Demolition Of CW Stockpiles Is Only Contributory Factor In The Syria War

September 27, 2013

Syrian graffiti against foreign intervention

As the thread of military intervention by US air-strike now is fading and US-Russian agreement (The Four-stage Plan For Syria ) is going to implementation stage the situation on the ground however has good possibility to escalate. Instead of air-strike US is now more openly supplying weapons to Syrian opposition hoping so to reach her foggy aims. Latest developments show failure also with this strategy.

Demolition of CW stockpiles of Al-Assad regime or even neutralization of CW in a rebel’s possessionis only contributory factor in the Syria war.

Syrian opposition groups

The Rebels

According to the British newspaper The Telegraph the study showed that the number of insurgents fighting against the Syrian army is estimated at about 100 thousand gunmen distributed to about a thousand armed band, who came from 83 countries, including all Arab countries except Djibouti. Estimates by IHP Jane’s’ experts revealed that ten thousand of these gunmen fight to the side of Al-Qaeda affiliated groups, and 30,000 to 35,000 other insurgents are fighting within other hard-line armed groups.


“There are also at least a further 30,000 moderates belonging to groups that have an Islamic character, meaning only a small minority of the rebels are linked to secular or purely nationalist groups,” the daily noted. The stark assessment, accords with the view of Western diplomats estimate that less than one-third of the opposition forces are “palatable” to Britain, while American envoys put the figure even lower.
(Source: The Telegraph )

Foreign freedomfighters in Syria war

The roles of actors changing in operation theatre

Few days ago a statement was released in the name of a number of Syrian rebel factions announcing the severing of all ties with Brigadier General Salim Idris’s Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the Syrian National Council (SNC), and its parent organization, the Supreme National Coalition (the other SNC).

The document is entitled “On the Coalition and the Provisional Government” and lists out four major points.

  • The first point calls for all military and civilian forces to unite under an Islamic framework is based on the sharia (Islamic Law), making it the sole source of legislation.
  • The second point is that only those members of the Syrian opposition who have “lived their concerns and shared in their sacrifices” are entitled to represent the people of Syria.
  • Thirdly, the signatories consider all coalitions formed outside of Syria as illegitimate and refuse to recognize the provisional government led by Ahmad Tumeh.
  • The final point is a call on all military and civilian opposition factions to unite their ranks, set aside their differences and “put the interests of the nation ahead of those of the individual group.”

Included among the eleven groups that have signed on to this Islamic Alliance are those moderate Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood persuasion with the closest ties to the SNC, such as Liwa al-Tawhid or the Brigade of Unity, the Suqour al-Sham Brigades, and Liwa al-Islam; three groups that had formed a coalition back in September of last year called the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (SILF). Also joining the alliance are such hardline Salafi Islamists  as Ahrar al-Sham and the Fajr Islamic Movement, who had formed a coalition of their own called the Syrian Islamic Front. The leading force in the alliance are the Salafi-Jihadist, Al-Qaeda branchAl-Nusra Frontwhich is considered the most extreme and the most militarily capable of opposition groups, comprised mainly of Syrians who fought in the Iraqi insurgency. (Source: SyriaReport) Conclusion: the Western-backed moderate/secular camp and the Islamist camp have now firmly ensconced themselves in the latter.

Fighters of Kurdish Popular Committees in Syria have killed at least 83 foreign terrorists affiliated to the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front in northern province of al-Raqqa. The clashes broke out in Tal Abyad village on Monday Sept. 23th 2013  when the al-Nusra terrorists were attempting to infiltrate into the area that is under control of the Kurdish fighters. Militants from Libya and Tunisia were among the dead, our correspondent says. (Source: Al-Alam )

The insignia of the Al-Nusra Front (whose full name is the Front for Assistance to the Residents of Greater Syria). It shows the map of Syria, the Islamic crescent and the silhouette of a jihad fighter

The insignia of the Al-Nusra Front shows the map of Syria, the Islamic crescent and the silhouette of a jihad fighter

The Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra)

The Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra) seeks to overthrow the Assad regime and set up an Islamic Caliphate ruled by religious Islamic law (the Shari’ah) in Greater Syriaincluding Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. During the Syrian civil war two branches of Al-Qaeda established themselves among the rebel organizations fighting to overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. The most prominent is the Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra), directly subordinate to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The other is The Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, subordinate to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. In addition, other Salafist-jihadi military organizations not necessarily affiliated with Al-Qaeda operate in Syria. The two Al-Qaeda branches have an estimated 6,000-7,000 operatives, and in our assessment the number is growing.

Related to chemical weapons of the opposition side an indictment from the Adana Public Prosecutor’s Office has declared that anti-Assad gangs are known to be producing chemical weapons inside of Turkey.Prosecution attorney presented the court with a 132-page document which contained prosecution attorney’s gathered evidence of the suspects’ links to terrorist groups in Syria including al-Nusra Front and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic States on Iraq and Levant (Ahrar al-Sham).On May 28 Turkish security forces found a 2-kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of terrorists from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front who were previously detained.

A thorough analysis about Al-Nusra Front can be found from here (Analysis: The Al-Nusra Front, 167 p also in my document library).

Related articles

Poster against US intervention on Syria


Egypt at crossroads – theocracy, democracy or something between

February 10, 2011


While Yasmin Revolution in Tunisia inspired population throughout Arab world and wide support to change regime got decisive role in Egypt it was clear that Tunisia was not an isolated event – some process has started with geopolitical consequences. Mubarak’s ouster in Egypt is one step with process and it is still unclear how far and how deep the outcome will be as well where the tremors will reach.

Egypt has came to a crossroads – Egyptians may choose to embrace the model of a secular reformist state with a prominent role for the military as Turkey has done; there is a second possibility that the Islamists exploit the influence to gradually take the country into a reverse direction – not towards modernity and reform but backward, nearest example could be Iran. With smaller scale the same is possible in Tunisia too as well with rest of some twenty Arab countries short of democracy. If all countries on the Arab road make the same selection towards Islam so an Islamic Caliphate could be reality. Islamic radicals seek to take over governments from North Africa to Southeast Asia and to re-establish a caliphate they hope, one day, will include every continent. Islamic United States is a central aim of some radical groups.

ISLAMIC CALIPHATE – Arab version (Pakistani version includes also India and Bosnia)

Now there is a moment for change, I would claim that the status quo is sooner or later unsustainable in all Arab countries. However in all probability the roads will differ from country to country. Arab regimes have a choice: They can either lead a reform process from above or watch it take place in the streets below, different interest groups on the street level may implement different agendas.

