Mehlis Extends: Syrian Jihadists Diminish
Robin Lustig of BBC 4 writes: "You might be interested in our interview last night with Abdullah Dardari on Mehlis, Hossam, etc. The link is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/news/worldtonight/ and click on Listen to Latest Edition. The interview runs about 20 minutes after the start of the programme.
Thanks, by the way, for your always interesting and useful weblog.
Here are the complete Le Figaro articles about Siddiq and Mehlis. They are interesting. Thanks Nicolas.
The latest report on Terrorism from the Jamestown.org has some interesting statistics about foreign fighters in Iraq. Most scientific studies suggest Saudis are by far the largest group followed by Syrians who make up only slightly more than other national groups. I would argue that most Syrian statistics come from fighters who volunteered at the time the war broke out when Syria was encouraging fighters to go to Iraq. Now that Syria is arresting almost every Syrian that returns home from Iraq and has taken measures to secure the border, the flow has been probably been largely stopped. Corruption, however, will ensure that those with intimate knowledge of the region will always be able to cross if they have money.
The Salafi-Jihadist Movement in Iraq: Recruitment Methods and Arab Volunteers
By Murad Batal al-Shishani
This is the second in a two-part series on al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda in Iraq. This article focuses on the Salafi-jihadist base from which al-Zarqawi draws support and new recruits.
The experience of Arab fighters in Iraq is the latest and most important development of the global Salafi-jihadi movement, as they constitute the third generation of Salafi-jihadists. An examination of the social structure of these fighters provides important insights into this generation and the similarities and differences with the previous two generations.
READ FULL STORY but here are a few of the most interesting paragraphs:
Two recent articles have extensively studied the phenomenon of “Arab Volunteers” in Iraq. The first is by Israeli researcher Reuven Paz, who has analyzed 154 names and found that 94 (61%) were Saudis and came from the following regions: 61 from Najd, 12 from Qassim Burida, 7 from Mecca and Hijaz, 5 from the South and 2 from the North . Paz also found that these Saudis perpetrated 23 suicide attacks, and that roughly 45% of the suicide bombers were from Najd.These studies are probably a bit misleading because they are taken from websites, which do not pretend to be comprehensive and may be directed at the Saudi audience because it is rich. The NYT gives an overview of the multi-headed, diverse groups making up the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement, which suggests that the lack of any command structure makes it hard to know what is going on. Most killings of American troops are now being carried out by Iraqis. The number of suicide bombings is falling while the number of troops being killed due to IEDs is going up, which indicates that foreign jihadists are becoming less important as they are usually blamed for carrying out the suicide bombings.
The remaining fighters found in Paz’s study were: 16 Syrians (10.4%); 13 Iraqis (8.4%); 11 Kuwaitis (7.1%); 4 Jordanians, and 2 from Algeria, Morocco and Yemen each; and one each from Palestine, United Arab Emirates and Sudan.
Paz also noted that their ages ranged from 25-30 years. Some of them were married, some were holders of higher education degrees, most of them went to Iraq through a friend or relative, and the majority came from neighboring countries.
The second article is a study by Anthony Cordesman and Nawaf Obaid, who question the credibility of the lists published by al-Qaeda supporters, and contend that they were published for mobilization and recruitment purposes . They also argue that many of persons mentioned in the list have been found to be living in Saudi Arabia and were never involved in jihadi activities in the first place. But the Saudi magazine “Al-Osbu’iah” and al-Arabiya.net had previously published a report based on the same list and no response was forthcoming from the people whose names were mentioned .
Using methodology and information generated by the aforementioned articles, this article furthers studies the social structure of Salafi-jihadists in Iraq by analyzing the following factors: country of origin (geography), age, marital status and participation in other conflicts.
Based on a list of mujahideen posted on the al-Saha web forum (http://alsaha.fares.net), the ranks of the Salafi-jihadists fighting in Iraq—most of whom are part of Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda in Iraq organization—come from all over the Arab World, with Saudis being the majority (200 fighters – 53%), 13% from Syria, 8% from Iraq, 5.8% from Jordan, 4% from Kuwait, 3.8% from Libya, with the rest distributed among other countries (see Chart 1) while the geographical origin of 52 names remains unknown.
While these numbers are not comprehensive, they do give an idea as to the complexion of the mujahideen in Iraq, and indicate that the largest percentage belongs to countries surrounding Iraq, presumably because accessing Iraq is easiest for these fighters. Moreover, jihadi leaders in neighboring countries (particularly in Saudi Arabia) regularly call on mujahideen to join the jihad in American-occupied Iraq. In addition, the on-going conflict between the Saudi regime and the Saudi al-Qaeda network is forcing many young Saudi Salafi-jihadists to migrate to Iraq. Many of these jihadis are prominent fighters and ideological trainers; a good example being the Salafi-jihadist ideologue Abdullah Rashid al-Rashoud, whom Zarqawi eulogized after he was slain by American forces near al-Qaim.
In addition, there are many North Africans—principally Moroccans, Algerians and Libyans, among Arab fighters. This is because local Salafi-jihadist movements in these countries are in conflict with their governments. Therefore, as in Saudi Arabia, overwhelming security pressures are forcing fighters to search for new havens.
Interestingly, in the list posted on the al-Saha forum, the number of local Iraqis among the ranks of the Salafi-jihadists is very low (around 8%), which indicates that insurgent Iraqis prefer to join indigenous “nationalist” resistance networks, rather then foreign-led extremist ideological movements.
Ever since Syria tried to frame Jumblat with the Hussam evidence, he has gone on the attack. Syria would not forgive him for his role in pushing Syria out of Lebanon despite recent attempts a reconciliation. Naharnet has this article: Jumblat Urges Assad's Overthrow, Asserting Syria Won't be New Iraq if Regime Crumbles. The Daily Star editorial today opines that Despite talk of turning the page, Syria continues with the same old story. It concludes that "evidence suggests that Jumblatt is right and that despite Siniora's optimism, relations between Lebanon and Syria are degenerating to an irreparable state. "
Mehlis May Stay on to January's End as the US Suggests 'a Clone of Mehlis': Chief UN investigator Detlev Mehlis has given tentative agreement to remain on the head of the Rafik Hariri assassination probe for "a reasonable transitional period" to avoid any vacuum that may result after he turns in his final report to the Security Council and then immediately resign by Dec. 15. U.S. urges Annan to convince Mehlis to remain as head of UN probe. Bolton wants German prosecutor to 'continue in his current capacity'. Rami Khouri has a good piece on the importance of the Mehlis Investigation: Mehlis and rule of law in the Arab world
Hizbullah remains adamant that the international tribunal would keep Lebanon under international tutelage spearheaded by the Bush administration and Israel. "Hizbullah refuses the concept of an international tribunal as a matter of principle because it would throw Lebanon into the wind," the Party of God second-in-command Sheikh Naim Kassem said. Siniora wants to off-shore the tribunal.
An American living in Damascus offered this commentary on the rumor that Total, the French oil giant, is in talks with the Syrian government regarding building an oil refinery, as reported by one of Syria Comments readers:
I can't offer confirmation per se to the story he's referring to, but I will say this:
A friend of mine working at Total here in Damascus just told me he was offered a position in their new refinery project. The offer includes a one-week training program in Paris, focused on refinery terminology, and a promotion. He was quite excited, noting how coveted these new positions are within company. The conversation occurred yesterday, his offer on Tuesday.