Russia and Turkey imposing a ceasefire but how long can it hold? Turkey humiliated at the gates of al-Bab

2536296 01.12.2014 1 декабря 2014. Президент России Владимир Путин (второй слева) и президент Турецкой республики Реджеп Тайип Эрдоган (второй справа) перед началом заседания Совета сотрудничества высшего уровня в Анкаре. Михаил Климентьев/РИА Новости


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Key words: Turkey, Russia, Iran, Syria, Damascus, U.S. , NATO.

By Elijah J. Magnier: @EjmAlrai


A general ceasefire was announced by Moscow and Damascus over the entire Syrian territory. The official announcement excluded the “Islamic State” (ISIS) and al-Qaida (Nusra or JabhatFateh al-Sham) and all jihadists fighting on Syrian soil. This statement issued by Russia and Syria has multiple goals, but above all excludes the US administration and any current European role in this Middle Eastern war, regardless of the outcome of the ceasefire. Iran, according to well-connected sources, agrees on the ceasefire but looks at it with suspicion. So the main issue is: how long can this ceasefire hold? Who would feel damaged by its implementation? What would be the reaction on the ground?

This general ceasefire came with the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of his wish to pull some forces out of Syria, reminding observers of the previous Russian step taken when a similar deal was reached between Moscow and Washington, but failed weeks later, earlier this year.

This time, however, the ceasefire was not announced by the superpowers (Russia and USA) but by the two main players in Syria, Moscow and Ankara, who both have important control over the most influential militants and soldiers engaged in the Syrian war. The influence role of the US cannot be ruled out, especially if they count on their allies (Saudi Arabia and Qatar) who themselves enjoy significant influence and certainly cannot be excluded from any peace talks.

Russia has the upper hand over the Syrian Army, Iran and its proxies, while Turkey is capable of exerting considerable pressure over many rebel groups, excluding al-Qaida and some jihadist groups linked to it. Because Russia is dealing with officials representing their respective countries (Damascus and Tehran), its leverage is guaranteed. This may not be the case for Turkey, having to deal with many sub-groups among the jihadists and the rebels, supported by the US and countries of the region, and who would do everything in their power to see Moscow-Tehran-Turkey failing in Syria.

In fact, Ahrar al-Sham, the biggest group among rebels, is already divided between “Ahrar” and “Jaish al-Ahrar”, showing differences in ideology, belonging and goals. “Jaish al-Ahrar” is more keen to merge with al-Qaida, a step described by Turkey as “self-condemnation to the militants’ own destruction”, because they would thus become a legitimate target for Russia and Turkey in the months to come. If many rebels and jihadists reject the ceasefire, these will weaken Turkey’s position even further, following the stagnation of its forces at the gates of the northern Syrian city of al-Bab.

Russia may see in Turkey a strong partner due to its influence over rebels and jihadists. If the result turns out to be weak and inefficient, Turkey, a NATO member and a custodian of over 50 US nuclear bombs, will be under Russian influence and Russia will no longer deal with it as a partner but as one of the minor players in Syria.

Damascus and its allies are watching with great suspicion this general ceasefire, imposed by Russia as a test of Turkish capabilities and influence in Syria. It is in Damascus’ interest to see Turkey sinking into the quagmire of Syria, showing its limitations rather than the image the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wishes to present, as a Middle Eastern superpower and “spokesman” for the region’s Sunnis.

This is what is pushing Damascus and its allies to reject a Russian proposal to push forces toward Palmyra, under the control of ISIS. In fact, Damascus and its allies would like to allow ISIS to feel less under pressure on that front so its main force will be dedicated to fight Turkey. The Syrian Army and its allies have the task of consolidating the T4 airport and defend it against any ISIS attack. For the rest, the Syrian Army allies are refusing to send forces- as AL RAI have learned – to Palmyra for now. The more Turkey sinks into the war and suffers losses, the better Damascus feels about its intervention in the northern part of the country.

This doesn’t apply for al-Qaida: Iran is pushing Russia to continue the war in the direction of al-Qaida controlled areas and other jihadists and rebels. The general idea is simple: any conquest of ISIS territory represents no leverage around the negotiation table with Turkey or with the international community. This is not the case of any other territory under the control of rebels and jihadists. The land under their control is preciously negotiated by the Middle Eastern countries involved with their proxies on the ground. Moreover, the weaker that Turkey is represented in Syria, the more it will be dependent on Russia to intervene and offer its own intelligence and air force.

Turkey lost over 38 officer soldiers (among these the commander of the Turkish Special Forces enaged in Syria) at al-Bab and more than 60 wounded. More than 100 militants of its proxies fighting with the Turkish Army have been killed. Moreover, ISIS is humiliating captured Ankara soldiers and burning prisoners, and announces that more officers were captured and are still in captivity, waiting for a new video to come out. Civilians are suffering from the Turkish Air Force bombing, killing dozens.

Despite all this, Ankara is announcing its will to establish a “safe zone” in the north. For this to work, it needs Russia, Damascus and the Kurds’ approval because no foreign force could hold the ground in the long term without being subject to insurgency. Damascus will never agree to a long presence of the Turkish forces, neither would Russia. But as long as there is the danger of a possible US intervention to divide Syria (as a façade to its military bases in the Kurdish controlled area), and as long as ISIS is present, Turkey is considered most welcome to bang its head against all its enemies in the north.

Whatever the outcome is going to be, ISIS’s humiliation of the Turkish army is manifested at the gates of the city of al-Bab (meaning gate or door in Arabic). Over 2000 estimated ISIS members fight one of the strongest armies in the Middle East, and they shake it, forcing Ankara to ask for US air intervention, and forcing Erdogan to implement a total blackout and disinformation on the social media platforms and local media. The aim is to make them refrain from publishing the result of his first battle against ISIS, and is especially manifested when official sources declare that the images of the burned Turkish soldiers (by ISIS) “are fake”.

Russia is in need of a good partner or even a weak partner to dominate the political chess game in Syria and impose its will, as it has done successfully in a time of war, when peace knocks the doors of Syria. Indeed the ceasefire may not hold for long because many parties involved don’t feel comfortable to laying down their arms before witnessing the real intention of the new US President Donald Trump. Only then can the length of the war in Syria be measured, but this step certainly lies in the path of any peace process.




Regional and international balance in the Levant (2): Russia’s role in the Syrian war and the tactical differences with Iran




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Key words: Russia, Iran, U.S. , Syria

Elijah J.Magnier: 

Following the request of President Bashar al-Assad to his allies for an urgent intervention to prevent the fall of Damascus in March 2013, Iran and its proxies moved into Syria to restore some balance to the battlefield. But the flow of jihadists from many countries in the area and internationally, plus indiscriminate external military and financial support to all groups fighting the Syrian government: all this created a serious threat to several cities.

Among them was the province of Lattakia where millions of Syrian of all religions had found shelter away from the war. The city was hosting millions of displaced Syrians, also the Russian naval base in Tartus. The danger reached also Aleppo: Damascus and its allies were certain Aleppo was about to fall and were ready to accept the defeat and the loss of the second biggest Syrian city. The Syrian Army and its allies were about to pull out their forces from all rural areas and regroup around the main cities to defend and create a demarcation line: this was at the beginning of 2015. The partition of Syria was more than ever a real possibility, and the north of Syria was about to be invaded by Jihadists and their rebel allies. It was not possible to win this war with an unceasing flow of men and weapons from the north, east and south into Syria.

The Iranian leadership, after consultation with Damascus, decided in April 2015 to send the commander of the Quds Forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) QassemSoleimani to Moscow to explain to the Russian leadership the danger Syria, and above all Latakia and Aleppo were facing. Jihadists coming from Turkey to rural Latakia shelled the Russian naval base. The US administration’s plan to divide Syria was about to take effect and Iran and its allies were powerless to stop it. Iran would have to provide tens of thousands of its own troops, but that option, which seemed realistic at the time, was rejected due to the treaty between Saudi Arabia and Turkey which allowed them to move their own forces into Syria. This would have added another dimension to the war in Syria and opened the gates to a wider regional and even more destructive conflict. The Russian intervention was the only solution left.

Moscow was convinced: a few months later, in mid 2015, Russia sent its planes, refurbished the Hamemeen military airport (which became its air base) and the command centre, from where it would run its Syrian operation to re-create the lost balance among forces on the ground.

But the reasons behind Russia’s intervention were not, at the outset, to save the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but to stop the Syrian state from disintegration and prevent the US from threatening Moscow’s access to the Mediterranean. Syria also allowed the Russian President Vladimir Putin to reaffirm Moscow’s role in the Middle East, as a superpower and main player after a long absence. The challenge was worth attempting even in thisdifficult country called Syria where the US, the UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Iran were all in the same theatre and on the same stage.

Russia decided to fully engage in Syria on condition that Iran would provide the ground forces, a move which would take advantage of the Russian air force intervention. Russia was not ready to involve troops because for fear of the Syrian quagmire, so it confined its ground force intervention to limited and specialised units. Iran asked the Lebanese Hezbollah to secure tens of thousands of fighters and brought from Iran and Iraq a total of 8,000 men. Iran’s stance was adamant: a battle against ISIS and al-Qaeda ideologists needs similar fighters on the other side to hold the ground in equal confrontation. The regular Syrian Amy was certainly not sustained by a similarly strong ideology and firm objectives to fight and hold the ground, given the disproportionate number of attacking forces in many battles across Syria.

