Syria

Media-Savvy Syrian Rebels Set Pot Field on Fire, Highlight Knowledge Gap on Makeup of Syrian Opposition

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Rebels from the Farouq Brigades have set a marijuana field on fire and posted the footage on Facebook. Some think that the move betrays an ideological inclination. From Wired:

It's because the Farouq Brigades, generally considered a competent and media-savvy rebel militia, is promoting its willingness to destroy a drug crop. That's an action usually identified more with Islamic militant groups than secular ones. And it goes to show how little the U.S. still knows about the Syrian opposition, even as Washington debates directly arming the rebels.

The articles continues, highlighting how little analysts know about the group:

Both White and Joe Holliday, a research analyst watching Syria for the Institute for the Study of War, consider the Farouq Brigade "moderately Islamist" — that is, neither secular nor Salafi. They don't employ the hardcore tactics of the jihadis, like suicide bombings or stuffing captured government soldiers into trucks filled with explosives. And while some of their fighters wear black headbands of jihadis and display "these types of jihadi symbols in their appearance," Holliday says, "it's hard to parse out whether that's just the style right now."

In Syria, even being a "moderate Islamist" group, whatever that actually means, isn't necessarily a fixed position. It could just as easily be a branding of convenience for organizations seeking access to weaponry — from whatever source. "The question is, is that a cover for getting weapons and aid [from Gulf states], so they're not really Islamist very much at all; or are they really Islamist and pretending to be moderate?" White says. "No one knows for sure." And that's after studying the groups' actions and statements for months.

Such uncertainty about who exactly is fighting Assad should make policy-makers wary about sending them support. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case. Mitt Romney has spoken in support of arming the Syrian rebels. In the Senate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have all called for American support for the Syrian rebels. That Al-Qaeda elements are active in the Syrian rebellion is no secret, and Pentagon officials have raised concerns about weapons proliferation in the area. 

Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeman, has expressed concern about other country's wepaons reaching these groups:

We've been clear from the beginning that there are issues here as to where this goes and that we need to all work hard to ensure that extremists, jihadists, al-Qaida, other groups who don't share our larger interest in seeing a democratic Syria emerge from all of this, get their hands on weapons that can be used to exploit the situation, that this truly be an effort on the opposition's side which reflects a Syria whose future will be democratic, whose future will be inclusive, whose future will reject extremism.

It is good that the State Department is wary of Saudi and Qatari weapons reaching the wrong people in Syria, let's hope that the administration isn't persuaded that getting more involved in Syria would be without similar risks.

The situtation in Syria is not going to get better if the rebels receive American support. In Syria both Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah elements are being pitted against eachother. It is a mess we would do well to avoid.

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  1. In Syria, even being a “moderate Islamist” group, whatever that actually means, isn’t necessarily a fixed position. It could just as easily be a branding of convenience for organizations seeking access to weaponry ? from whatever source. “The question is, is that a cover for getting weapons and aid [from Gulf states], so they’re not really Islamist very much at all; or are they really Islamist and pretending to be moderate?” White says. “No one knows for sure.” And that’s after studying the groups’ actions and statements for months.

    Why, it’s like they’ve never heard of a “Vanguard” before.

  2. This just in: State Department blames Syrian unrest on PornHub.

    1. BREAKING: Muslims riot over Xvideos hosting Pakistani amateur porn. “I don’t get to see them without clothes, why should you?” asked Abdullah Wahallah Muhammed Ismail, a red-eyed and bearded spokesman.

      1. I would like to see what would happen if, the next time we feel the need to military intervene in a country that’s going full Islam, we just dropped tons of porn DVDs on them. No bombs, no drones, just hundreds of thousands of porn DVDs, magazines and pictures.

        1. Considering that Osama bin Laden had tons of porn on his computer, I’m thinking it wouldn’t make much of a difference. In fact, I think it would motivate the young Ghazis to go-a-Jihadin’ for some instatiable Western sex slaves, as in times of yore.

          1. From the wiki:

            She was known mainly as Haseki H?rrem Sultan or H?rrem “balsaq”…

            Her name was H?rrem Ballsack.

  3. OT: Reason’s news feed (which allows comments but no one reads them) shows Romney widening his gap.

    Look, I like Obama losing as much as the next guy (notice I didn’t say I liked Romney?) but does this all sound a bit strange?

    Obama led by landslide-level margins a week before the debate, then has a marginal performance at the debate, and BAM Romney jumps 18 points. Does this swing seem… unprecedented to anyone?

    1. You mean like taking advantage of that moment to squeeze in information previously suppressed? Yeah, I even recall seeing this being predicted to occur.

      1. I dunno, it seems weird. I mean, I’ve heard that some places suggest that there’s been as much as a 12 point swing but man, one slightly shiny debate performance and you take the nation by storm? Who knew it was that easy to beat Obama?

        I’m wondering if it has to do with the middle east debacle, but the media won’t report it as such. Ie, the media is being very “nothing to see here, move along” on this whole Obama mid-east policy disintegration thing, so if he is swinging in the polls, they gotta attribute it to something.

        1. People like winners, especially the “moderate”/independents that decide the elections. So if the media narrative is that Romney won the debate, and it goes on for days, then it’ll move the polls. Somehow I doubt the majority of those who switched to Romney (either from Obama or from undecided) even watched the first debate.

    2. Polls mean Jack and shit, and Jack left town. Those numbers don’t actually tell you much, Paul.

      1. And I understand that. But are they inconsistently wrong? Is the swing wrong? Was Romney never as down as the first group of polls said he was? Was Obama just never as up as they said he was? Has this race been close all along? Was the press trying to hide the Obama Decline? Where are the memos, the leaked emails?