The Egyptian autocrats removed the Internet from Egypt; the Chinese autocrats removed Egypt from the Internet. (an anonymous quote from web forum)

The popular unrest in the Arab world has even reached Libya. There have been calls in Libya for demonstrations next week to protest against Muammar Gaddafi’s 41.5-year rule. From social media I have got messages that especially youth is trying to collect people for 25th February demonstration but Libya’s regime is not waiting escalation passively – internet is blocked, many prominent bloggers and tweeter are arrested and related facebook sites hacked. As Gaddafi has iron grip in country the time for revolution might not have arrived – yet.


The demonstrators

The workers are the primary instigators of the Egyptian uprising. The April 6 group of young labor activists first came to prominence when they supported strikes by textile factory workers in Mahalla al-Kubra and elsewhere for improved wages and work conditions. There have been more than 3,000 labor actions by Egyptian workers since 2004. The pro-labor youth activists have been among the major leaders of the uprising in the past week, and had pioneered the use of Facebook and Twitter for such purposes. According DEBKAfile large sections of Egypt’s economic machinery are shut down by spreading strikes. Although reforms and pay hikes have been pledged by the new Egyptian government, large groups of workers, mainly in Cairo, rebelled against state-appointed managements and set up “Revolutionary Committees” to run factories and other work places, including Egyptian state TV and Egypt’s biggest weekly “Ros el-Yusuf.”

 

From How to Protest Intelligently -leaflet

While some demonstrators may demand for Western-style liberal democracy the main part of them have their interests with the state of the Egyptian economy – Egypt’s peasants, workers and merchant class to rise en masse. The demonstrators are clearly united in opposing Mubarak as an individual, and to a large extent united in opposing the regime. Beyond that, there is a deep divide in the opposition and thus far do not appear to have been able to generate the type of mass movement that toppled the Shah of Iran’s regime in 1979.

From How to Protest Intelligently -leaflet

In social media there is not so many tweets espousing Islamic extremism, instead there are many of them supporting Socialist/Marxist themes. Tunisian public rising was clearly against former dictator Ben Ali and his local and foreign collaborators in the US, Israel, France, Germany and Italy. In the first post-Ben Ali government of Tunisia at least six new people of a 17 member cabinet were selected from these groups. Similar as in Tunisia also Egyptian grassroots big part of political activists are coming from Socialist/Marxist/Unionist circles. In Egypt there are some of the more well-known socialists groups involved in kicking off the January 25th protests (Source and more in The Graph: The Socialist Roots Of The Egyptian Protests ):

  • Kafya/Kefaya – “The Egyptian Movement for Change” – Translated to English it means “enough”. It’s made up of socialists, Marxists, (seems ‘Change’ means the same to them as it did to Barack) secularists and Islamists. Some see this group as Mubarak’s primary opposition group.
  • Tagammu – “National Progressive Unionist Party” – a socialist political party in Egypt that rejects religious extremism.
  • Mahalla/April 6th – a large group of unionists/socialists and their youth supporters.
  • The Center for Socialist Studies – an Egyptian group in Giza committed to bringing about “revolutionary socialism”.
  • Nasserites – mainly Arab nationalism combined with socialism and secularism. Named after former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. These supporters tended to be older in age and were in much smaller numbers at the protests, but their worldview is mostly consistent with their younger counterparts.

From How to Protest Intelligently -leaflet

The political Islam waits on the sidelines. The Muslim Brotherhood has not been instrumental in this movement to date. The socialists involved in the January 25th uprising do not trust the Muslim Brotherhood politically because they see that group as beholden to Egyptian capitalism. However, the Brotherhood has money, powerful people who don’t mind engaging in murder, and years of organization on their side. If they want to co-opt this movement, they’ll be a force that the Egyptian neo-Marxists have to deal with. Based on events in Tunisia and Egypt The Graph concludes that

it’s clear that the current “revolution” in Africa has more to do with socialism than it does about Islamic fundamentalism, although the latter is playing a strong secondary role within some of the factions. Socialism has very deep roots in the Egypt and the Middle East going back to the era of Salama Moussa who wrote the first Arabic book on socialism in 1912 titled, “Al-Ishtirākiyya (The Socialism)”. Moussa also helped form Egypt’s Socialist Party (later to be renamed the Communist Party in 1923) in 1921.

Protests have begun in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Albania, and Jordan and they are planned to take place also in Syria, Libya and the rest of Arab world. There may not be a common ideology behind these protests, but e.g. in Albania the Socialist Party is speaking out against the current government.

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB)

The Muslim Brotherhood may look so far like bystander; however it is may get even decisive role with further developments. Though many members of the MB joined the protests, they maintained a low profile. The group’s traditional slogans were not seen in Tahrir Square. However inside MB there exists many views. One of them came publicity via Muhammad Ghanem, representative of Muslim Brotherhood in London, who demanded civil disobedience but also “Halting Passage through the Suez Canal… and Preparing for War with Israel”.


Egypt’s MB always remained a pragmatic organization, true militant Islamists or jihadist groups are e.g. Tandheem al-Jihad, which was behind Sadat’s assassination, and Gamaa al-Islamiyah, which led a violent insurgency in the 1990s responsible for the killings of foreign tourists. There is some base to claim that majority of Islamists who are not jihadists and instead are political forces. The MB is internally divided. It faces a generational struggle, with an old guard trying to prevent its ideals from being diluted while a younger generation looks to Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a role model. The core question – without clear answer – is if the Muslim Brotherhood will remain a benign force in the event that it came into power.

The Muslim Brotherhood has participated to electoral competition and representation, developed new professional competencies and skills, and forged closer ties with Egyptian activists, researchers, journalists, and politicians outside the Islamist camp; indeed the MB could well evolve to be more like Turkey’s Justice and Development (AK) Party.

In her article What the Brotherhood Is and How it Will Shape the Future published in Foreign Affairs, Carrie Rosefsky Wickham concludes following:

It remains to be seen whether the Brotherhood as an organization — not only individual members — will accept a constitution that does not at least refer to sharia; respect the rights of all Egyptians to express their ideas and form parties; clarify its ambiguous positions on the rights of women and non-Muslims; develop concrete programs to address the nation’s toughest social and economic problems; and apply the same pragmatism it has shown in the domestic arena to issues of foreign policy, including relations with Israel and the West.

As Muslim Brotherhood rule is one possible option in future Egypt and to understand the implications, The Palestinian Media Watch has translated the important MB book “Jihad is the way” by Mustafa Mashhur, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, 1996-2002. Translation can be found from PMW site.