But Russia’s views and objectives differed from those of Iran in Syria. Iran believed Assad in person was the key essential partner, and represented the guarantee needed for the “axis of resistance”. Tehran was convinced that any other Syrian President during a time of war would not be able to cope with so much pressure: multinational alliances were gathering against him in response to his partnership with Iran, Hezbollah and various Palestinian groups, and the countries of the region were directing a considerable flow of finances to the opponents of the Syrian government. Iran, moreover, strongly believed (and still believes) that the war in Syria must end with the total elimination of the “Islamic State” (ISIS/Daesh) and al-Qaeda (Nusra or Fatah al-Sham) together with all the other jihadist ideologists. These jihadists, if not eliminated, would certainly spill over into neighbouring countries on the Lebanese and Iraqi borders, representing a huge potential threat to Iran’s allies and, in consequence, to its own national security.

Russia engaged in the war in Syria, imposing its own priorities, to liberate the land considered the most crucial for its own benefit and its own national security.Tehran and Damascus on the other hand wished to widen the involvement on multiple fronts. The organisation of military operations here raises complex issues, because Russia maintains and seeks to continue a good politico-economic relationship with the many countries involved in the war, especially Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel.

Russia learned a lesson from Afghanistan, avoiding the involvement of large numbers of troops on the battlefield, limiting its presence to small artillery units, Special Forces, intelligence units, and commanding staff officers to support its air strikes. The Russian Ministry of Defence allocated the same budget usually spent on training domestically to be invested in Syria for its new pilots and officers to train on real objectives.

Contrary to the predictions of most western analysts and media expectations, Russia was able to establish, in the first six months of its intervention, the balance of forces needed to impose President al-Assad as a negotiator and as an essential part of the solution to end the war in Syria.

In March 2016, President Putin – despite the objection of all of his allies on the ground – announced the end of military operations and his willingness to negotiate a peace process, imposing his will over Syria and Iran. But he has not been able to impose his will on the West, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and these have certainly not yet said their last word.

Iran opposed Russia over the first cease-fire agreed between Moscow and Washington. Tehran believed the US was looking to gain time for the jihadists and rebels to re-organise themselves. The Americans have more experience than the Russians in stopping battles when they believe those they are supporting are losing. In fact, a few weeks later, while the US Foreign Secretary John Kerry failed to separate the US and its allied proxies from jihadists, these launched a massive attack, regaining in days what took Iran and its allies months to recover in the first battle of Aleppo.


Russia was focused, with concern, on the mainstream media which was largely directed against Moscow, even at the cost of turning a blind eye to jihadists like al-Qaida. Both Washington’s foreign policy and the international press tolerated those who had committed the biggest single and most destructive act of terrorism against the US (9/11). And even if Russia went along with the US, its aim was still not to liberate all of Syria as Iran and Assad wanted, but to reach a politically negotiated settlement with Assad as a partner, though not the only one.

The Russian offer was unsuitable for a game with so many players: the US wanted to halt the air force activity but avoid Assad and his allies victory; Qatar and Saudi Arabia wanted to remove Assad by diplomacy or military means as the Saudi Foreign Minister declared endlessly; Iran wanted to eliminate all jihadists to avoid seeing these back on tract again, which is exactly what happen with ISIS several years after its defeat in 2008 in Iraq; Assad wanted to fight, taking advantage of Russian air force and his allies ground forces supporting the Syrian Army.

Moscow ignored the allies’ wishes until new elements imposed themselves and pushed Russia to change its mind: the turkish downing of the Sukhoi 24. This changed Russia’s stance into an aggressive one towards Turkey and its proxies in Syria. At the same time, the US Foreign Secretary was unable to keep his promise (and the agreement) to separate jihadists from rebels : this wasdue to an internal power struggle with the Pentagon (as he himself declared).

It was obvious to Russia, to the great joy of Iran, that Washington was only buying time, even when the jihadists and their allies managed to break the siege of east Aleppo and recover important strategic hills in Homs.

Events effectively re-imposed Russian – Iranian harmony. Russia pushed its whole weight into the battlefield after the jihadists’ and rebels’ second battle of Aleppo, brought its fleet to the Mediterranean,enlarged its naval and air bases on the Syrian coast and decided to offer Aleppo, all of Aleppo, to Assad and disregard any call from Washington. In fact, Iran and Russia agreed to bring in Turkey because of its strong influence over many (– though not all) – of the jihadists and rebel groups operating in Syria.

Following thousands of Russian airstrikes, the Syrian government regained control over the second biggest city of Syria, the industrial capital, Aleppo, ending any dialogue between Moscow and the present US administration.

Again, Damascus, Iran and Russia disagreed on Aleppo: Moscow agreed to evacuate thousands of jihadists and rebels from the east of Aleppo, despite the objections of both allies to the agreement, which was offering free access to jihadists and rebels without any return. The two partners wanted to exchange all prisoners of war captured and detained in east Aleppo, and wanted the evacuation of a similar number of civilians from the two besieged cities of Fua and Kfarya in rural Idlib.

Russia wanted to put on one side the east Aleppo issue and conclude a deal as soon as possible. For Russia, regaining territory and a city like Aleppo was more important than engaging in an exchange of prisoners and civilians that might take weeks to achieve. Turkey offered to allow 1250 wounded to exit the two Shia cities to calm Russia’s partner, in exchange for 13,000 jihadists, rebels and their families. The deal was considered possible by Russia who managed to impose it on all partners. With the withdrawal of the last militants from east Aleppo, Damascus found the bodies of dozens of soldiers executed.

Today, Moscow is uninterested in dealing with the actual US administration in its last days of power. Nevertheless, Obama decided to embarrass his successor, President Donald Trump, by signing a decree to arm the Syrian rebels (those operating closely with al-Qaeda and other jihadists) with anti-aircraft missiles. The effect of such a decision won’t change the course of the war in Syria for as long as Turkey continues to work closely with Russia and Iran to distance the Islamists and rebels from the jihadists. Despite the fact that President Putin announced it was time to negotiate a cessation of hostilities over all the Syrian territory, his American counterpart is still engaged with the language of war. In fact, Obama’s policy is in line with Iran’s policy. Iran doesn’t consider the potential deal with jihadists to be achievable.

Tactically, there are differences of priority regarding the next step after Aleppo: today, Russia sees a military priority for ground troops to go to Palmyra to re-take it from ISIS whereas Iran considers that the battle should concentrate on enlarging the security perimeter around Aleppo from Rashideen-4 to abu-Duhur and Khan al-Asal up to the Idlib area, restoring Tel el-Eis and breaking the siege of the cities of Fua and Kefraya. The Syrian government believes the priority lies in liberating the whole Damascus area, Duma and the south of Damascus.

Russia could agree on multiple fronts as long as ground forces are available to benefit from its air bombing. Moscow always sees Syria from its own perspective, taking into consideration its allies’ views in many but not all cases. Moscow keeps in mind its relationship with the other important players in the Middle East, i.e. Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Syria is headed toward more battles but a peace deal is visible on the 2017 horizon. Sometimes diplomacy necessitates the language of guns and fire to impose peace on the participants. One thing is certain: the jihadists certainly will not be laying down their arms for the simple reason that this would blow away the essence of their ideology: they would have to choose to migrate to a country outside Syria.

Yet despite what Tehran and Damascus believe, there are already many rebels ready to be reconciled and lay down their arms. The last word over the future of Syria has not yet been said. The Middle Eastern policy of the forthcoming US president, Donald Trump, will be important in prolonging the war or pushing, along with Russia, towards the end of it. Whatever Trump’s decision, Moscow is headed towards consolidating itself in Bilad al-Sham to achieve the end of this war before it reaches the end of its seventh year: it won’t be practically possible to stop all belligerents before May-June 2017.

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Regional and international balance in the Levant (1): Turkish shifts in the Syrian war Ar: 


Regional and international balance in the Levant (1): Turkish shifts in the Syrian war




Key words: Turkey, Russia, Syria, Iran, U.S.

Elijah J. Magnier: @EjmAlrai


As the end of 2016 approaches, the Syrian war is coming close to its sixth year, leaving about half a million combatants and civilians killed, more than that number wounded, and millions of displaced people inside and outside the country. The infrastructure, housing and business damage exceeds 250 billion dollars. In addition Syria almost set off the third world war, between the United States of America and Russia.

The Syrian war spawned such terrorist organisations as the “Islamic State” (ISIS/Daesh) and the al-Qaeda franchise (Jabhat al-Nusra, aka Fatah al-Sham). Many rebel factions emerged and several small groups merged with other more powerful ones. Other rebel organisations were taken out of the Syrian arena despite the hundreds of millions of dollars invested in training and weapons in the hope of changing the Syrian regime.

From Syria, terrorism spread outside its borders striking Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and other countries in the region and much further afield, setting off serious alarm bells and increasing counter-terrorism budgets throughout the world.

Human beings in Syria faced humiliation and killing in the name of religion and doctrine. The mainstream media seriously contributed to fuelling sectarian strife by reporting news away from the field, quoting anti-government sectarian activists, and projecting the war in Syria as one between the Alawite minority and the Sunni majority. The war is far from being exclusively between religious belligerents. The majority of the Syrian Army is Sunni, fighting for the survival of the government infrastructure and unity of the country, against Jihadists whose creed rejects democracy, all non Muslim-Sunni, and non religious government. International media reputation was seriously damaged, losing credibility due to this poor and biased coverage of the Syrian war.

