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Why De Mistura’s Needs to Step Down

The people of Eastern Aleppo are currently facing a fierce Russian-Syrian air campaign on their city.  “In a maximum of two months, two-and-half months, the city of eastern Aleppo may be totally destroyed,” Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva.  The chief UN negotiator then went on to suggest he himself would escort rebel fighters from Jabha Fath Sham out of Aleppo.  “Can you please look at my eyes,” de Mistura said appealing to the group’s leaders,  “If you decide to leave with dignity … I am personally ready to physically accompany you,” the UN envoy pledged.

It is outrageous how de Mistura is willing to hand over 350,000 people to the embrace of the very forces who have killed a half million of the their countrymen.  These are the same forces that are using bunker busters, cluster bombs, and incendiary munitions on civilian homes wiping out entire families.  How is it conceivable that such a proposal could be issued by such a “skilled” diplomat?  Are there really families in Aleppo that would trust their fate to regime forces after seeing their children burned by Napalm like weaponry?

Additionally, is it remotely reasonable that Assad should be rewarded for his murder of countless civilians by having the UN escort his fiercest opponents out of the theatre of war?  What sort of precedent would that set not only for the Syrian conflict but conflicts in general?  That would mean, by default, that it is internationally accepted to use weapons of mass destruction against civilians while being filmed on a day in and day out basis, and once enough unarmed men, women, and children have died then the largest international and most respected body will come in and escort the opposition out and hand the city over to those using weapons of mass destruction against civilians.

Jabha Fath Sham currently has a force of fighters inside of besieged Aleppo and the residents of Aleppo realise that they, Ahrar Sham, and FSA groups are all that stands between them and those that killed so many of their sons, daughters, and family members.  This is a reality that those who are calling for the demise of JFS, formerly Nusra, have to understand.  Neither civilians nor the most moderate of rebel negotiators accepted that JFS should be targeted as Kerry and Lavrov stipulated in their “ceasefire” agreement a few weeks ago.  Not a single one.

It is extremely difficult to sell to the Syrian people that one of their fiercest protectors, JFS, should now be targeted by forces that have largely left them to the merciless slaughter of the Syrian government and it’s allies.  This shows that there is a serious disconnect between the policies the west is trying to force on the rebel players and Syrians in general and the desires of the Syrian people.

At the end of the day, most of the estimated 20,000 JFS fighters are Syrian.  Most of the JFS fighters inside Aleppo were born and bred on the very streets they now fight the regime on.  So it is unclear why the international community insists on trying to separate them from the other fighters as if they are a foreign element.  Or perhaps it is because de Mistura and the west are focusing more on advancing western foreign policies than they are on helping the Syrian people.

Bilal Abdul Kareem

Bilal Abdul Kareem is the owner of On The Ground News.

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One thought on “Why De Mistura’s Needs to Step Down

  1. Excellent summary!

    As a Westerner, I fear Nusra, as I would any group which leans on elements in a religion which appear to espouse hostility towards my own way of life and indeed towards ideas I hold about organised religion itself, of any sort. However, I am not an Arab, let alone a Syrian Arab. Nor have I endured five years of war in my own land. When life becomes cheap and your own life is threatened, you look for courage and, with that, anything which will fortify it and also give hope. To fight gives courage – if you survive the first bombardment or bullets cracking through the air beside you; that is, if you stand your ground and don’t run, and also live. And you will gravitate towards fighters like you. You will tend to pick those who fight best, are best organised and have the best resources. And you will fit in with them. This is human nature.

    The war over, you may stay quiet about your actions as a fighter in it, especially if you have killed. You may not wish to remember the barbarism in you and your fellows, the barbarism drawn out by the barbarism inherent in any conflict. Read “An Intimate History of Killing” by Joanna Bourke. The book shows how the most ordinary person can become a hardened, methodical killer, in the theatre of war. In this extreme, Nusra is not extreme, but an extremity amongst other extremities or, put another way, a normality within the context of barbarism in Syria. The first act of barbarism was the first bullet aimed directly at a protester in 2011. The second was the West’s failure to react. This spawned the succour of warring religion. It is as if the West now seeks to destroy its own miserable record by targeting, or otherwise seeking to nullify, the evidence of that catalogue of dithering, the rise of religious terror – but a terror directed against a worse type of terrorist: the blue-eyed one who patronises a symphony orchestra, has a British wife and holds a seat at the United Nations; and, to Liszt, blows apart the head of a child with a dumdum bullet.

    No, I do not like Nusra. I fear it. But I understand that not just it but any Syrian opponent of the régime who had taken up arms has fallen back on their concept of God, the only bolster which exists; and also has fallen into all the trouble that can cause, as men seek to interpret a mystery. They could have fallen back on a few dozen American bombers in 2012. None arrived, until now: and not to offer to help them but instead to threaten to bomb them, or, in a suit, take them for a walk into never-never land. I have long been surprised that the Americans did not use Daesh, as willing cannon-fodder. If you support a fearsome group, you also gain some control over it.

    You have done well to give the fighters, and their faith, a human face. I myself seek to put myself in a Syrian rebel’s shoes and to take a step towards seeing Nusra primarily as a force against Assad, just as communists were once a force against Nazism, or a predator can seek another predator as its kill.

    America’s error was to continue with the war on terror as well as vaguely, if perceived to be firmly, supporting the overthrow of Arab tyrants by Arabs, having already overthrown one – Saddam – itself. Indeed, the removal of Iraq’s hitherto seemingly irremovable dictator can only have watered the Arab Spring’s soil, may even have seeded it. That the overthrow had more to do with the war on terror than “establishing democracy” is neither here nor there. The effect of that success on the youthful Arab mind is the issue. America should have thereon run with the young Arab and seen how he, not drones, would defeat terror. That the Arab Spring might reach the gates of Mecca amidst a storm of dust from the hooves of the mounts of the mujahideen does not mean that scholarly, revolutionary Muslims may not have prevailed in such a holy place, once the storm had subsided, the descendants of Ibn Saud having accepted a constitutional rôle, their politics and their Rasputins defeated.

    Thus would extremists form the vanguard of a movement which, accomplished, would devour the ethic of its braves and send them home to their mothers. So, America, as you imply, should back Nusra and, if they help bring Assad down quicker, Daesh. But my idea is unsellable! Islamist militant extremism is the only thing the current American president will bother to fight, and that half-heartedly. His real war is against the American warrior, now rattling in his cage, who, exhausted, once voted for him and a concomitant (eight-year) holiday. The risks of the idea are immense, if you forget that cloaked mujahids are also humans and that the mind is stronger than the sword.

    If the idea of America supporting Daesh, or any fundamentalist Islamic military group, seems absurd, this explains why Obama is or wishes to bomb Assad’s enemies. One absurdity has been exchanged for another. However, if the young and intelligent are to have a say in their country’s affairs, in any nation between Nigeria and Pakistan, the rebel must be supported at the expense of the potentate or puppet, and indeed at the West’s expense. This is the lesser absurdity and ultimately would create the balm that washes the venom off the tip of that part of jihad which loves the dagger more than God.

    Over two or three days, these are the thoughts you article engendered. Thank you again for your reports, which I admire, as you are at great risk, from inside Aleppo East.

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