was the last time this bunch went up against a modern society with any chance of success. That time it was being led by nationalistic, technocratic dictators.

        Iran's tactics in the Iran/Iraq War of the 1980's is a more illustrative example of how a Muslim Brotherhood army would fight. Seventh-Century human wave assaults without competent artillery, air and logistical support, and that's IF they could even support a sizeable army in the field. Let us keep in mind what has precipitated these "Arab Spring" revolts. In country after country, the final straw has been variations on massive food, water and fuel shortages in impoverished tyrannies that are no longer able to subsidize the general population. The surest way to turn misery into catastrophe is ceding power to the Islamists.

        Mark my words, these countries will be in a state of famine-wracked, depopulating collapse within a few years of an Islamist takeover. They will be in no position to conquer anyone.

  • Anthony

    I heard tha disgusting to look at, nauseating to hear, Secretary of State Hilliary Clinton refer to providind communications gear to the “activists” .

    My question is this. With every Mideast DEMO(lition)CRACY project there empowering jihad and Islamic rule so far, why add Syria to their growing. Caliphate?

    Why are we busy encircling the globe getting involved with every other country’s internal affairs, and so fanatically obsessed with spreading “democracy” everywhere?

    It is evIl and we we are paying a heavy toll for this juviinile fixation which I believe has on true objective, a global government whose prime directive is to mix people and eliminate nations into one brand, united in diversity and marginalizing God.

    The masters of the world, and their whores like ClInton, are selling humanity into tyrannical slavery so they can enjoy worldly wealth, prestige and power. I almost him it better that Islam prevails, which it will, since efforts seem designed to empower it.

    Maybe the Biblical battle of Arrmaggeddeon is being set into place by the bizarre events we see unfolding before us.

  • Guy from Europe

    Asad is fighting muslim terrorists in Syria. We all must support him or Syria will become another chain in sharia ruled states. Unfortunatelly our leaders are narrow-minded fools. So called "rebels" already revealed themself in France killing jews. And it is just the beginning.

  • innocen snail

    "But given the re-emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the growing influence of radical Sunnis in the SNC and FSA, and the possibility that heavy weapons would fall into the hands of terrorist groups, that temptation must be resisted and A TRUE DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION TO THE ODIOUS RULE OF BASHAR ASSAD (MUST) BE ENCOURAGED."
    Mr Moran is on drugs and dreaming about foreign affairs, such an exotic subject and set in the mysterious Middle East. Bt we all know the outcome will be the same as it was in Egypt and Libya and everywhere else – dictator out, jihadis in and thanks for the help guys, now we will turn our attention to spreading jihad throughout the West – oh after we finish off whats left of the Middle East Christians. Dream on Mr Moran and pass the bong, l need to get on your wavelength.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    The American government under Mullah Hussein Obama is supporting the Caliphate under the Muslim
    Brotherhood and they will prevail no matter how many people they have to kill and spread like cancer
    throughout the World unless stopped. Hillary Clinton a devotee of the Brotherhood is spreading Obama's
    support throughout the Middle East, the Democrats having a history of leaving millions of the people
    in Nations abandoned to Communists to their deaths by murder will again ever where Islam is
    spread and not ended will be awash in blood. Judgement day for Democrats and Islamists will
    be pure Hell…………………………………William

    • Schlomotion

      I surely hope you did not harangue the people of Portland with your crazy UFO conspiracies about the President of the USA being an Islamic Mullah. When terrorists like Vadim Ignatov shoot up peoples homes, like the home of the poor Hashem Lebanese family, people might think that the Mayor and the City Council condone it.

      • WilliamJamesWard

        Is Vadim a friend of yours, I do not know him or anyone that would shoot up any persons home
        however grand or humble. The rule of law will eventually out……………your friend Obams Hussein
        is and Islamist and a Marxist to boot, just how stupid do you think people are, if there was doubt
        it is over and as clear as the horns on your head…………………………..William

  • Schlomotion

    I have to laugh at the characterization of the "poor Coptic minority" in Egypt, but the "evil Alawite minority" in Syria, but the "poor Jewish minority" in the United States, but the "evil Muslim minority" in England. The use of the concept of minorities is meaningless by these writers. The "noble minority" control the finances of the United States, but the "wicked minority" camp in tents and protest them. If only we would support this majority against that minority and vice versa.

