Assad's 'war' against the Islamic State group in Syria

Assad's 'war' against the Islamic State group in Syria
Comment: The Syrian regime claims to be fighting the IS group, when in reality it is using it to destroy the Syrian revolution, argues Salameh Kaileh.
4 min read
14 Sep, 2015
Only 13 percent of IS battles were against the regime, writes Kaileh [AFP]
Events in Syria are being portrayed as a struggle against the Islamic State group.

Damascus claims to be fighting IS, Washington is carrying out airstrikes against IS - and Turkey says that it has entered the war against IS, despite it bombing the Kurds, who have also been fighting IS.

The world now only views events in Syria through the prism of the IS group and the fear that it inspires, thus it has mobilised its forces against the group, and all the proposed tactics to end the Syrian conflict focus on confronting IS.

Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution, the Syrian regime claimed that it was confronting Salafi terrorist groups, and it blamed groups such as the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front for bombings that took place before the group was even formed.

The Syrian regime allowed IS to expand in coordination with the Iraqi and Iranian regimes that had sponsored the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), which later became the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/the Levant (ISIS/ISIL), before styling itself as "Islamic State" (IS).

Damascus does, however, claim to be fighting the group.

So has the Syrian regime actually fought IS? Undoubtedly, there have been confrontations between regime forces and IS, but a closer look would reveal that those battles were to help the regime in areas its forces were surrounded, such as the Meng and al-Tabqa airbases, or because IS needed weapons.

Since the establishment of the IS group, its main battles have been against the armed opposition forces that drove the group out of northern Syria, the Damascus and Homs countryside, in addition to Deir Ezzor.
     A close examination of the conflict in Syria clearly reveals that there is no clash between the Syrian regime and IS

The main battles fought against IS were fought by opposition forces that saw the group as a saboteur used by the regime against the revolution, and those opposition forces continue to fight IS in areas such as Mari and Jarabulus.

A recent study on the conflict in Syria revealed that 63 percent of the IS group's fighting was against the armed Syrian opposition, while only 13 percent of the group's battles were against the regime.

The rest of the battles were against the Kurds and other fundamentalist groups such as al-Nusra Front and Jaish al-Islam.

This clarifies that role played by the IS group and how it intersects with the regime as a force assisting it against the revolution - and not a force opposing it.

This used to be the role of the Nusra Front, despite it now being influenced by countries such as Qatar and Turkey.

This also casts light on why the regime decided to free jihadi prisoners right after the start of the revolution - and how it used to manage their operations in Iraq.

In other words, the regime has a long history of expertise on how to utilise jihadi groups, and it employed them in Iraq after 2005 to pressure the US-led occupation, pushing then Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Syrian regime's current ally, to threaten with filing a complaint at the UN Security Council against the Syrian regime.

A close examination of the conflict in Syria clearly reveals that there is no clash between the Syrian regime and IS, but the real clash is between IS and the Syrian revolution.

Under the excuse of establishing a caliphate, IS has been destroying everything related to the revolution and has imposed a backward fundamentalism on people who fought to be liberated from the tyranny of the Assad regime - in order for that tyranny to appear as a necessity to combat the fundamentalist tyranny of IS.

Perhaps the only people who believe there is a clash between the regime and IS are those who want to justify the death, destruction and displacement committed by the regime as a necessity to confront IS.

This is the justification of people with no conscience.

Salameh Kaileh is a prominent Palestinian-Syrian intellectual and activist. He has published more than 30 books, among them: Critique of Mainstream Marxism (1980), The Arab and The National Question (1989), The Problems of Marxism in the Arab World (2003) and most recently A true revolution: Marxist perspective on the Syrian uprising (2014).

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.