Published — Sunday 20 January 2013
Last update 20 January 2013 5:35 am
IT must have been one of the few times, when Syrian President Bashar Assad laughed after watching members of a Syrian extremist group on an Arab television channel, threatening that their organization is going to establish a radical Islamic regime to replace Assad’s.
That interview can frighten the already hesitant and anxious countries, and prove stories by the Syrian regime also repeated by its Russian counterpart as “correct.”
These stories warn that the West will regret overthrowing Assad’s regime because it will be repeating the same mistake it made in Afghanistan, and that it will have to wage a new war this time to fight Al-Qaeda in Syria.
We see that the French forces are currently waging one of their biggest wars in Africa, in the northern Mali, to fight extremist groups there.
There is no doubt that the West, in addition to some Arabs, are afraid that the Syrian revolution would turn into another Afghanistan especially due to the flow of militants into Syria to aid in combat. But instead of supporting the Syrian rebels and stopping Assad regime’s brutalities, they are just watching and monitoring the extremist groups.
The Syrian regime wants the West to accept that Assad regime is a guarantee for stability and works as safety valve against terrorism. The regime will, therefore, intensify the talks about the extremist groups — unfortunately they do exist.
Some of them were formed by the regime itself for this specific purpose and some others were promoted and circulated by Assad regime to scare the world from another Afghanistan.
The regime has already used the same tactic, when it was facing intense international pressure after its crimes in Lebanon. In November 2008, it claimed through its official news agency (SANA) that the extremist organization of “Fatah Al-Islam” detonated a car in a district in Damascus, and that the anti-Syrian Lebanese, Future Movement, was behind the terrorist organization, adding that the suicide bomber, who blew the car, was Saudi!
Of course, nobody believed this Syrian lie because the Lebanese Future Movement —represented at the time by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora — had led the war against Fatah Al-Islam at the Nahr Al-Bared camp.
You can be sure that some members of extremist groups in Syria were deliberately released from Assad’s prisons to swell their movement’s ranks and take part in the fighting. The presence of these groups was meant to serve as proof that the revolution is led by terrorist groups, some of whom in reality are associated with Al-Qaeda and want to raise the terrorist organization’s black flag over Syria. However, the vast majority of Syria’s fighters belong to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and the Assad regime wants to tarnish their reputation and use them to intimidate Arab and Western countries. Therefore, it is in the regime’s interests to circulate images, videos and stories of these extremist groups, hiding the fact that they only began participating in the uprising approximately 10 months ago and that they only represent a tiny minority of the Syrian revolution.