The stated aim quoted by Western politicians and main stream media news outlets for the support of opposition groups throughout the Syrian conflict is ‘the establishment of a democratic, free Syria’.
The WIDER View has reported on many occasions that this stated goal has been compromised from the early days of the conflict. This post is not to express an opinion on how Syria should be governed, that should ultimately be decided by the Syrian people, not forced by any side.
The purpose of this post is to ascertain when fundamentalist Islamic groups emerged or arrived in Syria to fight against the Syrian Arab Army and associated militias including fundamentalist Shi’a groups. This post outlines a number of influential groups, some dominant among the opposition, it does not report on all fundamentalist groups active in Syria.
In doing this, The WIDER View seeks to compare this information with the continued narrative quoted by Western politicians and main stream news outlets, that being the creation of a ‘free, democratic Syria’ by way of supporting an armed uprising early in the conflict. It also seeks to establish if this was a realistic outcome, if not, when did it become un-realistic?
The following information is sourced from Western analysts, news outlets and official media released by fundamentalist groups themselves or their affiliated media arms.
Jabhat Fatah al Sham (Formerly Jabhat al Nusrah, part of the Jaish al Fatah coalition and close ally of the Islamic Front):
Jabhat al Nusrah (now Jabhat Fateh al Sham) formed in late 2011, the following video was released soon after in January 2012, announcing its formation publicly through the al Qaeda media arm al Manarah al Bayda Foundation for Media Productions.
- English translation of JFS foration statement:
- VideoPress video Jabhat al Nusrah (24 Jan 2012) – Declaration of the Support Front (Jabhat al-Nuṣrah): For the People of Syria from the Mujahidin of Syria in the Fields of Jihad:
Video Source: Jihadology.net
By the end of 2012, Jabhat al Nusrah was already described by the Washington Post as:
‘The extremist group is growing in part because it has been the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force.’
- The Washington Post article (30 Nov 2012) -Al-Qaeda affiliate playing larger role in Syria rebellion:
The Institute for the Study of War released an article in 2013 highlighting the growth of Jabhat al Nusrah and its vital role fighting alongside Western deemed moderate groups stating that:
‘Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) has been the most prominent Salafist jihadist organization in the Syrian conflict since it announced its creation in January 2012. It is believed that JN was formed by Syrian jihadists who returned to the country after fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s.’
‘Although JN’s Salafist goal of establishing an Islamic state under Sharia law does not accord with the idea of a democratic Syria that many moderate opposition fighters hopes to see, JN has proven to be an effective fighting force against the Assad regime, and FSA groups have cooperated tactically with JN on many occasions.’
‘The protracted conflict in Syria has made it an attractive battlefront for al-Qaeda; not only because of Syria’s strategic location in the heart of the Arab world, but also because it has created the type of environment in which al-Qaeda operates most effectively.’
Jabhat al Nusrah, now Jabhat Fateh al Sham has and continues to play an indispensable and leading role in opposition offensives including the recent large scale offensive to break the Syrian Arab Army & affiliated militias (including fundamentalist Shi’a groups) encirclement and siege of Aleppo.
The recent large scale Aleppo offensive began just days after Jabhat al Nusrah changed it’s name to Jabhat Fatah al Sham and allegedly severed ties with al Qaeda. The large scale offensive saw fundamentalist coalitions and groups overtly working together with Western deemed moderate groups and coalitions.
Previous co-operation has taken place throughout the conflict but less overt than what is now seen following Jabhat Fatah al Sham’s name change and failure of the latest US and Russian brokered Cessation of Hostilities agreement.
- VideoPress Jabhat Fatah al Sham (28 Jul 2016) – Jabhat Fataḥ al Sham’s Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani: “Announcing Its Formation”:
Video Source: Jihadology.net
To highlight Jabhat Fatah al Shams integration, failure of the latest cessation of hostilities agreement brokered by the US and Russia was in large part due to the requirement of Western deemed moderate groups to separate from Jabhat Fatah al Sham and other fundamentalist Islamic groups and coalitions who have played a major role.
This requirement was rejected by a number of notable Western deemed moderate opposition groups who were subsequently thanked by Jabhat Fateh al Sham in a statement for taking that stance, see previous post on this below.
- Following the start of the new Syrian ceasefire agreement, some opposition groups are not in agreement with the proposals
Ahrar al Sham (Part of the Islamic Front and Jaish al Fatah coalitions):
Ahrar al Sham was allegedly formed in 2011 by the unification of multiple fundamentalist Islamic groups and by 2012 they had grown dramatically.
