In expressing my doubts about the Syrian civil war that is now raging, I have consistently expressed a lack of knowledge about those who started the protests in the first place as well as doubts about the Syrian opposition to Bashar al-Assad. The latest available information has done nothing to allay my doubts and fears about these people. If anything, the latest entrant into the mess, the Muslim Brotherhood, only makes the situation extremely murky.
The Telegraph reports that the Muslim Brotherhood have been busy establishing their own militia in such places as Homs and a number of other small towns. This is not good news, especially when it becomes clear that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood are probably further to the right than the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (they are still fascists).
I continue to have no clear understanding about the Syrian opposition. They seem to be a lot more shadowy than those who had opposed Moammar Gadhafi. There are obviously more groups than there were in Libya and I see this as an indication that the Syrian opposition lacks the kind of leadership that had set Libya apart from the rest. The length of time that it is taking to get a resolution also means that I have a foreboding about an eventual outcome that would see Assad being deposed.
To date there are at least 3 distinct groups: the Syrian Free Army, Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda. The latter group is a genuine problem because they are the most militant, and on top of that they consist of foreigners from such countries as Iraq, the U.K. and Pakistan. They are the most extreme of the three distinctive groups. The SFA consists mostly of army personnel who have deserted or defected from the Syrian army. As a group they are not easily defined, BUT if they were to be the winners of the conflict then it is likely that Syria would end up with a military dictatorship…. it is a long shot.
The Syrian opposition is not well armed, and as a consequence this has left the way open for the more militant types such as Al Qaeda to get involved and to inject funds as well as equipment so that the opposition can push back against Assad. There is talk of Turkey secretly training the opposition fighters. There is also talk of Turkey providing weapons. In some respects this is fair enough because Iran, Russia and China have been providing weapons to Assad.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is not quite the same as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, yet at the heart of the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood there is the desire to bring on jihad. This is a most unwelcome development. The man behind this establishment of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has been raising money to supply arms to the opposition in Homs, but it has to be noted that they are not affiliated with the Syrian Free Army.
In the short term, I have to agree that Assad needs to be removed because he has used his military against the civilian population with a massive loss of life over the past 17 months. It is by no means inevitable that he will be overthrown in the way that Gadhafi was overthrown, but Assad has chosen this path, so he must accept the consequences of his own actions. In the longer term, with all of these disparate groups, I forsee a prolonged civil war because each group will want to be in the ascendancy. I think that this is where the Ba’ath Party comes into play, or at least trying to fit the Ba’ath Party into the pieces of this particular jigsaw puzzle.
They Syrians are not coming across to me as being people who want freedom in the sense that they are pro-Western like the opposition in Libya. It could very well be that any group that takes over will continue the same hostility to the west that already exists… in fact if Muslim Brotherhood or Al Qaeda gained control then there will be added danger in the Middle East.
What I see is that the Syrian situation has just entered a new and more dangerous phase, thanks to Russia and China refusing to allow the U.N. to perform its role in the region.