— The Erimtan Angle —


According to John Hayward, writing on the conservative news and opinion website Breitbart, the Arab news broadcaster “Al Arabiya [has reported that] Syrians were surprised to find the number of Uighurs in their midst increasing dramatically over the past year. The new arrivals are very different from the older, much smaller Uighur contingent, which was largely allied with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, and has played an important role in Nusra’s military gains, at a heavy cost in casualties. Al Arabiya notes the Uighur fighters are viewed more favorably by Syrian civilians than the Islamist gang’s regular forces because they are not involved in shaking the locals down for money or imposing Islamic law. There are said to be thousands of Uighurs in the northern Idlib province of Syria now, and they look a lot more like settlers, with their families in tow. Some of them are quoted in the article declaring they made a one-way trip to Idlib, selling their homes in China and along the Afghan-Pakistan border to make the perilous journey. Uighur settlers are receiving assistance from the Turkistan Islamic Party, the Nusra Front affiliate that employed many earlier Uighur arrivals as fighters “.[1]

al Arabiya

Al Arabiya’s Mohanad Hage Ali then writes that a “Syrian militant source in close contact with Uighur fighters believes they are in Syria to stay. The Uighur fighters speak of a treacherous journey from their home province and the Pakistan-Afghan borders to Syria, according to the source, who cites conversations with the militants . . . And unlike many other groups and foreign fighters, “they don’t hide their faces, although this carries a huge risk back home. They don’t plan to return,” says the militant . The Uighur families have allegedly settled in abandoned towns, previously inhabited by minorities, especially Alawites who fled in fear of persecution, according to two journalists from Idlib”.[2]


Uighurs re-settling in Syria, with the Turkistan Islamic Party (previously known as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement) operating as a channel to Jabhat al-Nusra . . . this is a situation that is screaming for a Turkish connection. After all, Turkey’s Grey Wolves are the ultimate champions of Eastern Turkistan as the Chinese province of Xinjiang was previously known. Many Uighurs have fled to Turkey and opened shop there. Still, somebody like Hayward totally ignores any Turkish angle, maintaining that “[t]wo theories are advanced about the Uighur migration into Syria, and they are not mutually incompatible. One idea is that China, which has a checkered history with the Uighur minority, is driving them into Syria to get rid of them, backing a Pakistani campaign against Uighur militants along the Afghanistan border. The other theory is that the Uighurs are China’s unwitting proxy army in Syria, or may serve as a pretext for moving regular Chinese military forces into the theater”.[3]


[1] John Hayward, “Chinese Uighur Settlers Flow into Syria, Replacing War Refugees” Breitbart (03 MArch 2016).http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/03/03/chinese-uighur-settlers-flow-into-syria-replacing-war-refugees/.

[2] Mohanad Hage Ali, ” China’s proxy war in Syria: Revealing the role of Uighur fighters Al Arabiya (02 March 2016). http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/analysis/2016/03/02/China-s-proxy-war-in-Syria-Revealing-the-role-of-Uighur-fighters-.html.

[3] John Hayward, “Chinese Uighur Settlers Flow into Syria, Replacing War Refugees”.


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