by Aram Mirzaei
Since last week the Syrian ceasefire deal been in full effect. Despite repeated violations during this week, world leaders commit to putting their faith in this temporary truce. The Syrian ceasefire does however not cover the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Jabhat Al-Nusra, the Syrian Al-Qaeda branch, and other designated terrorist groups. Despite the global powers making this statement, it remains unclear who these “other designated terrorist groups” actually are, it is therefore safe to say that no one really has an idea, since it has been rather clear that the main actors of this conflict differ radically in that designation. It is estimated that over 100 rebel groups participated at the implementation of this truce deal, with more joining as Russia has been ramping up its efforts of reconciliation in Syria.    Different actors consider different fighting parties to be terrorists and conflicting interests makes the matter even worse. While it is difficult to keep track of the estimated 1500 rebel groups fighting on the ground, it has never been a secret that the main rebel factions, Jabhat Al-Nusra, Jaysh Al-Islam, Harakat Ahrar-Al Sham and the Free Syrian Army have cooperated, carried out joint missions, and have occupied towns and villages together against the Syrian Armed Forces.    These groups intermingle deeply and make it rather difficult for outside observers to distinguish between.
The main areas of the truce deal are implemented in the southern and central parts of the country, with several pockets of rebel held areas, besieged for some years now, being able to catch a breath. Below is a map showing the rather small areas considered to be “green zones” for the truce.
Groups and areas part of the ceasefire deal or with unclear status
The ceasefire deal covers a few specific areas, namely the southern Daraa province where several rebel groups part of the “Southern Front Brigades” have agreed to several reconciliation and truce deals.  The ceasefire is also supposed to cover the northern Homs/southern Hama pocket of rebel resistance where Russia and government forces have come under scrutiny for bombing. Despite all of this, there’s no denial of the heavy Nusra and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham presence in the towns of Talbiseh and Al-Rastan.   
Also, the ceasefire was violated several times amid a new Islamist offensive launched six days ago. 
Other participants of the truce are the Kurdish YPG forces and their allies from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who have pledged to abide by the truce despite Turkish insistence on their exclusion. 
Southern Front Brigades
Leadership: Gen. Bashar al-Zoubi (Alleged)
A coalition of 58 militant group factions associated with the Free Syrian Army was formed in February of 2014. The groups has recieved US and western backing in the form of training and arms. 
Despite its name, there remains heavy dispute over their association with the Free Syrian Army at all.
The Carter Center, a private organization in the U.S. in February 2015 also described ‘The Southern Front’ as a loose coalition of self-described moderate armed groups without leadership or organizational structure, that has agreed on the name ‘Southern Front’ to receive support from the ‘Friends of Syria’ “an international diplomatic collective, which focuses on supporting the Syrian opposition”
The Southern Front Brigades have made it no secret that they cooperate with Jabhat Al-Nusra in this area as well, with the groups launching multiple offensives together against the Syrian Armed Forces. 
YPG & SDF
Leadership: Sipan Hemo
The People’s Protection Units (YPG) were introduced to the Syrian conflict rather late, with their first clashes occurring during the summer of 2012 where Kurdish forces assumed control over Kobani and Afrin among other areas.   The Kurdish campaign has mostly focused on fighting Islamists from Jabhat Al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant since then, with the most heated battles taking place around Kobani and Tal Abyad. The Kurdish effort has since long been supported by the US led anti-ISIL coalition with regular airstrikes backing up YPG forces. The Turkish government however views this group as a Syrian branch of the Kurdish separatist PKK group in Turkey. Thus Turkey views this group as a threat and has been shelling them several times. 
The Syrian Democratic Forces is a relatively new alliance of Kurdish, Arab and Assyrians militias formed in October 2015. The YPG forms the biggest group participating. 
The alliance has shown tendencies to tolerate Syrian government forces and vice versa with President Bashar al-Assad stating that he is willing to make concessions and engage in talks with them. Since the start of the Russian intervention in Syria, the SDF have also engaged in cooperation and talks with Russia.  
Operations rooms/Alliances not included in the ceasefire deal
A conglomerate of over a dozen Islamist militant groups who formed the Ansar Al Shariah coalition in 2015 to combat government forces in Aleppo. The forefront groups participating in this coalition are Jabhat Al-Nusra, Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Jabhat Ansar Al Din and the Syrian Turkmen Brigade. Because of Al-Nusra being heavily funded and armed by Saudi Arabia and Turkey among others, it is likely that the other members of the coalition have access to and enjoy the same kind of backing. 
Another coalition of Islamist militants in Aleppo, totalling up to 50 groups and formed in 2015, with a similar goal “to “liberate” Aleppo City from the Syrian regime”. Predominantly composed of fighters from the large hardline Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham group and Jaysh Al-Islam. Also composed of more than a dozen FSA units as well, It is noticeable that Jabhat Al-Nusra is not part of this operations room.
Jaysh Al- Fateh (Army of Conquest)
Formed in March of 2015, this alliance was a special joint Saudi/Turkish project which was aimed at expelling the Syrian Arab Army from the Idlib Governorate.  The Army of Conquest quickly captured the remainder of the Idlib Governorate that was under government control, including Idlib City, while also besieging the two predominantly Shia towns of Kafraya and Al-Fuaa. The alliance was originally formed by seven founding groups, of which three were direct Al-Qaeda affiliates (Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Jabhat Al-Nusra and Jund Al-Aqsa) and who provided more than 90 % of the troops.  Several other groups such as Sham Legion (Faylaq Al-Sham) are Muslim Brotherhood affiliates. Interestingly enough, this coalition also had the Turkestan Islamic Party, a Islamist separatist organization founded by Uyghur militants in western China and is now proudly displaying its fighters in Syria.  It is widely believed that Turkey and specifically Turkish intelligence has provided aid to this terrorist organization. 
