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Saturday 7 January 2017

Syrian MP boasts of the Assad regime’s links with ISIS

By Yasmine Nahlawi, Rethink Rebuild Society

In a television interview on Syrian state television on 4 January, the Syrian Parliamentary Secretary and MP Khaled Aboud asked, ‘Where is Daesh and the Nusra Front and all these jihadist revolutionary factions? They are on the outskirts of Damascus. Then why have there been no bombings in Damascus? Why are these bombings happening in Turkish cities instead?’

Mr. Aboud here asked a critical question which holds implications for the fight against Daesh. If Daesh truly views the Assad regime as an enemy, then why does it not carry out attacks in Assad-controlled territory?

Mr. Aboud proceeded to answer this question: ‘The Syrian security establishment and the Syrian intelligence services have infiltrated and deeply penetrated these networks. They have managed to take control of key structures within. Consequently, in my opinion, what is happening in Turkey, no one can stop that without cooperating with the Syrian security establishment. I will tell you the Syrian state is aware of important aspects of what is going on in Jordan and Turkey. There is a difference between knowing about these operations and actually running them.’

Essentially, Mr. Aboud admitted on Syrian state television that the Assad regime’s security forces are in control of certain structures within terrorist organisations such as Daesh through infiltration.

In reaction to these words, Rethink Rebuild Society Advocacy Director Haytham Alhamwi says, ‘This video only proves what we have been saying for a long time, that Assad and Daesh are two sides of the same coin. For fifty years, the Assad regime—father and son—have coordinated terrorist attacks outside Syria, mainly in Iraq and Lebanon. This association with and even control over Daesh is only the latest scandal.’

The Assad regime’s knowledge of terrorist attacks by Daesh in Jordan and Turkey (but also, potentially in other countries including European countries) and its subsequent failure to take action to prevent them, imparts a degree of responsibility upon the Assad regime for these attacks. It is furthermore no less than a threat or blackmail to countries around the world, including the UK, to say that the Assad regime will not help with counter-terrorism operations in these countries (despite maintaining a degree of control over terrorist groups) unless these countries cooperate with the regime. This is contrary to UN Security Council Resolution 2249 which ‘Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures… to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF [Al-Nusra Front]… and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria.’

We reiterate our long-standing message that the Assad regime is not a trustworthy player in the fight against terrorism and that its links with and implicit control over the group must be addressed in order to make international efforts against the terrorist group more effective.

Dr Yasmine Nahlawi is Research and Policy Coordinator at Rethink Rebuild Society, Voice of the Syrian Community of Manchester.