Non-violent revolution

Anonymous leaflets How to Protest Intelligently – circulating in Cairo also provide practical and tactical advice for mass demonstrations, confronting riot police, and besieging and taking control of government offices. Signed “long live Egypt”, the slickly produced 26-page document calls on demonstrators to begin with peaceful protests, carrying roses but no banners, and march on official buildings while persuading policemen and soldiers to join their ranks. The leaflet ask recipients to redistribute it by email and photocopy, but not to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which are being monitored by the security forces. Here some translated pages of How to Protest Intelligently :

Revolution flag of Egypt 1919

One previous model for recent upraising in Egypt is what Egyptians havealways called the “Revolution of 1919”, though many English histories follow the British colonial usage and call it an uprising. Like 2011, 1919 had no clear leadership and was largely a genuine popular uprising. It had its own flag, with the crescent and the cross to show both Muslims and Copts supported it, a symbol has be seen occasionally also recent demonstrations.

Attitudes in Egypt

In a survey conducted April 12 to May 7, 2010, the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project examined the views of Egypt and six other Muslim publics about politics and the role Islam should play in it. A 59%-majority of Muslims in Egypt believed that democracy was preferable to any other kind of government. About one-in-five (22%), however, said that in some circumstances, a non-democratic government could be preferable, and another 16% said it did not matter what kind of government is in place for a person in their situation. Besides attitudes to different questions in Egypt the following tables include also results in some selected countries where the same survey took place: (Source: Pew Research Center publication )



Hardliners exporting terrorism

The Gaza Strip was clearly an exporter of terrorism to Egypt before the current crisis began. Egypt’s outgoing interior minister, and after him the Egypt media, accused the Army of Islam operating in the Gaza Strip of involvement in the mass-casualty suicide bombing attack at a Coptic church in Alexandria (January 2011, 25 killed and at least 80 wounded). Army of Islam operatives in the Gaza Strip were accused of directing terrorist activities in Egypt for Al-Qaeda and of contacting terrorist operatives through the tunnels under the Egyptian-Gazan border (which, according to the outgoing interior minister, threaten Egypt’s national security). The Army of Islam was also accused of involvement in other terrorist attacks carried out in Egypt in recent years, including one in the El Khalili bazaar in Cairo which killed a woman tourist from France (February 22, 2009).Various jihadist-Salafist networks affiliated with Al-Qaeda thrive in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Army of Islam (Jayish al-Islam), established in 2006, is one of the most prominent. It -temporary – later joined by operatives of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing.


Another example of internal Arab terrorism with roots in the Gaza Strip was the exposure of a terrorist network in Morocco. In June 2010 an eleven-man cell of Moroccans from Casablanca, Azjlal (in the Atlas mountains) and Oujda (in eastern Morocco), as well of Palestinians, was exposed. The cell was headed by Yahya al-Hindi, aka Abu Qutada al-Shami, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip. He had previously been a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative and was influenced by Al-Qaeda’s ideology. ( Source: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center )

Israel’s security concern

PM Netanyahu’s early comments were supporting Mubarak, but few days later statements from Israel were moderated more towards understanding the need to replace him. President Obama publicly sided with the protesters’ cause, but is secretly helping the army play for time and keep Mubarak going for the interim; now also Israel and its intelligence have joined the effort. Israel’s early support for Mubarak was probably based on fear that Mubarak’s regime will be replaced with Islamist regime, he anyway was capable of keeping the Muslim Brotherhood in its place. Israel may have hard experiences about Brotherhood’s activities in Gaza strip, however the views in this organization are not one to one with those among Iran’s ayatollahs.


Israel assumed that its victory in 1967 had improved its national security. First, it provided Israel with strategic depth, which it never had before. An attack by its neighbors, particularly Egypt and Syria, would first be fought outside of Israel. On 1973 Israel was forced to revise its overconfident position as happened what the Israelis call the Yom Kippur War and the Arabs call the Ramadan War. Just six years after their 1967 defeat, the Egyptians mounted a two-army assault across the Suez, coordinated with a simultaneous Syrian attack on the Golan Heights. Even more stunning than the assault was the operational security the Egyptians maintained and the degree of surprise they achieved. One of Israel’s fundamental assumptions was that Israeli intelligence would provide ample warning of an attack. And one of the fundamental assumptions of Israeli intelligence was that Egypt could not mount an attack while Israel maintained air superiority. Both assumptions were wrong. But the most important error was the assumption that Egypt could not, by itself, coordinate a massive and complex military operation. In the end, the Israelis defeated the Egyptians, but at the cost of the confidence they achieved in 1967 and a recognition that comfortable assumptions were impermissible in warfare in general and regarding Egypt in particular.


The Egyptian recognition that its interests in Israel were minimal and the Israeli recognition that eliminating the potential threat from Egypt guaranteed its national security have been the foundation of the regional balance since 1978.

To be continued: revolts, reforms, coups, revolutions…?

Situation in Egypt is so appalling that a military takeover of the regime is a serious future scenario. This is no new idea – in 1952, Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser staged a military coup that displaced the Egyptian monarchy, civilian officers in the military, and British influence in Egypt. Nasser created a government based on military power as the major stabilizing and progressive force in Egypt. His revolution was secular and socialist. On Nasser’s death, Anwar Sadat replaced him. On Sadat’s assassination, Hosni Mubarak replaced him. Both of these men came from the military as Nasser did.

Thinking different scenarios forward so first one could be that the regime might survive with or probably without Mubarak. Under the same scenario there may be a coup of the army staff.  A second possibility is that the demonstrators might force elections in which ElBaradei or someone like him could be elected and Egypt might proceed on the path of democracy. The third possibility is that the demonstrators force elections, which the Muslim Brotherhood could win and move forward with an Islamist-oriented agenda. And then there is a possibility that Egypt will sink into political chaos.

Egypt’s society is diverse enough to withstand a despotic theocracy and if in doubt so the army is the final guarantor. Sustainable significant change requires a new political structure, as well as a new process that ensures free and fair elections and adequate opportunities for popular participation. Real democracy must be substantive as well as procedural, bringing human security to the people, including basic needs, decent work, and a police that protects rather than harasses.

In my opinion the outcome in Egypt and maybe in other Arab countries in near future will be a reform not revolution, that is, changes in personnel and policies, protection of human rights, but no challenge to the structure or the constitution.  I am afraid so but the events so far are giving hope that surprises are also possible.