Leadership: Mohammed Shakerdi 
Formed in January of 2014, the Army of Mujahedeen was formed out of several smaller FSA and Islamist brigades, notably the Harakat Nour Al-Din Al-Zenki Islamic Brigades and the Al-Noor Islamic Movement. In 2015, with the formations of several other alliances, the prominent Harakat Nour Al-Din Al- Zenki group left the alliance. Foreign support has been given through the United States and Qatar among others.  The group mainly operates in the Aleppo Governorate, but claims to also operate in Idlib.
Main terrorist groups not included in the ceasefire deal
These four main groups fighting the Syrian Armed Forces are considered by the Syrian, Russian & Iranian governments to be terrorist organizations that are not included in any truce or ceasefire deal.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
Leadership: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi
Local type of leadership: Wilayah & Emirs
A Salafi Takfiri militant group with origins from Iraq. ISIL has today grown into arguably the most powerful militant group fighting in the Syrian war with estimates ranging between 52,000–250 000 in terms of manpower. ISIL controls large parts of eastern Syria and sizeable portions of central and northern Syria. ISIL entered the Syrian war in April 2013 after having wreaked havoc in neighbouring Iraq for years before, and quickly began to gain strength in Syria, capturing several areas in northern Syria. ISIL began as an ally to the various rebel groups operating in northern Syria, including Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army. This alliance culminated in the capture of the Menagh Military Airbase in the Aleppo Governorate, in August 2013. 
Internal divisions within the different Al-Qaeda branches of Jabhat Al-Nusra and ISIL on one hand and ISIL and the other rebel groups on the other, sparked a rivalry that culminated in a inter-Islamist conflict on New Years eve of 2013. Since 2014, ISIL has not only been fighting the government of Syria and the Kurdish YPG, but also other terrorist organizations in a power struggle for domination of Syria. ISIL currently controls 35-40 % ( 1.5 -2 million people) of the country and one provincial capital in Syria: Raqqa city.
Leadership: Abu Muhammad Al Golani
Strength: ~10 000-15 000
Main external backers: Turkey & Saudi Arabia
Area of operations: Mainly in the Idlib Governorate, which is also a stronghold of Al-Nusra and their allies. Nusra also enjoys strong support from the local population in some of these areas.
The Al Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. Established in 2012, Jabhat Al-Nusra quickly took a leading role in the battle against government forces. By the second half of 2012, Jabhat al-Nusra stood out among the array of armed groups emerging in Syria as a disciplined and effective fighting force. Jabhat Al-Nusra, unlike many of the other rebel groups, operates through almost the entire country, with branches spread out across Idlib, Aleppo, Latakia, Homs, Hama, Daraa and Damascus. Several sources put their manpower strength at somewhere between 10 000- 15 000 active militants, with more recruits joining from Turkey, who together with Saudi Arabia form the main external backers of this Islamist group. 
Jaysh Al-Islam (Army of Islam)
Leadership: Zahran Alloush (former)
Jaysh Al-Islam, formerly known as Liwa al-Islam is a Islamist/Salafist group formed in 2013 by the late Zahran Alloush, son of Saudi-based religious scholar Abdullah Mohammed Alloush. Jaysh Al-Islam primarily operates in the Damascus Governorate, mainly in the East Ghouta area. The group shares many ideological similarities to Al-Qaeda and other Salafist Takfiri organizations, with its now deceased leader Zahran Alloush being famous for his sectarian remarks against Shiites on several occasions.  
Jaysh Al-Islam have themselves claimed on May 2015 to have between 17 000-25 000 members, but this number is likely lower due to heavy casualties in recent battles. Jaysh Al- Islam controlled East Ghouta is not part of the ceasefire deal since they are considered to be Al-Qaeda affiliates, in close cooperation with Jabhat Al-Nusra
Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham
Leadership: Abu Yahia al-Hamawi
Arguably the largest Islamist rebel group in Syria and together with Jabhat Al-Nusra form the bulk of the Islamist rebels fighting the government in mainly Idlib, Latakia, Hama and Aleppo. Already in 2013, the group was said to have up to 20 000 fighters The group shares the same radical Wahhabi/Salafi ideology and have on occasions been thought to be a political front for Jabhat Al-Nusra, as this group is not a designated terrorist organization by the Security Council. The group enjoys heavy backing from Turkey and Saudi Arabia.  Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham is however not part of the ceasefire deal since they intermingle with Jabhat Al- Nusra on the same fronts that are not part of the agreement. This makes them legitimate targets according to the ceasefire deal.