Players change as well as their role and the consequences of their input: Syria moved from certain partition to another more stable situation that will be more easily defined as the coming year, 2017, evolves.


The Turkish role:


This role was and still is the most influential in the Syrian war over jihadists and rebels. Turkey’s intervention was important and decisive for the fate of Syria politically and on the battlefield, forming different alliances where yesterday’s enemies are today now tolerated.

Turkey’s intervention in the Syrian war began five and a half years ago. The goal of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was not limited to the removal of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, but included the annexation of a “security belt” (safe zone) along the northern border. He went even further in his plans, preparing the ground to seize the city of Aleppo, a city that remained outside what was falsely called the “Syrian spring” for over a year after the beginning of the unrest in Syria. The city was enjoying the economic-political power it represented, the Sunni influence in Syria being represented in the cities of Aleppo and Damascus.

This Turkish intervention came with the impact of Western countries’ push to dislodge Assad, for various reasons: the US extended its influence through former President George W. Bush, following the invasion of Iraq. Syria was next on the list to produce a “new Middle East”; the Qatar gas project that was supposed to go through Syria into Europe with the aim of weakening the Russian economy, at present a major gas supplier to Europe; the role of Assad in the “axis of resistance” and his support for organisations Washington considers terrorist groups (Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad); Syria’s support for Iran standing in the way of an Arab – Israeli rapprochement. All of these influences were present behind the “Arab Spring,” putting Syria into a real “Arab tsunami” without apparently creating major benefits.

Since the first days of the war in Syria, Turkey has opened its borders to anyone who wanted to join the war. Many foreigners (European and non European) travelled to Syria, via Turkey, to join jihadist organisations, later known as the “Islamic state” (ISIS/Daesh) and the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria (Jabhat al-Nusra, aka Fateh al-Sham).These people travelled with the knowledge and, for the most part, the approval of Western countries (France, US, Britain …). Many of those same fighters returned later to their respective countries, representing a real threat to their societies, but above all to Turkey itself because fighters were also asked to establish themselves in that country to form a (radical) society. In fact, ISIS asked many of these foreign fighters to stop in Turkey and form a family and a society where they might be needed one day to serve “the Islamic nation”, establishing a nucleus for the future.

The “free world” predicted the fall of Assad in 3 months…6months…1 year… The situation became gloomy after that date. The fall of Assad was no longer predictable. In the first years of the war, the Syrian army resisted despite the large splits within its ranks, to become cornered in few cities in 2013. This is when Assad called on his allies for help. The French intelligence chief and his British intelligence counterpart both said “the map of the Middle East will never be the same again”. In the light of today, both clearly failed in the extent of their prediction, confirming that many politicians, intelligence officers, analysts and media also failed in their assessment because they were expressing wishful thinking rather than facts. This is exactly what happened to President Erdogan, who believed the partition of Syria was at hand.

Erdogan therefore allowed ISIS to spill over inside the country, permitting commercial exchanges, especially oil, and opening the arms supply road to the Jihadists of al-Qaeda as well. That was considered a temporary procedure because “Assad was supposed to step-down in few months”.

As time was going by and the Syrian government was still holding up, Turkey built strong alliances with Syrian groups like Ahrar al-Sham (15-20,000 fighters), Nur ad-DinZengi (3,000 fighters), Sultan Murad (2,000 fighters) and others who were (years later) recalled to form the ” Euphrates shield” and fight under direct Turkish forces’ command in Syria. These same groups established good relations with both the moderate and jihadist groups in Syria.

Turkey contributed effectively to the fall of the city of Kessab in rural Lattakia by allowing jihadists to use its territory to cross into Syria and to control the hills surrounding the north-west Syrian province. Moreover, Turkey played an essential role in arming and offering logistics and intelligence for jihadists and rebels to occupy the city of Idlib and Jisr al-Shoughour. Everything was going as Turkey planned until Assad called Iran and its allies for help.

Ankara has supported the control which the jihadists and the opposition exerted over large parts of Aleppo. It played an active role, enabling Iran to enter the battle line with its allies. The presence of Iran tipped the scales in favour of President Assad, but not enough to counter the continuous Turkish regional support, sustained by the United States and the countries of the region (Saudi Arabia and Qatar). Despite significant gains made in Damascus and Qalmoun and other areas, the regime and its allies decided to retreat within the major towns to protect the cities themselves.

Here Russia intervened to spoil the plans of everyone willing to divide Syria, and change the map of their projects and their wishes. It rebalanced the battlefield imposing the initial solution which required everyone to sit down at the negotiating table and recognize the role of al-Assad, who had been sidelined. But Turkey’s shooting down of the Sukhoi 24 in Novembre 2015 changed the whole Syrian game. The partition of Syria was no longer an option and Russia showed thatkeeping a balance among the various players was not its concern. The event marked a turning point in the history of the Syrian war: Russia deployed more forces, advanced anti-air missiles and threw its military weight in the battle field offering the possibility of a victory for President Assad.


A second turning point in the Syrian war took place when President Erdogan suffered a failed coup d’état. Intelligence support provided by Moscow through Iran contributed in warning the Turkish president in time for him to adopt security measures, counter the coup and remain alive. Erdogan implicitly accused the US of being behind the coup and turned his political energies towards Russia.

The Turkish – Russian – Iranian understanding over Syria isolated the present US administration and marginalised it (at least until the new US administration takes control). This consensus among the three countries has allowed the return of Aleppo to the control of the Syrian government. It has also prevented the partition of northern Syria and a large US sphere of influence among the Kurdish controlled area extending from al-Hasaka to Afrin.

Russia blessed the involvement of Turkey on the battlefield: Turkish forces and their allies took control of Jarablus, Dabiq and reached the gates of the city of al-Bab. This is when Russia stopped Erdogan again due to the lack of coordination of the presence of anti-government forces (Turkey proxies) facing the Syrian Army at the limits of Aleppo. This would be critical in the event of al-Bab falling to Ankara’s control. Turkish forces were bombed a few kilometres from al-Bab, sending a strong message and drawing the line of what would be the limit of deployment of forces. Again, Turkey understood the message and called for an immediate meeting with Russia and Iran to coordinate further steps.

An important meeting was held between the Foreign and Defence ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Moscow to map out the strategy and distribute/co-ordinate tasks through to 2017 in Syria. This meeting excluded the US and Europe. The exit of militants from Aleppo and the advance of theTurkish troops (with their proxies under “the Euphrates Shield”) to al-Bab were the first visible results of the meeting.


The ISIS brutality of burning two captured Turkish soldiers in its custody removed President Erdogan’s option of going back to support the terrorist group. On the contrary, the elimination of this organisation has now become one of Turkey’s priorities. However, the harmony between Russia -Turkey – Iran, if continued at this rhythm, will not aim to destroy ISIS as a priority compared to the other jihadist groups operating within the collection of Syrian rebels.

Turkey has abandoned Aleppo and contributed to the defeat of the militants and jihadists. Despite Ankara’s long record of support to al-Qaeda (Nusra, aka Fatah al-Sham), the relationship can now no longer be the same. Indeed, Al-Qaeda has refused to bow to Erdogan on many occasions even though its military, security, medical and logistic support comes via the Syrian-Turkish borders.

Turkey announced that al-Qaeda in Syria (Jabhat al-Nusra) is on its list of terrorist groups. But this decision was never implemented: on the contrary, Ankara effectively contributed to the formation of “Jaish al-Fath” where al-Qaeda and Turkey’s allies (and other groups) were included under one umbrella.

However, al-Qaida stood up to Turkey when it announced its rejection of a safe zone on the borders “because it is not in the interests of the Jihad,” and pulled out its jihadists from the northern part of Syria, leaving Turkish allies to face ISIS on their own. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when al-Qaida announced the prohibition of asking for Turkish Army support and therefore condemned any group participating in the “Euphrates Shield”.

The Turkish-backed factions will never accept a merger with al-Qaeda because in Syria this organisation is expected to be targeted in the coming months.

This was also clearly announced and approved by Turkey during the Moscow meeting with Russia and Iran.


Turkey now is one of the main players in the Syrian arena. Its forces are deployed on the battlefield to contribute to changing the rules of the game and the pattern of alliances. Ankara’s soldiers are in the Syrian quagmire (fighting ISIS in al-Bab to start with), losing more men in one week than Russia has lost in 18 months. President Erdogan can no longer pull out of his involvement to collect the result after the war. Therefore, a peaceful settlement will not include those jihadist groups unwilling to merge with more moderate (even Islamist) groups. In Syria, there can’t be a place for al-Qaeda foreign fighters, neither ISIS nor the ones unwilling to bow to a peace process to stop the war.

Therefore, serious differences and infighting are expected to arise between the various factions located at the northern city of Idlib in the process which should pave the way for a political settlement and spare Idlib a bloody theatre-style destructive climax similar to that which flattened the city of Aleppo.

So Turkey remains one of the most important players, aware that any alliance with the actual US administration (under Obama) over Syria will have an aborted outcome, whereas the alliance with Russia has allowed Ankara to remain in Syria. The Syrian President will have to negotiate with Ankara and take into consideration its interests, the day the Syrian war comes to an end.



Regional and international balance in the Levant (2): Russia’s role in the Syrian war and the tactical differences with Iran.





