Saturday, March 28, 2015

Which Untold Story. By Ghassan Kadi.

Ghassan wrote it last October 2014 after we both left a group I had been administrator of for three years. It was a group Ghassan wrote specially for. I decided it should go on the Blog!

Ghassan Kadi
31 Oct 2014

When the “War On Syria” started, the world media were reporting that there was a revolution in Syria, a revolution that was inspired by the so-called “Arab Spring” seeking reform, democracy and freedom of expression, among other things that the West considers as “hip”. Syrian patriots and their friends knew well from the very beginning that Syria was neither having a revolution nor a civil war. They realized that Syria was under a vicious attack that was targeting its people, secular system, economy, history, infrastructure, and sovereignty with the ultimate purpose of destroying its central role in the Axis of Resistance. That attack was concocted by a myriad of nations and organizations of diverse backgrounds and interests; united only by their hatred to Syria.

That was the untold story then, and it had to be told for the world to hear.
But the untold story of Syria is a dynamic on-going saga that should be retold in accordance with the changes in and within Syria’s enemies.

As the “War On Syria” unfolds and reshapes itself, Syria faces new enemies, and the major new enemy today is the Islamic State (IS). And even though Islamic fundamentalism was one of the original major elements in the Anti-Syrian Cocktail that started the “War On Syria” in 2011, the monster is changing its form and reach. For Syria to win its new/old fight, it would need more than military prowess; it needs updated information strategies.

The turn in the war is due to the fact that “War On Syria” did not proceed in accordance with the plot of the Anti-Syrian Cocktail.

Owing to the great achievements of the gallant Syrian Army, the coalition broke apart by the individual interests of its members, some of whom are now fighting each other. United by hatred, dismantled by individual greed, members of the original Anti-Syrian Cocktail are scrambling, each trying to scavenge a win while he can, if he can. A quick and brief look at the developments of the last three years can clearly reveal at least all of the following:

1. The Qataris and the Saudis are at odds and in a conflict that may escalate.
2. The FSA is now almost non-existent and fighting Al-Nusra and ISIS.
3. The Syrian Army continues to score victories in the Damascus, Hama, and Aleppo Provinces.
4. The Syrian Army continues to fight the Islamic State in Deir Ezzur
5. There is a growing division within the ranks of the Saudi royals
6. There is a world-wide awakening that the Islamic State is a global danger
7. The Americans, British and French are bombing the Islamic State
8. Even the Saudis and Qataris are bombing the Islamic State
9. Turkey is refusing to come to the party of global effort against the Islamic State.
10. There is growing dissent within Saudi Arabia against the royal family and its recent involvement in the war against the Islamic State.

One would wonder what unity is realistically left in this once united coalition.

The obvious strategy behind the American strikes on the oil refineries and other infrastructure that has fallen under the Islamic State is a means to cripple the IS by cutting off its lifeline and supplies that give it independence. The strikes also attempt to coerce the Islamists back into submission. These are the simple and most plausible reasons behind the strikes on IS. However, most of the analyses seem to avoid the obvious and focus on theories that make the Americans appear as acting “according to plan”. This cannot be further from the truth, because reality clearly reveals that nothing has happened according to plan.

With all of the changes and Syria’s achievements, one could argue that the untold story of three years ago has already been told. There is little strategic gain in continuing to retell it in its original form.

The world is now boiling and raging with anti-IS passion. The IS is now seen, worldwide, as a vicious and rather primitive force that is threatening humanity. And whilst no one wishes for more terrorist attacks akin to the recent Ottawa attack, such actions are bolstering the Western Anti-IS resolve and moving public opinion more and more towards confronting it.

Furthermore, if we keep reiterating that the “War On Syria” is all conducted according to a stepwise elaborate plan that is fully orchestrated by the USA and executed to the finest detail by all members of the Anti-Syrian Cocktail, we would be portraying the enemies of Syria as the winners, and clearly they are not. As a matter of fact, the enemies of Syria are neither smart enough to conjure up such a plan nor capable of fulfilling it.

America can neither control nor guarantee what will happen tomorrow; let alone next year or decade. It is ridden with huge economic crises, decaying infra-structure, failed foreign policies and wars; among other serious problems.

