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World View: Al-Qaeda Captures Multiple Syrian Cities

World View: Al-Qaeda Captures Multiple Syrian Cities

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Thailand army coup feared in face of massive anti-government protests
  • Chechen terrorist Omar Shishani leads al-Qaeda to victories in Syria

Thailand army coup feared in face of massive anti-government protests

The racial split in Thailand’s population between the light-skinnedpeople of the Thai-Chinese elite minority and the dark-skinnedpeople of the indigenous Thai-Thai laborer majority is potentiallyreaching a crisis point, as tens or hundreds of thousands ofThai-Chinese anti-government flag-waving “yellow shirt” protestershave blocked major roads around the center of Bangkok.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban of the People’s Democratic ReformCommittee (PDRC) vowed on Monday to shutdown Bangkok indefinitely:

Today will be written in Thai history… We willshut down the city. We will do it all days and we will do iteveryday until we win. No negotiations. Nocompromise.

Thaugsuban is calling on his supporters to boycott the plannedFebruary 2 election, which he knows his party will lose because hiselite racial group is in the minority. Instead, Thaugsuban isdemanding that the prime minister resign and be replaced by anunelected “people’s council,” whose members are presumably to bechosen by Thaugsuban.

So far, the “red shirt” pro-government supporters have kept theirrallies fairly small, but there are fears that that could change if itbegins to appear that Thaugsuban might get his way. It’s particularlyominous that Thaugsuban is calling for a boycott of the February 2election, since the last time that happened in 2006, an army coupousted the prime minister, Thai-Thai hero Thaksin Shinawatra, brotherof the current prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The army is known to be strong on the side of Thaugsuban’s eliteminority and has shown willingness in the past to be violent to thered shirt protesters while excusing the yellow shirts. If there’sviolence between the red shirts and the yellow shirts, then the armymay stage a coup once more, and that is presumably exactly whatThaugsuban wants, even though that could mean a lot more violence.Bangkok Post and AP

Chechen terrorist Omar Shishani leads al-Qaeda to victories in Syria

The al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant(ISIS or ISIL) killed as many as 100 anti-Assad activists in Syriaover the weekend and took control of several cities. Al-Qaeda andSyria’s president Bashar al-Assad have essentially become military allies, fighting the Syrian anti-Assad militants.

The Syrian anti-Assad militants are the moderate Syrian NationalCoalition (SNC) and the salafist Jabhat al-Nusra. Both of thesegroups consist of actual Syrian citizens, and both are opposed to theal-Assad government.

ISIS consists mostly of foreign al-Qaeda-trained fighters and isbeing led by Abu Omar al-Shishani, a prominent jihadist leader fromChechnya and the most influential military leader in Syria in ISIS.The slaughter of dozens of activists in the SNC and al-Nusra over theweekend puts him squarely on the side of al-Assad’s army.

Well, this is certainly a complex situation. Al-Qaeda terrorists areSunni jihadists who consider Shia Muslims to be infidels or apostates.Al-Assad is Shia/Alawite and is being supported by the so-calledalso fighting the Shia government in Iraq. Jihadists in Chechnya arefighting the Orthodox Christian government of Russia which isproviding an unlimited supply of heavy weapons to al-Assad. 

So wehave to assume that ISIS’s love affair with al-Assad is not going tolast forever.

In the meantime, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and theRussians are leading the effort to hold a “Syria Peace Conference” inGeneva on January 22. It’s not known if any of the Syrian oppositiongroups will be there, or if Iran will be there; Israel certainlywon’t be there. ISIS’s string of victories over the weekend makes itappear that that it will be the next in the list of John Kerry’sfailed peace conferences, peace agreements, and peace announcements, alist that seems to get longer every week. Cihan (Turkey) and Reuters

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