  • DogsHateRomney

    ~ Obama's Islamic Brothas in duh Hood.

  • montlasky

    This is a really good article and gives the full picture of what is happening on the ground and the political fall-out of changing a tyrant like Assad for a bunch of blood thirsty murdering fanatics like the Muslim Brotherhood otherwise known as the fanatical leaders of the Muslim world, hell bent on destroying the infidels which covers every human being on this planet-the Jews of course will be "infideld" first!!
    They "The Brotherhood" will be far worse than the Assads have ever been. The" Arab Spring" ,this awful description of the world disintegrating into chaos via Muslim Sharia law, should have been called "Oh Brother!"

  • Looking4Sanity

    If we can't do any better in the arena of foreign affairs than we did in Egypt, we are better off not getting involved.

    We should also be realistic. If the situation is that a secular tyrant is battling radical Muslims, the correct strategy is to allow them to depopulate themselves. At the very least, we should be seeking council from our only ally in the region…Israel. If anyone knows and understands what is actually going on in Syria, it is Israel.

  • DogsHateRomney

    France created Syria as an artificial state that lacks public legitimacy,

    1917-1922: From 1517-1917 Turkey's Ottoman Empire controlled what is today Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine.

    During World War I (1914-1918), Turkey supported Germany. When Germany was defeated, so were the Turks.

  • crackerjack

    All financed and organized by the Bush's closest family friends, the House of Saud.

  • wctaqiyya

    Rick Moran's column is called 'Islamists rising in Syria'. Rick complains that the UN peace plan is failing, Bashar is continuing his violent assaults on the rebels and the situation is confused. I think I can help. First, Syria is Iran's proxy. As Iran's proxy, it supports, protects and nurtures Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a powerful Muslim terrorist force in Lebanon and Iran is the apex of extremist Islam. So, I'm not sure what yardstick Rick is using to measure Islamist sentiment in Syria because extreme is the starting point. Next, nobody with a lick of sense believes the UN has any real influence. Nobody should be disappointed if impotent and incompetent fails. So, stop paying attention to the UN. The real external players in Syria are Turkey and S. Arabia. Since they have decided that Bashar Assad needs to go, he will be eliminated sooner or later. Period. Neither Russia or Iran can prevent the defeat of Bashar, they can at most delay it a bit. Russia will not put it's troops into Syria in any significant numbers. And imported Iranian fighters will never overcome the combined Turk/Saudi power, money and determination. The west may contribute a small amount of humanitarian aid to make it look nice. Other than that, the west needs to stay the heck out or it will get burned, again. That's the nutshell version.

  • esperantominoria

    Guys,watch this debate:

    "The Niqab debate and a question of morality"


    "How did Mohammed Merah become a jihadist?"

    "Does the Koran confuse Miriam/Mary,the Mother of Jesus,with Miriam,the Sister of Moses?"

    "Why the Assasin of Caliph Omar,Friend of Muhammad,is a National Hero in Iran"

    • wctaqiyya

      Yep. If you really want a laugh, check out the Muslim blogs where they discuss the Islamic versions of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. For instance, the discussion about virginity is a treasure. It seems you can have sex many times but still be a virgin for purposes of the marriage rules. Don't ask me, I just know it gets deep.

  • Fred Dawes

    All part of the plan, see Alex Jones

  • Flowerknife_ua

    Muslims are just working out their problems. Knowing who Allah favors can be a bit problematic.

  • ren

    Perhaps syria is not really strict when it comes to citizens but still willing to be learned. what happens during a root canal

  • marting

    In most cases, political argument is one of the reasons why people are getting into war and there is now world peace. PMP Training Chicago Illinois

  • Draper Plumbing

    Political abuse or abuse of political power is some of the reason why war will start in a particular area.