Time reported Ahrar al Shams presence in July 2012 and stated that it had:
‘started working on forming brigades “after the Egyptian revolution,” Abu Zayd said, well before March 15, 2011.’
- Time article (26 Jul 2012) – TIME Exclusive: Meet the Islamist Militants Fighting Alongside Syria’s Rebels:
The JamesTown Foundation released a profile study of Ahrar al Sham in early 2013 stating that:
‘Ahrar al-Sham has consolidated its influence in strategically important theaters across Syria, including portions of Syria’s second city of Aleppo and its environs as well as vital supply and communication lines extending to Turkey’
‘Ahrar al-Sham’s track record to date is fraught with contradictions. From an ideological perspective, Ahrar al-Sham has declared its objective to transform Syria into its image of an Islamic state. Members of Ahrar al-Sham have stated that their conception of an Islamic state would protect religious minorities and be based on the premise that the majority of Syrians, who are Sunni Muslims, would choose to live in an Islamic society. Yet its official discourse is replete with extremist themes and symbolism informed by its radical Salafist pedigree’
- The JamesTown Foundation (04 Apr 2013) – Ahrar al-Sham: A Profile of Northern Syria’s al-Qaeda Surrogate:
Stanford University also released a profile study that appears to be updated occasionally in which it states that Ahrar al Sham:
‘is a Sunni Salafist militant group operating in Syria that aims to replace the Assad Regime with an Islamic government.’
‘The U.S. Director of National Intelligence considers Ahrar al-Sham and Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al Nusrah) among the most effective Syrian opposition groups’
‘Ahrar al-Sham seeks to establish a Sunni Islamic state in Syria. Unlike the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham emphasizes that its campaign is limited to Syria and that it is not pursuing global Jihad. To combat the impression of extremism, Ahrar al-Sham began rebranding itself as a moderate group in 2015. With Turkey’s help, Ahrar al-Sham is attempting to convince the United States that it is a better option for post-war Syria than IS or the Assad Regime.’
Official Ahrar al Sham website describing the definition and purpose of its organization in Syria stating that:
Comprehensive Islamic movement that works to liberate the land and rights and build an Islamic community in Syria through institutional work.
We derive our approach and the legality of the presence of Islam, we are building our thoughts and our perceptions and our vision, according to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, peace be upon him, our reference Shara religion in the objectives and means, not dictated to him, and guided him and we moved in we function.’
Overthrow the existing regime in Syria a full projection, and all its waste and Roasabh ignorance.
Close ranks and unite forces operating in the blessed revolution, to deploy the security and rebuilding of Syria on a sound basis of justice, unity and solidarity.
Establishment of an independent state with sovereignty of the law of God, religion, its members enjoy justice and a decent life.
Preserve the Islamic identity in the community, building integrated Islamic character.
Work on the resources and wealth management and harnessed for the benefit of the individual and the community, to meet the basic needs of the people of the country for food, health and education.
Active participation in community development and promotion, and the preparation of effective leadership in various areas of life.
(Click on the ‘who we are’ tab to view Ahrar al shams mission statement and goals).
Ahrar al Sham plays an essential role in the opposition fight, leading and organizing offensives often alongside Jabhat Fatah al Sham as part of the Jaish al Fatah coalition. A recent example of this is the large scale offensive to break the Aleppo siege as part of the Jaish al Fatah coalition with Western deemed moderate groups in tow.
- Youtube video Islamic Front / Ahrar al Sham (02 Aug 2016) – Aerial photography of the village south porch of Aleppo after its liberation by the Mujahideen:
Jabhat Ansar al Din (Affiliated to al Qaeda and Jabhat Fatah al Sham among others and a Western deemed terrorist organization):
Jabhat Ansar al Din is a coalition of two groups, originally four which was formed in July 2014 releasing a manifesto in which it describes it’s formation to establish: ‘the rule of the law of God,’ while not ruling out cooperation with ‘honest factions’.
The group also released an official video of their formation on the 25 July 2014.