This is a rather golden opportunity for Syria friends to use in order to put a concerted effort on portraying the true image of Syria as THE state that has been and continues fight terrorism for nearly four years. A proper pro-Syrian propaganda campaign can even rightfully make the proclamation that Syria’s war with the Islamists is 40 years old, thereby making Syria the forefront expert of dealing with this mode of terrorism. In reality however, little is done in this regard and the message is definitely not reaching the globe.

In this respect, telling the new untold story to the English-speaking world should now be a much easier job than the one that English-speaking Syrian support groups embarked upon some three years ago. Three years ago Syria’s untold story had very little in common with the general knowledge and interests of Westerners, and yet, members of such groups worked relentlessly and successfully managed to rally up a great deal of awareness and support for Syria.

Three years ago, I humbly embarked on this journey of telling this untold story and I was privileged to join the ranks of many much more informed and intelligent people than myself. I now feel that this narrative has run its course and that it is time to move on. I have done my utmost to reason with some old comrades, but it is obvious that they do not recognise the change. It is time for me to move on and leave this group and bid it farewell.

Chapter Two of the untold story is upon us. The world seems ready to listen. It is up to us to choose to do the telling of the new story, and this is what I intend to do with a lot of help from my old and new friends.

Friday, March 27, 2015

WHICH SAUDI ARMY? Ghassan Kadi. 26 March 2015


Saudi Arabia’s military budget of $bn 80.8 in 2014 ranked the third in the world, and scored higher than that of Russia with the USA and China being the first and second, respectively. Russia’s budget for 2014 was $bn 70 only.

Daunting as they are, on their own, those figures do not mean much at all. On face value alone, they may indicate to some that Riyadh’s military prowess is mightier than that of Moscow. This is very far from the truth.

Unless one has actually worked and lived in Saudi Arabia, it becomes difficult to fathom the financial disparity between that state and any other country in the world. As a general rule of thumb, whatever costs a dollar anywhere in the world will cost much more in Saudi Arabia. This is not so much because commodities are more expensive in Saudi Arabia. Commodities have an international price, but all services rendered in Saudi Arabia are performed by ex-pats; highly paid ex-pats, who are not highly paid necessarily because of the great work they do, but for putting up and accepting to live under the dark and suppressive Saudi regime.

But this is not all, Saudis do not work. They like to pose as managers and their laws make them de-facto partners and 51% shareholders in all companies with the other 49% holding belong to the ex-pat who has the know-how and willingness to work, and sometimes even the working capital.

Everything in Saudi Arabia is done by ex-pats, all the way from petroleum extraction to construction to medical services, teaching, farming, etc…. Everything is run by “foreign experts” with Saudi shadows in the background pretending to be the brains trust. The number of ex-pats who work and live in Saudi Arabia is a living proof. Initially, it was expected that once Saudis acquired enough expertise in different areas, they would not need those foreign professionals any longer, but more than five decades into the petro-dollar boom, the number of those experts did not shrink. This is not likely to change because the Saudis firmly believe that they are superior and deserve to be served by members of lower nations.

If the reliance on ex-pats in Saudi Arabia is so strong in all sectors of life, why would we expect the army to be any different? During the siege of the Mecca Shrine in 1979, Saudi Arabia hired SSG Pakistani commandos to engage with the rebels. Surely, more than three decades later, the Saudi Army now is not where it was back in 1979, but nonetheless, it has not gained any combat experience at all….none what so ever.

If Saudis cannot construct bridges, build airports and perform surgeries, what makes anyone believe that they are able to use the expensive military toys they bought from America?

To complicate matters even more, the personnel of the Saudi Army are mainly Bedouins who are loyal to the royal family. Their loyalty may sound like a huge credit, but once again, it takes those who are familiar with Saudi Bedouins and their interactions with machines to understand their incapability of handling motor vehicles let alone high-tech military hardware.

The Saudi Army is now being put to the test. It is directly engaging in war in Yemen for the first time ever. It is highly unlikely that it will be able to prove the worth of the investment. Will they buy fighting partners? Will they lure Egypt with more funds? Will they engage Pakistan again? Time will tell.