- http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/nearly-100-rebel-groups-sign-up-to-syria-truce ↑
- http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/nearly-100-rebel-groups-sign-up-to-syria-truce ↑
- https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/30-villages-join-reconciliation-process-hama/ ↑
- http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/opinion/sunday/a-risky-bet-on-syrian-rebels.html?_r=0 ↑
- https://pjmedia.com/blog/us-backed-free-syrian-army-operating-openly-with-isis-al-qaedas-jabhat-al-nusra/ ↑
- http://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-crisis-airport-idUSBRE97411J20130805 ↑
- http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/free-syrian-army-and-jabhat-al-nusra-announce-joint-offensive-in-al-houla/ ↑
- http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/02/syria-war-ceasefire-160228063752872.html ↑
- http://en.abna24.com/service/middle-east-west-asia/archive/2016/03/01/738210/story.html ↑
- http://syriadirect.org/news/jabhat-a-nusra-in-rastan-“like-the-islamic-state”/ ↑
- http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/russian-air-force-strikes-al-nusra-in-northern-homs-saa-moves-in-attacking-position/ ↑
- http://www.vox.com/2015/9/30/9423229/russia-bombing-isis-syria ↑
- https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/nusra-launches-offensive-in-southern-hama/ ↑
- http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/02/24/452095/Turkey-Kurds-YPG-PYD-Syria-Erdogan-Russia ↑
- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3463863/Syria-Kurdish-militia-says-respect-ceasefire.html ↑
- http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30374581 ↑
- http://www.cartercenter.org/resources/pdfs/peace/conflict_resolution/syria-conflict/NationwideUpdate-Feb-28-2015.pdf ↑
- http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/JN%20Final.pdf ↑
- http://ekurd.net/mismas/articles/misc2012/7/syriakurd554.htm ↑
- http://ekurd.net/mismas/articles/misc2012/7/syriakurd541.htm ↑
- http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/13/turkey-shells-kurdish-forces-in-syria-in-retaliation-for-attack-on-border-posts ↑
- http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2015/11/01/Syria-Joint-Kurd-Arab-Assyrian-force-announces-US-backed-offensive-in-al-Hasakah/7601446424051/ ↑
- http://www.kurdwatch.org/?e3631 ↑
- http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/160920151 ↑
- http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Syrian%20Opposition%20Guide_0.pdf ↑
- http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Syrian%20Opposition%20Guide_0.pdf, p 18 ↑
- http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/12392/21/Gulf-allies-and-%E2%80%98Army-of-Conquest%E2%80%99.aspx ↑
- http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f25_1449440442 ↑
- http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n01/seymour-m-hersh/military-to-military ↑
- http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/syria-army-mujahideen-challenges-isis-gains ↑
- http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/01/04/New-Syria-rebel-alliance-declares-war-on-al-Qaeda.html ↑
- http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-insight-idUSKCN0JF2L020141201?irpc=932 ↑
- http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323420604578652250872942058 ↑
- http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/al-qaeda-iraq-syria-108214_full.html#.VtP0Zmf2ZaQ ↑
- http://southfront.org/500-militants-cross-turkish-border-towards-azaz-syria/ ↑
- http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-crisis-turkey-and-saudi-arabia-shock-western-countries-by-supporting-anti-assad-jihadists-10242747.html ↑
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auKL9-rz0ek ↑
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jA6Af9o4Zmk ↑
- http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/abu-yahia-al-hamawi-ahrar-al-shams-new-leader/ ↑
- http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21582037-one-islamist-rebel-group-seems-have-overtaken-all-others-competition-among ↑
- https://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/523 ↑
- http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/02/12/the-road-to-a-syria-peace-deal-runs-through-russia/ ↑
Wow — this was really a lot of information!
Can’t imaginge how much work is behind a compilation like that. Thank you!
Mr. Mercouris spells out just how it works and does a bit of comparison and contrast:
So where parties stand after cessfire? Who controls what. As far as I’ve seen Syria is still under control of the U.S.- Israeli terrorists. Russion had dropped a lot of bombs but the resultat is minimal. The crude oil still flowes to Israel through Turkey. When that s*** will end and people could live in peace.
It possibly won’t, ever. Even the Ukraine continues to slow-burn.
Its useful to look at Ukraine thru Syria as one long front of global war instigated by the Ango-Zionist neocon West. The West has studied the length of civil wars, and like any phenomenon studied scientifically, the objective is to game the phenomenon in favour of a specific outcome and preclude an ‘unfavourable’ natural course.
Peace in the Ukraine depended upon everyone agreeing to Russian-Ukrainian influence being a major force. Once Kiev neo-Nazis stepped into power and instigated open conflict between a ‘Kiev’ and a ‘Moscow’, the probability of peaceful resolution – peaceful co-existence – was greatly reduced. One side has to definitively, conclusively, ‘win’ and the other, lose very, very badly.
The go-along, get-along popular multiculture of Ukraine was the first casualty of ethnic-religious polarization; naturally the moderate majority was the least inclined to get violent in defense of their interests, or even define those interests as illustrated by how easily Maidan duped them.
The WP map illustrates the motivation behind Kiev’s failed attempt to break Luhansk and Donetsk before tackling the rest of Black-sea bordering Ukrainian Russians; native Novorussia naturally isolates Kiev-istan from the Black sea, making it useless to itself and NATO, and capturing the border with Russia essential to later ethnically cleansing Russians from southern Ukraine.
Fortunately Kiev failed, and failed badly in ethnically cleansing Russians. In divided Odessa, where Russians remain (perhaps as long as they are pro-Western, and some no doubt are), the Russian deputy governor has to give up her Russian citizenship to remain in power, and of course denounce ‘Moscow’, which she does willingly. Odessa was the scene of the Trade Union Building Massacre.
Religion played a key part, underreported in the West. Of course, the force of Anglo-Zionism itself can be viewed as a form of religious extremism served and informed by its servile secular trappings.
In Syria, the core division appears to be Alawites versus every-Sunni-who-hates-Alawites-and-thinks-their-Sunniism-should-be-in-charge-instead. Although inverted in the sense that religious tensions have primacy over secular differences, the dual divide remains.
A pro-western interpretation of otherwise factual events favours casting the minority Alawites as oppressing a Sunni majority.
Although Alawite minority power did come about in a roundabout way and at times violently enforced, their continued rule depended on the consent of the other minorities and the majority Sunni, particularly, alliance with ‘moderates’ who certainly did not want the extremists in their number in power. The Alawites may be characterized as a cult, but are not despised as Jews might be, suggesting however they retain power, is done so in a manner understood and acceptable by Syrians of most stripes.
Islamic extremism became extremely useful in breaking Syria, and as in Ukraine, ethnic tensions mesh with religious divisions. A hard core of minority ethnic bigots determined to have their way, fueled by concurrent sentiment, blood, treasure, and religious fervor from abroad, almost guarantees ongoing conflict.