Geopolitical outcome

For radical Islam a radicalized Egypt could give a great boost even if Islamist Egypt would not be an Iranian ally. However for the United States, an Islamist Egypt would be a strategic catastrophe. Also Israel would be endangered. Israel’s national security has rested on its treaty with Egypt. The demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula not only protected Israel’s southern front, it meant that the survival of Israel was no longer at stake. In all of the wars Israel fought after its treaty with Egypt (the 1982 and 2006 wars in Lebanon) Israeli interests, but not survival, were at stake. Islamic Egypt would bring a multi-front war again on the table.

If the military regime retains power the geopolitical arrangements would remain in place, except in case where new regime must get popularity by anti-Western and anti-Israeli policy to get support base from the Muslim Brotherhood. If the advocates for democracy win, and if they elect someone like ElBaradei, it is unlikely that this scenario would take place. The pro-Western democratic faction is primarily concerned with domestic issues, are themselves secular and would not want to return to the wartime state prior to Camp David, because that would simply strengthen the military. If they win power, the geopolitical arrangements would remain unchanged.

If there are significant threats to US interests in Suez, and particularly if workers and unemployed start taking over whole areas and start to self-organise it is possible that US will ally with new regime based on army coup.

So the Western governments could be more afraid of the arrival of democratic institutions in the Middle-East than of military stable dictatorships. Anyway the outcome doesn’t depend on what the European Union, Tehran or Washington says so let’s give the stage to locals.

Some of my other Middle East articles:



Afghanistan – to be or not?

November 2, 2009

“democracies make elections, elections don’t make democracies”


After Afghanistan’s fraudulent elections President Obama’s future politics in failing state is still foggy. Conflicting views of Obama’s staff, escalation of War to Pakistan, lack of clear vision and strategy are not making choice easy. The rest of the world is waiting U.S. leadership and considering same time their exit strategies. For EU latest now it is time for a rethink (European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and crisis management practice.

After catastrophic first round there is a plan to have a bit more fair second round on 7th November. However Karzai’s opponent former FM Abdullah Abdullah has indicated that he does not believe election system and is planning to withdraw his candidature. After that people can make the democratic choice between one candidate only. This mess with elections shows clearly that central government in Kabul can not be effective partner while seeking new strategy for Afghanistan. It also underscores how ridiculous it is to import desk drawer plans from Brussels or Washington to totally different environment. On the other hand on country side the Taliban are the residents of that place and historically they have proved how resistant they are towards the foreign invaders and their ideas.

Some historical background

In Afghanistan, prior to the Russian invasion, the PDPA or ( the Peoples Democratic Party of
Afghanistan) invited the USSR to assist in modernizing its economic infrastructure, mainly exploration and mining of minerals and natural gas. The USSR also sent contractors to build hospitals, roads and schools and to drill water wells. They also trained and equipped the Afghan army. The country was then renamed the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), and the PDPA regime lasted, in some form or another, until April 1992.


Once in power, the PDPA moved to permit freedom of religion and carried out an ambitious land reform waiving farmers’ debts countrywide. They also made a number of statements on women’s rights and introduced women to political life. A prominent example was Anahita Ratebzad, who was a major Marxist leader and a member of the Revolutionary Council. Ratebzad wrote the famous May 28, 1978 New Kabul Times editorial which declared: “Privileges which women, by right, must have are equal education, job security, health services, and free time to rear a healthy generation for building the future of the country … Educating and enlightening women is now the subject of close government attention.”

As part of a Cold War, in 1979 the United States government began to covertly fund forces ranged against the pro-Soviet government, although warned that this might prompt a Soviet intervention. The secular nature of the government made it unpopular with conservative Afghans in the villages and the countryside who favoured traditionalist ” Islamic” restrictions on women’s rights and in daily life. Many groups, led by members of the traditional establishment were formed, some of them resorting to violence and sabotage to the country’s infrastructure and industry. under the umbrella of Mujahideen, or ” Holy Muslim Warriors”. The Mujahideen belonged to various different factions, but all shared, to varying degrees, a similarly conservative ‘Islamic’ ideology.

The Soviet Union intervened on December 24, 1979. Over 100,000 Soviet troops took part in the invasion backed by another one hundred thousand and by members of the Parcham faction. For over nine years the Soviet Army conducted military operations against the Afghan Mujahideen rebels. The American CIA, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia assisted in the financing of the resistance also because of the anti-communist stance. Among the foreign participants in the war was Osama bin Laden, whose MAK ( maktab al-Khidamat/Office of Order) organization trained a small number of Mujahideen and provided some arms and funds to fight the Soviets. Around 1988 MAK broke away from the Mujahideen to expand the anti-Soviet resistance effort into a world-wide Islamic fundamentalist movement.

The Soviets withdrew its troops in February of 1989, but continued aid to the government led by Mohammed Najibullah. Massive amounts of aid from the CIA and Saudi Arabia to the Mujahideen also continued. Fighting continued among the victorious Mujahideen factions, which gave rise to a state of warlordism. It was at this time that the Taliban developed as a politico-religious force, eventually seizing Kabul in 1996 and establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. By the end of 2000 the Taliban had captured 95% of the country.

During the Taliban’s seven-year rule, much of the population experienced restrictions on their freedom and violations of their human rights. Women were banned from jobs, girls forbidden to attend schools or universities. Communists were systematically eradicated and thieves were punished by amputating one of their hands or feet. Opium production was nearly wiped out by the Taliban by 2001.

Now war in Afghanistan has slogged on for nearly nine years, making it longer than America’s involvement in World Wars I and II combined. U.S. has already spent $228 billion, almost 1000 Americans have been killed (nearly 200 so far this year), and Obama’s summer surge has muscled up America’s Afghan presence to 68,000 troops (plus another 42,000 from NATO. After last elections there is some base to claim that Obama is strengthening a central government that is “infamously incompetent, openly corrupt, criminally abusive, and thoroughly despised”.

Interactive tracking the U.S. War in Afghanistan here!

COIN: McChrystal’s plan

“Our strategy cannot be focused on seizing terrain or destroying insurgent forces; our objective must be the population. In the struggle to gain the support of the people, every action we take must enable this effort.” (Gen. McChrystal)

The integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy that McChrystal wants to pursue has many components: protecting Afghan civilians, rapidly expanding the Afghan army and police, reforming government, providing economic development assistance, weaning Taliban fighters and leaders away from Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, reconciling them into the new government, and targeting those who refuse. This makes it a demanding strategy that McChrystal reportedly believes will require providing at least an additional 10,000 to 40,000 U.S. troops and more than doubling existing Afghan forces to a total of 400,000 indigenous soldiers and police.

McChrystal says that, “Our strategy cannot be focused on seizing terrain or destroying insurgent forces; our objective must be the population. In the struggle to gain the support of the people, every action we take must enable this effort.”