La réunion Russie – Turquie et Iran en Syrie: un chemin politico-militaire pour terminer la guerre de Syrie




  • Ankara va frapper le terrorisme plus durement et empêcher la guerre de Syrie de se reprendre

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En: …


Elijah J. Magnier: @EjmAlrai


Traduit par le Prof. Olivier dulac.

Les ministres des affaires étrangères de Russie, de la Turquie et d’Iran se sont réunis à Moscou afin de se mettre d’accord sur une feuille de route pour la Syrie en 2017. Les trois principaux acteurs sur le terrain en Syrie font un plan pour terminer la guerre, en excluant les Etats-Unis et l’Europe. Moscou, Ankara et Téhéran contrôlent la plupart (mais pas tous) les belligérants au sol, ces combattants qui occupent la plus grande partie de la Syrie.

La réunion de Moscou a eu lieu la veille de l’assassinat de l’ambassadeur de Russie à Ankara, Andrei Karlov, qui a reçu plusieurs balles tirées par un officier de l’équipe de protection turque, Mevlut Mert Altıntas. L’assassinat a été qualifié par Ankara et Moscou de tentative pour créer une animosité entre les deux pays.

Ce que Altıntas, cet officier turc de 22 ans, a dit après avoir fait feu sur l’ambassadeur montre qu’il fait partie d’une organisation idéologique. Ses mots n’étaient pas seulement l’expression d’une revanche pour Alep en Syrie. Quelques instants après son acte, il a dit : “Nous ferons allégeance à Mohammed pour le djihad tant que nous restons en vie”.

Cette phrase est une citation du livre de référence Islamique écrit par Sahih Bukhari. Dans ce “Livre du djihad,” la “porte d’incitation au combat” 2679 il dit “Le Messager d’Allah, que la paix soit sur lui, va pour superviser la tranchée (al-Khandaq)”. Il a vu les Muhajereen (immigrés venus faire le djihad) et Ansar (locaux) creusant une tranchée eux-mêmes parce qu’ils n’avaient pas d’esclaves travaillant pour eux. Quand il vit à quel point ils étaient épuisés et affamés , il a dit: “Oh Allah, la seule vie est celle de l’au-delà, alors pardonne aux Ansar et aux Muhajera.” Iles répondirent : Nous ferons allégeance à Mohammed pour le djihad tant que nous restons en vie”.

L’assassinat de l’ambassadeur de Russie a néanmoins renforcé la nécessité de combattre le terrorisme et ouvre de nouvelles questions : de nombreux pays réviseront les modalités de recrutement des agents de protection personnelle rapprochée. Cette nouvelle sélection méticuleuse augmentera le budget du contre-terrorisme.


Cette attaque terroriste poussera plus que jamais Ankara dans les bras de Moscou. Elle persuadera aussi la Turquie que combattre le terrorisme ne suffit pas, mais que des efforts supplémentaires doivent être faits pour terminer la guerre en Syrie afin de mettre fin à son impact négatif sur les pays voisins, en particulier la Turquie.

L’Iran et les Etats-Unis ont fermé leurs ambassades respectives à Ankara par “peur d’une possible attaque terroriste”. En outre, le vieux conflit entre Ankara et les Kurdes du PKK est plus omniprésent que jamais, et l’implication de troupes turques contre l’”Etat islamique”  (EI -ISIS – Daesh) en Syrie contribue à l’instabilité de la Turquie. Ces organisations ont une longue histoire d’attaques suicides au cours de l’année qui se termine.

Selon des sources bien informées, le but de la réunion des ministres des Affaires étrangères et de la Défense à Moscou était de générer une stratégie politico-militaire pour terminer la guerre en Syrie. La Russie possède un levier dans cette direction international au travers des Nations Unies ; l’Iran contrôle ses milices aussi bien que la Turquie et peut exercer une pression suffisante pour aboutir à une cessation générale des hostilités sur tout le territoire syrien, suivi par une issue politique d’ici la fin de 2017. Seule la région encore sous le contrôle d’ISIS demandera une intervention militaire pour que ce groupe cesse d’occuper Raqqah et ses environs ruraux.

La Turquie a décidé de participer à la libération du nord de la Syrie après une entente avec la Russie, malgré le fossé qui reste béant entre Damas et Ankara. Cette amertume persistante est surtout dûe au soutien donné par la Turquie aux djihadistes et à l’opposition syrienne dès le début de la guerre.

Mais les Syriens sont encore confrontés à une fragmentation : il y a ceux qui soutiennent le Président syrien Bashar al-Assad ; il y a ceux qui soutiennent les rebelles ; il y a ceux qui soutiennent al-Qaeda (Fatah al-Sham) ; il y a ceux qui soutiennent l’Etat Islamique (ISIS- EI) ; et il y a ceux qui ne soutiennent personne et demandent seulement la fin de la guerre.

La plupart des réfugiés syriens déplacés en Jordanie, au Liban et en Turquie ne soutiennent pas le Président Assad. Néanmoins, les réfugiés qui sont déplacés à l’intérieur du pays, à part à Idlib, représentent le plus grand nombre de civils syriens (avec ceux qui vivent dans les grandes villes sous le contrôle du régime syrien). Ils veulent voir la fin de la guerre et un pays stable protégé par une armée syrienne forte avec des institutions qui fonctionnent, quels que soient les dirigeants.




Il est difficile de parler d’une vision politique qui serait partagée par tous ces gens et capable de les réunir sous un toit tant qu’il y a des groupes djihadistes qui rejettent le concept de démocratie et coexistent dans toutes les communautés, comme l’ont tant de fois déclaré les djihadistes.

La réunion de Moscou avait donc pour but d’en finir d’abord avec la situation militaire avant de parler d’une solution politique qui obtiendrait le meilleur consensus. Certains groupes parmi les rebelles auront sans doute besoin d’être évalués plus en détail quand il s’agira de freiner les djihadistes et les régions qu’ils contrôlent.

La fin de l’action militaire demandera un effort pour que les acteurs sur le terrain s’entendent. La Turquie a joué un rôle important en jouant l’équilibre entre certains groupes djihadistes (y compris des combattants étrangers venant du Levant pour promouvoir la guerre et bâtir l’Etat islamique) et l’opposition armée modérée qui accepte aujourd’hui plus que jamais de coexister avec des Syriens d’autres religions. Ils sont en effet prêts à changer leurs slogans sectaires et à entamer une réconciliation pour éviter la partition de la Syrie et préserver la structure de l’Etat.

Le rôle de la Russie et de l’Iran – selon cet accord – les porte garants au nom du gouvernement syrien pour ne faire usage de la force militaire que si toutes les tentatives politiques consensuelles ont échoué, et d’éviter d’initier de nouvelles batailles sous réserve d’un accord préalable. Toutes les parties sont d’accord pour attaquer ISIS, pour contenir sa présence, et débarrasser le territoire syrien de son contrôle.

De même que 2016 a été une mauvaise année pour ISIS en Irak, 2017 promet d’être la pire année pour ISIS en Syrie. Le Nouvel An apportera sans doute des éléments permettant d’espérer la fin de la guerre en Syrie.



The Russian -Turkish- Iranian meeting on Syria: a politico-military road to end the Syrian war




  • Ankara will strike terror harder and prevent the Syrian war backfiring

Key words: Turkey, Russia, Iran, Syria.

Published here:  via

Elijah J. Magnier: @EjmAlrai

Foreign defence Ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran met in Moscow to agree on a 2017 road map for Syria. The three main players on the Syrian theatre stage are planning to halt the war, excluding the United States and Europe from the Syrian arena. Moscow, Ankara and Tehran control most (but not all) belligerents on the ground, fighters who occupy most of the Syrian geography.

The meeting in Moscow was held on the eve of the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov in Ankara, who received several bullets fired by Turkish Protection Team officer Mevlut Mert Altıntas. The assassination was described by Ankara and Moscow as an attempt to spoil the relationship and create animosity between the two countries.


What Altıntas , the 22 year-old Turkish officer, said after opening fire on the Russian ambassador from behind indicates his membership of an ideological organisation. His words were not just an expression of revenge for Aleppo, Syria. In the seconds following his act, he said: “We pledge allegiance to Muhammad for Jihad as long as we stay ever (alive)”.

This sentence is a quote from an Islamic reference book by Sahih Bukhari. In the “Book of Jihad,” the “door of incitement on fighting” 2679 he says “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, oversees the ditch (al-Khandaq)”. He saw the Muhajereen (immigrants to join Jihad) and Ansar (locals) digging the trench by themselves as they had no slaves working on their behalf. When he saw how they were exhausted and hungry, he said: “O Allah, life is the one hereafter, so forgive the Ansar and the Muhajera.”

They responded: We who have pledged allegiance to Muhammad for Jihad, as long as we stay ever (alive)”.

The assassination of the Russian ambassador however consolidates the need to combat terrorism and raises new concerns: many countries will now revise their vetting procedure when choosing close protection personnel. This new meticulous selection will increase the cost and budget of counter-terrorism.



This terrorist attack will definitely push Ankara into the arms of Moscow more than ever. It will also persuade Turkey that fighting terrorism is no longer an option, and that extra efforts need to be exerted to end the Syrian war and its reactive effect on neighbouring countries, especially Turkey.