Unlike Ukraine, where Russia can comfortably fight a war of attrition since they aren’t actually there, (despite constant claims of Russian invasion), Russia is in Syria. In theory at least, Russia should need to wrap things up relatively quickly. Washington, on the other hand, can comfortably let Syria burn and attrit Russia in turn, as long as they have any proxy presence to deliver such. Obama has as good as promised another Afghanistan.
It should be interesting to see where things stand a year from now, but Chinese and Russian native leaders seem to make these strange placating moves to accommodate the ‘Injun killin’ Americans.
Its like they may themselves enjoy a good ‘ol Western and not realize, they’re the new ‘Injuns and their world, ‘Injun country.
What’s that said about the first time being tragedy, the second being farce?
Get it though your heads; the West is willfully lost to moral reason and perhaps always was. The demise of the nice middle class is merely the relieved shedding of the nice normal human being mask by the psychopath.
Placate us, and die. Join us, and die. Resist decisively, and maybe you’ll live if we make a mistake.
I have questions that might be difficult to answer.
The complexity of the stakeholders, for want of a better word, involved in Syria is likely unprecedented.
Given this complexity and with over 100 ‘rebel’ groups just how much peace stability is possible?
How amorphous are these rebel groups and do they have continually shifting allegiances -is there any predictability or are they proxy agencies that can be bought and sold?
How much historical hatred is there to bubble up down the road -especially if funded by USA/Israel/Saudi /Qatar/Turkey.
Will any predicted increase in the oil price translate to extra funding for stirring it up or will things remain on a slow boil?
How has the Assad government managed financially to keep what’s left of Syria running these 5 years, plus fund a defensive war, given the enemies it has all around it?
Speaking of shifting allegiances, it would be good to hear the Saker’s view on this somewhat predictable Hegemon&Vassals backed ‘chameleon’ act.
Syria Dispatch: Most Syrians Support Assad, Reject Phony Foreign ‘Revolution’
Thanks for listing the first hand account by an honest person. That’s the only windows we have to the real situation on the ground.
That map is based upon the Wiki Syrian Civil War map compiled by dozens if not more, dedicated Wiki volunteer contributors.
This complex and multilayered adversarial environment favours an extended, delicate and nuanced approach to terrorists and terrorism, with the objective being to simplify the base operating parameters and better control external variables.
This approach to terrorism is called, ‘Kill ’em all”.
Assad has the advantage of having lived in the West and once aspired to the neo-liberal lifestyle and joining this international elite. He may know at a gut level, what elitist Westerners are like and why ‘nice’ Westerners are merely the mask of a now psychopathic-sociopathic culture, and reasonable Westerners are not now and may never again be, in power over anything.
Neo-liberal economics was the main weapon the West used to destabilize Ukraine.
Neo-liberalism worked wonders in the Middle East, allowing imperialists to appear helpful as they pretended to welcome autocrats into the Anglo-Zionist fold. Autocrats were mostly greedy and stupid enough to embrace the fashionable crony capitalist way of rule, forgetting that their own populations, while in their own way as ignorant as common Westerners, were nowhere near as docile.
Libya’s Gaddafi being the prime example, feted like a pig being readied for slaughter. Vijay Prashad apparently wrote a book about how the Libya model of hijacking Arab revolutions.
Assad was widely praised for his neo-liberal reforms, then when the People couldn’t take it any more, they predictably revolted. NATO was more than ready and willing to reap the fruits of their neo-liberal seeding as they were in Ukraine.
Ironically, although neo-liberalism resulted in revolt, and Assad being despised by Western lefties, their scorn fueling early anti Assad propaganda, neo-liberalism may have given Assad the breathing room he needed to survive the early storm. Syrian banks, which were kept national and Syrian, continued to function and apparently couldn’t be immediately isolated.
It may not be as sophisticated as the German three-pillar system, but it worked.
Digression to the value of public banking aside, the idea that dialogue will solve the Syrian civil war relies upon the ideal of Syrians talking to Syrians and allowed to go their own way. Not the reality of U.S./NATO capricious meddling at every turn, as they have and will continue to.
Crush the foreign Jihadis AND the compador quislings accepting NATO/GCC help first, as completely as possible. They are not a lesser evil than IS DAESH, just an equivalent evil of a different colour. Its unfortunate to lose a longer window of opportunity to do so.
Russia suffered greatly after the fall of the Soviet Union, but getting rid of as many of the quisling class as possible allowed her to rise again.
Assad’s people don’t have the luxury of peace, but have been following their own plan of reconciliation.
The Alawites are ‘of the land’ moreso than any other ethnic group and any indigenous trust in them is because unlike any other ethnic group, they have nowhere to run. Their power base is indigenous, not dependent on a greater Alwawite community like the Sunni, Shia, Christian, or even Kurdish world. Failure meant Christians to the sea, and Allawites into the ground from day one. Genociding Alawites is certainly a core Anglo Zionist goal, because they are the cultural catalyst of a united Syria; its not just a regional thing.
Its not clear how genuine the supposed ‘break’ between Assad and Russia was over the truce process, but overriding indigenous best judgement over who needs killing is never a good idea. Assad’s circle knows their own people the way Putin might understand Russians and Ukrainians.
That before Russian intervention Syria was losing, is less a reflection on whether or not Assad knew what he was doing at a strategic-operational level, but the overwhelming power of government opponents, against whom Syria did survive against steep odds and a severe tactical deficit.
I’d be very leery of believing anything much from Bloomberg -it’s useful reading to see what the western spin is up to and where it is leaning but that is about the limit of it.
Take a look at the author and see who Bloomberg quotes in other articles e.g. Kudrin et al.
See maybe a bit of slant there?
The Bloomberg story was corroborated by other Western news outlets.
The only obvious pattern, is that the story was repeated by Western news outlets and retained in their archives, not say, RT or Almasdarnews archives if such stories ever appeared.
