Who Brought Foreigners to Syria?
02 December 2015
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
''We entered Syria after fighters were 200m away from Damascus''. This is a
confession from the Iranian Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani. However, my
topic is not about Iranian intervention because its circumstances and goals
are well known. Instead, I would like to point out that Syrian
revolutionaries arrived in Damascus before extremists entered Syria.
About two years ago, there were only a few hundred extremist fighters in
Syria and most of them were in the southern regions adjacent to Iraq.
We all know that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was born in 2011 after the
peaceful uprisings in Daraa and Damascus to oppose the violence of the
regime. It grew rapidly in Aleppo, Hama and other areas and did not give rise
to extremist religious slogans or sectarian ones at the time. Rather, the
demands were purely nationalistic and most of those who joined the FSA were
citizens from different classes in society. Their aim was to rid the country
of the terrible security institutions and to end the practices of circles
linked to the president which oppressed the people through harassment and
Two years later the FSA had cut across large distances and seized many areas.
During this time, media campaigns were launched against it and its
supporters. The intentions of the patriotic project and affiliations to
western governments were questioned. Funding and leaders also came under
scrutiny. In reality, the arming and supporting of the FSA was going on with
the knowledge of all, and under the control of multiple parties known as
''the military rooms'' in which representatives of western countries were
involved. Regrettably, with the progression of the FSA, two important events
changed the nature of the conflict in Syria.
For competitive reasons that had narrow interests and due to the idea that
the fall of Damascus was imminent, there was increased competition to control
the victorious opposition forces. This is why some countries attempted to
create opposition loyal to them, supported the establishment of regional,
extremist organisations and encouraged the entry of extremist foreigners to
fight in Syria. Iran did the same thing when it saw the FSA fighting in the
vicinity of Damascus; it hastily sent Hezbollah militias and commissioned the
Revolutionary Guards to form extremist groups similar to Iraqi and Afghani
organisations and others, and sent them to Syria. This is how the largest
terrorist war of its kind in the region occurred on Syrian soil.
Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the
former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers
of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass
communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He
is currently based in Dubai.