- VideoPress Jabhat Ansar al Din (25 Jul 2014) – Announcing Jabhat Ansar al Dīn: Consisting Of Ḥarakat Sham al Islam, Jaysh al Muhajirin wa l Ansar, Katibat al Khadra’, and Ḥarakat Fajr al Sham:
The Centre for Middle East Studies released a profile of Jabhat Ansar al din in October 2014 stating that:
‘As per the ‘manifesto’ of Jabhat Ansar al-Din, the coalition defines itself as ‘independent’ and striving to implement a state-building project with the rule of Shari’a [Islamic law] in its totality, illustrating a broader trend of jihadi groups forming their own state enterprises as IS and the regime increasingly take up territory’
- The Centre for Middle East Studies analysis (23 Oct 2014) – Jabhat Ansar al-Din: Analysis and Interview:
Jabhat Ansar al Din continue to operate in key battles within Syria such as the groups latest release showing it’s involvement in the large scale offensive by fundamentalist Islamic and Western deemed moderate groups to break the Aleppo siege.
Video Source: Jihadology.net
Jund al Aqsa (Western deemed terrorist organization):
According to the US state department, Jund al Aqsa began as a unit within Jabhat al Nusrah in 2012 and is made up of both foreign and Syrian fighters. As Jabhat al Nusrah and IS separated following the establishment of the IS caliphate which al Qaeda did not approve of, Jund al Aqsa chose to remain neutral, become an independent group and focus on fighting the Syrian Arab Army.
- US Department of State article (20 Sep 2016) – State Department Terrorist Designation of Jund al-Aqsa:
In 2014, Jund al Aqsa and Jabhat al Nusrah forced out Western deemed moderate coalition the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) in Idlib, the SRF coalition would never recover from this.
- The Long War Journal article (03 Nov 2014) – Al Nusrah Front, Jund al Aqsa fighters photographed in Syrian Revolutionaries Front stronghold in Idlib:
Jund al Aqsa have long harbored reservations about attacking IS, even sympathetic to their cause, but have remained loyal to al Qaeda none the less. Some members have defected to both IS and Jabhat al Nusrah but the group still remains very active, working with fundamentalist groups and coalitions such as the Islamic Front coalition and Ahrar al sham.
Currently they are providing a lead role in the ongoing Hama offensive and working with groups such as the fundamentalist Chechen / Dagestani group Ajnad al Kavkaz, see previous post below conclusively proving this ongoing co-operation.
- Fundamentalist Islamic groups Jund al Aqsa and Ajnad al Kavkaz report the capture of Kawkab village, Hama, Syria
- Jund al Aqsa statement announcing the start of the current ongoing Hama offensive on the 28 August 2016:
Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria:
The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in Syria is made up of predominantly Uzbek and Chinese Uyghur fighters, becoming more noticeable in 2015 (though it arrived in 2013-2014) taking part in a number of battles in the North and West of the country.
The group is closely allied with al Qaeda and many of TIP’s fighters are thought to have arrived in Syria through Turkey assisted by Jabhat al Nusrah (now Jabhat Fatah al Sham) in 2013-early 2014.
An official video released by the group labelled ‘Advise To Our Mujahidin in Glorious al-Sham (Syria)’ dated the 08 February 2014 suggests that TIP fighters were already active in Syria when this video was released.
- VideoPress Turkistan Islamic Party (08 Feb 2014) – Advise To Our Mujahidin in Glorious al-Sham:
Video Source: Jihadology.net
By mid 2014 the first official video by the TIP in Syria was released on 07 June 2014 proving without doubt it’s presence in Syria.
- VideoPress Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria (07 Jun 2014) – Blessings For the Ghuraba’ #1:
Video Source: Jihadology.net
The TIP remains very much active among the opposition in Syria, releasing the latest video in it’s Syrian series on the 14 September 2016 and taking part in the large scale offensive to break the Aleppo siege. It is also part of the fundamentalist Islamic coalition Jaish al Fatah which is led by Jabhat Fatah al sham and Ahrar al sham.
- VideoPress Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria (14 Sep 2016) – A Call From the Front Lines of Jihad #23:
Video Source: Jihadology.net
Ajnad al Kavkaz:
Chechen groups have and continue to operate in Syria with reports of Chechen fighters taking part in battles against the Syrian Arab Army from as early as 2012 albeit in small numbers. Evidence of this includes reports of Rustam Gelayev’s (son of well known Chechen commander Ruslan Gelayev) death in Aleppo by Reuters.
