The Syria Equation

With the rise of the so called “Arab Spring”, of which many including myself are still not sure if this was as spontaneous as we are to believe, Syrian opponents of the ruling Presidency and its system launched an armed rebellion against the Government. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Western countries jumped to the opportunity of overthrowing an opposed regime without getting their own hands dirty. Weapons supplies and financial means were made available to whomever opposed the ruling party and President, using the open borders of Turkey and Iraq. Within weeks, the rebel forces were supplied with TOW and Stinger systems and anyone with some common sense understands that such systems are worthless without training.

Rebel forces launched assault after assault and were able to severely weaken the Syrian Arab Army, conquer territory and confiscate further supplies from the overthrown SAA units and abandoned positions. Various rebel forces appeared on the battle field and within months some not only battle with the government forces but also amongst themselves. Reports suggest that rebel fractions armed and trained by the same countries to overthrow the Syrian Government even started to fight each other in their frenzy for power and control over the territory gained.

In this power vacuum in Syria, Daesh/ISIS was able to build an impressive fighting force and “out of the blue” conquer significant parts of Syria and Iraq. With their crusade through Iraq, Daesh swept through Iraqi Armed Forces positions and stock piles, gaining access to the latest-greatest which was provided by the USA after its occupation of Iraq. The question to be asked is where did Daesh get its fighting force and weaponry from prior to its rapid crusade through Iraq?

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Syria: Moderate rebels and surgical precision bombing

Modern wars are no longer only determined by what happens on the ground, on the seas and in the air. There is a fourth dimension of warfare and that is the media. Depending on the side a media outlet chooses to be on and the narrative it is following, not only the opponents will be sketched as evil but also the effectiveness and righteousness of the supported campaign will be stressed. Illegally armed forces with foreign mercenaries and financial support become moderate rebels when they fight against the allegedly bad side. Merciless bombing of infrastructure and facilities will be sketched as surgical precision bombing when executed by the side which is supported. When however the side which is opposed executes the same bombing of infrastructure and facilities, the civilian casualties will be overexposed by the same media which is hailing the accuracy and rightfulness of the side it is supporting.

The conflict in Syria shows yet another dimension where Russia and the International Coalition are both claiming to do the same but with different political objectives. And these political objectives influence the reporting in the media significantly more than what is actually happening in Syria. The International Coalition set as objective to topple the Syrian Government and in the process fight the terrorist organization under the names IS/ISIS/ISIL/DAESH in both Syria and Iraq. Russia on the other hand, set out to support the Syrian Government in its fight against all opposing armed fractions in Syria and in the process strikes Daesh so hard that Russia itself has become one of their targets.

And in the middle of this all, Turkey plays a dubious role by actively supporting armed fractions in Syria to topple the Syrian Government and is openly accused of supporting the Daesh terrorists with supplies and financing though oil sales. Even if that would only take place on an uncontrolled black market, Turkey still carries responsibility in its refusal to close the borders with Daesh and rebel held territories. At the same moment, Turkey strikes hard against Kurdish forces which seem to be the only native forces that actively and effectively fight the Daesh terrorists. The downing of the Russian SU-24 fighter jet raised even more questions about Turkish true objectives in the Syrian Conflict. Continue reading

A farewell to Majdi, my Syrian friend

In the summer of 1988, a young passionate football fan and technology addict from Syria was overwhelmed by the fantastic football of Oranje, the Dutch National Team. Not only the way they played and won the European Championship but also the constellation of the team. Gullit, Rijkaard, van Basten, a beautiful colorful team with sensational football. Majdi was impressed by it all and that summer he decided that he wanted to study in The Netherlands, that small country in Europe where football was an art and integration was normal, and universities offered esteemed programs in Information Technology which was Majdi’s wish since he was in high school. Getting a permit to study in The Netherlands turned out to be more difficult and complicated than Majdi had imagined but that didn’t stop this young man. Majdi had a goal and he did everything to achieve that.

So late 1989, I received a long letter from that young motivated Syrian in which he requested me to support his wish to study Information Technology in The Netherlands and all the wonderful details why studying in The Netherlands was so important to him. I was moved that someone felt so passionate about our beautiful country. Many calls were made, paperwork was done, obstacles were taken, making this happen was something personal because of how this guy reached out and how his motivation touched everyone who was involved, including myself. Majdi arrived in The Netherlands in the summer of 1990, accepted to start his studies at his preferred University and he impressed everyone how much Dutch he had already learned through an online course. That was the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship, in which my friend Majdi never stopped to amaze me with his personality and passion.

Majdi concluded his studies with fantastic grades and I demanded he would accept the job I offered him, Majdi did and became a valued member of our team. Majdi had friends everywhere, was highly involved in our society and did volunteer work as translator. Majdi was a free-thinker, an open minded person and a bridge builder. Passionate about his country and his culture, passionate about history and always looking for opportunities to learn. Majdi strongly believed that dialogue is the only way to develop understanding, and understanding is the only way to achieve acceptance and acceptance being the only path towards peace. With that mindset, Majdi had many friends in all areas of our society, amongst Arabs, Jews and Christians alike, and among supporters and opponents of the Syrian Presidency. In so many ways, Majdi reminded me of my mother. Continue reading