Iran and the United States have closed their respective embassies in Ankara due to “fear of possible terrorist attacks”. Moreover, the old and continuing conflict between Ankara and the PKK Kurds is more omnipresent than ever, and the involvement of Turkish troops against the “Islamic State” (ISIS/Daesh) in Syria are factors adding to the instability of Turkey. These organisations have a logged history of multiple suicide attacks throughout the current year.

According to well-informed sources the goal of the Foreign and the Defence Ministers meetings in Moscow is to develop a strategic politico-military plan to end the war in Syria. Russia can exert international leverage through the United Nations in this direction; Iran controls its proxies as well as Turkey to exert enough pressure and reach a general cessation of hostilities covering the entire Syrian territory, to be followed by a political settlement by the end of the year 2017. The only remaining area under ISIS control will be dealt with by military means to end the group’s occupation of Raqqah and its rural area.


Turkey has taken the decision to participate in the liberation of the northern part of Syrian territory following an understanding with Russia, despite the deep rift that still exists between Damascus and Ankara. This unresolved bitterness is mainly due to Turkey’s support of the jihadists and the Syrian opposition since the beginning of the Syrian war.

But the Syrians are still facing a real split: there are those who support the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; those who support the rebels; those who support al-Qaeda (Fatah al-Sham); there are those who support ISIS; and there are those who do not support anyone and ask only for the end of the war.

The majority of the Syrian refugees displaced in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey do not support President Assad. Nevertheless, the refugees who are internally displaced, with the exception of Idlib, represent the largest number of the Syrian civilians (along with those who live in major cities under the Syrian regime’s control). They want to see the end of the war and support a stable country under the control of a strong Syrian army with functioning institutions, regardless who leads the country.

It is difficult to talk about a political vision that represents all these people and bring them all together under one roof as long as there are jihadist groups rejecting the concept of democracy and coexistence among all communities, as the jihadists have repeatedly declared.

The meeting in Moscow aims therefore to end the military situation in the first place before talking about any political solution with major consensus. Some groups among the rebels may need additional screening when the time comes to limit the control of jihadists and the geographic area these control.

The end of military activity will require a joint effort agreed upon by the key players involved in the battlefield. Turkey has played a major role in reaching a balance between some jihadist groups (including foreign fighters who came to the Levant to wage war and build an Islamic Emirate) and moderate armed opposition that accepts today more than ever a coexistence with other Syrians of different religions. There is indeed a readiness to alter its sectarian slogans and engage in reconciliation to avoid the partition of Syria and preserve the structure of the state.

Russia and Iran’s role – according to the agreement – makes them guarantors on behalf of the Syrian government to use military force only when all consensual political attempts have failed, and to avoid initiating new battles unless previously agreed. All parties agree to attack ISIS, contain its presence, and eliminate the group’s control over Syrian territory.

Just as the year 2016 was ill-fated for ISIS in Iraq, 2017 is expected to be the worse year for ISIS in Syria. The New Year is expected to bring with it features which signal clearly the end of the Syrian war.




ما الذي يستثير الإرهاب؟ أهُوَ الإسلام، أم أنها السياسة الخارجية الأميركية ومعايير الغرب المزدوجة؟


ما الذي يستثير الإرهاب؟

أهُوَ الإسلام، أم أنها السياسة الخارجية الأميركية ومعايير الغرب المزدوجة؟


إيليا ماغناير

“إذا كان قتل الذين يقتلون أبناءنا إرهابا، فليشهدالتاريخ أننا إرهابيون”. هذا ما قاله الزعيم الراحل لتنظيم القاعدة أسامة بن لادن ردا على إتهامه (هو وتنظيمه) بالإرهاب من جانب الغرب. كما أن “إرهاب العدو” هو جزء من كتاب المسلمين المقدس، القرآن، طالما أنك (كمسلم) تقاتل وتلحق الأذى وترهب عدو الإسلام المصمم على مواصلة القتال ضدك وعلى ألا يجنح إلى السلام، وذلك وفقا لما تنص عليه آيات قرآنية.

والواقع أن المحللين وقادة الرأي الأميركيين الذين يحتلون الجزء الأكبر على منصة التقارير الإعلامية الرئيسية يميلون إلى التركيز على ردود أفعال الإرهابيين، حيث يدرسون ويعدون تقارير عن تصرفاتهم، وخلفياتهم، وأهدافهم، وسلوكياتهم، والعلاقات التي تربط بين التنظيمات الإرهابية المختلفة، كما يحللون خطواتهم المقبلة بدلا من أن يركزوا على العامل “الشراري” الحقيقي الذي يقف وراء استثارة الإرهاب. وقد تم تأليف ملايين من الكتب حول الجماعات الإرهابية وخلفياتها. وهناك دول، كالمملكة المتحدة مثلا، تشجع استرتيجية حكومية مناهضة للإرهاب (وتعرف اختصارا بـ”استراتيجية CONTEST“)، وتؤيد فرض رقابة على مجتمعات وجاليات بعينها بذريعة مكافحة ما يسمى اصطلاحا بـ”مكافحة التطرف الأصولي العنيف الذي يقود إلى الإرهاب” (ويعرف اختصارا بـ VERLET).

“الراي” طرحت هذا الأمر أمام البروفيسور ماكس أبرامز، المُنظّر في شؤون الإرهاب وأستاذ العلوم السياسية في جامعة “نورثيسترن”، فقال: “لقد دأبت الولايات المتحدة دون أن تقصد على الإسهام في إستثارة الإرهاب العالمي من خلال سياساتها الفاشلة على صعيد تغيير أنظمة الحكم (العراق وليبيا وسوريا وأفغانستان) منذ إعلانها “الحرب على الإرهاب”. فتغيير نظام الحكم بشكل غير مدروس في العراق أدى إلى خلق فراغ في السلطة، وهو الفراغ الذي ملأه تنظيم القاعدة في العراق، ثم تنظيم داعش في نهاية المطاف. وقليلين جدا من الأميركيين يفهمون أن إطاحة القذافي في ليبيا أدت إلى خلق فراغ مشابه في السلطة، وهو الأمر الذي صب إلى درجة كبيرة في مصلحة تنظيم داعش إلى جانب جماعات مسلحة أخرى. كما أن هناك عدد أقل من الأميركيين يفهمون أن تسليح ما تسمى بـ”المعارضة” في سورية أسهم إلى حد بعيد في دعم داعش وجبهة النصرة، كما أدى إلى إطالة أمد الحرب الأهلية هناك. ومن خلال هذه الطرق، فإن الاستراتيجية الأميركية المضادة للإرهاب أتت بنتائج عكسية.

كما أن تقارير، أعدتها وحدة تابعة لقسم مكافحة الإرهاب في مكتب التحقيقات الفيدرالي الأميركي (اف بي آي) وعددا من عملاء المكتب الخاصين المنخرطين في مجال “الإرهاب العنيف ذو المنشأ المحلي”، خلصت إلى أن السياسات الخارجية الأميركية كانت هي الدافع الرئيسي المحرك للهجمات الإرهابية التي أتت كردود انتقاما لمئات آلاف ممن تم قتلهم في أرجاء منطقة الشرق الأوسط.

وإذا نظرنا إلى الحرب في سورية، فإننا نجد غالبا أن الدور الذي لعبه الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد يتم تصويره على نحو مزيف باعتباره (أي الأسد) هو الذي دعم صعود تنظيم القاعدة أو تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية (داعش)، وأنه هو الذي دعم تدفق الجهاديين إلى داخل العراق ليقاتلوا قوات الاحتلال الأميركي، وأنه هو الذي أمر بفتح سجونه السورية في العام 2011 وإطلاق سراح الجهاديين من أجل “ردكلة” الثورة السورية.

وعلى سبيل المثال، فإن اللواء ويليام غودويل، المتحدث العسكري الأميركي الرسمي في العراق، قال في العام 2006 إن سورية كانت واحدة من بين دول شرق أوسطية عدة سمحت بتسهيل دخول مقاتلين أجانب إلى بلاد الرافدين (العراق). كما أن رئيس الوزراء العراقي السابق نوري المالكي هدد بقطع العلاقات مع بشار الأسد لأنه (المالكي) رأى أن الجهاديين القادمين من سورية نفذوا عمليات قتل كبرى بين صفوف السكان المدنيين (العراقيين) وأنهم بذلوا كل ما في وسعهم من أجل إزكاء نار حرب طائفية بين السنة والشيعة. وفضلا عن ذلك، اتهم المالكي السعودية وقطر بتمويل العنف في دولته. وأيضا، لعبت إيران دورا تكتيكيا في إيواء وتسليح وتوفير الدعم اللوجستي لتنظيم القاعدة ولمسلحين آخرين مناهضين للولايات المتحدة طالما كان هدفهم هو مقاتلة قوات الاحتلال في العراق.

والواقع أن المزاعم القائلة إن بشار الأسد يقف وراء “ردكلة” الثورة السورية السلمية هي مزاعم تضليلية. فقواعد الحرب ضد سورية كان قد تم وضعها في العام 2000 (وليس في العام 2011) وذلك عندما “تم اقتراح مد خط أنابيب لنقل النفط بتكلفة 10 مليارات دولارات وبطول 1500 كيلومتر للربط بين كل من قطر والسعودية والأردن وسورية وتركيا، ولمنح دول الخليج السيطرة على الغاز الطبيعي على مستوى العالم”، وذل بهدف ضرب قطاعات الغاز والاقتصاد الروسية من خلال توفير بديل للغاز الأوروبي من خلال تركيا. فروسيا تبيع ما نسبته 75 في المئة من غازها إلى دول أوروبا، وكان من شأن خط الأنابيب هذا أن يوجه ضربة إلى مبيعات الرئيس بوتين من الغاز الطبيعي الروسي وخصوصا خارج أوروبا.