        And don’t tell me this “Hillary taking responsibility” has nothing to do with the election.

        “Private Clinton! Move out ‘n draw fire!”

        It’s become so strange, only a conspiracy theory seems apropriate to explain it.

        1. To all of your questions, I would say the answer is “yes”. We have seen breathtakingly huge efforts by the media to bury, push, or affect the narrative of stories that effect the election. Don’t you think that extends to polls, polling companies, how polls are reported, and so on?

          Don’t believe much of what you read and hear, Paul. The amount of vested interest in the TEAM game has gotten so huge that it distorts everything.

          1. Don’t believe much of what you read and hear, Paul.

            Even if Hugh Akston writes it?

            1. Especially if Hugh writes it. In fact, my personal suggestion is that you report Hugh to the FBI for being a poopyhead.

              1. I believe you.

                *scratches Hugh off ‘trusted’ list*

        2. Some argue against conspiracy theories because it would take the coordination of hundreds of people. Actually a few at the top and many others who are selected on the basis of their willingness to do what they are told is all that is needed. The Joint Chiefs really did make detailed plans to blow up an airliner and blame it on the Cubans in the early 60’s. Didn’t make the slightest ripple in the public conscience (well, because there is no such thing). I think it would be disturbingly easy to pull the wool over the eyes of the public in a coordinated fashion.

          However, does it fit what we see here? Is what we are seeing here unprecedented? For the last question, I recall it, a dramatic late poll shift, occurring during the Reagan-Carter run, so no, perhaps unusual, but it has happened before. Does it fit here? The organizations in question don’t strike me as being particularly competent to run a con like this. However, with conspiracies, you would expect a slip up if pressure was applied to the right people, but who is going to ask the right questions of those people? So, even a group of boobs as incompetent as the CIA gets away with shit.

          Disclaimer: I collect the literature on conspiracy theories for amusement value, and know them all. Yes, ninety odd percent of conspiracies are just dumb.

          1. The Joint Chiefs really did make detailed plans to blow up an airliner and blame it on the Cubans in the early 60’s.

            Making a plan and carrying it out are two different things. And it was the 60s– those halcyon days when we trusted our leaders implicitly. E.J. Dionne laments their passing.

            I recall it, a dramatic late poll shift, occurring during the Reagan-Carter run

            Which was blamed on Oktober Surprise!

            Does it fit here? The organizations in question don’t strike me as being particularly competent to run a con like this.

            I don’t believe they are.

            Disclaimer: I collect the literature on conspiracy theories for amusement value, and know them all. Yes, ninety odd percent of conspiracies are just dumb.

            Do you have a newsletter?

            1. Do you have a newsletter?

              Use to have one back in two thousand and late. But that was before the meme singularity.

          2. The dumb conspiracies are just fodder planted by Those people to discredit the people who have uncovered the actual conspiracies. I’m disappointed you don’t know that, you blind, silly sheep.

    3. +1 for unprecedented

  4. Matthew Feeney, spellcheck is your friend: you’ve got “spokeman,” “wepaons,” and “situtation.” I think your next-to-last paragraph is also missing a word.

    As for Syria, maybe whoever took over would be worse, but I still want to see Assad go down.

  5. Maybe they think by setting a marijuana field on fire the DEA will ship them some free weapons.

  6. OT: Jill Stein just arrested for trying to enter debates. Our democratic process is safe; what horrors would be unleashed if a Green Party candidate fielded questions at a “town hall”?

    1. Good for her, standing up to the political cartel.

    2. Arrested? That seems harsh.

      1. Arrested for blocking a public road when she sat down as a form of protest for being blocked by police from entering the debate.

        Because, you know, in Long Island they take keeping the roads clear *very* seriously and arrest all jaywalkers on the spot. The law is the law

    3. Stein will appear on about 85 percent of state ballots this year.

      How do you get an odd number when each state is 2 percent?

      1. It’s exactly 86 percent, which is about 85 percent to a sloppy journalist.

        The measures Illinois is taking to keep the Green Party off the ballot makes me ill. I mean, really? Is the Democratic ticket that threatened in IL?

    4. How is fifteen percent of polls with no qualification beyond common usage a more decisive standard for getting in the debates than fifteen percent of ballots carry your name?

      1. Well, in this case eighty six percent. But still, fifteen percent of ballots is still more impressive than fifteen percent of voters know your name in random polling.

  7. Is there any war McCain doesn’t like?

    1. I assume he’s not a fan of the War on Retirees, or whatever it is.

  8. How libertine to not want to intervene!

    1. What? And the sad thing is, based on your posting history, I think your serious

      1. *you’re

      2. Yep, too libertine to intervene. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

        Lafayette weeps.

        1. Do you know what the word libertine means? And nothings preventing you from going to Syria and being a modern Lafayette. Just don’t ask me to pay for it

          1. Yes to the former. To the latter I’m incapable of flying air cover over Syria, unlike the government of the United States.

            Lafayette weeps.

            1. To the latter I’m incapable of flying air cover over Syria, unlike the government of the United States.

              Bullshit. You could make it happen if you really wanted to. And the problem with the United States going to war is that those soldiers don’t get to choose if they can go or not. And NO, “they knew that when they joined” is no excuse.

  9. I like how the IT guy stabilized the video.

  10. Those guys seem to know what the deal is over there. Wow.
    http://www.Privatize-it.tk

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