Syria & The Lion of Panjshir

Ahmad Shah Massoud
As we speak, US Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Saudi Arabia. The purpose: Coordination of support for Syria Rebels against the Bashar Al-Assad regime. What we have is a US geo-political chess move in a game thats far from being check-mated. A thinly veiled Proxy War has broken out into regional sectarian violence; which is in fact another Proxy War. Its easy to view Syria as post-Taliban Afghanistan. Though there are lessons to be learned from this history, we cannot discount this from America’s other military expedition; Iraq. As the United States and Allies begin to move forward, The world is held hostage as we wait to see how quickly Pandora’s Box is opened.
I titled this post Syria & The Lion of Panjshir both out of tribute and differentiation of the world today. Who is “The Lion of Panjshir” you may ask? Ahmad Shah Massoud. Massoud was the figurehead of the Northern Alliance against the Islamist Taliban. The conflict being for control of the Afghan Government & well-being of Afghanistan Citizens. As a Leader & Figurehead, Massoud was able to speak to the world about the Sunni Northern Alliance fight against extremism of the Islamist Taliban. At the time, Massoud was quickly becoming a strong, stable, & trustworthy diplomatic link against a Taliban that decried the American way of life.
It was September 9, 2001. Al-Qaeda allies of the Taliban assassinated Ahmad Shah Massoud; in an attempt
Northern Alliance vs Taliban

to de-stabilize the Northern Alliance. Two days later, I lay witness to the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Every American remembers where they were when this happened. It was a defining moment of this Generation. I was a student at New York University. I was 2 miles away from the World Trade Center. Luckily I was far enough away that my dorm’s street was the border of the quarantined Lower Manhattan. I saw the smoke but was not affected by the blast. I did, however, become a powerless and helpless civilian. That personal bio aside, this shows how easily regional conflicts become global.

The US had been closely monitoring the extremism of the Taliban before September 11, 2001. It had also been slow to realize the global geo-political threat that Al-Qaeda had proven to be. Even the attacks on the USS Cole & African Embassies did not create a military response. As history will prove; The US had been slowly goaded into greater military conflict in Afghanistan. Enough problems ensued with Al-Qaeda and the known harboring by the Taliban that the Bush Administration was quick to finally attack the Taliban. As understood, the US was not invading and occupying as enemies were to accuse. The US was, however, assisting the martyred Ahmad Shah Massoud’s Northern Alliance. The NATO Coalition is still in conflict with Al-Qaeda and Taliban “extremists” 12 years later. Hamad Karzai Administration (as corrupt as it is becoming apparent) is the direct result of Taliban overtures.
I write all this not fully understanding the historical political implications as it pertains to Syria. Qatar has a long standing military and political relationship with the US. Qatar is a moderate Islamist country. Saudi Arabia, though accused of Wahabi underpinnings of Taliban Philosophy, is also a staunch Ally of the United States. European Union & other allies in the region are lining up behind Qatari & US lead on how to approach the Syria Civil War. What is known is that Bashar Al-Assad was the sovereign leader of Syria. His use of force against the civilian population de-legitimized his Government. Moreover, a sectarian proxy war was injected into the Civil War in a way that could prove to destabilize the entire region & possibly the World. Alliances & Proxy relationships did much of the same when ArchDuke Ferdinand was assassinated by the Black Hand in the Austria-Hungary Empire.
The overwhelming fear of US Allies supporting the military assistance of the Syria Rebels is the conflagration of emboldened Sunni Extremists (Al-Qaida & Friends). Propaganda against Occupying Enemy Forces has proven a strong political tool against Western Allies. Iraq suffers greatly from this as democratic forces work past majority/minority conflicts of religious sensibilities. As the US is essentially mandated in the world to inject itself into the Syria Civil War, we see that lessons must be learned & publicly debated about the past Iraq & Afghanistan interventions. Afghanistan proves to enlighten us about the perils of military support for Allied Coalitions. Iraq shows how quickly ethnic & sectarian ties trump all political boundaries and sensibilities.
As I write this blog I have feelings about what should happen in Syria. The first proxy conflict that must be dismantled is that of the Arms Dealers. This is essentially the fact that Russia has the legal relationship with the Sovereign Government of Syria. As arming the Rebels becomes the battle cry of US Senators, I would suggest foregoing US arms profits for the favor of Russia. Let them arm the rebels too, if possible, with assurances of continuation of Russia Military Aid to the new rebel regime. It may prevent a very nasty pissing contest and diplomatic rivalry.
Arming the Rebels is also necessary due to the very real threat of sectarian violence. Iran is aiding Shiite factions though Hezbollah and Assad Loyalists fearful of a Sunni Majority Government. Lebanon is falling into sectarian violence that is all but cyclical for them. As much as the Rebels factions fall into the enemy of my enemy is my friend, Sunni extremists of Al-Qaeda have interjected themselves against the Shiite supporting regime. Their goals are to build a Sunni Islamic Emirate much as the Taliban has attempted. This post won’t even attempt to discuss the Albatross in the room: Pakistan. The US must provide strong medical aid to all refugees and rebel fighters to prevent the recruitment of extremist forces. Segmentation and Targeting of Sunni Al-Qaeda fighters need to mitigate the possibility of political and military gains post Assad. Qatar may be ready for the Strategic and Economic lead in Rebel Affairs. As Kerry is in Qatar, Citizens of Qatar are pledging allegiance to the new Emir Sheikh Hamad.
This all being said, If there was a moderate figurehead within the Free Syria Army, things would be far more politically expedient. All of this must be done in light of the current state of affairs of US Politics. Tea Party political extremists cannot be married to the Military-Industrial Complex in this country. War Mongering in aid of the arms trade in this country cannot be allowed to trump sound geo-political strategy that may be out of reach to certain Conservative Senators and Congressmen. That’s my feelings; I’m sticking to it. More blogs to come that will provide greater insight into my political philosophies and strategic musings.
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