وقد كتب روبرت اف كينيدي الإبن ما نصه: “هناك برقيات وتقارير سرية أرسلتها وكالات وأجهزة استخبارات أميركية وسعودية واسرائيلية، وأشارت إلى أنه بمجرد أن رفض بشار الأسد مد خط أنابيب النفط ذلك، فإن مخططين عسكريين واستخباراتيين توصلوا بسرعة إلى إجماع على أن تأجيج انتفاضة سُنيّة في سورية من أجل إسقاط الأسد غير المتعاون هو مسار وجيه وذو جدوى من أجل تحقيق الهدف المشترك المتمثل في إتمام مد خط أنابيب الغاز الرابط من قطر إلى تركيا. ووفقا لما نشره موقع ويكيليكس، ففي العام 2009 – ومباشرة في أعقاب رفض بشار الأسد لمد خط أنابيب الغز – بدأت وكالة الاستخبارات الأميركية (سي آي إي) في تمويل جماعات معارضة في داخل سورية. ومن المهم توضيح أن ذلك كان قبل مدة من اندلاع ما سمي بثورة ربيع عربي ضد بشار الأسد.

وفي مايو 2003، وفور ان أعلنت الولايات المتحدة نفسها قوة احتلال في العراق، قام وزير الدفاع الأميركي (آنذاك) كولن باول بزيارة إلى دمشق وهدد الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد. وكان رد سورية على تلك الزيارة هو “نحن نريد حوارا وليس انذارات نهائية من واشنطن”. وكان باول قد طالب الأسد بالتعاون الكامل في إيقاف تدفق الأسلحة إلى حزب الله اللبناني، وبإغلاق معسكرات ومكاتب حركة حماس الفلسطينية في دمشق.

وعلاوة على ذلك، وفي أعقاب حرب العام 2006 في لبنان، أصبحت سورية مستهدفة بسبب دعمها عسكريا لحزب الله. فلقد فتح بشار الأسد مخازن أسلحته ليقدم صواريخ موجهة مضادة للدبابات وصواريخ استراتيجية طويلة المدى إلى حزب الله ليتمكن من إيقاف الغزو الاسرائيلي. ولم تأخذ واشنطن مبادرة التفاوض مع دمشق إلا بعد أحداث العام 2006 في لبنان، وذلك بهدف فصل سورية عن إيران وعن “محور الممانعة”. آنذاك قام توم لانتوس (رئيس لجنة الشؤون الخارجية في مجلس النواب الأميركي) بزيارة إلى دمشق وهدد الرئيس الأسد كي يتحالف مع السعودية والإمارات ضد إيران قائلا: “المسلمون السنة وليس إيران تحت حكم محمود أحمدي نجاد ستكون لهم السيطرة في المنطقة، ومن مصلحة دمشق أن تعرف على أي جانب ينبغي أن تكون”.

وفي تصريح صادم، أكد الجنرال الأميركي ويزلي كلارك أن سورية تم ادراج اسمها ضمن قائمة دول يستهدفها الجيش الأميركي بالتدخل على أساس خارطة طريق عسكرية مدتها 5 سنوات، وهي الخارطة التي تمت صياغتها في العام 2001، وذلك بعد التدخل في العراق ثم لبنان ثم ليبيا ثم الصومال ثم السودان وإيران.

وأخيرا، وفي أغسطس 2011، وخلال الأشهر الأولى من الثورة (السورية)، قام زعيم تنظيم داعش أبوبكر البغدادي بإرسال ملازمه ابومحمد الجولاني مع عدد من القادة والعلماء من دول عدة في المنطقة إلى سورية كي يشجعوا ويجندوا الشباب ثم أمر بتشكيل “الجبهة النصرة أهل الشام” التي اشتهرت بـ”جبهة النصرة”.

وفي مقابل هذا، فإن الإسهام الذي قدمته دول المنطقة دعما للتمرد ضد قوات الاحتلال في العراق ما يزال ضئيلا إذا قورن مع التأثير المدمر الذي نجم عن الغزو الأميركي ذاته، وعن تغيير نظام الحكم في العراق، والمعايير الأميركية المزدوجة التي استفزت المشاركة من جانب مقاتلين أجانب من شتى أرجاء العالم.

أبومصعب الزرقاوي كان في اقليم كردستان قبل العام 2003 مع جماعة أنصار الإسلام. ولم يصبح للزرقاوي صيتا إلا عندما أبرز وزير الخارجية كولن باول اسمه في فبراير 2003 كي يدعم مبررات احتلال العراق. في ذلك الوقت، لم يكن الزرقاوى حتى قائدا لفرع تنظيم القاعدة في العراق. وعلى نحو أحمق، قام الجيش الأميركي بتضخيم حجم وقوة دور الزرقاوي في حركة التمرد، مستخدما في ذلك الدعاية الإعلامية ومستقطبا بالتالي مزيدا من المقاتلين الأجانب إلى جماعة الزرقاوي. وتعليقا على ذلك قال الكولونيل ديرك هارفي الذي كان آنذاك ضابط استخبارات أميركي في العراق: “تركيزنا على الزرقاوي أدى إلى تضخيم صورته، وإن شئت فقل إن ذلك جعله بطريقة أو بأخرى يبدو أكثر أهمية مما كان فعليا”.

وهذه الأمور هي من بين نتائج السياسة الخارجية الأميركية، والتدخلات غير القانونية في شؤون منطقة الشرق الأوسط، وهي التدخلات التي دفعت دولا وجماعات إلى الرد والمجابهة التصادمية. لكن هذه الأمور نادرا ما تثار للمناقشة، ويمكن للمرء أن يشتبه في أن هناك تعمد لعدم الاتيان حتى على ذكرها.

لكن هذا ليس كل شيء . ففي التالي حقائق مهمة يحاول الباحثون أن يتفادوها، وهي غيض من فيض:

  • احتلال العراق تحت زعم وجود أسلحة دمار شامل فيه. فهذه الكذبة لا يتم تسليط الضوء عليها مطلقا، حتى على الرغم من أن تلك الشائعة تم اثبات زيفها قبل غزو العراق. وهذا الغزو، الذي قام على أساس كذبة، كان ثمنه حياة وأرواح مئات الآلاف من المدنيين العراقيين.
  • الحظر الأميركي الذي تم فرضه في التسعينات تسبب في قتل مليون طفل عراقي على الأقل بسبب الافتقار إلى الغذاء والدواء، بل أن وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية أنذاك مادلين أولبرايت صرحت علنيا مبررة ذلك الحظر بأنه “يستحق”. والواقع أن تلك كانت واحدة من أضخم الحروب عبر التاريخ، وأعداد خسائرها البشرية (الحقيقية) هي أكبر بكثير من أعداد من قتلوا خلال 5 سنوات في سورية.
  • الرئيس الأميركي باراك أوباما هو الشخص الوحيد الذي يملك سلطة إطلاق غارات بطائرات لقتل “نشطاء إرهابيين” في خارج الولايات المتحدة. وخلال العام 2010، أدى 75 هجوم بطائرات في باكستان إلى قتل 650 شخص. ووفقا لتقديرات وكالة “دون” الباكستانية للأنباء، فإن هناك 123 شخصا مدنيا قتلوا في مقابل كل مسلح تم قتله خلال تلك الغارات. وفي اليمن، كان هناك 170 مسلحا تم قتلهم في مقابل نحو 1800 مدني خلال غارات (أميركية) مشابهة. وتطلق الإدارة الأميركية على ذلك اسم “أضرار جانبية”. وأيضا، هناك أكثر من 30 ألف مدني قتلوا خلال الحرب الأميركية في أفغانستان.

والشواهد المذكورة آنفا ليست سوى أمثلة قليلة من أسباب وتأثيرات سياسات الغرب الخارجية باعتبارها “مستثيرات” للإرهاب.

والدور الذي تلعبه وسائل الإعلام هو أيضا دور يجعلها مسهم رئيسي في نمو الإرهاب والتجنيد له. فنشر صور مؤججة للمشاعر ومنسوبة إلى مصادر زائفة، ووصف الجهاديين بأنهم “متمردين معتدلين” رغم أنهم يعلنون أنهم “مجاهدين في سبيل الله” هي أمور تنطوي في مجملها على تأثير مضلل للجمهور والقراء من خلال تزويدهم ببيانات زائفة بشكل لا يعكس سوى نوع من “التفكير السياسي الحالم” غير المعلن.

ومتابعي وسائل الإعلام ليسوا في حاجة إلى الذهاب ومقابلة جهاديي تنظيم القاعدة كي يفهموا رسالتهم أو أن يتواصلوا مع مواقع أو مطبوعات داعش الالكترونية ويجازفوا بمواجهة عقوبة السجن في أوطانهم بتهمة الدخول إلى مواد أو دعاية خاصة بجهاديين. فوسائل الإعلام الغربية تعرض فعليا ما يكفي من المواد لترويج دعايات داعش والقاعدة الهادفة إلى تجنيد متطوعين. فهي دعايات تبين مدى سهولة هزيمة دولة (العراق أو سوريا مثلا)!، ومدى عدم كفاءة الجيشين العراقي والسوري! وكل هذه الروايات ترسخ الصورة في الأذهان باعتبارهم مسلحين لا يُقهرون، وبالتالي من الممكن استخدام تلك الدعايات من جانب الجهاديين الناشئين في الغرب كي يحاربوا دوله من داخلها، وهو الأمر الذي يجعل من الصعب تأييد وتنفيذ المنطق الداعي إلى مكافحة الإرهاب.

