Assad rules 20% of Syria * ME-wide Sunni-Shiite war * 2 maps tell it all

Two demographic maps tell it all.
eastwind journals 189
By Bernie Lopez
Philippine Daily Inquirer contributing columnist
it is easy to see that the Lord has abandoned us
and hard to see that we have abandoned Him
it is easy to blame terrorists killing our civilians
and hard to blame ourselves killing their civilians
the Lord permits terrorists
to send His message to us as in 9/11
not to americans alone but to humankind
of our sins of pride and greed
9/11 was the second tower of babel
the message of sodom and gomorrah
and the babylonian exile are all the same
return to the Lord or face His wrath
there is a demon in the holiest of saints
there is an angel in the vilest of sinners
inside you, a violent battle rages
between good and evil
whichever wins shapes your destiny
as the world shrinks rapidly
together, all of us
arabs, asians, africans, americans
soldiers, terrorists, common folk, leaders
mold the destiny of the entire planet
The Endless Civil War Turned Proxy


As the map below shows, Assad’s government forces (red) control a mere 20%, the rebels 55% (gray), ISIL 10% (black), and the Kurds 15% (yellow). But why is Assad so confident he will win? Obviously, because Russia is behind him. But are Assad and Russia really making a dent? The same is asked of the US, UK, and France about their arbitrary airstrikes, which kill civilians and, in turn, radicalize immigrants to employ home-grown terror in revenge?

Source – Institute for the Study of War, as reported by Al Jazeera.

The dirty game of arbitrary airstrikes (by US, UK, France, Russia) based on questionable intel is not working at all. Bombing hospitals and civilian areas fuel global terrorism. The airstrikes are helping ISIL. The more airstrikes, the more civilians killed, the faster ISIL global Internet recruitment grows, the faster immigrants are radicalized into home-grown terrorists, the more civilians at the heart of Western cities killed. An eye for an eye. Kill civilians in revenge for civilians killed. Russia, UK, US, France – they are all the same, warriors without brains, insensitive to Syrian civilians, sensitive only to their own vested geopolitical interests.
After the massacre in Paris, the knee jerk reaction of the French government was to bomb targets in Syria based on unverified US intel, killing more civilians than terrorists. This kind of emotion-based vendetta strategy from people in high places is scandalously naïve.
ISIL controls a mere 15% but they are regarded with fear, because they often have the initiative and psychological edge. Everyone is ganging up on them, but they are dug in deep, entrenched, over-armed, over-funded, ready to die – Aleppo, Palmyra, Mosul in Iraq, you name it. In attacking ISIL strongholds, Assad employs saturation bombings, with no regard for civilians. Assad destroys half of the buildings of the entire town. They induce famine, then they clamor for a ceasefire to feed the hungry. When Assad retakes an ISIL-held town, there is nothing left except hungry mutilated civilians or dead ones. Then when the smoke has cleared, they leave a ghost town. It is sadly not a victory, just a massacre.
The rebel forces who control 60% of Syria are slow and weak, fragmented and uncoordinated, and lack logistics and arms. They also need a charismatic leader to unite all factions. The Kurds are the true warriors who can face ISIL squarely. But they too need help. The war in Syria is a game of troops, not of warplanes.
ISIL controls two thin corridors forming an “X”, but these are not prone to being cut off, because they are deep in rebel territory. Their turf widens in the north, but they are sandwiched by the Kurds on both sides. On closer look, ISIL also has a ‘counter-pincer’ towards Kobane. In the west, there are two large areas (striped) contested by ISIL and Assad. ISIL wants to drive the Assad forces to the sea and Lebanese border. Aleppo, where the Assad forces are eye-to-eye with ISIL, is the immediate flashpoint, strategically critical for both. But even If Aleppo falls to Assad, the war will be protracted.
The local wars in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria are but manifestations of a deeper expanding regional war encompassing the entire Middle East, a war essentially between Sunnis and Shiites. There are two catalysts to the escalating Middle East conflict 1) the Sunni-Shiite factor defying coexistence, and 2) the proxy-war factor, where powerful outsiders join the fray for vested geopolitical interests.
The second map below gives a satellite view of the Middle East with the majority Shiites (green) contained in a monolithic area of Iran and Iraq, surrounded on all sides by majority Sunnis (blue). They are in fact inextricably intertwined in the entire Middle East, the key ingredient to an escalating protracted proxy war which may eventually trigger World War III.

The map insinuates that the war in Syria, just like in the entire Middle East, is a Sunni-Shiite conflict. Syria is 15% to 20% Shiite, and 75% Sunni (see pie graph). The Syrian rebels are essentially led by the majority Sunnis opposing the oppressive minority Shiite regime of Assad. In Iraq, it was the opposite, the majority Shiites opposed the oppressive minority Sunni regime of Saddam.
The demographics of the highly-fragmented Syrian rebel groups, foreign and local, is complex and elusive due to rapid changes in political alliances. Foreign Sunni rebels include ISIL and Al Qaeda. Local Sunni rebels includes Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. The ‘rebel coalition’, dominated by Sunnis with sprinklings of Shiite, was split when one group boycotted the 2014 Geneva talks.


The Russian Perspective
Russia supports Shiite Assad in fear that if Syria falls into Sunni hands, Shiite Iran is the next to fall, when Syria-Iraq becomes a staging point for a US invasion. Pro-Russian antI-US Iran is the last powerful buffer to the Russian border. Nations east of Iran are too small and weak to form a buffer. Russia will risk World War III in the name of survival 1) to save Iran from becoming pro-Western, and 2) to prevent NATO missiles in Poland and the Balkans, so close to its borders.

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