Syria’s Assad Accused of Boosting al-Qeada with secret oil deals

Introduction — June 25, 2014

Members of the 'Free Syrian Army'. Click to enlarge

Members of the ‘Free Syrian Army’. Click to enlarge

The article from Britain’s Daily Telegraph reprinted below is barely six months old but the passage of time reveals it to be a patent pack of lies. Even if the journalists involved didn’t concoct the falsehoods it contains their sources — “Western intelligence agencies, rebels and al-Qaeda defectors” — certainly did.
The whole report is reminiscent of the sort of disinformation that was once peddled by the Western media in the run-up to the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Only now the intended target is Syria’s President Assad who, the Telegraph claims, was making deals with Muslim militants at the expense of more “moderate” groups opposed to his rule.
In the past six months President Assad’s forces have made considerable headway against the foreign backed militants trying to topple him. What’s more the gulf states of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Britain and the U.S. have all been exposed as having backed Sunni militants fighting in Syria and Iraq.
No hint of that in what follows however. Instead we get completely unsubstantiated claims that Assad was secretly collaborating with militants ostensibly opposed to him.
This story was probably fed by someone in Western intelligence to the Telegraph’s journalists. At the very least they failed to scrutinise it properly but to add insult to injury the Telegraph expects you to pay to read what is essentially disinformation.
Fortunately, we were able to retrieve the original text courtesy Pakistan Defence. But it serves to illustrates how disinformation is now being served up in the guise of ‘News’.
Since this was first published one report after another has appeared pointing to Western backing for Sunni militants who are trying to set up an Islamist Caliphate in what is now Syria and Iraq.
No hint of that in what follows though.
Instead we get an illustration of why the established media is dying and why those who work for it are little better that intellectual whores doing the bidding of Western intelligence. It’s fitting that it should also appear in the Daily Telegraph, which has long been rumoured to harbour operatives from the British intelligence community.
Also note that the nationality of those fighting President Assad isn’t mentioned in the Telegraph report. That’s because most of those fighting President Assad’s forces are not even Syrian but Saudis, Qataris or Libyans recruited by the gulf states to do their dirty work.

Syria’s Assad Accused of Boosting al-Qeada with secret oil deals

By Ruth Sherlock, in Istanbul and Richard Spencer — The Daily Telegraph 20 Jan 2014 via Pakistan Defence

A soldier loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad surveys the devastation in Tel Hasel, Aleppo province after its recapture from Muslim extremists. Click to enlarge

A soldier loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad surveys the devastation in Tel Hasel, Aleppo province after its recapture from Muslim extremists. Click to enlarge

The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has funded and co-operated with al-Qaeda in a complex double game even as the terrorists fight Damascus, according to new allegations by Western intelligence agencies, rebels and al-Qaeda defectors.

Jabhat al-Nusra, and the even more extreme Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS), the two al-Qaeda affiliates operating in Syria, have both been financed by selling oil and gas from wells under their control to and through the regime, intelligence sources have told The Daily Telegraph.

Rebels and defectors say the regime also deliberately released militant prisoners to strengthen jihadist ranks at the expense of moderate rebel forces. The aim was to persuade the West that the uprising was sponsored by Islamist militants including al-Qaeda as a way of stopping Western support for it.

The allegations by Western intelligence sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, are in part a public response to demands by Assad that the focus of peace talks due to begin in Switzerland tomorrow be switched from replacing his government to co-operating against al-Qaeda in the “war on terrorism”.

“Assad’s vow to strike terrorism with an iron fist is nothing more than bare-faced hypocrisy,” an intelligence source said. “At the same time as peddling a triumphant narrative about the fight against terrorism, his regime has made deals to serve its own interests and ensure its survival.”

Intelligence gathered by Western secret services suggested the regime began collaborating actively with these groups again in the spring of 2013. When Jabhat al-Nusra seized control of Syria’s most lucrative oil fields in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, it began funding its operations in Syria by selling crude oil, with sums raised in the millions of dollars.

“The regime is paying al-Nusra to protect oil and gas pipelines under al-Nusra’s control in the north and east of the country, and is also allowing the transport of oil to regime-held areas,” the source said. “We are also now starting to see evidence of oil and gas facilities under ISIS control.”

The source accepted that the regime and the al-Qaeda affiliates were still hostile to each other and the relationship was opportunistic, but added that the deals confirmed that “despite Assad’s finger-pointing” his regime was to blame for the rise of al-Qaeda in Syria.

Western diplomats were furious at recent claims that delegations of officials led by a retired MI6 officer had visited Damascus to re-open contact with the Assad regime. There is no doubt that the West is alarmed at the rise of al-Qaeda within the rebel ranks, which played a major role in decisions by Washington and London to back off from sending arms to the opposition.

But the fury is also an indication that they suspect they have been outmanoeuvred by Assad, who has during his rule alternated between waging war on Islamist militants and working with them.

After September 11, he co-operated with the United States’ rendition programme for militant suspects; after the invasion of Iraq, he helped al-Qaeda to establish itself in Western Iraq as part of an axis of resistance to the West; then when the group turned violently against the Iraqi Shias who were backed by Assad’s key ally, Iran, he began to arrest them again.

As the uprising against his rule began, Assad switched again, releasing al-Qaeda prisoners. It happened as part of an amnesty, said one Syrian activist who was released from Sednaya prison near Damascus at the same time.

“There was no explanation for the release of the jihadis,” the activist, called Mazen, said. “I saw some of them being paraded on Syrian state television, accused of being Jabhat al-Nusra and planting car bombs. This was impossible, as they had been in prison with me at the time the regime said the bombs were planted. He was using them to promote his argument that the revolution was made of extremists.”

Other activists and former Sednaya inmates corroborated his account, and analysts have identified a number of former prisoners now at the head of militant groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra, ISIS and a third group, Ahrar al-Sham, which fought alongside Jabhat al-Nusra but has now turned against ISIS.

One former inmate said he had been in prison with “Abu Ali” who is now the head of the ISIS Sharia court in the north-eastern al-Qaeda-run city of Raqqa. Another said he knew leaders in Raqqa and Aleppo who were prisoners in Sednaya until early 2012.

These men then spearheaded the gradual takeover of the revolution from secular activists, defected army officers and more moderate Islamist rebels.

Continues …