[This post was originally started a few months ago but has been posted belatedly]
Contradictions abound for Stop the War Coalition as Tony Blair echoes them and says: most of Assad’s enemies are extremists.
The report in question, “If the Castle Falls” (Assad is the “castle”), is one of the most ridiculous, arbitrary pieces of “intelligence” gathering that I’ve ever seen, giving Blair’s Iraq dossier a good run for its money. Its so arbitrary that it places declaredly FSA groups such as Nour al-Din al-Zanki as more conservative than groups like Jamaat al Imam Bukhari, a Taliban-affiliated group; or FSA batallions such as Tajamu’ Fastaqim Kama Umirt as more conservative than Islamic Front ones like Liwa al-Tawhid [*though Liwa al-Tawhid is now effectively defunct and alongside Fastaqim Kama Umirt forms part of the Levant Front, which puts itself under the umbrella of the FSA ; ** incidentally Liwa al-Tawhid’s previous membership of the Islamic Front is not meant as a criticism of it – just to state that the Islamic Front’s ideological program is more conservative than that of the FSA; though that being said distinctions between categorised “Islamist” and non-categorised “Islamist” groups in Syria are often vastly overplayed, with the lack of nuance in using the term often making it largely useless in contexts such as Syria] – to name but a few of the (very many) idiocies within the report.
Most Syrian rebels sympathise with Isis, says thinktank
Centre on Religion and Geopolitics says at least 65,000 jihadi fighters could fill vacuum if Islamic State was defeated
More than half of the rebel fighters in Syria who are opposing President Bashar al-Assad are sympathetic to Islamic State views, a leading thinktank has claimed.
The Centre on Religion and Geopolitics said efforts to wipe out Isis in Syria and Iraq would not end the global threat from jihadi groups because extremist views were common among Syrian fighters of all stripes.
At least 15 militias, numbering 65,000 fighters, could fill any vacuum resulting from a defeat of Isis in Syria and Iraq by a coalition led by the US, a report by the thinktank found.
About 60% of fighters in rebel factions in Syria identified with a religious and political ideology similar to that of the terror group, it added.
The thinktank, run by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, said: “The west risks making a strategic failure by focusing only on IS. Defeating it militarily will not end global jihadism. We cannot bomb an ideology, but our war is ideological.”
The report comes after the United Nations agreed a resolution endorsing the start of “urgent” formal negotiations between Assad’s regime and moderate opposition groups early next month.
But the centre warned the radical groups, including al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, could benefit if they went “unchallenged”.
It added: “If Isis is defeated, there are at least 65,000 fighters belonging to other Salafi-jihadi groups ready to take its place.
“The greatest danger to the international community are the groups that share the ideology of Isis, but are being ignored in the battle to defeat the group.
“While military efforts against Isis are necessary, policy makers must recognise that its defeat will not end the threat of Salafi-jihadism unless it is accompanied by an intellectual and theological defeat of the pernicious ideology that drives it.”