McChrystal’s strategy can be seen as an applied version of Gen. Petraeus’ strategy in Iraq. However when in Iraq could be found an inner conflict between Shia and Sunni factions, between Kurds and other ethnic groups in Afghanistan there is no popular revolt against the Taliban, only a culture in which dominant local warlords flit from one allegiance to another. It defeated the British in 1842 and the Soviets in 1989.

Now the coalition has enough troops to carry out a “clear, hold and build” strategy – but only in a few districts. Overall force levels remain far below what they were in Iraq during the surge – when 174,000 foreign troops worked with 430,000 Iraqi security personnel. Afghanistan, which is bigger than Iraq, has just 102,000 coalition troops and 175,000 local security forces. More from article by Max Boot “There’s No Substitute for Troops on the Ground” October 22, 2009/New york Times.

Integrated COIN is itself no guarantee of success. Social scientists have estimated its success rate at somewhere between 25 and 70 percent at best.

Other alternatives

Today, the war in Afghanistan is at a historic juncture. At this crucial stage President Obama is set to take a risky decision. He has to decide between sending more troops in line with General McChrystal’s demand or to reduce forces in accordance with an exit strategy. There is alternative strategies and quite comprehensive analysis can be found e.g. from article “Is There a Middle Way” by Stephen Biddle in The New Republic on October 20th, 2009 which has been my main source with options below.


1) Use Drones

Another popular middle way is to rely on drone attacks, of the kind now ongoing in northwest Pakistan, to suppress Al Qaeda without a major ground commitment in Afghanistan. By killing key leaders and limiting the others’ freedom of action, it is argued, the drone strikes make large-scale terrorism much harder. Drone-based counterterrorism cannot destroy Al Qaeda outright, but it might be able to constrain it far more cheaply than a major counterinsurgency campaign could.

The biggest challenge to relying on drones is the need for intelligence. Drones are not wonder weapons; in particular, they require information on targets’ whereabouts that is normally provided by other assets–and especially by host government cooperation on the ground. It was Pakistani government penetration of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, for example, that reportedly enabled a U.S. Predator drone to kill terrorist leader Baitullah Meshud in August 2009. In general, such spies, informants, and other tipsters are key intelligence sources for drone attacks on secretive terrorist groups. This “human intelligence,” however, is very hard to get if the government on the ground decides to deny it to the United States.


According to media reports, significant elements within the civilian leadership of the government, led by Vice President Joe Biden, have opposed McChrystal’s plan for an intensified counterinsurgency campaign aimed at breaking the resistance of the Afghan people to US occupation. Instead, Biden and others have proposed an alternative strategy, which reportedly relies on air strikes, accelerated training of Afghan puppet forces and the use of US special forces troops to strike against insurgents across the border in Pakistan.

2) Reconcile with the Taliban


“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants to have good and positive relations with all neighbors based on mutual respect and open a new chapter of good neighborliness of mutual cooperation and economic development. We consider the whole region as a common home against colonialism and want to play our role in peace and stability of the region. “

The quote above is from open letter of Taliban leader Mullah Omar to Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit on 19th September 2009. The letter indicated a shift in Taliban’s general policy and approach towards neighboring countries, the US and Europe.In the same tone, he assured China, India and Russia that the Taliban is going to play positive role in establishing peace and stability in the region. According to some observers who closely monitor the Taliban’s activities, these are new efforts to set out their priorities by focusing on Afghani interests rather than holding to a wide global network.

Recently the Taliban have become more watchful of the foreign Jihadists in Afghanistan. They require foreign militants to work the under supervision of the Taliban provincial commanders. Foreign militant are now not allowed, like before, to carry out their activities. independently.

Another common proposal is to negotiate a power-sharing deal with some or all of the Taliban as a means of ending the war without the escalation embodied in the McChrystal recommendations. America’s real interests are quite limited, it is often argued, so why not pursue a settlement to bring the Taliban into a coalition government on the proviso that they keep Al Qaeda out and deny the use of Afghan territory for destabilizing Pakistan?Karzai has reportedly been reaching out to the Quetta Shura and Hekmatyar factions of the Taliban via Saudi intermediaries for some time now; the talks have never made real progress because the Taliban insist on a total withdrawal of foreign forces as a precondition for negotiation.


3) Buy Off Warlords


It is sometimes argued that the West should stabilize Afghanistan and control Al Qaeda by paying warlords, tribal leaders, or other local power brokers to police their own turf, rather than relying on the national government in Kabul to control the entire country. Afghanistan has never had a strong central government, and order in the provinces has often been maintained by local authorities, legal and otherwise. The British, it is said, found direct control impossible but managed to wield influence by paying tribal or factional leaders. If the United States is willing to settle for government-by-warlord, then it could avoid the expense and risk of an orthodox counterinsurgency campaign while still denying militants access to Afghan havens.The traditional tribal leadership is one thing, but many of Afghanistan’s former warlords and current narcotics kingpins are hated figures whose predatory rule is disliked even more than that of the Taliban.


About a month ago there was stories that some Nato troops bribed local Taliban in exchange for safer environment. Now same idea is considered also by U.S. Americans believe that local Taliban fighters are motivated largely by the need for a job or loyalty to the local leader who pays them and not by ideology or religious zeal, so there could be change to attract these fighters to the government’s side.

The idea of bribing people, local guys, is one of the most cost-effective ways to get people to lay down their arms. It’s based to believe that most Taliban are not politically motivated but are operating for pay or due frustration. However while the plan has a reasonable chance for some success it may not be a long-term solution, it’s more a temporary allegiance.

4) Send Aid, Not Troops

Another proposal would shift the international contribution from combat to development assistance. Prosperity and an economic stake in the government, it is argued, can wean the population from the Taliban more effectively than force, which inevitably causes collateral damage and kills innocent civilians.

Aid is inherently political and is clearly understood to be so by the Taliban, who systematically target Western aid projects for attack. Without large security forces to defend them, aid projects cannot survive. In fact, development projects in Afghanistan are often destroyed even when they are defended, if those defenses are inadequate. No sensible Taliban would allow aid projects to undermine their control over the population when insurgents have the means at their disposal to destroy them or to intimidate their staff. Aid without security in Afghanistan would be fruitless.

EU’s role

EU Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL Afghanistan), launched June 2007 has a mandate to support the Afghan government in establishing a police force that respects human rights. Intended to employ 400 police officers, the mission has struggled to attract 280 and has seen its leadership change three times in two years. The mission’s mandate is due to expire in June 2010, though is likely to be extended.

