Secondly, along the Zabadani-Lebanon border, Syria has begun to deploy units from the volunteer militia trained at home by Syrian S.F. and Iranian special operations officers. The actual number of these new recruits (some of whom are reservists and Lebanese) is not known exactly with our sources estimating their numbers at 20,000 or more. With accurate surveillance by Iranian-supplied drones, the SAA has been able to control and command the new National Defense Forces (NDF) with greater efficiency, allowing other units of the First Army Corps and the Republican Guard to sweep the East Ghouta area. It’s not easy, by the way, to smuggle men or weapons through Zabadani. The terrain is difficult, made all the more forbidding by the deployment of the new militia forces and the presence of the Iranian IRGC.
Jordan has now closed its borders to all suspicious young men who seek to enter Syria. Known Salafists are stopped at Al-Ramtha and detained. The indicators are that King Abdallah II would rather pass up Saudi largesse than have his country torn apart by the same dynamics in Syria. Yet, reports keep coming in to us of American terrorism-enablers in the Za’atariyya Camp vetting candidates either for insurgency or espionage. That the Jordanians are allowing this to take place is troubling. The good news, though, is that the number of terrorists in the Der’ah area is dwindling. Much of this having to do with a change-of-position by large tribes announcing their fealty to Damascus (e.g. .Dunayfaat) and, ergo, depriving the terrorists of much-needed recruits. All this is taking place as a newly-unburdened SAA thunders through the East Ghouta to clean out the remnant insurgents attacking the airport area.
But there’s much more. Deserters from the SAA are down to almost zero. Contacts with the so-called FSA in Turkey gives hope that many of these misguided individuals may re-join Syrian society after they have done penance. While the Ministry of Defense has shown little interest in re-absorbing the traitors who turned their guns on their comrades in arms, there is a movement afoot to provide some modus vivendi whereby the Syrian Army generals can both accept these individuals while not subverting the Syrian Army’s Code of Military Justice. It is clear that the injection of Al-AQaeda-linked Salafist-Jihadist killers has done much to awaken some members of the FSA.
The situation in Northern Lebanon does not augur well for the FSA and its largely ineffective officer corps. They have failed to “liberate” Homs or Hama, both of which are in the sphere of operations for troops garrisoned in the Arsal-Wadi Khaled area. Efforts to smuggle weapons out of Lebanon through the coastal areas have failed miserably owing to the natural sympathy of the Syrian nationals there for the central government. The FSA is now left with the northern, Turkish-based FSA cum Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Iraqi border (which is becoming, also, more difficult).
In an effort to break out of their isolation, the FSA “General Staff” threatened Hizbollah last week with devastating blows. Our post of February 22, 2013 contains the document and the translation for those who missed the opportunity to evaluate the intentions of the FSA. With their military sterility now established, the FSA must explain its existence to its supporters, be they Lebanese, Saudi, Qatari or Syrian. The finger-pointing at Hizbollah; accusations that it has joined the fight and is now a legitimate target for FSA, announces a new enemy to the world on top of the more than adequate Syrian Army.
The FSA aims to ignite a sectarian conflict in Lebanon by instigating a reaction from Hizbollah. Shaykh Hassan Nasrallah has yet to even mention the FSA threat and appears to prefer a duck-the-punch approach. We know with absolute certainty that his organization dreads a repeat of the civil war of the last century, not to mention another episodic spasm of violence that would shake Lebanon socially and economically. He will not be snookered into a confrontation with a mostly ineffective gang of sectarianist terrorists lest the Syrian government lose the advantage it has recently secured. We expect a very low-level confrontation between these two forces in the Lebanon.
As the FSA ponders its future in norther in Lebanon, it cannot complete its self-assessment without looking at the disastrous state of the exile-opposition exemplified by the NACOSROF Frankenstein monster which has begun to eat its own flesh publicly. The SNC, its predecessor, has announced its unwillingness to participate in U.S. or Russian sponsored negotiations. The leader of NACOSROF, one Ahmad Mu’adh Al-Khatib, has shifted course declaring his readiness to meet with Syrian government members acceptable to his organization (read: the Sunni V.P., Farouq Al-Shara’) But the Syrian government has demonstrated no inclination to accept any conditions from this convicted felon. There is no reason to negotiate with him while he protests the inclusion of the Jabhat Al-Nusra on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. It’s a lonely place in Arsal now. And theFSA has no future.
With their arms caravans now interdicted by a Lebanese government committed to a policy of “disengagement” النأي بألنفس with the conflict in Syria, the FSA has to consider the undesirable alternative of life at Apaydin in Southern Turkey – but Erdoghan’s problems are also just beginning and that is a story for another time. ZAF