Later, allegedly confirmed by sources and reported by the website From Chechnya to Syria on 21 July 2016 as seen in the link below:
- From Chechnya to Syria article (21 July 2016) – 1st Imarat Kavkaz Emir in Syria fought alongside Gelayev in Chechnya, died in Syria alongside Ahrar al Sham fighters:
Ajnad al Kavkaz, formerly known as the Khalifat Battalion, is predominantly made up of fighters from Chechnya and Dagestan. The Khalifat Battalion was already active in early 2014 taking part in the offensive to capture Idlib city, Latakia, Syria beginning on the 20 March 2014 alongside Ahrar al Sham, Jabhat al Nusrah, Jund al Aqsa and others.
Ajnad al Kavkaz also works closely with Jaish al Fatah (Army of Conquest) coalition led by Jabhat al Nusrah and Ahrar al Sham.
Below are images taken of Khalifat Battalion (now Ajnad al Kavkaz) fighters during Idlib offensives that began on the 20 March 2014.
Khalifat Battalion fighters group photo:
Khalifat Battalion / Ajnad al Kavkaz Emir Abdul Hakim al Shishanni (left):
Khalifat Battalion / Ajnad al Kavkaz Emir Abdul Hakim al Shishanni (centre right):
Khalifat Battalion / Ajnad al Kavkaz Emir Abdul Hakim (left) and pro al Qaeda Sheikh Abdallah Muhammad al Muhaysini (right):
The fundamentalist group has and continues to work with Jabhat Fateh al Sham and associated affiliates such as Ahrar al Sham in Latakia, recently in the Jabal Turkmen mountains and Ayn Isa during June 2016 and alongside Jund al Aqsa as seen in the current ongoing Hama offensive reported below.
- Fundamentalist Islamic groups Jund al Aqsa and Ajnad al Kavkaz report the capture of Kawkab village, Hama, Syria:
Ansar al Sham (Part of the Islamic Front coalition):
Ansar al Sham Brigades was formed in September 2012 as seen in the groups official video below announcing their formation.
- Youtube video (21 Sep 2012) – Statement of formation of Ansar al-Sham Brigades:
Other groups joined Ansar al Sham such as Saif al Islam as seen in the video below announcing their merger while advertising the Syrian revolutionary flag typically used to identify groups as Western deemed moderate, democratic forces.
- Youtube video Saif al Islam (22 Sep 2016) – Saif al-Islam join a battalion Latakia to Ansar al-Sham:
The group began offensives in 2012 attacking and capturing areas in Latakia, eventually merging with other fundamentalist groups to form the Syrian Islamic Front toward the end of 2012.
- Youtube video Ansar al Sham (07 Oct 2012) – Ansar al-Sham – Demos tower process and Martyrs Brigades 10/06/2012:
By early 2013, Ansar al Sham was clearly well established, well armed, attacking and capturing areas in Latakia as seen in the screen grab below taken from the fundamentalist Islamic website Khilafa.org.
- Youtube video Ansar al Sham (26 Jan 2013) – Ansar al-Sham Brigade Battalion:
Ansar al Sham has continued to operate throughout the conflict from the groups inception, working with Jabhat al Nusrah and Ahrar al Sham to capture areas in Latakia during 2014 after joining the Islamic Front in November 2013.
It recently released a video on the 02 August 2016 calling for the unification of opposition groups to break the Aleppo siege, this came soon after Jabhat al Nusrah changed its name to Jabhat Fatah al Sham and allegedly broke ties with al Qaeda.
- Youtube video Ansar al Sham (02 Aug 2016) – Ansar al-Sham – PIO || Poll opinion displaced in order to unite the factions, lifting the siege on Aleppo:
- Western deemed moderate and fundamentalist Islamic opposition groups working together in new Aleppo offensive, Syria
The Islamic Front coalition:
The Islamic Front coalition was officially formed on the 22 November 2013 as reported by al Jazeera in the following link below, an expansion replacing the previous Syrian Islamic Front alliance.
The Institute for the Study of War released an article on the 22 November 2013 about the Islamic Front formation and an accompanying infographic seen below.
The Syrian Islamic Front released a charter on 21 January 2013 in which it states the goals of:
Toppling the regime and establishing security throughout beloved Syria.
Working to empower religion on the individual, society, and state level.
Preservation of society’s Islamic identity and the building of a comprehensive Islamic character.
Rebuilding Syria on the sound bases of justice, independence and solidarity in accordance with the principles of Islam.
Active participation in societal development.
The preparation of expert leadership in all areas of life.
