Global Independent Analytics
Eric Draitser
Eric Draitser

Location: USA

Syria Rebel Leader’s Assassination a Major Blow to the US-NATO-Saudi Agenda. Part 2.

This article focused on the death of Zahran Alloush, commander of the Jaish al-Islam group in the Damascus suburbs, and his organization’s laundry list of crimes against the Syrian people, as well as...

...his long-standing connections to Saudi Arabia.

Part 2 below highlights the implications of his death, among other recent developments, and how it will translate on the battlefield.

The assassination of Zahran Alloush, commander of the Jaish al-Islam Salafist group, has led to a major change on the ground in Syria.  Seemingly everywhere one looks, the Syrian Arab Army is on the offensive, moving to reclaim towns and cities it had once conceded to the rebel-terrorist alliance fighting against the Syrian Government.  Even the most hardened anti-Assad crusader must admit that the situation of the rebel-terrorists today is much worse than it was four months ago when the Russian engagement in Syria first began. 

Indeed, Alloush’s death is not the only one that has had a tangible impact on the ground.  Just weeks after the targeted assassination of Alloush and a number of other high-ranking commanders of the Jaish al-Islam organization, one of the leaders of the equally criminal Ahrar al-Sham was assassinated in Homs province.  With his death, Ahrar al-Sham has also been reeling, desperately trying to cling to territory in the face of a long expected counter-offensive by the Syrian army in tandem with air strikes from its Russian allies.

These developments have contributed in no small part to the significant political shift from the US and its western allies who have, for all intents and purposes, dropped the “Assad must go” precondition for negotiations.  It should be noted that this move owes directly to the significant assaults upon what must be regarded as Saudi-Qatari proxies in the Syrian war, specifically Jaish al-Islam and Jaish-al Fatah (of which Ahrar al-Sham is a member).  Only because of the significant tactical victories against these gulf proxies is there now a real opportunity for a resolution to the war in Syria. 

Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Opening of Syria’s West

With the death of Alloush, the Douma and Ghouta suburbs of Damascus - the strongholds of the Jaish al-Islam organization - are clearly up for grabs.  While it was easy to predict that the Syrian armed forces would target those areas, the slow, deliberate progress of the SAA and its allied fighting groups demonstrates that Damascus regards the retaking of this territory as permanent.  In other words, the Syrian Government intends on liberating these areas once and for all. 

Indeed, the recent news from the Damascus suburbs only further confirms this assertion.  According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), the official news source of the Syrian Government:

Units of the Army and Armed Forces destroyed a munitions depot, a rocket artillery piece, and two mortar launchers used by terrorists during the ongoing counter-terrorism operations in the Eastern Ghouta part of Damascus Countryside.  Sources on the ground told SANA’s correspondent that army units carried out intensive operations against dens of terrorist organizations in al-Nashabieh town 12 kilometers southeast of Douma city... In Douma, army operations resulted in destroying a position for the Jaish al-Islam terror organization and a vehicle loaded with ammunition in Misraba village three kilometers southeast of Douma...Another army unit directed concentrated strikes against movements of terrorist organizations in Tal al-Sawan farms and Hosh al-Fara to the east of Douma, destroying a pickup truck and killing three terrorists.

While these may seem like small, somewhat inconsequential gains by the Syrian military, the reality is that this is precisely the sort of methodical, meter by meter progress that is necessary to truly liberate these areas from the rebel-terrorist gangs that have been in control there for these last few years.  To get a sense of just how full of terrorist groups these areas are, here is a short description from the Carnegie Endowment in 2013:

The city of Douma has long been a stronghold of the insurgency, and several armed factions are active in the area, many of them with an Islamist bent. One, the Islam Brigade of the Alloush family, has over time grown quite a bit bigger than the others, particularly after it claimed responsibility for the July 18, 2012 attack against the National Security Office in Damascus, which killed several leading Syrian security figures. In March 2013, the main factions of the area joined forces in a local body called the Douma Mujahedin Council. The new group included the Islam Brigade, the Douma Martyrs’ Brigade, the Ghouta Lions Brigade, the East Ghouta Revolutionaries’ Brigade, the Lions of God Brigade, the Tawhid al-Islam Brigade, the Farouq Brigade [Liwa al-Farouq], the Shabab al-Hoda Brigade, the Seif al-Omawi Battalions, the Military Police Battalion, the Regime Protection Battalion, and the al-Ishara Battalion.

Here it should be clear exactly why the Syrian armed forces have targeted Ghouta and Douma so heavily – these suburbs are really the heart of the war in and around Damascus.  Indeed, striking at the terror groups that called Douma home was likely the principal motivation for the rocket attack of August 2015 which the western media decried as a “massacre” and “collective punishment” by Syrian forces.  The fact that Douma and Ghouta have both been controlled by criminal jihadists who massacred civilians and used them as human shields, was somehow not deemed noteworthy by the corporate propagandists. 

