— The Erimtan Angle —

Over the past months, I have oftentimes spoken about the numerous foreign fighters active in Syria. Now, Jason Ditz details on the website AntiWar that a “report by the UN says that rebel fighters have come from 29 countries, and are overwhelmingly Sunnis flocking to the nation to fight against the Alawite President Bashar Assad”.[1]  The Turco-U.S. and Saudi-Qatari axis has been providing support for activists bent on turning the conflict into sectarian battle between Sunni Muslim opposed to the Alawite rulers of the Syrian Republic. Ditz, in turn, relies on Reuter’s appropriately titled piece ‘Foreign fighters fuel the sectarian flames in Syria’. The authors, Justyna Pawlak and Stephanie Nebehay state that the “deepened sectarian divisions in Syria may diminish prospects for post-conflict reconciliation even if President Bashar al-Assad is toppled. And the influx of foreign fighters raises the risk of the war spilling into neighbouring countries”.[2]  Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon now do really appear to be in the firing line. Turkey’s long-standing conflict with the PKK could get a shot in the arm by the Kurdish fighters in Syria and the stance taken by the neighbouring KRG. Iraq, on the other hand, is experiencing its own tensions between Shi’ite and Sunni elements, Arab and Kurdish leaders against the backdrop of the unevenly divided oil wealth underground. Lebanon has been a powder keg for years and any spark could trigger a new civil war or power struggle. And then there is Israel and the Palestinians who are also being sucked into the fight.

UN human rights investigators led by Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro have now stated that the “battles between government forces and anti-government armed groups [now] approach the end of their second year, [and currently, ] the conflict has become overtly sectarian in nature”.[3]  According to some, such as the outspoken critic Sibel Edmonds and the investigative Voltaire Network‘s Thierry Meyssan, the whole struggle against Assad has been an orchestrated affair from the very beginning with outside players, like the Sunni states Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey overtly and/or covertly supporting a U.S.-led agenda to effect regime change in Syria. After two years of a primarily undecided armed confrontation, the true colours of the “foreign” forces at work against secular and Alawite-led Baath regime in Syria are beginning to shine through. Karen Abuzayd, a member of the group of UN human rights investigators, characterises the anti-Assad foreign fighters in the following way: “They come from all over, Europe and America, and especially the neighbouring countries”.[4]  Conversely, the Baath regime is also able to count on some supporters: the report notes that ‘the Lebanese Shia group, Hezbollah . . . confirmed that group members were in Syria fighting on behalf of Assad’, while ‘reports of Iraqi Shia coming to fight [in Syria have also been heard, while] . . . Iran, a close ally of Assad, confirmed in September [2012] that its Revolutionary Guards were in Syria providing assistance’.[5]

[1] Jason Ditz, “UN: Syria’s Rebels Come From 29 Countries” AntiWar (20 Dec 2012). http://news.antiwar.com/2012/12/20/un-syrias-rebels-come-from-29-countries/.

[2] Justyna Pawlak and Stephanie Nebehay, “Foreign fighters fuel the sectarian flames in Syria” The Independent (20 September 2012). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/foreign-fighters-fuel-the-sectarian-flames-in-syria-8427986.html.

[3] Justyna Pawlak and Stephanie Nebehay, “Foreign fighters fuel the sectarian flames in Syria”.

[4] Justyna Pawlak and Stephanie Nebehay, “Foreign fighters fuel the sectarian flames in Syria”.

[5] Justyna Pawlak and Stephanie Nebehay, “Foreign fighters fuel the sectarian flames in Syria”.


Comments on: "The War in Syria: Foreign Fighters and Sectarian Divisions" (3)

  1. I am not sure How I am following you, but since I am, would like to thank you for update on the syria conflict the map was nice the links very helpful i had to have a small google window up to help me but it worked.

  2. Thanks for the updates. It helps me learn valuable info. You are certainly ahead of the curve on this.


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