The Islamic Front which replaced the Syrian Islamic Front released a charter soon after its formation in 2013 stating it’s goals:
Seventh Clause: the Front’s Goals:
To topple the existing regime in its entirety, with all its obscure remnants, to wipe them out of Syrian existence completely, and to defend the underdogs, their honor and wealth. Toppling the regime means detaching and terminating all its judicial, legislative, and executive authorities along with its army and its security institutions, in addition to prosecuting those who are involved in bloodshed along with their supporters in legitimate, equitable trials.
To close ranks and unifying the functioning powers in the blessed revolution, to spreading integrity, and to rebuild Syria on an intact basis of justice, unity, and solidarity.
To establish an independent state in which God’s faithful Sharia will reign sovereign, where its individuals are blessed with justice and a decent life.
To maintain the Islamic identity of society and build the integrated Islamic personality.
To work to manage resources and wealth and then use them in favor of the individual and society and meet the basic needs of the people in terms of food, health, and education.
To actively participate in social development and advancement and prepare active leaderships in different life aspects.
- notgeorgesabra.wordpress.com (29 Nov 2013) – Full English Text of the Islamic Front’s Founding Declaration:
On the 30 March 2014 the Islamic Front released a statement which stated that secularism and democracy are contrary to Islam. Below is a translation of that statement obtained from Khilafa.org:
Fundamentalist Islamic groups within the coalition have taken part in numerous offensives throughout the Syrian conflict following it’s formation.
In doing so it has and continues to work with Jabhat Fateh al Sham, the fundamentalist Islamic Jaysh/Jaish al Fatah coalition led by Jabhat Fatah al Sham and Western deemed moderate groups. Ahrar al sham has consistently played a major role in the Islamic Front and boasts the largest force within the coalition.
Currently the Islamic Front continues to fight on multiple fronts particularly in Aleppo, Latakia, Damascus, Homs and Hama. Ahrar al Sham, the largest and most influential group within the Islamic Front recently co-signed a statement with Western deemed moderate groups regarding the situation in Wa’er, Homs, Ahrar al Sham is top of the signatories.
Jaysh/Jaish al Fatah coalition (Army of Conquest):
Jaysh/Jaish al Fatah was formed in early 2015 and made up of fundamentalist Islamic groups, the most powerful and influential of which being Jabhat Fatal al Sham and Ahrar al Sham.
Following it’s formation, Jaysh/Jaish al Fatah have grown and expanded to fronts throughout Syria, establishing military operation rooms, leading and directing main offensives including the recent large scale attack to break the Aleppo siege alongside Western deemed moderate groups.
It works with other fundamentalist Islamic groups such as the Turkistan Islamic Party and Western deemed moderate group Faylaq al Sham (Sham Legion), a group allegedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria.
- Long War Journal article (07 May 2016) – Turkistan Islamic Party advertises role in jihadist-led offensive in Aleppo province:
Jaish al Fatah has proven to be an effective coalition following it’s inception, playing a fundamental role in planning and implementing both previous and on going offensives including the recent offensive to break the Aleppo siege which continues.
- Youtube video Al Muhajirun (11 Aug 2016) – BREAKING THE SIEGE OF ALEPPO – JAISH AL FATH – 2016:
Jaysh/Jaish al Islam (Army of Islam) – Western deemed moderate group (Part of the Islamic Front):
Jaysh/Jaish al Islam first emerged as Liwa al Islam in 2012, grew quickly and merged with multiple groups forming Jaysh/Jaish al Islam in 2013. The group then joined the Islamic Front of which it remains a member to present day.
The group has continued to grow substantially throughout the Syrian conflict from it’s inception, according to the Stanford University profile of Jaysh/Jaish al Islam:
‘Liwa al-Islam’s commander Zahran Alloush became Jaysh al-Islam’s leader, and the group replaced the Free Syrian Army as the dominant opposition force in Damascus. The group also has expanded its operations to the Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Hama, Daraa, and Quneitra governorates, and has conducted an attack in Arsal, Lebanon in 2015′
Before his death in December 2015, former leader of the group Zahran Alloush had shown flashes of fundamentalist Islamic ideology and sectarian language in an official Army of Islam video released in 2013 seen below.
An interview was conducted in January 2014 in which Zahran Alloush makes clear what he thinks of modern democracy and his desire to see Sharia Law implemented which he alleges is what the Syrian people already want.
In mid 2015, in his first interview with a US media outlet McClatchyDC however, Zahran Alloush changed his stance and said that it was for the Syrian people to decide what state they lived in.