In fact, neither the killing of Alloush nor the Douma market attack was the first action against terrorists in the area.  There is ample evidence that the Syrian forces have been engaged in Douma consistently throughout the war, including all through the spring and summer of 2015 leading up to the rocket attack on the Douma market.  However, with Alloush out of the picture and as all indications are that Jaish al-Islam in now in disarray since much of its leadership has been eliminated, it seems that for the first time since the war really took shape, there is a chance that the Damascus countryside, and indeed much of the southern corridor of this war, could be pacified.  

From a strategic and geopolitical perspective, the killing of Alloush and attacks against the Jaish al-Islam organization must be seen as an offensive against Saudi proxies.  As award winning journalist Patrick Cockburn wrote in Harper’s in January 2016:

 ...the Saudis certainly ended up crafting their own Islamist coalition. “The Saudis never armed al-Nusra,” recalled the Gulf State adviser. “They made the calculation that there’s going to be an appetite for Islamist-leaning militias. So they formed a rival umbrella army called Jaish al-Islam. That was the Saudi alternative — still Islamist, but not Muslim Brotherhood”...Given that Jaish al-Islam ultimately answered to Prince Bandar, who became the head of Saudi intelligence in 2012, there did not appear to be a lot of room for Western values in the group’s agenda. Its leader, Zahran Alloush, was the son of a Syrian religious scholar. He talked dutifully about the merits of tolerance to Western reporters, but would revert to such politically incorrect themes as the mass expulsion of Alawites from Damascus when addressing his fellow jihadis.

In fact, the attacks against the various terror groups must all be seen in the same way, namely attempts by the Syrian forces and their allies to undo the jihadist networks all throughout Syria which act as proxies for Gulf actors.  Again as Cockburn correctly noted:

In the spring and summer of last year, a coalition of Syrian rebel groups calling itself Jaish al-Fatah — the Army of Conquest — swept through the northwestern province of Idlib... Leading the charge was Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, known locally as Jabhat al-Nusra (the Nusra Front). The other major component of the coalition was Ahrar al-Sham, a group that had formed early in the anti-Assad uprising...Ahrar al-Sham meanwhile posted videos of the public floggings it administered to those caught skipping Friday prayers... In March, according to several sources, a U.S.-Turkish-Saudi “coordination room” in southern Turkey had also ordered the rebel groups it was supplying to cooperate with Jaish al-Fatah. The groups, in other words, would be embedded within the Al Qaeda coalition.

Despite the public relations campaign waged by the US, its allies, and the attendant sycophants of the corporate media, the reality that the US-NATO-GCC (plus Israel) were arming, financing, and training Al Qaeda and similar groups has now become inescapable.  Indeed, it is well known that Ahrar al-Sham is a proxy of the Gulf States, with Qatar being seen as the principal financier and backer.

Seen in this way then, a second look at the moves made by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies provides yet another window into the thinking of the commanders in Damascus: destroy the terrorist proxies of the Gulf States in order to cut off the flow of money and weapons, thereby allowing the opportunity to route the terrorists remaining in Syria.

It seems this strategy is playing out precisely in this way in the West of Syria along the North-South corridor connecting Idlib, Lattakia, Hama, Homs, Damascus, and Daraa.  Tracing the advances by the Syrian forces and their allies on the map, it is clear that Russian airpower has provided a window of opportunity to cut off and compartmentalize the terror groups operating in these regions, forcing them to fight separately, rather than being able to move fighters and weapons freely along the corridor.

At the same time, there are now reports that Syrian forces have made significant pushes in and around Aleppo and Deir Ezzor, two strategically vital cities, with Aleppo in the North and Deir Ezzor in the East.  Based on the reports, it seems clear that the Syrian forces are now applying a similar strategy to the one pursued in the Western corridor, specifically cutting off the supply routes of the terrorists in order to force them to fight individually, rather than being able to shuffle fighters and materiel. 

With both Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham now facing major crises of command and control, the opportunity for a military victory in certain key regions of Syria is certainly there.  However, one should be cautious not to assume that the tactical changes on the battlefield have somehow changed the fact that this war will finally reach a conclusion only at the negotiating table.  While key victories are essential to creating the space for a negotiated solution, they cannot act as a substitute for one.  Those who genuinely want peace in Syria, those who want an end to the bloodshed, understand this.  Assad himself has advocated the need for political dialogue and negotiation. 

Perhaps the collapse of the US-NATO-GCC-Israel death squad project in Syria might just open the door to peace.  Certainly that is what Moscow and Beijing are banking on, for only the Empire benefits from continuing the war on Syria.

HASHTAGS

Related ARTICLES

From Istanbul to Brussels: What Is Going On?

From Istanbul to Brussels: What Is Going On?

On March 19, a suicide bomber blew himself up in Istiklal street, by Taksim, Istanbul. And today, March 22, a major terror attack took place in Brussels airport and Maelbeek metro station.