European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) report “Can the EU rebuild failing states?” is a critical analysis about EU’s ESDP practice and I have used it as my main source related to EU’s role in Afghanistan.

The next generation of ESDP missions are likely to look more like Gaza, Afghanistan and Somalia: fluid, violent and with few clear-cut good and bad guys. To ensure that speed, security and self-sufficiency are at the heart of future interventions, the EU must scrap the idea that civilian missions are best designed by diplomats and European Council officials in Brussels. Responsibility must shift to civilians on the ground, whom the EU should deploy early to develop scalable assistance partnerships with unstable countries.

The European Union prides itself on being able to deal with fragile and failing states outside its borders, from Kosovo to Kabul, through what it believes to be its distinctive combination of “hard” power – coercion by military or other means – and “soft” power – persuasion through trade, diplomacy, aid and the spread of values. The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), launched in 1999, exemplifies the EU’s commitment to the so-called “comprehensive approach” – a strategy that emphasises the importance of combining civilian and military tools when dealing with external security challenges. The new mission concept can only be effective if complemented by developments in Brussels. First, assuming the Lisbon treaty is passed, the new high representative for foreign policy should appoint a senior deputy to oversee the EU’s policy towards fragile and failing states. Second, the new External Action Service (EAS) should be structured to support integration in the field. Each mission should have “best practice” officers, reporting directly to the EUSR, who would draft reports on how to avoid past mistakes. Additionally, a “lesson-learning” unit should be set up in the Council Secretariat to synthesise reports from the field. Finally, each intervention must work to a set of benchmarks, progress of which should be tracked regularly.

While the total Afghan population is 28,150,000. Some 3.3 million Afghans are now involved in producing opium. A low estimate of the amount that the Taliban earn from the opium economy is $10 million, but considering the tradition of imposing tithes on cultivation and activities further up the value chain, the total is likely to be at least $20 million. As part of EU’s soft power one priority is developing agriculture in Afghanistan. One concrete project could be investigate a licensing scheme to start the production of medicines such as morphine and codeine from poppy crops to help it escape the economic dependence on opium. As much as one-third of Afghanistan’s GPD comes from growing poppy and illicit drugs including opium, morphine and heroin as well as hashish production. Proposed development project however can be difficult to implement politically as Ahmed Wali Karzai – The brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai – is a suspected player in Afghanistan’s opium trade and has been paid by the CIA over the past eight years for services.

Democracy?

The history of Afghanistan shows that they’ve practised pure Greek democracy at the village level for two millennia – to export today’s western democracy idea to Afghanistan without understanding this background may work in cabinets but not on the field. It’s arrogance to think that West easily could come in and install Jeffersonian representative democracy on Afghanistan.


Maybe the best democratic idea could be use an emergency loya jirga (a temporary council traditionally made up of representatives from Afghan tribes and opposing factions used decide matters of national significance). Loya jirga with 1,500 to 2,000 delegates representing all of the major players and parts of the countries could resolve today’s problems like they have traditionally resolved them in the past.

Real U.S. Motives?

It appears that the U.S. military may be a wholly owned subsidiary of the international (i.e. American and British)oil companies). U.S.military’s involvement in Afghanistan is directly related to the large reserves of natural gas in Turkmenistan. It seems that the U.S. interest in increasing troop levels in Afghanistan jumped a notch along with the recently publicized discovery of the very large large natural gas reserves in the Yoloten-Osman gas field in southern Turkmenistan. The TAPI gas pipeline can be one answer why U.S. invade Afghanistan. The wider picture is that U.S. tries to implement its Silk Road Strategy (SRS) by securing control over extensive oil and gas reserves, as well as “protecting” pipeline routes and trade on Eurasian corridor. This militarization is largely directed against China, Russia and Iran. More about SRS in my article “Is GUUAM dead?


Spin-offs

While Afghanistan could be an attractive terrorist base, it is not at all crucial to al Qaeda, which now has many ‘homes,’ including fiery spinoffs in Indonesia, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, as well as in enclaves in France and England. The anti-Taliban operations launched in the valley of Swat in May 2009 forced some parts of foreign hirelings move to Central Asian states bordering with Afghanistan. This May a 100-men detachment led by the former field commander of the United Tajik Opposition Mullo Abdullo (Rakhimov) showed up in eastern Tajikistan. In late May an Uzbek check-point in Khanabad on the Kyrgyz border was attacked at night, and a few blasts later hit Andizhan. In July two operations were carried out in Southern Kyrgyzstan. All these incidents are linked with the return of some militants from the Afghan-Pakistan areas to Central Asia.


By autumn the situation in Uzbekistan worsened. The republic saw an outbreak of violent attacks aimed at high-ranking religious figures followed by a series of armed clashes and detentions of suspected criminals. The exact number of militants from Central Asia who have been staying in the Tribe Zone (on the Afghan-Pakistan border) is yet unknown. In mid September western media reported some 5.000 Uzbek militants to be hiding in North and South Waziristan. The real thread is growing terror activity in Russia’s southern borders (in Central Asia) and in Russia’s North Caucasus.


Opium etc production and politics have interactive connection especially in Afghanistan. Earlier I have studied how US foreign policy tactics helped to create logistics between markets via Balkan route and producers of heroin. This creature has been further developed by itself more strong by financial connection between Wahhabi organizations e.g. in Kosovo and international terrorism and Wahhabis as potential pool for operations. Same time there is historical and social link between organized crime groups and Kosovo’s political leaders. All this has also its international dimensions. I have described the outcome as Fourfold or Quadruple Helix Model where government, underworld, Wahhabbi schools and international terrorism have win-win symbiosis. More in my article “Quadruple Helix – Capturing Kosovo”.

Al-Qaeda does not require Afghan real estate to constitute a regional or global threat. Terrorists gravitate to areas of least resistance; if they cannot use Afghanistan, they will use countries such as Yemen or Somalia, as in fact they already are. The one issue that should be at the core of the United States’ Afghan strategy is Pakistan. It is there, not Afghanistan, where the United States has vital national interests. These stem from Pakistan’s dozens of nuclear weapons, the presence on its soil of the world’s most dangerous terrorists and the potential for a clash with India that could escalate to a nuclear confrontation.


My view

Speaking about “War on Terror” I think it is time to make a difference between the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The Taliban are mainly local Afghans who do not want to be occupied by any invading army, local Afghan nationalists resisting occupation. They may be ISI Pakistani agents fighting a proxy war against the US, drug smugglers and opium growers protecting their drug territories, foreign jihadists and the angry relatives of Afghans killed by coalition forces getting revenge.

