MESSAGE FROM PAULO CASACA ARCHUMANKIND DIRECTOR
ARCHumankind was launched in the end of 2010 by a group of five friends with their eyes focused on the Greater Middle East. Foreseeing the Arab Spring, we were trying our best to provide a humane, democratic, tolerant alternative to the old sitting authoritarian regimes and the reactionary jihadi movement, which was and is waiting for its opportunity to tighten its grip on the Arab World.
However, the support we were looking for did not materialize, and soon most of us had to divert attention to other issues and challenges. An exception was Kamal Batal, ARCHumankind vice-president. In the first half of 2011, Kamal Batal committed himself to Lebanon with the goal to support the refugees escaping the violent repression of the Syrian regime, and he conveyed to us testimonies of its brutality.
It was Kamal Batal who made it known across the World that Syrian wounded protesters had been assassinated by Iranian Revolutionary Guards acting as “doctors” at Syrian hospitals.
Kamal Batal, a symbol of integrity and commitment in the struggle for the liberation of the Greater Middle East from its tyrants and the respect of human rights passed away on June the fourth 2011 after an unexplained heart attack in the Beqaa Valley from where he was not timely evacuated to Beirut.
It took us over three years to get back to where Kamal left us, and it is with my thoughts on Kamal and on all of those who fell victim to the despicable acts of the different fanatic factions in Syria that we announce here the reanimation of our dedication to the country.
At the beginning, we had a democratic uprising using peaceful ways to express its will to get rid of the tyrants. However, more than the local tyrants, the Iranian theocracy who evermore controls them, decided Syrians should not have an opportunity to express and to rule themselves.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards, affiliated terror groups from Lebanon and Iraq as well as Afghan refugees turned mercenaries, have now a major and increasing presence supporting a puppet regime in Damascus. At the same time, rival jihadi forces of a conflicting sectarian brand, relying on global networks have been combatting both Syrian democratic forces and the Iranian led regime.
In broad terms, half of the Syrian population had to find exile, war casualties represent one per cent of the whole population, Syria became one of the worst if not the worst country in the World to live in.
As was recently correctly observed: “In the Middle East, jihadists on both sides of the Sunni-Shia divide tear at societies and dismantle states in quest of visions of global revolution based on the fundamentalist version of their religion.” (1)
A regime without support from the Syrian people became a full puppet of the Iranian theocracy and tries to convince minorities its rule is the only alternative to the rival brand of Sunni Jihadism.
Deception has always played a central role in the Shia Jihadi tradition, in full contrast with the logic of full publicity of murderous psychotic activities of rival Sunni Jihads such as the Islamic State. This has created the illusion in some quarters that democracy and freedom lovers should prefer the Iranian sponsored Jihads to their rivals.
Nothing could be further from reality. As I explained in my 2008 book, (2) and major research has also shown, Jundal-al-Islam, or the Islamic State, as the organisation developed and became known in 2006, was created in September the first 2001 at the Iranian-Iraqi border of Kurdistan. It was created under strict instructions of Osama Bin Laden and with the blessing and support of the Iranian clerical regime, to the point where its first working language was the Farsi of Iran.
The new Al-Qaeda – as it was correctly baptized –received a big boost after the 2003 invasion when the US authorities under Iranian influence decided to destroy the Iraqi state and sent into the void millions of civil servants, including hundreds of thousands of military and allowed for Iranian sponsored groups to terrorise the population and eventually capture the state mechanisms.
By 2006, the Iraqi Al-Qaeda section had grown to the point where it felt confident to declare the launching of the “Islamic State” on the land of the two rivers, a name that later evolved into including Syria and to declare its independence from the successor of Bin Laden.
After the US destroyed the Ansar-al-Islam headquarters in the Kurdish Iranian-Iraqi border, the group mostly operated from Syria up to our present day. After the beginning of the democratic revolution, the Islamic State became a major tool of the Syrian regime in attacking the democratic opposition and in terrifying minorities into believing they had no alternative but to surrender to Damascus’ tyrants.
The decapitation video of Nicholas Berg by al-Zarqawi on May the 7th 2004 – a US media worker kidnaped on April the eleventh – became the symbol under which the Jihadi leader pulled together four major Iraqi jihadi groups – including the rebranded Ansar-al-Islam – under the name of the original Zarqawi terrorist Jordanian group “Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad” – better known as the Iraqi Al-Qaeda branch.
Recent beheadings of local and Western captives performed by the group in 2014 are exact copies of this original beheading of 2004, whose shocking images are widely available in the net.
Western decision makers have fallen into the trap of Western media logic, where the past is rapidly erased and anything happening is portrayed as a brand new story.
The Caliphate declared by Imam Ibrahim appears as something fallen from the sky instead of a natural sequence in the development of the organisation initially established in Kurdistan in 2001 by Bin Laden to allow the continuation of Al-Qaeda after the expected US response to September 11.
Instead of reminding that the Islamic State (on the land of the two rivers, as it was called at the time) had already once covered a large portion of Northern and Western Iraq, and that the US managed to successfully combat it by engaging the Sunni population (Sons of Iraq), the recent spreading of the organisation is presented as a completely new phenomenon.
Similarly, one tends to forget that the US policy of abandoning the Sunni population to the exactions of the Jihadi Shia occupying the leverages of power in Iraq after 2009 was the direct reason why of the regain of strength of Sunni jihadism.
The lessons here for the course of action in Syria should have been absolutely clear to everyone: to abandon entire sectors of the population to the exactions of rival sectarian forces is tantamount to encourage extreme, sectarian Jihadi responses.
In other words, a zero tolerance policy to the actions of Sunni Jihadi groups – such as Islamic States, al-Nuzra and others – or their Shia Jihadi correspondents – such as Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqi Imam Ali Brigades or Iranian revolutionary guards should be applied.
On this basis, I think the following driving principles should be followed by the European Union regarding Syria.
1. Demand the immediate retreat of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard from Syria, their client terror forces from Lebanon and Iraq, Afghan mercenaries as well as the foreign forces constituting the Islamic State and all other jihadi groups.
On this regard, the European Union has major responsibilities, as it developed into being one of the major sources for jihadi fighters in Syria. A revision of educational, cultural and religious indoctrination mechanisms that allowed this to happen should be undertaken as a topic of major priority by the European Union on all levels of action.
The European Union should commit itself to do its utmost, by all possible means, to stop immediately its export of jihadists to the region and to obtain the repatriation of those who are there.
2. To support the formation of an exclusive free zone within Syrian borders for the refuge of every Syrian willing to respect common basic humanity principles, with no possible discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, religion or democratically held political beliefs.
In this regard, the neighbouring Regional Government of Kurdistan and the Kingdom of Jordan are the neighbouring powers with whom cooperation should be a priority. A joint effort within NATO and with other democratic forces is necessary.
3. To draw clear and commonly agreed guidelines for the support of all Syrian opposition forces, and to commit itself to a long-lasting strategic effort. As the Iraqi experience of the creation of the “Sons of Iraq” demonstrated, a short-lived punctual effort followed by retreat is a certain recipe for failure.
ARCHumankind is ready to undertake discussions with the European civil society or its institutions on all of these issues.
1) Kissinger, Henry, “World Order”, Penguin, 2014, p.7. Although I have many differences with Kissinger views and actions, it is only fair to acknowledge his insight on this issue.
2) "The hidden invasion of Iraq", 2008. Books like…..