In Rebel Territory (II)

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/DAMASCUS | | syrien

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/DAMASCUS (Own report) - In Berlin, pleas to strengthen German involvement in the war on Syria are becoming louder. Following an influential publicist's recent appeal for western military intervention in that country, the chairman of the Munich Security Conference has now begun pushing for German-European arms deliveries to the insurgents. According to reports, the German government has approved EU member state's military training measures for the insurgents. Last week, it was made known that the USA and Europe would furnish Syrian militia military equipment, such as night vision instruments and armored vehicles. The West is also providing generous financial aid, to enable the militia to secure control over the areas from which the government forces have withdrawn. According to a current brief analysis by the Bertelsmann Foundation, this must happen quickly, because the growing influence of Islamist militia, is brutally forcing minorities of other faiths, out of areas under their control. Islamist militias are profiting from the western approved arms supplies reaching the war zone.

Night Vision Instruments

Preliminary details of the impending increase in aide to the insurgents in Syria were published last week. According to this information, the militias are supposed to have established a Supreme Military Command (SMC) in Antalya, Turkey, last December, to which the USA is directly shipping supplies. Allegedly, these supplies are limited to food and medicine, for the time being. According to this information, if these supplies actually arrive at the desired destination, without falling into the hands of the Islamist militias, such as, the al Qaeda-affiliated al Nusra Front, an enhancement to non-lethal, but military-grade supplies can be expected. These would include night-vision instruments and armored vehicles. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, insisted that the West is advancing with a division of labor: Great Britain, for example, will supply bullet-proof vests.[1]

Machineguns

There will also be military training and the militias will be supplied with weapons. From within the USA, one learns that the CIA has been training militiamen since last year - according to a government representative on Jordanian territory.[2] Weapons are continuing to be provided by the allies, such as Saudi Arabia, who need not heed critical news reporting. According to US media reports, Riyadh, very recently, purchased arms in Croatia, where a large stockpile of undeclared weapons have been bunkered since the Yugoslav wars of disintegration. Representatives of the Croat government in Washington offered, last summer, to make some of these weapons available to the insurgents in Syria. A Croat daily pointed out that recently an unusually large number of Jordanian cargo planes had taken off from Zagreb's airport. Washington simultaneously confirmed that, over the past few weeks, the flow of weapons to insurgents in Syria has grown to its highest ever. The deliveries contained "thousands of rifles and hundreds of machineguns," as well as large amounts of ammunition.[3] Croatia could have hardly agreed to this arms deal, without western approval.

Pleas for Intervention

In the meantime, the number of those in Berlin pleading for stronger German involvement in the war on Syria is growing. Recently, a prominent publicist suggested to readers of a major German daily that a western military intervention should be supported.[4] Now, Wolfgang Ischinger, the prominent chairman of the Munich Security Conference, is calling for the EU to furnish arms to the Syrian insurgents. The foreign policy spokesperson of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Philipp Missfelder, also declared "I find weapons deliveries to the opposition necessary." Missfelder also makes a plea for measures to be taken to "train" militiamen in Syria.[5] Resistance to these demands is coming from the FDP party, which warns that weaponry and other equipment could benefit the Islamist militias, who are not only against the Assad regime, but also against the West. In other words, one is running the risk of strengthening one's own adversary.

Bring under Control

Therefore, Berlin's foreign policy establishment is insisting that parallel to the arms buildup and the training of insurgents, the West must do everything possible to take over control of those areas, where the regime has withdrawn its forces. In these areas, above all, the refugees must be cared for and the infrastructure reestablished. "Newly created civilian self-governance structures" should be supported.[6] "The Office of Economic Recovery and Development in Berlin, parented by Germany and the United Arab Emirates," which was established last year within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,[7] "must show results (...) in this direction," insists the prestigious Bertelsmann Foundation. The "National Coalition" of the Syrian insurgents should immediately "begin forming a provisional government." Germany and the other western countries should have no compunctions at all in directly intervening locally with the help of so-called non-government organizations, (NGOs). As long as "there are no suitable internationally recognized state structures, for bilateral projects in the insurgent controlled regions," one will have to cooperate with associations that "are already engaged in Syria and can assess the local situation." The Bertelsmann Foundation names the NGOs, "Doctors without Borders" and the German "Green Helmets" as examples. On a long-term basis, an EU training program would also be conceivable, for example, "to restructure and reorient the police force."[8]

Persecuted Minorities

Reports on developments in regions of northern Syria have provoked foreign policy experts to push for rapidly taking control. Over the past few weeks and months, numerous Christians from the Al Hasakah administrative district in the northeast of Syria, have fled to Turkey because of Islamist insurgents' attacks on members of other faiths. Kidnappings, torture and expulsions are reported. Particularly affected is the city Ras al Ayn, where, according to a prominent Syrian-Orthodox dignitary, Islamist militias are said to have expelled all Christians. The entire region is threatened, if the Islamist insurgents prevail over government troops and Kurdish rebels, according to an observer.[9] Christians are endangered even in refugee camps - Islamists, particularly the partisans of the Al Nusra Front, are also active even there. Although Christians, in particular, are endangered in the northern regions, members of other minorities, particularly the Alawites, are endangered in other parts of the country.

Power Struggles

Alongside the expulsion of the Christians in the population, the amount of influence acquired by Islamist militias can be seen in the fact that the Croat weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia and brought to Syria - officially for the secular nationalist militias - have wound up in the hands of the Islamist Ahar al Sham militia. This was concluded by a US-American specialist's analysis of video documentation.[10] According to this analysis, today, it is hardly possible, throughout a broad spectrum of the insurgency, to isolate and dissociate the Islamist militia. On the contrary, evidence of bitter power struggles for the control of the insurgent-controlled areas is already apparent. Berlin will also be involved, as soon as it begins directly to intervene locally on a major scale.

Other reports and background information on Germany's policy toward Syria can be found here: War Threats against Syria, Iran's Achilles Heel, War Scenarios for Syria, War Scenarios for Syria (II), With the UN toward Escalation, Market Economy for Syria, The Yemenite Solution, Smuggle Supervisors, The Day After, The Day After (II), The Day After (IV), The Islamization of the Rebellion, Air Defense for the Exile Leadership and A Proxy War.

[1], [2] U.S. Steps Up Aid to Syrian Opposition, Pledging $60 Million; www.nytimes.com 28.02.2013
[3] Saudis Step Up Help for Rebels in Syria With Croatian Arms; www.nytimes.com 25.02.2013
[4] Lothar Rühl: Syrische Falle; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 23.02.2013
[5] Kampf gegen Assad: Schwarz-Gelb streitet über Strategie für Syrien; www.spiegel.de 03.03.2013
[6] Christian-P. Hanelt, Kristin Helberg: Syrien - vom Aufstand zum Krieg, Bertelsmann Stiftung spotlight europe 2013/02, Februar 2013
[7] s. dazu Im Rebellengebiet
[8] Christian-P. Hanelt, Kristin Helberg: Syrien - vom Aufstand zum Krieg, Bertelsmann Stiftung spotlight europe 2013/02, Februar 2013
[9] Christians Squeezed Out by Violent Struggel in North Syria; www.nytimes.com 13.02.2013
[10] Video Shows Non-FSA Jihadists Ahrar al-Sham Using Croatian Weapons; brown-moses.blogspot.de 01.03.2013