وليس ضروريا أن يكون المرء مسلما راديكاليا أو حتى غير راديكالي (ويعيش في الغرب) كي يتفهم غضب أي شخص عادي يعيش في منطقة الشرق الأوسط، وهو الشخص الذي يرى بأم عينيه أناسا أبرياء يتم تقتيلهم من جانب أولئك الذين يزعمون أنهم يريدون أن يصدّروا وينشروا مجتمعا اشتماليا ذو قيم مشتركة.

حكومات دول الغرب تقول: “احترام القانون الدولي ولمعايير حقوق الإنسان ينبغي أن يكون جزءا لا يتجزأ من الجهود الرامية إلى مكافحة الإرهاب”. وذات مرة تساءل الرئيس الأميركي الأسبق جورج بوش الابن قائلا: “لماذا يكرهنا الإرهابيون؟” وأجاب على تساؤله بالقول: “لأنهم يكرهون حرياتنا، حريتنا الدينية، وحريتنا في التعبير”. فهل هذا صحيح؟ هل القيم الغربية مكروهة لأن تلك الحريات مرعية ويتم تطبيقها باحترام (من جانب الغرب) في الشرق الأوسط؟ وكيف تكون كذلك في ظل التسبب في قتل نصف مليون طفل بسبب الحظر، وتقتيل مئات الآلاف من المدنيين الأبرياء في عمليات حربية، وغزو دول ذات سيادة على أساس مزاعم زائفة بوجود أسلحة دمار شامل، وتسبب طائرات في “أضرار جانبية” مهولة؟ وهل حقوق الإنسان يتم احترامها من خلال تعذيب أسرى في السجون (سجن أبو غريب على سبيل المثال) أو من خلال التستر على النطاق الواسع للتعذيب بطريقة الإيهام بالإغراق؟

وبدلا من أن يكون (الغرب) مسؤولا عن مقتل مليون و170 ألف شخص على الأقل (من بينهم 800 ألف مدني ماتوا كنتيجة غير مباشرة للحروب في أفغانستان وباكستان والعراق)، وبدلا من إنفاق 4.79 تريليون دولار على الحروب ذاتها وعلى محاولة مكافحة الإرهاب، فلماذا لا ينفق الغرب وقتا كافيا وأموالا أقل من ذلك بكثير في اعادة النظر ومراجعة هذه السياسة الخارجية المروعة التي تؤدي في الواقع إلى دفع الناس – وبخاصة الشباب – إلى محاولة “فعل أي شيء” من أجل مناهضة تلك السياسة. ماذا مثلا عن ضبط وتعديل بل وحتى ايقاف هذه الرسالة المشوشة التي يواصل الغرب توجيهها إلى الشرق الأوسط؟ فالقيم المهمة والجوهرية يتم انتهاكها باستمرار، وهو الأمر الذي يدفع الشباب إلى أحضان التنظيمات الإرهابية واستعداء شعوب بأكملها.

إن الغالبية العظمى من الشعوب المسلمة تنظر إلى إضعاف وإنقسام الإسلام باعتباره هدفا من أهداف الولايات المتحدة. وفي مواجهة هذا، فإن الثقل الأكبر من بين المسلمين يتفق مع كل أهداف تنظيم القاعدة تقريبا ألا وهي العمل على تغيير سلوكيات الولايات المتحدة في العالم الإسلامي، ونشر حوكمة إسلامية، والمحافظة على الهوية الإسلامية وتأكيدها (وفقا لما أظهرته نتائج استطلاع للرأي أجراه “وورلد ببليك أوبينيون” في العام 2009).

إن مشاعر الاحباط إزاء الوجود العسكري الأميركي غير المرغوب فيه في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وإزاء عواقب حملات الغزو الأميركية وما نجم عنها من حروب، هي أمور تدفع الناس إلى الرد بعنف وبتطرف. والتظلمات ضد تجاوزات الغرب هي تظلمات مشروعة، لكنها لا يمكن أن تكون كبش الفداء والمبرر الوحيد للإرهاب. وقد آن الأوان لمواجهة عواقب تدخلات الغرب في الخارج، وذلك من خلال التحديد الدقيق لحقيقة هذه التصرفات والفوضى التي أفرزتها، وذلك كي يتمكن كل من شاركوا في خلق هذه المشكلة العالمية من أن يتعلموا من التاريخ.





Qu’est-ce qui provoque le terrorisme? Est-ce l’islam, ou plutôt la politique étrangère américaine et les doubles standards de l’Occident?




Elijah J. Magnier: @EjmAlrai

“Si tuer ceux qui tuent nos enfants est du terrorisme, alors laissons l’histoire témoigner que nous sommes des terroristes ”. C’est ce que l’ancien dirigeant d’Al-Qaida, Osama Bin Laden a répondu aux accusations de terrorisme par les occidentaux. “Terroriser les ennemis” fait partie du Coran sacré, du moment qu’on combat, qu’on inflige de la peine et terrorise les ennemis d’ l’islam, disposés à se battre et à ne pas demander la paix, comme indiqué dans le Coran aya.


Les analystes et media américains, qui occupent la plus grande partie de la principale plateforme de reportage, tendent à cibler principalement la réaction des terroristes. Ils étudient et décrivent leurs actions, leur profil, leurs buts et leur comportement, les liens entre les différentes organisations terroristes, et analysent leurs prochains pas plutôt que de se concentrer sur les véritables facteurs d’allumage produisant le terrorisme. Des millions de livres ont été écrits à propos des groupes terroristes et de leur contexte. Des pays comme le Royaume-Uni, promeuvent la CONTESTATION et la police communautaire pour combattre l’extrémisme violent et la radicalisation qui conduit au terrorisme (VERLET). Les conséquences sont qu’il est rarement mis en lumière que la politique étrangère américaine telle qu’elle est promue et perçue dans le monde musulman est un des principaux facteurs, peut-être la principale cause, influençant et même nourrissant le terrorisme.


Le Professeur Max Abrahms de l’université nord-est américaine des sciences politiques, un théoricien du terrorisme, a dit à Al-Rai: “Les EU ont involontairement contribué au terrorisme international au travers de la politique erronée des changements de régime (en Iraq, en Libye, en Syrie et en Afghanistan) depuis la déclaration de la “guerre au terrorisme”. Le changement de régime irréfléchi en Irak a créé une vacance de pouvoir qui a été rempli par al-Qaida en Irak et en dernier ressort par ISIS. Peu d’Américains comprennent que l’exclusion de Khaddafi en Libye a créé la même vacance de pouvoir qui a largement profité à ISIS et à d’autres groupes militants. Encore moins d’Américains comprennent qu’armer l’”opposition” en Syrie a significativement aidé ISIS et Jabhat al-Nusra et a prolongé la soi-disant guerre civile. De cette façon, le stratégie de counterterrorisme américaine a eu un effet contraire”.


Une unité de la “division contreterroriste du FBI” et les agents spéciaux du FBI des EU impliqués dans “l’extrémisme violent” a conclu que la politique étrangère américaine est la principale motivation derrière les attaques terroristes qui sont des représailles pour les centaines de milliers de tués au Moyen Orient.


Si nous regardons la guerre de Syrie, très souvent nous voyons que le rôle du Président syrien Bashar al Assad cité à tort comme étant celui qui a soutenu la montée d’al-Qaeda ou “Etat islamique” (ISIS), le flux des djihadistes en Irak pour combattre l’occupation américaine, et qui a ouvert ses prisons en Syrie 2011, (libérant les djihadistes de prison pour radicaliser la révolution).


Par exemple, le Major Général William Caldwell, porte-parole militaire américain en Irak, a dit en 2006 que la Syrie était un des nombreux pays du Moyen Orient qui ont facilité l’accès des combattants à Bilad al-Rafideyn. L’ex-Premier Ministre Nuri al-Maliki, a menacé de couper les liens avec Assad parce que, disait-il, les djihadistes venant de Syrie ont provoqué la mort de nombreux civils et faisaient de leur mieux pour encourager une guerre sectaire entre Sunnites et Chiites. Al-Maliki a également accusé l’Arabie saoudite et le Qatar de favoriser la violence dans son pays. En outre, l’Iran a joué un rôle tactique en hébergeant, armant et offrant une logistique à al-Qaeda et aux militants anti-américains tant que leur but était de combattre les forces d’occupation en Irak.