One does not need to like about Taliban nor accept their ideology, but one should agree that they more or less represent their country. So if they concentrate – as indicated in last letter of Mullah Omar to SCO – Afghanistan’s inner policy without affection towards terror export to foreign countries why not give them change.

From my point of view the future strategy towards Afghanistan – if the aim is to get some sustainability – should be based on two principles:

  • Bottom-up principle, where the actions, development plans and administration are made starting from local, village level; not from high flown programmes made in Brussels or Washington.
  • Integrated approach where security, economy, local participation/commitment and administration are not separate sectors.

My conclusion is that the core question is not in or out. I would see the word with as best practice for future relations between U.S./EU and Afghanistan. The local stakeholder may or may not accept cooperation with foreigners but it is their choice as it is choice for U.S./EU to participate and invest to Afghanistan’s development plans or not.



Is it Santa only?

December 29, 2008

X-mas news from Bosnia were a bit confusing.  The directors of Sarajevo’s day-care centres, kindergartens and pre-schools banned Santa.  I personally detest Santa – especially its Coce version – but if someone likes him it’s up to them.  More serious however is if this event reflects something more about today’s society in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The reason to ban Santa was according officials that the capital is predominantly Muslim and Santa Claus is not part of the Muslim tradition.  Locally Santa is known as Father Frost who has given out presents to generations of Bosnian kids in kindergartens and other institutions and even during communist rule.  After ban some multi-religious group of parents demonstrated in Sarajevo saying that Santa/Father Frost should be seen as a Bosnian tradition.

During last months some small but alarming events – related to intolerance and rise of radical Islam – have took place in Bosnia-Herzegovina such as following examples:

While now December reading Santa story from Bosnia one aspect is that the actors are not radical Wahhabis, terrorists, hooligans and common criminals; in this case the officials – public authorities – were in key role.  Does this mean that the whole (Muslim) society is going towards intolerance, does these small isolated events mean that last nail has hammered to coffin of multi-ethnic ideals.  Let’s hope not, in year 2009 we are more wise.


A deadly combination of crime and religion

December 12, 2008

In my article “Quadruple Helix …” on 7th Dec. 2008 I shortly hinted to financial connection between Wahhabi organizations and international terrorism. I also pointed historical and social link between organized crime groups and political leaders and the international dimensions of system which I called as Quadruple Helix model.

Yesterday I was reading news from Axis Eurasian Secret Services Daily Review and one of them popped to my eyes immediately related to my earlier – maybe a little bit provocative – article. I quote:

Russian special services have managed to find out the name of one of organizers of the last month’s terror attacks in Mumbai, India, news agencies are reporting. According to Director of Russia’s Federal Anti-Narcotics Service Viktor Ivanov, drug baron Dawood Ibrahim was directly involved in the incident.

“The gathered inputs testify that infamous regional drug baron Dawood Ibrahim had provided his logistics network for preparing and carrying out the Mumbai terror attacks by the militants,” news agency RIA Novosti cites the top Russian official.  In an interview to the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta Ivanov said the Mumbai mayhem is a ‘burning example’ of the use of illegal drug trafficking network for perpetrating terrorism. “The super profits of the narco-mafia through Afghan heroin trafficking have become a powerful source of financing organized crime and terrorist networks, destabilizing the political systems, including in Central Asia and Caucasus,” Ivanov marked.

Dawood Ibrahim sought by India for 1993 Mumbai (then Bombay) serial blasts, killing 257, is said to be among the list of wanted persons sent to Islamabad in the wake of last month’s Mumbai terror attacks organized by Lashkar-e-Taiba, Rossiiskaya Gazeta noted.

This information seems to hint that secular organized crime and religious fanaticism are not so far away, they can find common political targets and they can implement joint operations.


Quadruple Helix – Capturing Kosovo

December 7, 2008

Resent ethnic tensions in Bosnia-Herzegovina are partly explained by rising radical Islam and the same one may see also in Kosovo after March 2004.(more in my article “Radical Islamists arming their selves in Balkans”).  Even Radical Islam came few years later to Kosovo than to Bosnia it creates much more bigger potential risk for society because it is not isolated inside province nor individual and local small scale violence.

Wahhabi invasion

Since the late 1990s, incidents involving Wahhabi groups have extended beyond the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina, increasing in frequency in neighbouring states such as Serbia (including Kosovo and Serbian Sandžak), Montenegro (Montenegrin Sandžak), and Macedonia.

In Kosovo for example 24 Wahhabi mosques and 14 orphanages have been built in since 1999, along with 98 primary and secondary Wahhabi funded schools. Though the number of Wahhabis in majority secular Kosovo is small this development is cementing  an al-Qaeda presence in Albanian inhabited areas, because “hard line” and intolerant Wahhabi structures are the main source for terrorist acts and operations.

Organized crime

(Kosovo) Albanian organized crime organizations have already gained remarkable role in Europe.  It is estimated that they are the chief perpetrator of drug and people smuggling, trafficking, organ sales etc.  The scope, ferocity and intensity of Albanian criminal activity has prompted the Italian top prosecutor Cataldo Motta to declare Albanians the most dangerous mobsters brandishing them “a thread to Western society”.

It is estimated that something on the order of 80 tons of heroin passes through the Balkans to reach consumers in West Europe every year. At wholesale level on arrival, this flow of contraband is worth more than the national economc outputs of several countries of the region. The retail value of heroin flow to West Europe is 25 US$ Billions. Past estimates suggested that ethnic Albanian traffickers controlled 70% or more of the heroin entering a number of key destination markets, and they have been described as a “threat to the EU” by the Council of Europe at least as recently as 2005. In fact, ethnic Albanian heroin trafficking is arguably the single most prominent organized crime problem in Europe today.

Kosovo is serving as a junction for heroin trafficking from Afghanistan to West Europe through famous Balkan route.  Now Columbian drug dealers are setting up cocaine supply bases in Albania and Balkans to penetrate into Europe.  Already earlier ethnic Albanians organised the transportation of cocaine from the Netherlands and Belgium towards Italy.  (More UN report here.)

Politics

Links between drug trafficking and the supply of arms to the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) were established mid-90s.  In West KLA was described as terrorist organization but when US selected them as their ally it transformed organization officially to “freedom” fighters. After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA leaders again changed their crime clans officially to political parties.  This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society.

In some other important drug transit zones trafficking is reflected in high levels of violence but not in Balkans.  UN report explains this that good links between crime organizations and commercial/political elites have ensured that Balkan organized crime groups have traditionally encountered little resistance from the state or rival groups.

