The second type of group is composed of Sunni Muslim foreigners who have infiltrated into Syria by way of Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon; people who generally call themselves part of Global Jihad or al-Qaeda. These are terrorists who have no particular home, roam the Muslim world in places where there is no law and order, and take part in the jihad against the local infidel. Many of them come originally from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the Emirates, Algeria, Libya and Egypt, but there are also Chechens, Tatars, Bosnians and a few Africans. They are conspicuous in the field, and therefore they congregate in small, separate groups and operate out of groves or abandoned, built-up areas that the local population has fled because of the war. The operational experience that they have accumulated in previous arenas, their jihadist motivation and the fact that they have nothing to lose makes them especially dangerous.
The third type of group comprises local militias based on tribal association, whose task is to defend the village or the town in which the tribe still lives. These militias have no specific ideology, and their raison d’etre is to defend the population of the village from any attempt to harm it, whether from the side of the regime or from the Free Syrian Army. In Syria, hundreds of such militias are active, usually defensively. They have a large presence in Hasaka, the Kurdish area in Northeast Syria and in the area of Dir a-Zur in the East, which is populated by Bedouins.
In total, including all four types of armed forces, hundreds of fighting groups are active in Syria, all of them fight against the regime, but also among themselves. The divisiveness and the controversies weaken them, but worse than this is the fact that even after the collapse of the Asad regime, these militias will continue to fight each other, due to their different agendas and conflicting goals: the militia of a Christian village will fight to the death against a Salafi jihadist militia, in order to defend the members of the village from the sword of Islam. The Christians in Syria know well what happened to their brothers in Iraq, and what is now happening to them in Egypt, in Gaza and all over the Islamic world, but for now, the Christians in Syria – who represent 3 to 5 percent of the population – remain there.
In parallel, there is a phenomenon that we have focused on since the riots in Syria began in March of 2011: the rise of the sectarian component, which has been hidden all the years under a heavy dampening carpet. At this point it is clear that when the regime collapses, the Alawites who live in the Sunni cities – Damascus, Homs, Hama, Alleppo and others – will have to flee for their lives in order to keep the connection between their heads and their shoulders. Whoever remains may be slaughtered with the cry of “Allahu Akbar” in the throats of the killer and his friends. For some months now the Alawites have been streaming weapons and ammunition to the mountains of Ansaria in the Western area of the state, in order to defend the area which was allocated to them for their own protection because of their heresy. Then the French Mandate made the Alawites into rulers over the others, so that the Alawites could rule “without having to answer to a High Court or human rights organizations”. The Alawites have already begun to deport the Muslims from the coastal cities – Latakia, Tartoum, and Banias – who came to the area in order to work there over the past decades, as a sort of “religious cleansing” in order to create for themselves a homogeneous Alawite state, which will be “Muslim-rein”.
The Kurds already control broad areas in their district in Northeast Syria, while being helped by their brothers who live in Iraqi Kurdistan, and it seems that also their brothers in Turkey support them. Most of them do not have Syrian citizenship because of the regime’s claim that they are infiltrators from Turkey; Syria does not even recognize them as a distinct group with a non-Arabic language, deserving the right to establish their own schools in the areas in which they live.
About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.
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