By: Mohammed Jehan Kha
I came across this meme which possibly should be a creation of a Facebook intellectual or a Putin fanboy. It says the Syrian war began with Assad dropping down the dollar. I was trying to figure out what does this DROPPING THE DOLLAR DOWN phrase really mean. This meme is either a well designed piece of propaganda or a product of an ignorant low intellect Facebook addict. It seems people really have no idea about Syrian crisis at all and the only cure for such an ignorance is to enlighten them with information. So let us go back to six years, when all these mess started.
After the suicide/self immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, after some large scale protests that swept across Tunisia and Egypt, after Ben Ali was ousted, local activists in Syria were discussing how to bring such a revolution in Syria against the Al Assad family that has been ruling Syria since the 1970s. The Assads came to power through continuous coups and been ruling the county over forty years, depriving people from their basic rights. Despite their autocratic rule, Syrians always found it appalling for a family belonging to the minority Alawite clan ruling (and persecuting) the majority sunnis for over four decades. Some of the older intellectuals believed it was too soon to contemplate an uprising on home soil. The younger men argued this was their only chance to take advantage of the events as they were unfolding in the region.
One of those activists, Mohammed Masalmeh, a construction worker in Daraa, agreed that this moment must be seized. He had already been detained by the Mezzeh Air Force in Damascus for four months before the revolution began. He knew after four decades of living under an oppressive regime that change needed to come to Syria.
While the adults were ‘just discussing’ the hypotheticals of dethroning the Assads, two teens named Bashir and Nayef(15 year old) seized the day. On February 16, 2011, they painted the popular revolutionary chants “The people want to topple the regime”; “Your turn is coming, Doctor”; “Leave” – on their school walls. In a finishing touch with courage, they signed each slogan with their names: “With our regards, Bashir” or “Issa,” or “Nayef Abazid.”
Nayef, a friend of Bashir and a Grade 8 student, was arrested by Assad’s security forces the day after. After being tortured, he confessed and reluctantly surrendered the names of his co-conspirators. With this information in hand, the police went from home to home, threatening their parents to turn in their sons. The boys would give themselves up a few days later, after being assured that no harm would come to them. And then they disappeared.
Their parents tried in vain to find out what had happened to their sons. On February 26, some of the fathers, who hailed from Daraa’s prominent tribal families, begged the Political Intelligence branch to release their children. According to their parents, Atef Najeeb, the branch chief and a cousin of Bashar Al Assad, met with them and told the men to forget their children; to go and make new ones, before adding insult to injury with these chilling words:
“If you can’t make your own children, send us your wives, and we’ll make them for you.”
The men returned home, defeated, humiliated and simmering with rage.
Soon afterwards, Khaled Masalmeh, an attorney and human rights activist, told the underground movement in Daraa that a protest was being planned in Damascus by an opposition group on March 15. The demonstration would call for the release of all political prisoners. The men decided to protest in solidarity in front of the Saraya courthouse.
Around 30 activists arrived at Daraa’s courthouse on March 15 and saw Khaled standing in front of the building. They pretended they were there separately, as security forces swarmed between them waiting for any suspicious movement to begin. That night they all met up in a secluded home that belonged to Ali Masalmeh Abu Hussein, a leading member of the opposition.
They decided to try again on Friday, spreading the word that the protest would begin at the Omari Mosque, but secretly agreeing that a core of 30 men would emerge from Al-Hamzeh wa Al-Abbas Mosque which was nearby. Both mosques were located in the neighbourhood where the most prominent tribal families of Daraa lived. The logic was that if something happened to any of them, they would quickly be surrounded by cousins and relatives who would defend them against the security forces. That Friday, Al-Hamzeh wa Al-Abbas Mosque’s imam told the young men that no one would be allowed to lead a protest from his mosque. They assured him they wouldn’t.
Ali Masalmeh moved towards the mosque’s door and cried: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, freedom, dignity.” His cousins quickly joined in. Then a doctor and an engineer joined and the rest followed – that was Daraa’s first chant. Ali Masalmeh, whose voice broke Daraa’s silence, would be assassinated on February 23, 2012 during a raid on his home.
The group walked towards the Omari Mosque and were joined by 25 more men. Security was heavy inside as someone had already tipped them off as to the activists’ plans. But because everyone was leaving the mosque at the same time, they thought the crowd of thousands were all part of the protest.
Few days after it Bashar ‘s forces murdered few of them so in their funeral walk the crowd chanted
“A traitor, is the one who kills his people,” “He who kills his people is a traitor.”
“Ya Bashar, you coward, send your troops to the Golan. We needed nothing but our dignity.”
