Rise of Jihad in Syria . . .
I've condensed a NYT article by Neil MacFarquhar and Hwaida Saad, "As Syrian War Drags On, Jihadists Take Bigger Role" (July 29, 2012), for it reports on a development that I've already been keeping an eye on from other sources:
[T]he uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's government . . . is becoming more radicalized: homegrown Muslim jihadists, as well as small groups of fighters from Al Qaeda, are taking a more prominent role and demanding a say in running the resistance . . . . [L]arger, more organized and better armed Syrian militant organizations [are] pushing an agenda based on jihad, the concept that they have a divine mandate to fight . . . . [I]t attracts more financing . . . . [In] Idlib Province, the northern Syrian region where resistance fighters control the most territory, . . . jihadists [are] fighting under the black banner of the Prophet Muhammad . . . . The groups demanded to raise the prophet's banner -- solid black with "There is no god but God" written in flowing white Arabic calligraphy . . . . [T]he changes on the ground have actually brought closer to reality the Syrian government's early . . . claim that the opposition was being driven by foreign-financed jihadists . . . . Salafist groups, or Muslim puritans, now receive most foreign financing . . . . [J]ihad has become a distinctive rallying cry . . . . [G]reater attention has been focused on a Qaeda involvement in the uprising since mid-July, when fighters professing allegiance to the terrorist organization appeared during the opposition takeover of the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey . . . . Fighters, activists and analysts say that jihadi groups are emerging now . . . . [M]ost of the money flowing to the Syrian opposition is coming from religious donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region whose generosity hinges on Salafi teaching . . . . One recent . . . video, highlighting the storming of a police station hear Aleppo, featured a pistol, the Koran and a song about fighting [for Islam]. "The Koran in our hands, we defy our enemy, we sacrifice with our blood for religion."Given the religious complexity of Syria, and the fact that these are Sunni jihadists, we can expect an increasing division of forces in which Sunni Arabs radicalized by Islamists drive Alawites, Christians, Shi'ites, and other minorities to band together in a common front opposed to the Sunnis and expressing support for the secular government.
This conflict could get very bloody as the government uses the minorities to fight an increasingly radicalized Sunni Arab majority (60%) to the death . . .