Either Churkin said what he said, or he didn’t, either Assad said what he said, or he didn’t. That such a story may flatter the narrative of Western propagandists, is secondary to its veracity.
The implication of a split is, in terms of honest objectivity, significant and relevant news as news, moreso than news as propaganda.
I’ll give Bloomberg a pass on this one, and RT a fail.
Personally, I’d give the Telegraph, Reuters and Bloomberg permanent fails and not useful for triangulation of veracity. This is not to say that nothing they print is true but they really can’t be trusted, you know -except to print the establishment sanctioned spin..
You’re missing the point. Vociferously. And you seem to be a Westerner, familiar with the necessary ideals that facilitate an effective fourth estate. So let me try and bury this.
Why the willingness to let RT sink to the same level as the presstitutes of the west? I’ve seen a few lowbrow poo-humour and graphically violent atrocity porn stories popping up on RT’s front page since Christmas, contrasting badly with the intelligent content, but news omissions are a little more serious than just making reading RT pointlessly unpleasant.
Winning or losing an information war relies on one element alone – integrity. There are many elements to that but we all should know, generally, what integrity means.
There will be more wars and conflicts between East and West. The Pentagon has gone as far to call it, The Long War. Since news is still being printed and a fifth estate, the blogosphere, has emerged, public opinion must still matter.
Cynicism, indifference, apathy, and repugnance are the greater enemy of truth than lies. If neither side has integrity or perceived to have integrity, the side most in the wrong has most to gain.
Russia is not in the wrong in Syria. Assad, if he did disagree, has the right to be heard and his willing acquiescence all the more meaningful if so heard. The reasons need not be given; that’s strategic information. That Assad’s voice and the Syrian voice was respected WAS needed to be known. Even Erdogan is allowed his say in the controlled Western press, and its kind of deranged.
Why fall back on the crude and obsolete tactics of propaganda war in this, the information age and era of information war? Who’s dumb idea was that to regress when you were winning flat out?
Russia’s present advantage in the information war lies in the West’s willful squander of credibility for shorter term gains that did not withstand time and scrutiny. Russia consistently told not only the truth, but a more complete truth in a manner usually reflecting newsmanship sane people want. Accurate, timely, and relevant and well-presented information, as opposed to mere propaganda. That’s why the information war is called information war, and not propaganda war.
Either the core information upon which the spin is based is accurate, or it is not. There has been no attempt by either Russia or Syria to repudiate the quoted words of Churkin or Assad. Misrepresentation or outright fakery would be very serious indeed in real terms; score yet another for Russia? No, instead, its a quiet ‘own goal’.
There is no way to take Churkin or Assad’s words out of context. The odds are very much in favour of this being a legitimate interpretation of factual events.
Assad appears to prefer defeating DAESH forces to a greater extent than it has been, before peace talks. Everyone should understand, an enemy that can skip across a friendly border and whose logistics train lies therein, can’t be completely defeated, a key point of reason. The Russians favour a limited ceasefire so as to focus in Al-Nusra and IS, whose positions are now isolated politically and geographically, and gain diplomatic hedges against U.S. malfeasance.
Assad has agreed.
Spin that any way you want; a legitimate disagreement between peer allies respectfully and thoughtfully worked out openly before their respective publics, or an imperial expansionist Russia telling a vassal what to do and tolerating no intelligent dissent or appearance of disunity. Right or wrong, right can be made to look wrong even if its not.
Both have a fair say; the Russians are taking on immense cost and risk, Syrian army and civilians, and allied ground troops, are doing the greater part of the dying, and the better future of these countries lies in the outcome.
Although I’ve argued in favour of what I believe Assad’s position is, the argument itself was not drawn from any sense of a Syrian-Russian split but from personal opinion drawn from some public news sources. The Russian position is not, from an objective standpoint, incorrect, and obviously made from greater intelligence and experience.
The ceasefire holds. Syrian forces continue to gain on the ground. The so-called rebels fume and whine impotently. The U.S. ponders a rather sketchy plan B. The Assad-Putin split now seems irrelevant – but not from the perspective of history.
Coverup is incorrect by any journalistic standard. And so, the Western news stories stand in quiet contrast to silence, not even needing to crow, to crow. A small, rare, qualitative victory, whether couched in obsolete terms of propaganda war or the new paradigm of information war.
Team Obama is not Team Nuland or some other empty-headed aggression-is-all neo-con clique that revels in lying to prove untouchability. Quite the contrary, Obama patiently will give an opponent all the rope they ask for to hang themselves as brilliantly as they may dare. Arguably, he can’t say no, most times.
Nonetheless, that’s Obama’s long game, and the changeup appears to have caught Russian propagandists off guard at least since Thanksgiving. What happened to the savvy RT info warriors?
Russians in the West are promoted as the very caricature of dishonesty. Censor for no reason. Prove anti-Russian sentiment correct. Start the popular pendulum swinging the long way back to the West by deserving such, and see how fast it will in fact swing.
People will always want the good guys to win, but hey, settling for being the lighter shade of black works here too.
You have some interesting points but where is it written that RT must respond to any piece of information written in the domestic or western MSM? RT will do as it pleases and probably is conscious of not upsetting any Russian interests/gains in Syria. Look what they are up against in terms of the sheer quantity of western media and its endless vitriol against Russia flowing from the US administration and its NATO vassals. It is a proxy war there in Syria and one with the end goal of destabilising and carving up Syria, Iran and Russia.Then China.
I find RT a little tabloid and sensationalist in flavour with a consistent narrow focus of negative stories about the USA/UK. Though constrained it is still better in my opinion than the rabid russophobia shown by western media, especially state media like the BBC.
Absolutely though the world is full of grays and there are no absolutely good guys, Russia included.
As for Syria, the Assad government, the Syrian people in different regions, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah -not to mention all the other players -they all will have different designs on the end game.