23 March 2016

by Joshua Tartakovsky

Kurdish Federal Autonomy in Northern Syria: A Triple Challenge

Kurdish Federal Autonomy in Northern Syria: A Triple Challenge

With Russia pulling out of Syria in Putin’s latest chess move, things are expected not to calm down but to intensify

19 March 2016

by Joshua Tartakovsky

Obama's Visit to Cuba a Continuation of War, not Peace, with the Socialist Nation

Obama's Visit to Cuba a Continuation of War, not Peace, with the Socialist Nation

The rulers of capital want to return Cuba to the days when US monopolies dominated the economy of the island

19 March 2016

by Danny Haiphong

POPULAR ARTICLES

Not Found

OPINION

Vladimir Golstein

Vladimir Golstein

The Danderous Acceptance of Donald Trump

James N. Green

James N. Green

Politics in Brazil: Fasten Your Seat Belts!

Barbara H. Peterson

Barbara H. Peterson

Health officials confirm spread of Zika virus through sexual contact in Texas, first in US

Danny Haiphong

Danny Haiphong

WHY IS OTTO(SUPER)MAN ERDOGAN LOSING HIS CHARISMA?

Miray Aslan

Miray Aslan

How relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a breaking point

Navid Nasr

Navid Nasr

How relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a breaking point

Writers

chief editor

Joshua Tartakovsky

Analysis should serve as a method to better understand our world, not to obscure it.

Materials: 42

Specialization: Israel and the Middle East, US politics

Materials: 7

Specialization: Balkans, NATO and EU policies, Strategic communications

Materials: 3

Specialization: Foreign politics, Immigration, Human rights.

Materials: 2

Specialization: Political Science, Social Anthropology

Materials: 3

Specialization: Eastern Europe

Materials: 14

Specialization: Industrial Safety, Corporations

Materials: 12

Specialization: Eastern Europe, Labor movement

Materials: 3

Specialization: American history, way of life, and principles

Danielle Ryan

Ireland

Materials: 10

Specialization: US foreign policy, US-Russia relations and media bias

Materials: 20

Specialization: War, Racism, Capitalist exploitation, Civil rights

Materials: 8

Specialization: Modern Japanese History, Modern Chinese History, Military History, History of Counterinsurgency, History of Disobedience, Dynamics of Atrocities in Wartime

Dovid Katz

Lithuania

Materials: 3

Specialization: Holocaust Revisionism and Geopolitics; East European Far Right & Human Rights; Yiddish Studies & Litvak Culture

Materials: 20

Specialization: History, Catalunya, Spain, Geopolitics, Nationalism in Europe, Islamization, Immigration

Materials: 5

Materials: 3

Specialization: migration, international relations

Materials: 1

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy and strategies, BRICS/SCO

Materials: 19

Specialization: Balkans, Yugoslavia

Materials: 10

Specialization: Jihadist Groups, Islamic Terrorism, Global Security

Materials: 4

Specialization: Geopolitics

Materials: 4

Specialization: Media and government relations

Materials: 2

Specialization: Latin America, Brazil

Jay Watts

Canada

Materials: 2

Specialization: History, Marxism-Leninism, Imperialism, Anti-imperialism.

Materials: 2

Specialization: International Relations, Sociology, Geostrategy

Materials: 1

Specialization: civil rights

Lionel Baland

Belgium

Materials: 22

Specialization: Euroscepticism, Patriotic parties of Europe

Maram Susli

Australia

Materials: 3

Specialization: Geopolitics

Materials: 2

Specialization: Civil rights, Racism, US politics

Materials: 1

Specialization: geopolitics, economics

Max J. Schindler

Palestine-Israel

Materials: 9

Specialization: Politics

Miray Aslan

Turkey

Materials: 12

Specialization: Media, Politics

Materials: 5

Specialization: Politics, International relations

Navid Nasr

Croatia

Materials: 13

Specialization: Global security, Politics

Materials: 9

Specialization: Development of European Union, Non-governmental organizations, Politics and economics in Baltic States

Materials: 9

Specialization: Greece, Crisis of the US hegemony; Israel / Occupied Palestine, Oppression of Black people in the US

Materials: 4

Specialization: geopolitics, Russia, USSR

Pedro Marin

Brazil

Materials: 17

Specialization: Latin America, Ukraine, North Korea

Materials: 13

Specialization: Sustainable development, International relations, Comparative European politics, European integration, Eastern European politics and EU-Russia relations

Materials: 8

Specialization: Politics

Materials: 16

Specialization: Counterterrorist Finance

Seyit Aldogan

Greece

Materials: 3

Specialization: ISIS, Middle East, Globalization, Migrant crisis

Materials: 1

Specialization: Head of "Srebrenica Historical Project"

Materials: 3

Specialization: Economy, Social politics

Stevan Gajic

Serbia

Materials: 1

Specialization: Full time researcher at the Institute for European Studies

Materials: 5

Specialization: Geopolitics, Geoeconomics

Materials: 2

Specialization: Civil rights

Tobias Nase

Germany

Materials: 8

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy, Ukraine

Valerijus Simulik

Lithuania

Materials: 2

Specialization: Politics and economics in Baltic States, education and science, non - governmental organizations, globalization and EU

Van Gelis

Greece

Materials: 17

Specialization: Middle East

Materials: 1

Specialization: Kosovo, Serbia, Belgrad bombing

Materials: 5

Specialization: international relations, Russia

toTop