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December 23, 2011

Is Assad's regime behind the Damascus suicide bombings?

December 23, 2011

December 23, 2011

Today's twin suicide bombings in Damascus are reminiscent of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination in 2005; a suicide video message, alqaeda style, quickly followed. We had to wait for years to learn that it was not alQaeda, and to be reminded that authoritarian regimes' brutal intelligence services use Salafist networks for many purposes. The regime had helped for many years foster Salafist hardline networks to prop up alQaeda in Iraq through the Syrian borders. Potential suicide bombers in North Africa were flown on one way tickets to Damascus, then transferred to an alQaeda hub/hotel in Aleppo to be brainwashed and prepared for a suicide bombing mission inside Iraq. I remember doing so many interviews with American and Syrian officials analysing this route.
The bombers were not all foreign, Syria had also its Iraq volunteers. A source inside Syria, and specifically from Jebel Azzawiya in the Idlib region, where a massacre recently occurred against defectors,  informed the Arab Digest that there are 7 thousand alQaeda Iraq fighters. These fighters make the core of the anti-regime guerrilla warfare force. The Arab Digest displayed videos, in which you could clearly see that the Free Syria Army (FSA) fighters look like the Taliban or alQaeda in action. Just like in Libya, defectors joined the well trained and experienced hard line Islamists in their fight against the regime. The fighters re-organised themselves in Libya (and in Syria) along regional lines.
After Today's bombings, there are only two scenarios: either the regime did it, or the FSA/alQaeda stands behind it. One could say the regime is behind it for the following reasons:

1. Friday is a day off which means more civilians will die than security services.
2. Arab League observers just arrived in town, and such operations serve the regime's reasoning of current events, and justifies to some extent its heavy handedness.
3. Precedence. The regime has allegedly used a suicide bomber in Lebanon's Hariri assassination.
4. The FSA has denied its involvement, and accused the regime. The Syrian National Council has previously asked the FSA, and reportedly agreed with its leader Riyadh Al-Assaad, to restrict its role to protecting civilian demonstrators.
But on the other hand, there is the following supporting the anti regime FSA/Islamists involvement:

1. The Free Syrian Army was not happy with the Arab League Observers arriving in Syria. They were counting on the Arab League increasing the international and regional isolation of Syria.
2. The Islamists have a history of attacking the Security apparatuses. These events are reminiscent of the 1980s showdown with the regime.
3. There is growing anger in the conservative cities and regions, against Damascus and Aleppo for not joining the revolution. This might be a warning.
4. The FSA is not an organised force. The Islamists have a different cell-based structure and might go about such operations without consulting anyone. In Iraq, they had no political calculations whatsoever except to ruin any political process, and promote Sectarian violence.


Both are strongly supported. Still, I see the regime blamed for the bombings due to the timing, and for it being the main perpetrator in repression and violence (the stronger side in violence, and the violent one in repressing peaceful demonstrations). Also, the fact that the regime quickly accused Al-Qaeda and had a team of media people quickly reporting and analysing this, will draw more suspicions regarding its possible involvement.

According to the State media, the twin car bombings resulted in 30 deaths-100 injured, according to al-Manar TV, and targeted the General Security Directorate and "another security branch" in Damascus. Here are the SANA photos:




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