I’d really have to disagree with your statement: “Winning or losing an information war relies on one element alone – integrity”. In a universsity debate with intelligent judges perhaps, but in the real world of divide and conquer, vitriolic memes and smear work every time.
This is a little off topic, but too important to ignore.
Could some people with a bit of knowledge read this article and feed back their opinions. Thierry Meyssan has proved reliable in the past. The video of the possible detonation of a nuclear device in Yemen is fascinating.
The nuclear Near East!
by Thierry Meyssan
Not at all qualified to comment, but the story is too silly to pass up.
Usually nuclear weapons ownership is accompanied by a successful test explosion.
Even Israel tested theirs and let it be known, sort of.
No test, no bomb, and you’d have to wonder, who’d sell/give Saudi Arabia a nuke and how would the Saudis know it really was a nuke without buying a few and randomly testing one, after which everyone would know who at least one seller/supplier was by tracing the radioactive sig.
Oh, yeah. The video; debunked as a hoax NINE months ago. Thought it looked familiar.
The flash didn’t blind anybody, didn’t fry the camera with EMP, etc., and the smallest so-called tactical nukes would have leveled the city.
If it was directed at a bunker, it was possibly a fuel-air explosive, as thermobarics are the fashionable thing to use against bunkered positions. The blast kind of looks like that if Youtube examples of real thermobaric and nuclear detonations.
However, the lack of alarm by any anti-nuke monitoring, official or otherwise, might also be a dead giveaway to yet another video hoax.
As if Saudi REAL crimes weren’t bad enough.
And as if Saudi ability to thwart war crime investigation wasn’t bad enough.
Somehow a nine-month-old hoax video anyone can Google-fu is worthy of mention here?
Different videos of that (underground) explosion show the effects of radiation on the camera’s image sensors. Denying the possibilty of it having been a nuke is just as silly as taking it as fact. Somebody needs to go measure fall out radiation to be certain…
Thank you for this review of the various terrorist groups fighting against the legitimate government in Syria.
I say terrorist groups, because, regardless of the agreements reached on the basis of concessions made to achieve a ceasefire and channel a possible peace process to leave the bloody and destructive maelstrom in what these groups have become the Syrian nation, all groups that have risen against the legitimate government elected by the Syrians, are all terrorists for me.
There is no more than to see the effects of their actions, the country destroyed and a wave of refugees unprecedented since the time of the great military confrontations that ravaged Europe.
On the other hand, still valuing in much the efforts made by the author to make this collection, I see that he has based on information from some think tanks based in the US ( Carter, Stanford …) and news sources like Reuters, Al Jazeera, etc… and other MSM whose tendency is amply known, and so I see that the US role in the founding, financing and training of these groups is very diminished, seeming that it went only for one group and a little bit and very limited for another, when I think this is much far from reality.
I understand that, being the US now an ally of Russia in maintaining the ceasefire, it is wanted to offer them a graceful way out of the Syrian quagmire with this facelift, but for those of us who follow the conflict from the beginning, as that it will not wash.
Nor I can see in nowhere the hand, mainly from the French and British, but also from other countries of the European Union, in this conflict and certainly in supporting these insurgent violent groups.
Some may forget easily, but I, and I hope the Syrian people either, never will forget the machinations of these rogue states, the blatant lies expressed in the MSM and the furious attacks suffered in them by who tried to defend the truth. But mostly I will not forget, and I hope the Syrian people either, how they all reduced a thriving nation with an ancient cultural heritage to ashes.
You will go scot free again, as always, but I say you, damn you for ever and ever!
Thank you for your comment and feedback, it is very much appreciated.
The reason for omitting information on Washington’s backing of these terrorist groups and the usage of “mainstream” sources has been motivated by the fact that this article is supposed to be a quick guide for those feeling lost in the mess that has become Syria and the 1500 militant factions scattered across the country, which no one really has been able to keep tracks on. I focused on describing the main funders and backers of these groups, which after all have been Turkey and Saudi Arabia, however this has been going on with Washington’s full cooperation and knowledge, which I hoped the intelligent readers here would be aware of.
I use mainstream sources because I aim to show that a broad variety of sources confirm the fact that these groups, especially Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham and Jaysh Al-Islam are indeed radical terrorists, rather than the “moderates” that Washington and its allies have tried to portray them as.
I fully agree with your assessment though and hope you understand my choices for this article. Feel free to have a look at some of my articles where I offer my views on the war and Washington’s role in this aggression on Syria.
They can be found here: https://www.almasdarnews.com/?s=aram+mirzaei
Thank you Aram, for your attention, I understand, now even better, your intend in clarifying the tangle of groups and their entanglements, really needed, and I really apreciate the effort as I have already said.
Only I did not want to let pass the opportunity to emphasize the truth.
Aram, Superb Synopsis.
The fact that i know, that i know less about the whole Syrian civil war and ceasefire after finishing your astute review, speaks not to your efforts, but with my long time association with The Dominican Republic Chamber of Commerce for Delinquents, Idiots, Morons and The Just Plain Stupid (Queers, Fags, Gay, Bi, or whatever are honored equally as Stupid in The Dominican).
I think drugs help; alcohol in moderation.
I think i’m falling in love with the lovegovernment.com
Aram, in all seriousness, very thoroughly conceived – and brilliantly manifested.
Thanks for your post Elsi – you’ve saved me the bother.
Aram Mirzaei – thanks for your answer and explanation. We here have been fully aware almost from the outset of the machinations by neo-con controlled Washington, Tel Aviv, Paris and caliphate-obsessed Ankara in the conspiracy against Syria. Not forgetting Quatar and Saudi of course..