In July 2015, the Army of Islam notoriously released an official video executing captured Islamic State fighters in the same style as an IS production but with roles reversed. The link to this video by the Army of Islam was found on their website below but has since been removed, presumably in a bid to clean up their image.
EDIT: It would appear the original video is back up on the Army of Islam’s website again and can be found in the link below:
Additional links are therefore provided below, be warned that the content is EXTREMELY GRAPHIC.
The Army of Islam have continued to play a substantial role in the opposition fight and continues offensives in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Ghouta, Qalamoun and Daraa.
Faylaq al Sham (Sham Legion):
Faylaq al Sham or Sham Legion was created in early 2014, merging a number of opposition groups already fighting in the conflict under one umbrella as reported by the website Syria Direct.
It is backed by Turkey and reportedly represents the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. Often described by Western analysts as a moderate Islamist group, but is it fighting for a democratic, free Syria?
This remains questionable as it has worked closely in the effective, well organised fundamentalist Islamic coalition Jaish al Fatah (Army of Conquest) coalition led by Jabhat Fateh al sham and Ahrar al sham, leaving in early 2016 but rejoining the coalition in mid 2016.
Email from Anne-Marie Slaughter to Hillary Clinton:
Lastly, an email from Anne-Marie Slaughter to then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 showing that the US was well aware of regional allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia funneling weapons and ammunition to fundamentalist Islamic groups in Syria.
The WIDER View reported on this fact in March 2016 which can be found below:
- The clear hypocrisy of US foreign policy toward Syria as highlighted in recently released emails linked to Hilary Clinton
It is clear that fundamentalist Islamic opposition groups had formed and organized early in the Syrian conflict, establishing themselves quickly as dominant forces both on the battlefield and in creating structures to deal with political aspects and local governance during 2012 and 2013.
By late 2013 and early 2014, other fundamentalist Islamic opposition groups had joined the battlefield, facilitated by foreign backers and already established fundamentalist groups and coalitions, that by now had become integral and indispensable in the opposition fight. It also appears to be the time frame in which any groups still fighting for a democratic, free Syria became minorities, overwhelmed by fundamentalist Islamic groups and coalitions.
Now it is difficult to ascertain which groups are fighting for and could realistically achieve a democratic, free Syria that Western politicians and main stream media news outlets have maintained is the foreign policy outcome that will be achieved throughout the conflict.
This outcome appears to be highly unlikely and had begun to unravel early in the Syrian conflict. By 2013, many fundamentalist groups and coalitions had become the dominant players among opposition forces and stating clearly what they were fighting for.
Despite this, Western politicians and main stream news outlets have persisted with the same narrative of supporting moderate groups making up the bulk of opposition forces to establish a democratic free Syria. All the while remaining vague at best about the myriad of fundamentalist Islamic opposition groups, their influence, strengths, aims, goals and indispensable nature to the opposition fight.
During September 2014, the Middle East Institute released an article that made clear fundamentalist groups were the dominant force among the Syrian opposition and ending the article:
‘It is a safe bet that extremists—IS or otherwise—are set to be a part of the Syrian landscape for the long-term.’
Western deemed moderate opposition groups have and continue to rely heavily on fundamentalist Islamic groups and coalitions to organize, direct and lead large scale offensives seen throughout Syria.
Western politicians and main stream news outlets have misled and failed to inform their respective populations of developments within the Syrian opposition, the change in dynamic and the shift in power and influence in favor of fundamentalist Islamic groups on the ground.
Western politicians and main stream news outlets continue to mislead and fail to inform respective populations of these realities. The stark contrast it presents when compared to the narrative of a free, democratic Syria is clear, so why are they persisting with it?
- Incompetence, poor intelligence, poor research and multiple miscalculations made that Western governments do not want to admit to their respective populations, especially given the current public sentiment toward establishment politicians, technocrats, political climate and the history of Iraq and Afghanistan (which is still playing out).
- Or it is intentional, fully aware of the oppositions make up with the most powerful, dominant and influential of these being fundamentalist Islamic groups and coalitions fighting for an Islamic Emirate and the implementation of Sharia Law.
- Or a mixture of the above.
The second point may raise the question: Why would the West be supporting an armed opposition in a brutal conflict against what was a secular state, fully aware of the ramifications and likely outcome should the opposition dominated by fundamentalist Islamic groups and coalitions be victorious?
That’s for another time.