June 2, 2013

GOTTA KNOW YOUR ALLIES:

As Syrians Fight, Sectarian Strife Infects Mideast (TIM ARANGO, ANNE BARNARD and DURAID ADNAN, 6/01/13, NY Times)

[I]n real terms, Shiite Hezbollah and the Sunni-dominated Al Nusra Front, a radical group allied with Al Qaeda, have emerged as two of the strongest militias in the Syrian civil war.

Both sides have also been willing to tap into sectarian alliances and emotions. With the West hesitant to fully support the opposition, rebels accepted help from Al Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni militant group, and the reliable pipeline of weapons and cash flowing from extremist Sunni donors to jihadists, whose calls for an Islamic state found support among some Syrians influenced by hard-line clerics in Saudi Arabia.

On Friday, an influential Sunni Islamist cleric in Qatar, Sheik Yusef al-Qaradawi, called on Sunnis around the world to go to Syria to fight Hezbollah and Iran, calling them enemies of Islam.

Alawite militias in Syria have been accused of slaughtering Sunni families. Sunni rebels and gangs have been accused of kidnapping Shiites. Sunni fighters call Shiites "filth" and "dogs." Rebel commanders have begun to refer to Hezbollah, whose name means party of God, as the "party of the devil."

Government supporters call rebels "rats" and paint them with a broad brush as Bedouins and Wahhabis -- a puritanical strain of Sunni Islam from Saudi Arabia. Fadil Mutar, an Iraqi Shiite, said at the funeral of his son, who was killed in Syria, that he died fighting Wahhabis, "those vile people."

Posted by at June 2, 2013 12:23 PM
  

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