You would do well to write a companion piece clarifying this.
amazing-not read in depth yet, but would like to ascertain which groups might be allied to saudi higher Negotiating committee and what that particular bunch are up to overtly or otherwise.hhhhmmmm
Alexander Dugin on the armistice in Syria:
Stop referring to the Syrian Crises as a ”Syrian Civil War ” it is nothing such .It is a western and gcc terrorist invasion and by the way there is nothing ‘civil ‘ in War.
sky news Uk just announced have been handed in Turkeyflash drive with 22000 details of Daesh membership, origin, routes, recruitment, networks contacts , place of entry etc etc amazing. from a guy ex Daesh member disillusioned with them as nor being of islam……………so, will this be handed to UK, Rus-USA intelligence………where will this go…..any evidence of complicity by /with Turkey?????
Incredible footage from Kabanah, Lattakia, showing the Syrian Army and Syrian civilian militia infantries advancing uphill win very close combat against the terrorists above. Some desperate and dramtic scenes of grenades and TOWs used at close range.
found at syrianperspective.com
The title is a bit off. The war in Syria is not a “civil war”. Perhaps a better characterisation would be a “proxy war” — Saudis, Qataris, Turks, Israelis, US have backed, funded and armed the so-called opposition inc. ISIS…
This seems interesting
“GENEVA, March 14. / TASS /. New Syrian Opposition group has Been Formed at a meeting Russia’s Hmeimim base and it may come to Geneva, Russian Ambassador to the UN and international Organizations in Geneva You Alexey Borovavkin Told on TASS on Monday.
“We are pleased to note that the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and his office have welcomed the formation of a new moderate opposition group,” the diplomat said. “Staffan de Mistura has promised to negotiate the issue of inviting representatives of this group to the Geneva negotiations.”
According to Borodavkin, this group comprises oppositionists who live and work in Syria but who have not been included in the political structure that is currently in power.
“They have taken advantage of the cessation of hostilities regime, and said that they support this regime, support the Russian-American statement on how this regime should be implemented, consolidated their political will, adopted a relevant statement and created a so-called secular opposition group in Hmeimim. It happened at the base of our Center for reconciliation”, the ambassador said.
According to Borodavkin, this new group could join the negotiations on Syrian settlement and could “make a positive and constructive contribution to making agreements on the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 in the part related to the political settlement of the Syrian crisis.”
TASS has learnt that this group comprises doctors, lawyers, engineers, journalist and public activist representing the Syrian organization National Action, the Front for Democratic Action in Syria, the Syrian National Youth Party and Syrian Fatherland Party, as well as the International Red Cross Committee and others. The oppositionists call themselves the Hmeimim group.
The ceasefire regime between the Syrian government forces and armed opposition groups came into force from 00:00 (01:00, Moscow time) on February 27. Ceasefire is not applicable to the terrorist groups Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as other formations recognized by the UN Security Council as terrorist.
An hour before the ceasefire came into force, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution in support of cessation of hostilities in Syria. The document was initiated by Russia and the United States and won support from all the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council. United Nations Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, told a briefing after the United Nations Security Council meeting that 97 armed groups in Syria had accepted the ceasefire terms.
According to the Russian military, the ceasefire regime in generally observed, but occasional violations of the regime have been recorded since the ceasefire regime came into force.
in other words, replacing or reducing the influence ????the so called USA of “moderate opposition” where USA Eu especially France has met on March 13 to still pressurise(and USa to use Eu stooges to prove Rus is bombing civilians) by monitoring ceasefire that Rus is bombing the US A coalitions”moderate opposition? as shown by
PARIS, March 13. / TASS /. US Secretary of State John Kerry will hold consultations in Paris with Heads of Foreign Ministries of the Western European countries on March 13. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Jean-Marc Ayrault, representing the host, the parties will discuss the ways to resolve the crisis in Syria and the increasingly alarming situation in Libya. As expected, the settlement of the situation in Ukraine will also be discussed.
In addition to Kerry and Ayrault the discussion will be attended by Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Great Britain, Germany, Italy and the European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Syrian crisis and Geneva talks
The meeting will take place on the eve of the resumption of the proximity talks on Syria in Geneva. Against this backdrop, US Secretary of State said that the violence in Syria after the cessation of hostilities reduced by 80-90%. “This is very significant and we want that work on reduction continues,” Kerry said. However, he had to admit that “many issues remain unresolved,” and this causes Washington’s concerns.
The participants of the meeting in Paris are going to focus on these issues. “We intend to demand that the US become closely involved in monitoring the ceasefire in Syria,” Ayrault said.
In addition, European countries want to make sure that the strikes of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria directed solely against terrorist groups and “not against moderate opposition.” “We must remain vigilant,” Ayrault said.
In addition to the ceasefire, the parties will also discuss the upcoming parliamentary elections in Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has announced that the elections will be held on April 13. France and other EU countries have made it clear they strongly oppose this initiative. Back in early March, French President Francois Hollande said, “Our common goal is to use truce to promote the political transition. However, the idea of these elections … is controversial. It is absolutely unrealistic.”
and HNC is complaining it is being shut out?
ABU DHABI, March 14. /TASS/. The United States’ position on the Syrian settlement is seen by the Saudi-backed Syrian opposition as ambivalent, Al Jazeera said on Sunday citing George Sabra, a member of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC).
Sabra was quoted as saying that the Syrian opposition has many questions to the United States’ policy towards Syria in general. These questions, in his words, are stemming from Washington’s ambivalent relations with the opposition and its relations with the European and Gulf allies.
He called on the United States’ side to “explain the level [boundaries] of the agreements between the United States and Russia as Washington’s position is not clear even to its allies.” In its statements, the United States keeps on declaring its commitment to the Geneva-1 agreements on unity and territorial integrity of Syria, Sabra said, adding that as a matter of fact the United States was nourishing those backing separatism.
GENEVA, March 13. / TASS /. Syria’s (Saudi led , my brackets) opposition High Negotiation Committee [HNC] will meet with United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on Monday, March 14, a representative of this Riyadh-based committee told TASS on Sunday.