Les allégations selon lesquelles Assad est responsable de la radicalisation de la révolution syrienne paisible sont fausses. Les bases de la guerre contre la Syrie datent des années 2000 (pas 2011) quand “un oléoduc de 1,500km coûtant $10 milliards devant unir le Qatar, l’Arabie saoudite, la Jordanie et la Syrie à la Turquie, donnant aux pays du golf le contrôle du gaz naturel mondial”, dans le but de frapper l’économie gazière de la Russie en offrant une alternative à l’Europe, au travers de la Turquie. La Russie vend 75% de son gaz à l’Europe et cela aurait été un coup terrible porté aux ventes de gaz du Président Poutine hors d’Europe.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. a écrit, “Des câbles secrets et des rapports provenant des service secrets américains, saoudiens et israéliens indiquent que quand Assad a refusé l’oléoduc qatari, les planificateurs militaires et les services secrets sont arrivés rapidement à la conclusion qu’il était possible de fomenter une montée en puissance des sunnites en Syrie pour rejeter le Président Assad non coopérant afin de faire aboutir le projet de lien gazier du Qatar à la Turquie. En 2009, selon WikiLeaks, peu après qu’Assad ait refuse l’oléoduc qatari, la CIA a commencé à financer les groupes d’opposition en Syrie. Il est important de noter que ceci était longtemps avant la montée du Printemps Arabe contre Assad.”


En outre, en May2003, au moment où les EU se sont déclarés force d’occupation en Irak, le Secrétaire US de la Défense Colin Powell a visité Damas et a menacé le Président Assad. La réponse syrienne a été “nous voulons un dialogue, pas un ultimatum de la part de Washington”. Powell a demandé la pleine collaboration d’Assad pour arrêter le flux d’armes vers le Hezbollah libanais, et pour fermer les camps et agences du Hamas et du “djihad islamique” palestinien à Damas.


Qui plus est, après la guerre de 2006 au Liban, la Syrie est devenue la cible en raison de son soutien militaire au Hezbollah. Assad a ouvert ses réserves, fournissant missiles guidés antitanks et des missiles stratégiques de longue portée pour que le Hezbollah puisse arrêter l’invasion israélienne. C’est après les événements de 2006 au Liban que Washington a pris l’initiative de négocier avec Damas dans le but de désamarrer la Syrie de l‘Iran et de l’“Axe de Résistance.” Tom Lantos, Président de la commission des Affaires étrangères de la chambre des représentants américain, est venu à Damas menacer le Président Al-Assad afin qu’il rejoigne les rangs avec l’Arabie saoudite et les EU contre l’Iran: “Ce sont les musulmans sunnites et non pas l’Iran de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad qui contrôleront la région, et il est dans l’intérêt de Damas de savoir de quel côté il convient d’être.”


Dans une révélation choquante, le Général américain Wesley Clark a confirmé que la Syrie faisait partie de la liste des pays ciblés par une intervention armée américaine sur la base d’un plan militaire de cinq ans dessiné en 2001, juste après l’Irak et avant le Liban, la Libye, la Somalie, le Soudan et l’Iran.


Récemment, en Août 2011, durant les premiers mois de la révolution, le chef d’ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi a envoyé son lieutenant Abu Muhamad al-Joulani avec plusieurs commandants et des étudiants de différents pays de la région en Syrie pour prêcher et recruter des jeunes pour bâtir al-Jabhat li-Nusrat ahl al-Sham, mieux connu par la suite sous le nom de Jabhat al-Nusra, lequel plus tard, après sa dispute avec ISIS, a rejoint al-Qaeda en Syria.


Cela dit, la contribution des pays de la région au soulèvement contre les forces d’occupation en Irak reste insignifiant en comparaison de l’effet dévastateur de l’invasion américaine elle-même, le changement de régime en Irak et les doubles standards américains qui ont causé la participation de combattants étrangers du monde entier.


Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi était au in Kurdistan avant 2003 avec Ansar al-Islam. Zarqawi s’est mis à part seulement quand le secrétaire d’état Powell a mis en lumière son nom en février 2003 pour justifier par la suite l’occupation de l’Irak. A cette époque, Zarqawi n’avait même pas la franchise d’al-Qaeda en Irak. Les militaires américains ont de façon perverse donné une importance démesurée au rôle de Zarqawi dans le soulèvement, utilisant la propagande des media et attirant de ce fait plus de combattants de son groupe: “en ciblant Zarqawi nous avons caricaturé en quelque sorte son importance”, dit Col. Derek Harvey, un officier des services secrets américain en Irak.


Parmi les conséquences de la politique étrangère américaine et de son intervention illégale au Moyen Orient il y a l’encouragement fait aux pays de la région à la réaction et à la confrontation. Volontairement, ceci est rarement mentionné.


Mais ce n’est pas tout. Il y a des faits importants que les chercheurs essayent d’éviter. Pour n’en citer que quelques-uns :

  1. L’occupation de l’Irak en raison des soi-disant armes de destruction massive. Ce mensonge n’est jamais mis en exergue, bien que la rumeur se soit révélée fausse avant même l’invasion. Cette invasion, basée sur un mensonge, a couté la vie à des centaines de milliers de civils irakiens.
  2. L’embargo américain des années 90 a tué au moins un demi-million d’enfants irakiens en raison du manque de nourriture et de médicaments, et Madeleine Albright qui était alors secrétaire d’Etat US, a eu le toupet de prétendre que “cela en valait la peine”. Il en est résulté l’une des guerres les plus destructrices, et le nombre des morts est bien plus élevé que celui dû à la guerre en Syrie.
  3. Le président Barak Obama est la seule personne autorisée à lancer une attaque par drone pour tuer des “terroristes” à l’étranger. En 2010, 75 attaques par drones au Pakistan ont tué 650 personnes. L’agence Dawn News au Pakistan estime que 123 civils sont tués pour un militant. Au Yémen, 170 militants ont été tués par drones pour 1800 civils. L’administration américaine appelle cela des “dommages collatéraux”. En outre, plus de 30.000 civils ont été tués dans la guerre d’Afghanistan. Il s’agit là d’exemples limités des causes et effets de la politique étrangère occidentale comme déclencheurs du terrorisme.

Le rôle des media doit aussi être cité comme étant pourvoyeur de la croissance et du terrorisme. En postant des images sensationnelles de la guerre, en manipulant des messages d’enfants, en appelant des djihadistes “rebelles modérés” alors qu’ils se proclament eux-mêmes Mujahedeen-fi-sabil-Allah, et ceci a pour conséquence de tromper le lecteur, en donnant des informations erronées traduisant une sorte de “souhait politique”.


Les lecteurs n’ont pas besoin d’aller rencontrer les djihadistes d’al-Qaeda pour comprendre leur message ou aller sur les sites d’ISIS ni lire leurs publications, et risquer la prison au retour pour avoir eu accès au matériel ou à la propagande djihadiste. Les media occidentaux offrent assez de matériel pour découvrir le matériel de propagande d’ISIS et d’al-Qaida ciblant le recrutement. Qu’il est facile de battre un pays (Irak ou Syrie)! Que les armées de Syrie et d’Irak sont incompétentes! Tous ces racontars terroristes présentent les militants comme invincibles et par conséquent utilisés comme djihadistes locaux pour combattre l’Occident chez lui, rendant l’argument contre-terroriste plus difficile à discuter.


Il n’est pas nécessaire d’être un musulman radical ou même non-radical (vivant en Occident) pour comprendre l’outrage perçu par la moindre personne vivant au Moyen Orient, qui voit des personnes innocentes se faire tuer par ceux qui prétendent exporter et promouvoir une société pluraliste and des valeurs partagées.


En Occident, les gouvernements disent, “in faut respecter les lois internationales et les droits de l’homme doivent être une partie intégrale de l’effort pour contrer le terrorisme”. George W. Bush a une fois demandé: “Pourquoi les terroristes nous haïssent-ils?” La réponse a été “parce qu’ils “haïssent notre liberté, notre liberté de culte, et notre liberté de parole ”. Cela est-il vrai? Les valeurs occidentales sont-elles haïes parce que les libertés observées et pleinement respectées au Moyen Orient? Comment cela pourrait-il être le cas quand un demi-million d’enfants est tué par l’embargo, quand des centaines de milliers d’innocents son tués par la guerre, par l’invasion de territoires souverains, en prétendant qu’il y a des armes de destruction massive? Et quand des drones causent des “ dommages collatéraux ” massifs? Les droits de l’homme sont-ils respectés par la torture en prison (Abu Ghraib) ou par un tel mirage?


Au lieu d’être responsables de la mort d’au moins un million cent soixante-dix mille personnes (dont 800.000 civils morts en raison des guerres en Afghanistan, au Pakistan et en Irak), dépensant 4.79 milliers de milliards de dollars pour la guerre elle-même et en essayant de contrer le terrorisme, pourquoi ne pas dépenser assez de temps et beaucoup moins d’argent à repenser et revoir cette terrible politique étrangère qui oblige en fait les gens, surtout les jeunes, à “faire quelque chose ” pour la combattre? On pourrait contrôler, modifier, et même arrêter ce message confus que l’Occident envoie au Moyen Orient? Des valeurs importantes et fondamentales sont continuellement violées, poussant la jeunesse à prendre les armes des organisations terroristes et à aliéner des populations entières.


La grande majorité des populations musulmanes perçoit l’affaiblissement et la division de l’islam comme étant un but délibéré des EU. Confronté à ceci, une grande partie de la population partage la plupart des buts d’al-Qaeda: changer le comportement américain dans le monde musulman, promouvoir une gouvernance islamique, et préserver et affirmer une identité islamique (world Public Opinion Poll 2009). Il est temps de regarder en face les conséquences des interventions de l’Occident outre-mer, d’évaluer la réalité de ces actions et le chaos qu’elles ont produit, pour que tous les intervenants de ce problème mondial puissent apprendre de l’histoire.