by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 44, No. 9, Muharram, 1437)
Whatever Russia’s motives in joining the fight against the takfiri terrorists — and these have been dissected endlessly — they have resulted in dramatic changes on the ground in Syria. Unlike American air strikes for more than a year — pinpricks, really — Russia has gone after the takfiris’ training camps, command posts, warehouses storing ammunition and explosives, communication hubs as well as mini-factories that make weapons for bombers, seriously degrading their capacity. The takfiris are running for cover, many escaping to Turkey where the government has provided them sanctuary and support.
Russia’s air and missile strikes launched on September 30 have freed the Syrian army to attack takfiri positions in different parts of the country. Government troops have made significant gains north of Damascus as well as in Hama province while Russian air strikes have cut off the terrorists’ arms supply routes in Aleppo. On October 14 the Russian Defense Ministry an-nounced Russian jets had conducted 41 sorties and carried out 40 raids against the terrorists. “Sukhoi Su-24M bombers delivered pinpoint strikes against terrorist targets near the city of Aleppo. They took out workshops used by the militant terrorist group to arm vehicles with explosives, which are used in suicide bomb attacks,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov was reported as saying. The areas targeted — the provinces of Aleppo, Hama, Idlib and Latakia — are significant because these are strongholds of the takfiri terrorists.
Two other developments are also important in the context of the ongoing war on Syria. First, on October 11, the Iraqi military announced it had hit the convoy of Ibrahim al-Samarrai (aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi), leader of the takfiri terrorist group Da‘ish. Iraqi planes bombed the takfiri leader’s convoy as he was on his way to a meeting with senior commanders in Anbar Province. Acting on intelligence, the Iraqi air force carried out the strike in which al-Baghdadi was reportedly wounded. The meeting was called to consider the consequences of the punishing Russian air strikes in their occupied territory. The Iraqi air force also bombed the venue of the meeting in Anbar where a number of senior Da‘ish commanders awaiting al-Baghdadi’s arrival, were reportedly killed.
The Iraqi forces have also launched an operation against Ramadi. The Baiji refinery has already been cleansed of the terrorists. They are making slow but steady progress against them. Progress is slow because the town is heavily booby-trapped and there are snipers on most buildings. Since the town is surrounded by Iraqi forces on all sides, the takfiris’ survival prospects appear grim.
Second, China has said it will join Russia in confronting the US-Zionist-Saudi-Turkish backed terrorists in Syria. China is to deploy People’s Liberation Army troops as well as the aircraft carrier, the Lianoning, and a guided missile cruiser in the Mediterranean Sea. Both ships are on their way to the region.
China’s J-15 warplanes based on the aircraft carrier will be used in striking terrorist targets. Both Moscow and Beijing have served notice that they will not allow a Libyan-style overthrow of the government in Syria. Colonel Muammar Qaddafi of Libya was publicly lynched and the country lies in ruins with heavily-armed terrorists rampaging throughout the North African country. They have now spread to other parts of the Muslim East (aka the Middle East) as well. China’s deployment of assets in the Syrian war theatre was confirmed by a senior Syrian official as well as Russian media reports last month.
And to show he means business, Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed President Bashar al-Asad of Syria in the Kremlin on October 21. This was the first visit outside his country by the Syrian president who thanked his Russian hosts for their practical help in confronting the terrorist menace. The visit caused much consternation in Washington.
Operations against the takfiri terrorists in Syria and Iraq have put a squeeze on them forcing their backers, the warlords in Washington, to complain that the Russians were hitting their terrorists. The US has also had to admit that the $500 million it spent in training a grand total of 50 Syrian “moderates” ($10 million per terrorist!) have not yielded the results it had hoped for. Testifying before a Senate Committee in September, CENTCOM commander General Lloyd Austin admitted that after the debacle in Syria only “four or five” Pentagon-trained rebels remained active in Syria. The former Pentagon chief, Robert Gates was scathing in his criticism. He called the US training program “nuts.”
American officials hell bent on overthrowing President Bashar al-Asad refused to listen to saner voices that there are no “moderates” in Syria. They have learnt this the hard way (or have they?) after spending half a billion dollars. Perhaps, they have still not fully internalized their folly and continue to peddle the fiction that they are looking for other Syrian “moderates” to train!
The fact is most of this money is funnelled to American weapons manufacturers. They have fattened their bank balances on the money shovelled into various “training” and equipping programs. In the first decade of the 21st century, it was wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Trillions of dollars were spent in prosecuting wars in both countries. Neither country is better off today than it was at the beginning of the last decade; in fact, much worse.
This is not surprising. The primary function of armies is to destroy not build. This, the American and its allies’ armies have done well in Afghanistan and Iraq. The arms manufacturers and their enablers in Congress and elsewhere have also gotten fabulously rich. Not surprisingly they bray for more war and blood. The US military, however, has no more stomach for wars after its humiliating experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead, they are now fighting proxy wars like the one underway in Syria.