“A meeting will be held tomorrow, on March 14, at the United Nations Palace of Nations,” he said.
The second round of intra-Syrian peace talks is scheduled to start in Geneva on Monday. The talks are called to put an end to the five-year-long civil war in that country.
The Syrian opposition delegation is expected to arrive in Geneva on Sunday. “Some members of our group arrived on Saturday, the rest will come tomorrow ,: the source said, adding that the HNC delegation plans to have a coordinating meeting later in the day.
The Syrian government delegation has already arrived in Geneva earlier on Sunday. The delegation is led by Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar al-Jafari.
sorry if too long but an assessment of state of current peace negotiations Syria…
“The Russian Center for Reconciliation of the warring parties to continue consultations with the leaders of opposition political parties and movements operating in the SAR. Discussed problematic issues of the cessation of hostilities in controlled areas and their solutions. Number of illegal armed groups that have declared their commitment to the implementation and adoption of the conditions of the cessation of hostilities – 42.
During the day held talks on reconciliation with the elders and representatives of the administrations of 5 bp in the provinces of Daraa and Hama. The total number of settlements, with chapters which reached an agreement on reconciliation, remained unchanged – 44.
During the day, the cessation of hostilities was violated 29 times (Latakia – 18, Damascus – 5, Aleppo – 3, Idlib – 2 Ham – 1).
Russian VKS and Air Force Syria opposition armed groups, have declared a cessation of hostilities and to report to the Russian or American centers reconciliation information about their location, strikes are not applied.
Task Force on reconciliation Center, launched in Aleppo province, started to monitor compliance with the cease fighting and monitoring of the humanitarian situation.
Mezhsiriyskie negotiations will resume in Geneva on 14 of March. As stated in the Special Envoy’s office, the new invitations to this round of negotiations is not expelled, will be the same delegation to participate as the last time: the Syrian government delegation, the opposition Supreme Negotiating Committee, formed in Riyadh, and a delegation of the opposition, formed on the basis of meetings in Moscow and Cairo. Participants mezhsiriyskih negotiations in the new round will be discussing the new government, the constitution and future parliamentary and presidential elections.
Discuss Syria future without serious Kurds, it will only give food for extremism and talk about the republic division, said the representative of the opposition group “Moscow-Cairo” one of the leaders of the Syrian Popular front for change and liberation Qadri Jamil: “Talking about a truce and the future of the device without the Syrian Kurdish component lightly. It gives food extremism, talk about federalization and secession from Syria, so if he would invite the Kurds, then he (Mistura) simply to perform the obligations which he himself took. The expansion of the list of participants is not necessary. In our list of five Kurds. They play a major role -. And the military and political ”
Also, according to him, at the Geneva talks should discuss the distribution of powers of the future of the Syrian authorities. “We need to agree on the distribution of powers within the government itself: between the government and the president, between government and parliament, and then the contours of a new constitution and the election of specific dates. All this will be discussed at this round of talks, “- Jamil said.
He also noted that the government and the Syrian opposition should have veto power in the transitional body, there are now two extreme ideas about how it should be. “The government representation – it simply extended the government, that is, their opposition to the government plus. The opposition Riyadh transitional body – is an organ that receives full power. This is similar to the revolutionary councils, which were created after any upheavals in the East. We believe that the truth lies somewhere between these two extreme views. The transitional authority shall be established on the basis of 50 \ 50, subject to a consensus on the mandate and composition. It is necessary that each party had the right to veto “- said Jamil.
It was also stated that the discussion of powers between central and local authorities is more important federalization. “I think that Syria is too small for federalization. Federalization on what basis? Religious? Confessional? Or National Geographic? Nobody talks about the definition. Another question – about the level of centralization, which is a necessary condition for the existence of the state. . The ratio of the powers of the central and local authorities and the need to discuss ”
The main purpose of mezhsiriyskih negotiations in Geneva the opposition sees the achievement of real political transition, said one of the Supreme Committee of the leaders in the talks Syrian opposition Georges Sabra:” We must work to achieve real political transition in Syria, and this is the main goal of the negotiations. You also need to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance in areas that are still not covered by it. ”
Opposition Supreme Negotiating Committee (WCP) supports the national identity of Kurds and is a part of the negotiations in Geneva on Syria their representative. “The Kurds are an important part of the Syrian people. And we take care of our brothers, and we are very pleased to have a representative of the Kurds in the composition of the delegation of the Supreme Committee. We really want the Kurds got their identity, rights and language. They are part of the Syrian people, “- said the official representative of the CPSU Saleh Muslet.
Over the past three weeks, IG lost in Syria about 3 thousand square kilometers territory, killed 600 militants, said US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Russia has information on the position of the Turkish armed forces in the territory Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: “Turkey, returning to what it was the demand to avoid any strengthening of the Kurdish parties in Syria, began to assert its sovereign right to create any security zone on Syrian territory. According to our information, they are “digging” a few hundred meters from the border inside Syria. It’s a creeping expansion. After all, the Turks have long been stating that they will not allow strengthening the Kurds in the north of Syria. ”
According to the Foreign Ministry, Russia will insist that the UN called on the Kurds to peace talks on the Syrian conflict, despite opposition from Turkey, if the international community wants that they remain a part of Syria.”
extract from http://www.anna-news.info/node/54731
Who has the upper hand now that Putin announced Russia’s withdrawal of its military forces from Syria? Seems that the best Assad can now hope for is a stalemate in the Western part of his country and complete loss of Kurdistan and the Eastern desert regions controlled by ISIS. America gets the partition it desired… and maybe regime change not long after. Why the sudden about face by Russia? Do they have intelligence that Turkey and Saudi have committed to a full scale invasion that the small Russian task force could never stop?