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Archive for the ‘Lebanon’ Category

President Assad’s interview with SBS NEWS AUSTRALIA


 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accused Western nations, including Australia, of doing deals with his country in secret an exclusive interview with SBS News reporter Luke Waters. The interview, filmed in Damascus after two years of negotiations, aired on Friday (1 July 2016) night on SBS.In the interview, President Assad said Western countries had double standards – openly criticising his government, in public, but continuing to deal with him in private.[1]



[1] “Exclusive: Syrian President Assad says western countries secretly deal with his government” SBS (01 July 2016). http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/06/29/exclusive-syrian-president-assad-says-western-countries-secretly-deal-his.

The Islamic State or ISIS: Its Deep Structure & Turkish Recruits

The New York Times reports that the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [now known as the one-and-only Islamic State, which according to the NYT is a ‘jihadist group (that) has oil revenues, arms and organization, controls vast stretches of Syria and Iraq and aspires to statehood’] has a detailed structure that encompasses many functions and jurisdictions, according to ISIS documents seized by Iraqi forces and seen by American officials and Hashim Alhashimi, an Iraqi researcher. Many of its leaders are former officers from Saddam Hussein’s long-disbanded army who augmented their military training with terrorist techniques during years of fighting American troops”.[1] The top is taken in by “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of ISIS [aka the Caliph Ibrahim, who] has two deputies. One is responsible for Syria and the other for Iraq”. And then there is the “Leadership Council: Mr. Baghdadi relies on a number of advisers with direct access to him. Members of this council help handle religious differences, order executions and ensure that policies conform to ISIS doctrine”; the “Cabinet” consisting of “[m]anagers [that] oversee departments like finance, security, media, prisoners and recruitment”; and finally, “Local Leaders” that “[a]t least a dozen deputies across Iraq and Syria report to the deputy of each country. Many of these officials were military officers during Saddam Hussein’s rule”.[2] The NYT lists Jasmine Opperman (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium) and Hisham Alhashimi as sources. And the piece continues that the “group controls many of Syria’s eastern oil fields. In July [2014], ISIS fighters took control of the country’s largest oil field, Omar, which was producing about 30,000 barrels a day when it was fully functioning. Recently it was producing about a third of that or less. ISIS expanded its attacks into Iraq’s oil-producing areas in June, and an August sweep into the Kurdish region gave it access to more of the country’s oil assets. Experts estimate that the Iraqi oil fields under ISIS control may produce 25,000 to 40,000 barrels of oil a day — worth a minimum of $1.2 million in the underground market”.[3]

The NYT piece continues that, “[w]hen it seizes a city, ISIS keeps select services operating while using brute force to impose its vision of a fundamentalist Islamic state. Religious police make sure that shops close during Muslim prayers and that women cover their hair and faces in public. Public spaces are walled off with heavy metal fences topped with the black flags of ISIS. People accused of disobeying the law are punished by public executions or amputations. At the same time, ISIS keeps markets, bakeries and gas stations functioning . . . The Central Intelligence Agency believes that ISIS has between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters in Iraq and Syria and estimates that 15,000 of the jihadists are foreign recruits . . . The largest blocs of foreign fighters come from nearby Muslim countries, like Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Smaller contingents come from countries as far away and disparate as Belgium, China, Russia and the United States . . . ISIS has stolen hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons and equipment from Iraqi and Syrian military installations. It has also intercepted supplies en route to Syrian rebel groups from foreign governments. Conflict Armament Research, a private firm that investigates arms trafficking, has tracked small arms and rockets used by ISIS that appear to have been provided to other combatants by Saudi Arabia and the United States . . . Among the weapons that Conflict Armament Research examined were M16 and M4 rifles stamped ‘Property of U.S. Govt.’ Such weapons are also in the hands of irregular Shiite forces in Iraq, where the United States provided hundreds of thousands of small arms to supportive forces during its long occupation . . . Conflict Armament Research found M79 antitank rockets from the former Yugoslavia that were identical to M79 rockets provided by Saudi Arabia to rebels in Syria”.[4] The NYT lists Conflict Armament Research and IHS Jane’s as the sources.

8 September 2014

Furthermore, the NYT reporter Ceylan Yeğinsu states that “[h]undreds of foreign fighters, including some from Europe and the United States, have joined the ranks of ISIS in its self-proclaimed caliphate that sweeps over vast territories of Iraq and Syria. But one of the biggest source of recruits is neighboring Turkey, a NATO member with an undercurrent of Islamist discontent. As many as 1,000 Turks have joined ISIS, according to Turkish news media reports and government officials here. Recruits cite the group’s ideological appeal to disaffected youths as well as the money it pays fighters from its flush coffers. The C.I.A. estimated last week that the group had from 20,000 to 31,500 fighters in Iraq and Syria. The United States has put heavy pressure on Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to better police Turkey’s 560-mile-long border with Syria. Washington wants Turkey to stanch the flow of foreign fighters and to stop ISIS from exporting the oil it produces on territory it holds in Syria and Iraq”.[5] In fact, Yeğinsu claims that the Ankara district Hacıbayram has become an active recruiting ground for the Islamic State, luring young and disaffected Turks into the ranks of the Caliphal Army. She quotes a local father, identifying himself by means of the letters T.C., as follows: “[t]he diluted form of Islam practiced in Turkey is an insult to the religion . . . In the Islamic State you lead a life of discipline as dictated by God, and then you are rewarded. Children there have parks and swimming pools. Here, my children play in the dirt”.[6] Right from the horse’s mouth, as it were . . .



[1] “How ISIS Works” New York Times (16 September 2014). http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/09/16/world/middleeast/how-isis-works.html.

[2] “How ISIS Works”.

[3] “How ISIS Works”.

[4] “How ISIS Works”.

[5] C. Yeğinsu, “ISIS Draws a Steady Stream of Recruits From Turkey” New York Times (15 September 2014). http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/16/world/europe/turkey-is-a-steady-source-of-isis-recruits.html.

[6] C. Yeğinsu, “ISIS Draws a Steady Stream of Recruits From Turkey”.

Cross Talk: Syria as Proxy

‘Israel launched air strikes into Syria in response to border fire from the Golan Heights. What is Israel’s role in the Syrian civil war? What is their hidden agenda? And what about the future of the Golan Heights? CrossTalking with Sabah Al-Mukhtar, Dan Arbell and Nabil Mikhail (27 March 2013)’.

Beirut Bomb Blast

In the region where scheme and plots are often used to create division and chaos, on Friday, Lebanon was the scene of a deadly car bomb where eight people were killed and many others injured.

Top Lebanese intelligence officer Wissam al-Hassan was among the victims of the blast which took place shortly after his return from France.

As fingers are being pointed at various entities, the question we will explore on this News Analysis is who could be behind the assassination of a senior intelligence official, Wissalm al-Hassan, and who can benefit if Lebanon is gripped by turmoil and sectarian violence? (21 Oct 2012).