On October 13, the Pentagon said it had air dropped supplies to its “moderate” rebels in Syria because Russian planes had destroyed most of their US-supplied weapons. Russian operations in Syria have exposed a whole range of duplicitous characters. First, the US and its allies can no longer deny that they are deeply involved in arming, training and financing the terrorists in Syria. Second, their air strikes against the takfiris were not meant to degrade the terrorists’ ability — why would they when they are the ones sponsoring them? — to carry out gruesome acts. Russia has achieved in one month what the US and its “coalition of the willing” did not achieve in more than 16 months.
The takfiri terrorists’ major sponsors have also been exposed. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said during his address to the UN General Assembly on October 2 that the Zionist regime in Occupied Palestine (aka Israel) was arming the terrorists as well as treating those injured in fighting. He said whenever the terrorists suffered losses in battle with Syrian soldiers, the Tel Aviv regime intervened directly through air strikes or artillery shelling of Syrian territory. He also accused the Zionists of providing treatment to injured terrorists in Israeli hospitals. This has been confirmed by Israeli media outlets including Ha‘aretz. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been photographed visiting the wounded terrorists in hospitals.
Muallem also slammed foreign support for terrorist groups saying they only seek to expand their acts of violence beyond the troubled region. “Why do you support them [terrorists] while you know they only produce destruction?” asked the Syrian Foreign Minister. He called on the international community (essentially the US and its allies), to fulfill its duty and help stop the flow of foreign terrorists to Syria. The seasoned Syrian diplomat also took Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to task for their backing of the terrorist groups just like the Zionist regime, saying they are “racing to shed Syrian blood” in different ways. He warned that these regimes would not escape unscathed from the horrific crimes of the takfiri terrorists.
Russian air strikes against the takfiris have also exposed the Najdi Bedouins in the Arabian Peninsula, the principal financiers and ideological godfathers of the terrorists. Their public stance is riddled with contradictions. Sometimes they issue mild rebukes — slap on the wrist — against the takfiris’ gruesome acts; at others, they call for supporting them. Here are some examples. In his Hajj khutbah (September 23), Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Aal al-Shaykh, the blind grand mufti of the Najdi-ruled regime, called the takfiris “misguided.” Chopping the heads of innocent people in public and eating their organs is only called misguidance. What other horrors should these monsters perpetrate for the Najdi Bedouins to call them by their real name: terrorists and enemies of Allah (swt) and His creation.
On October 5, however, a group of 53 Saudi court preachers — the physically blind and the not so blind — issued a statement declaring the organ chewing cannibals as “mujahidin” and “defenders of the Arab country.” They also called on “Sunni” Muslims to support them with “moral, material, military and financial means” warning that if the war against the Syrian government, Russia and Iran failed, “it will be the turn of one ‘Sunni’ country after another.”
The Wahhabi obscurantists do not speak even for all 28 million people residing in the Arabian Peninsula much less the 2 billion Muslims, whether Sunni or Shi‘i, worldwide. Their call on the “Sunni” Muslims has been treated with contempt especially in view of the slaughter of more than 4,000 innocent pilgrims who were crushed to death in Mina on September 24 as a result of Saudi incompetence and callousness. Their slaughter of thousands of innocents in Yemen has also not gone unnoticed. And the Najdi Bedouins or their court preachers have never lifted a finger against the Zionist occupiers slaughtering innocent Palestinians. Their wrath is reserved for Muslims whether in Iran, Syria, Iraq or Yemen, and now increasingly the vulnerable pilgrims.
At the official level, similar contradictions abound. Following a visit by Saudi deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Muhammad bin Salman to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 19, there was speculation that the Najdi Bedouins might have realized their folly in Syria. There was even discussion between Syrian and Saudi officials facilitated by the Russians but these came to naught. Publicly, however, Saudi officials have spoken out against the excesses of the takfiri terrorists while consistently supporting their barbaric practices.
For more than four years, the Saudi-backed and financed terrorists have wreaked havoc in Syria. While they have failed to dislodge Bashar al-Asad from power, they continue to demand his ouster in any future political setup in the country. At the end of September, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubair again repeated this nonsensical demand while attending the UN General Assembly session. Russian President Putin was also at the UN where he met US President Barack Obama. When an American journalist posed the question of al-Asad’s removal to him, Putin shot back reminding him that it was for the Syrian people to decide who should rule Syria.
It is, however, the Najdi Bedouins’ demand, of all people, about al-Asad’s ouster that is so preposterous. They have little or no support in the Kingdom and unlike Syria, have never held elections. It is clear that their successive failures are piling up and pressure is building up internally against such disastrous policies.
Their court preachers may be onto something. When they said if the takfiris fail in Syria, other “Sunni” countries may be next. What they really meant was that the Najdi Bedouins would not be able to last too long in power. That would not be a bad thing at all. In fact, it would be a very positive outcome and many of the problems gripping the Muslim world would be addressed.