Syria: Gearing up for battle along the Turkish border (Op-Ed)

The interior of a burnt out government office is pictured in Haffeh town near Latakia city June 14, 2012 (Reuters / Khaled al-Hariri)
The Syrian Air Force is preparing bombing raids as part of their fight against insurgents and terrorists north of Aleppo. A look at home-made problems and terror networking darkens the picture, and the right strategy appears to still be out of reach.

Consultant and peace activist Christoph R. Hörstel told RT that his information “is directly obtained from Syrian security personnel of various origins personally taking part in battles and other operations, and/or close relatives of such personnel – some are even well-known people.

“The information reaches me through a partner in Turkey. I counter-check all information obtained this way as best as possible under the circumstances,” Hörstel said.

He gives an outline of the military’s activities from Syria.

These days, the Syrian Army is busy preparing for the prolonged fighting to prevent the establishment of a war zone from the northwestern town of Hafeh, to Hassakeh in the northeast. As one of the first targets, the areas around Aleppo are under scrutiny, involving a huge military deployment. More military operations are due in Idlib and Hafeh. Kurdish volunteers, who until now have not responded to rebel advances, are being weaponized – and thus internally upgraded in status – by the government east of Hassakeh for boarder guarding; southern borders are being mined, and a buffer zone has been established inside Lebanon to keep Syria trouble-free at least in part; coastal areas are now fully under control, say official sources – but how correct that is will soon be clear.

At the moment, for once, insurgents and terrorists are facing supply shortages, as they've lost too many strongholds and weapon stockpiles since last week. Communications networks were destroyed, while others were limited in range, and surveillance is now tracking most of the contacts.

This is the time to look at the reasons the insurgence manages to survive. What we see in Syria shows several signs of a bloody version of the "Occupy” movement. The rightful demands of ordinary Syrians were exploited by foreign countries and their “black ops” specialists – and that is why and how some civil disobedience in March last year has turned into violent clashes. The people’s demands were as simple as they were justified: to be counted as respected citizens when appealing to the courts, to stop the growing wealth imbalance, take care of unemployment; freedom of speech and more say in politics. The system moved, but it did too little and too late, leaving out the taboo topics corruption and oppression.

It was these grave mistakes that allowed foreign agents the space they needed to hire militants, fake demonstrators and real anarchists, then arm them and furnish them with high-tech communication systems, and train them to set up the orchestrating mechanisms in international politics and media.

In Syria, many people, including officials, are now dreaming of reforms to be practically carried out by a new class of young, eager bureaucrats, who stand in the first line of contact, whenever citizens turn to the administration. This would render Syria impermeable to the "foreign intrusion" of the kind the country has been facing for more than a year. And the citizens who demand affection from the bureaucracy now – they face delays, inactivity and even fear in the bureaucrats' decisions, because any decision carries risks – and at present, risks are not en vogue in Syria. Never were, actually. And that applies to many newly installed high-ups as well.

During this week’s Homs-Khaldiyeh-Rastan operations, security forces landed an unexpected catch: due to a lack of convenience, all captured suspected terrorists were put into one detention center in Homs. At that point, one of the suspects quarreled and kicked another terrorist while a third one tried to separate the two. The Syrian prison ward, alerted by the unexpectedly serious brawl among prisoners who were picked up in different towns, decided to interrogate all three of them.

The result was astonishing for Syrian officials and a big blow to Syria’s “Mukhabarat”, the secret service: all three are Libyans, two of them originating from the eastern Libyan coastal town of Derna, the third from Tobruk. The man who was attacked is named Salaf, his attacker Momin, the go-between Dirham. Momin accused Salaf of causing the death of his brother, who was trained in improvised explosives, during a Damascus car bombing.

Salaf was released from Guantanamo after signing a contract with a private US security service, due to a Homeland 2008 Program; Salaf received his first training in the US, then arrived in Tunisia in 2010, where his education was finalized and put to service by a retired Egyptian colonel.

Momin was the coordinator of a "prison evacuation" scam plus a "Lampedusa transfer" operation, which was set up to plant potential al-Qaeda operatives into Europe, after the so-called Arab Spring in Tunisia. Momin acquired an interesting travel history, eventually reaching France via Italy without any passport or money, getting himself arrested there and sent to Turkey courtesy of French security.

Dirham was in charge of financial affairs, called "cellular havala:" in this system, money is transferred by cell phone MMS, showing picture and passport number of a recipient, facilitating the trafficking of refugees on a "special care list" – mainly Pakistanis, Afghanis and Yemenis – into the EU. Dirham was also intermediating and channeling the money flow from the exchange with office owners in Central European countries to his counterparts in Germany, France and the UK.

The biggest blow to the Syrian Mukhabarat: Salaf was in Homs almost for three years and known as a wealthy merchant, importer of food, agricultural products and cleaning materials. In this time he travelled to Turkey a few times, the last trip taking him to a refugee camp in Yayladagi, Turkey, between April 9-11 this year, upon "obligatory invitation." When captured in Homs, Salaf was guarded by dozens of armed militia near his office-like flat, where he possessed two satellite phones and other high-tech communication devices.

These days, Syrian security is busy looking for other terrorists in this network, and keeps them in a secure place. Despite a mass of direct, credible info flow from Syrian officials, this one unexpected incident constitutes the most surprising until now.

To make a long story short, it is right to say that Syria is facing a multi-pronged operation: asymmetric warfare based on psycho-sociological facts and demands, enriched with elements of terror management.

­Christoph R. Hörstel for RT

­Сhristoph R. Hörstel is managing director at Hörstel Networks, Government & Business Consulting. http://syria-help.blogspot.de/