SECOND POST – SEPTEMBER 5, 2012 – SYRIA’S MILITARY RESERVES AND THE NEED TO CALL THEM UP; ANONYMOUS’ QUERY. PART II.
Once again, I must apologize to my readers for the instability of this blog platform. I left my p.c. for one hour only to find that the article which I had not completed had been automatically published. I have to find a way around this problem. I recommend that readers scroll down to the first post and then come back for this one.
PART TWO – SYRIA’S HESITATION IN CALLING UP HER HUGE RESERVES.
SHABBIHA. This is a pejorative epithet given to the Syrian militias who are fighting alongside the military. But, who are they?
The name was coined during the early 1980’s in Lebanon at the height of the Civil War. I trace the name to the American University in Beirut, a predictable cauldron of political smirkiness and cynicism reflecting the bourgeois origins of the majority of students. It is a play on words on “Shabeeba“, which means “youth”. The militias in Lebanon, which Syria did deploy as an adjunct to its security forces in Lebanon, were taken from Ba’ath Party Youth Organizations who were given extensive paramilitary training. Their training officers were actual drill sergeants retired from the army. However, they were often used in rapid-response situations which gave them the appearance of “coming out of nowhere” and “disappearing like ghosts”. Hence the mot joue, “Shabbiiha” or “Phantoms”. They sported balaclavas or full-faced “kufiyyas” that informed their appearance with a tincture of mystery.
These militias today form a part of Syria’s military response capabilities. Because they are not actual members of the armed forces, they are used for intelligence gathering and clean-up purposes. Militia members often manage informants. They have developed a reputation for cruelty and ruthlessness which, I believe, is undeserved and a creation of the West.
The Western media has made much about the sectarian structure of the “militias” in an effort to exacerbate the situation by enraging the majority Sunnis. This effort has largely failed because almost every Sunni in Syria knows that the militias are made up of all sects. I have known militia members who are Sunnis and Kurds and consider some to be highly respectable individuals.
If the reader checks the figures given by this editor and compares/contrasts them to figures given for the armed forces of the U.K,, France or Germany, he will find out that Syria’s army is a huge institution with prodigious capabilities. Unlike Libya, where the army was kept small out of fear that it would turn against the government, Syria had no such fear mostly because a lrge army was necessary to confront Zionism and American machinations, especially, in the post-Camp David environment created by late Egyptian blunderer, Anwar Sadat.
Dear reader, I am encountering more elements of instability in my blog. I will close and restart a third post, with our indulgence. Z