A thread to discuss the ongoing Syrian conflict.
Here's an article by an award-winning foreign affairs reporter on Assad's role in *deliberately* allowing ISIL to form and establish itself as an enemy within Syria and Iraq, while manipulating much of the ISIL leadership, which was literally built by Syrian intelligence in Sednaya prison, a "five star" incubator of Islamist extremism dedicated to providing leaders for extremist movements to fight Americans in Iraq, and later to subvert the civil revolution. We've long had several narratives competing here; one that the US is entirely the cause of the rise of ISIL (via the invasion of Iraq), and one that the conflicts origins are much more complex and depended on the choices of the leadership of various countries as well as American involvement. This article provides a lot of depth on the Syrian origins of the conflict. It is the result of a two year investigation.
This three-part series documents the Syrian dictator's sinister contributions to this tale of terrorism and horror. First, he tried to ingratiate himself with Western leaders by portraying the national uprising against him as a terrorist-led revolt. When that failed, he released jailed Islamic extremists who’d fought against U.S. troops in Iraq, then staged phony attacks on government facilities, which he blamed on terrorists. Far from fighting ISIS, Assad looked the other way when it set up a state-within-a-state with its capital in Raqqa, and left it to the U.S. and others to counter the Islamic extremists.
This series charts Assad’s major role in the rise of Islamic extremism from the inside. Based on exclusive interviews with high-level defectors from the regime’s security apparatus, it sheds new light on key decisions
—like sending volunteers to fight the U.S. occupation of Iraq, which helped establish the forerunner of the Islamic State, releasing more than 1,000 former al Qaeda militants from Syrian prisons in 2011, and rarely fighting the Islamic State militants.
It also reveals how:
— the regime likely staged bombings of its own security facilities in 2011 and 2012 to foster the impression that al Qaeda had an armed presence in Syria long before it did.
— Syrian intelligence received orders to stand by when al Qaeda fighters crossed from Iraq into Syria in 2012.
— Syrian intelligence has penetrated the leadership of extremist jihadist groups and at critical moments can influence their operations.
Remarkably, several high-level former Syrian security officials who spoke on the record with this reporter said that U.S. intelligence agencies never debriefed them. The ex-officials viewed this as a major lapse, not only because they were privy to, and complicit in, the inner workings of Assad’s role in organizing a terrorist insurgency against U.S. forces in Iraq, but also because they were well-placed to advise on the establishment of a new state security apparatus should Assad’s police state collapse or be overthrown.
The Obama administration apparently wasn’t interested. A former top U.S. diplomat said the CIA had little interest in Syrian defectors and debriefed them only if the diplomat insisted.
Dendal was introduced to this reporter by a former regime judge from Aleppo who deserted to the opposition. Interviewed in a café in Istanbul’s popular Fatih district, which is now packed with Syrian refugees, he estimated that half the commanders in ISIS are working with the regime today; other defectors from the security sector say it’s about one third. According to Naser, most of the top commanders of Daesh in Raqqa are linked with Syrian intelligence.
The article is worth reading, it hits hard, and shows that the mess in Syria is even worse than we believed.