By the time the first group of boys were released on March 20, Bashir had been in prison for a month. The boys were subjected to a range of typically brutal interrogation techniques. They were beaten with cables, poked with electrocution prods and subjected to continuous threats, The interrogation continued until the confessions were literally beaten out of the boys and they gave up the names of their older cousins and friends, or the names of anyone, just to stop the pain. Someone told them about Ahmad Thani Abazid, 17, who was not even at the school when the other boys wrote on the wall. Nevertheless, when he was tortured he broke down and told them he was a Salafi. He confessed to writing on the wall and burning down a police kiosk. He would spend eight months in prison before being released. Issa, 16, was accused of “attempting to overthrow the government.”
The revolution that began in the school walls of Dhara now spread to Arbeen neighbourhood, from there Hama, then Homs and finally Damascus and later emerged into an armed struggle consisted of people who wanted to overthrow Bashar. And by the end of 2012, it broke into a civil war.
The fighters and countries involved.
Syrians too prepared themselves against Bashar’s troops. The first to come forward was the FSA, fondly abbreviated Free Syrian Army, comprised of local Syrian men. The FSA was initially formed by military generals who had deserted the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The FSA initially had 30 members and seeks to create a new Syria based on mainly democratic principles. Many militant groups later joined the FSA. The most prominent among them is the Northern Storm Brigade, headed by former Syrian colonel, Abdul Jabbar Ogaidi, which clashed with both Bashar’s troops and the Daaesh.
This war later attracted many terrorist groups that have been taken root in Iraq and Central Asia. The first one to join the war was Al-Qaeda. From Al-Qaeda came Al-Nusra front. This group was emerged from the belly of Iraq, staffed by fighters initially part of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The fighters are particularly well trained and have been responsible or played key roles in some of the major victories against the regime. From Al-Nusra came The Daeesh, or ISIS (Islamic state of Iraq and levant). They broke away from the Nusra Front in April 2013. ISIS has taken part in several joint operations. Their ranks are mainly filled by European/foreign fighters. ISIS also has the support of the Jaysh al-Muhajirin wa al-Ansar headed by a Chechen, Abu Omar al-Shishani.
Iran was the first to intervene. While his alawite clan, the vanguard of Al-Assad nepotism guards the throne of Assad which Hafez al-Assad forcefully seized through a coup, the Iranians thought that its their moral duty to protect Assad, (Bashar Al-Assad, being an Alawite, belonging to a shiite branch) as losing Assad is like losing their hegemony in the region. Without the Shiite auxiliaries from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon whose recruitment and transfer is organised by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Assad’s rule would long since have come to an end. Iranian Revolutionary Guard has long planned and carried out the most important missions and operations of the Syrian regime. They were responsible, right down to the details, for the sporadically successful offensives in Aleppo in the north and Daraa in the south, which began in 2013. In Iran, the Revolutionary Guard is one of those groups intent on continuing the “Shia Revolution” the victory of Shiites over the Sunnis. They are a state within a state, one which owns several companies and is answerable only to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. President Hassan Rohani has no power over the Revolutionary Guard whatsoever.
In early 2013, Hojatoleslam Mehdi Taeb, one of the planners behind Iran’s engagement in Syria, said:
“Syria is the 35th province of Iran and it is a strategic province for us.”
For several decades, the alliance between the Assads and Iran was a profitable one, particularly in opposition to the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, which long had the upper hand in the region. But today, Assad depends on Iran to remain in power, and Tehran is taking advantage of the situation.
Agamemnon came with his United Greek army.
The United States’ led western coalition involvement in the crisis is much similar to that of Agamemnon’s and his brother Menalus’s campaign to bring down the high walls of Troy. May the motives of two wars be different (The war of Troy was fought for Queen Helen), but the trend looks the same. When Agamemnon ordered the whole of Greece to united under one banner to fight and conquer Troy, all the vasal and federal states under Mycenae (Agamemnon’s country) was united. The Ithaca came first, led by Odysseus, then the Spartans, under Menalus, his own brother and then finally the Myrmidons with their ruthless assassin Achilles, marched against the Trojans under the command of Agamemnon’. Just like that, the Americans predicted that the presence of Iranians in Syria could possibly bring the Russians (their traditional enemies) to the battle field, So they rushed in hurry with their allies in the Western Europe and Middle East (The Gulf, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq). The American led coalition is responsible for killing several hundred innocent civilians in Syria. Last year, an American air strikes killed 66 Syrian civilians mistaken for fighters, the Americans, as usual, got away with their murders with just saying a sorry.
And then Vodka joined the party
The American presence in Syria angered Putin. Having Americans and their cronies in one of his ally’s country is an indirect threat to the Russians. So in 2015 September 15, the Russian Federation, the upper house of the Russian parliament showed the green flag to deploy its forces in Syria. Since then the Russian attacks (ground and air strikes) have killed hundreds of civilians.
This is how a noble cause, a revolution that was aimed to overthrow a nepotistic autocratic dictatorship rule, was turned into a bloody genocidal campaign. Syrians rose up peacefully seeking freedom and justice. Bashar Al-Assad and champions of human rights in Washington, London, Paris together with Russia and Iran gave them death and destruction.