New link

Above I shortly hinted to financial connection between Wahhabi organizations in Kosovo and international terrorism and Wahhabis as potential pool for operations.  Then I pointed historical and social link between organized crime groups and Kosovo’s political leaders.  All this has also its international dimensions.

The last and maybe the most dangerous connection is link between organized crime and Islamic terrorism because its thread to the rest of Europe.

Already 2005 Europol stated that the Albanian organized crime is related to the Islamic terrorism e.g.  where the Brussells based “Bureau also cooperated in other operations, investigating the dismantling of OC (Organized Crime, note AR)  groups that are known for suspicious financial transactions, Albanian organised crime, producing synthetic drugs and related to Islamic terrorism.” (Report here.)

Innovating Quadruple Helix

Today’s trend with economical development policy and projects is called a “Triple Helix Model or Approach”.  A triple helix regime typically begins as university, industry and government enter into a reciprocal relationship in which each attempts to enhance the performance of the other.

It seems that in Kosovo triple helix model has applied and further developed to “Fourfold Helix Model” where government, underworld, Wahhabbi schools and international terrorism have win-win symbiosis.  If sustainable succeed this model as innovation should gain next Nobelprize.

quadruple helix model

More my views over Balkans and Caucasus one may find from my Archives:Blog

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Radical Islamists arming their selves in Balkans

December 1, 2008

Radical Islam is again in headlines thanks for recent attack in Mumbai.  Already during battle discussion had started about foreign connections of terrorists.  Besides  Pakistan also British and Bosnian connections were mentioned.  The question is mostly related to Muslim immigrants living in West.  As far as Bosnia or western Balkans is concerned the core problem is created after mid-90s when region started to transform to safe haven for radical Islam.

Background

In my article “Radical islamist network spreading in Balkans” (28/09/2008) I summarized that

Radical Islam has enforced and widened their activities in Balkans last 15 years. During Bosnian war many foreign Islamists came to fight in mujahedeen brigade also many Al Quida figures – including Osama bin Laden – were supporting Bosnian Muslims 1990’s. Later they gave their support to KLA/UCK (Kosovo) which leaders now are leading Kosovo province based on US and EU support. After bombing campaign 1999 radical Islam has been one major donor in Kosovo and Wahhabi schools and former secularized Kosovo Muslims are displaced by radical Islamic movement. During Balkan wars e.g. Bosnia was acting as Europe’s leading training camp for domestic and foreign Islamists and their supporters.  So it is easy to see the real or exaggerated connections between Britain, Bosnia and Afghanistan/Pakistan.

British-Pakistan connection

In an article of one British publication(Telegraph.co.uk 29/11/2008) is a pithy description over Brit-Paki way to Radicalism.

The path from Britain to the terror training camps of Pakistan is a well-trodden one, with dozens of young Muslim extremists from this country travelling abroad to learn their deadly trade. In most cases they make the journey after being radicalised by preachers in Britain, who tell them that Islam is under attack around the world and that they cannot stand by idly or simply raise money for the cause. Some claim they only wanted to fight against the enemy in Kashmir or Afghanistan, or to learn how to defend fellow Muslims in other warzones such as Bosnia or Chechnya.

Radical Islamists arming their selves in Bosnia

Western Balkans is known as junction of different kind of trafficking.  Biggest profits probably are coming from drugs arriving from Afghanistan to be distributed in EU area.  Related to issue of terrorism the arms trafficking is now alarming not only because their selling in EU but because their planned use in Europe by radicals.

Last week an article in Serbianna (24/1/208)  gave more light to topic.  A group of radical Islamists that is ready to engage in terror activities is based in Bosnia, says Bosnia’s police chief Zlatko Miletic. “Wahabis have become the synonym for that sort of terrorism, but here is matter is about salafis as well,” says Miletic. He continues that 4 different groups operate in Bosnia, all of interest, because of their views of the world. Most concerning, says Miletic, is that these groups are buying suicide vests adding that early in 2008, Wahabis and other groups sympathetic to al-Qaeda are moving large quantities of explosives and weapons to Croatia. Islamic terrorists believe that Croatia will soon become a member of the EU which would allow an unimpeded weapons transfer from Croatia and into Europe.

Wahabi trial in Serbia

At the regional conference on security held in October in Slovenia’s city of Kranj, Serbia’s security minister Ivica Dacic stressed that there is evidence of presence of the international and domestic terrorism in Serbia citing Albanian terrorism in the south and the influence of Wahabis in the Raska area, referred to as Sandjak by the Muslims.   End of November 2008, a trial of 15 Wahabis started after Serbia’s police broke up the group involved in a plot to bomb buildings across Serbia and the US Embassy in Belgrade. One of the Wahabis, Ismail Prentic, escaped to Kosovo where local Albanians gave him sanctuary. Prentic was later apprehended but died in a shoot out with the police.  According sources the Wahabis secretly train, mobilize, inspire and train recruits from the converts to be experts in explosives.

The prosecution at the trial of 15 Wahabis charged that they have plotted terrorism has shown Osama bin Laden videos that have been found on the laptop confiscated during a raid on the Wahabi camp earlier this year. Many security analyst note that al Zawahiri’s (probably N:o 2. in al-Qaeda) brother was dispatched to the Balkans to establish al-Qaeda cells in regions dominated by Muslims such as Bosnia and Raska and Kosovo regions in Serbia. (Source Serbianna 29/11/2008) 

Croats in Bosnia under attack

In my article “Islamic terror in Bosnia”  (13/10/2008) I described how a Croatian NGO Libertas made public statement in which it says that Croatians in Bosnia are victims of Bosnian Muslim terror and are asking Bosnian Croat political leadership to initiate a plan that will break up the Bosnian Federation entity and form a Croatian one.

The tensions have continued since October.  E.g. police in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, are still on alert, although eight days have passed since Muslim and Croat students engaged in a fierce clash.Five days ago, local police prevented a mass free-for-all of some 300 students. The date and time for the fight was set in advance via an internet portal, and was to take place between Croat and Muslim youths on the line which divides the town of Mostar to its eastern and western parts. (Source B92 29/11/2008)

Bottom line

The Wahabism is “alien” not only to Bosnia and Kosovo  but in the entire south-eastern Europe, where secularism has been common until last decade.  The issues of Wahabism could quickly disturb the harmony of the Kosovo Albanian patriarchal family structure dominated by honor and vendettas.

The Radical Islam is relatively new phenomenon in Balkans.  It has good connections to other relevant players on scene and motivation enough to die for their case.  Is it now with more arms progressing on new more aggressive stage shall be seen.




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