Syrian Guerrilla Warfare, by TRUE

A word from OFF THE WALL

Although personally I strongly oppose armed actions by the revolution or by anyone supporting the revolution. It seems that the regime has succeeded in pushing some of its own soldiers as well as other factions into armed action. Whether we like it or not, there are fights going on, and while the peaceful protest continues, and continue to be met with brute force whenever the regime can still do so, a parallel line has emerged and it is gaining strength. This article by TRUE is an attempt to understand the tactics of the armed factions. The subject is off course a controversial one, but it is important that Syrians of all stripes discuss it, especially in light of the brutal demise of a brutal man Qaddafi. I believe we are going to have a heated debate on the merit or follies of armed actions against a regime that is far better equipped than anything an armed faction can attain, in the absence of external intervention, which is rejected by the largest segment of the Opposition, including myself. Please read the article and please let us keep the discussion as civilized as it has been since we started gathering around 7ee6an.

Syrian Guerrilla Warfare, by TRUE

Ali Ferzat cartoon about army split in Syria
Once more, Ali Ferzat had something to say about our topic. The word under the tank says "Defections"

All roads lead to  Rome  and all tactics and strategies implemented by the current Syrian regime seem to lead to an inescapable civil war. The Syrian revolution 2011 took a sharp twist when some of its participants adopted the concept of guerrilla warfare in response to the regime’s brutal security based crack down. For the last seven months or so the Syrian protesters have done their best to paint and maintain their popular movement as peaceful “Sylmiah” as they could. Such a tactic, undeniably, brought them a great deal of respect and international support, in fact only “verbal” support. In return, the current regime did not respond back with roses or water, words or serious dialog with the protesters, but, to the contrary, with iron and weapons killing more than 3000 martyrs, arresting 43250 and 12430 reported “missing” and everyone knows what does “missing” mean in al-ASSAD kingdom.

On the one hand, and as they emerged, the Free Syrian Army [الجيش السوري الحر] (FSA) and the Syrian National Council (SNC)  concepts are emerging and developing slowly and are yet to harmonise and gain more weight on the ground. On the other hand, the guerrilla warfare remains the “de facto” which causes the regime the real deal of pain. The level of pain is demonstrated through different forms and shapes, from having cities and villages completely out of control, bleeding the regime’s resources, jeopardizing its image and hindering its confidence. Inescapably, the guerrilla warfare will be the drive to unite all efforts and entities to oust the current regime.

There are three main guerrilla warfare tactics (Human waveCu Chi tunnels and Foco). Although the mass demonstrations calling for toppling the regime might suggest “human Wave” tactic, however, in reality, these crowds are not armed and are purely peaceful protesters. A quick glance at the current situation suggests that the Syrian armed rebels are divided into small fragmented and independent units which operate individually on sting –run methodology.  This allows them to minimise casualties from their side giving their lack the firepower. On the other hand, by examining the geographical nature of Syrian cities, we can safely assume it’s not “Cu Chi Tunnels” tactic (which was used by Hizboallah in Southern Lebanon).

To date, the apparent code of conduct of the Syrian guerrilla warfare leads to one conclusion of (Urban-Foco) tactic. Originally, Foco was about mobilising irregular armed civilians to launch attacks o}n formal troops from rural areas, and then return back to remote villages where fighters could melt and disappear amongst locals. However, since 1960 there was a new trend and shift in implementation strategies leading to what is now called “Urban-Foco” where guerrilla warfare combat operations (ambush, raid, and sniper operations) are conducted in urban environments and the guerrilla fighters return to their urban bases among sympathizing population. The Syrian case can be measured and compared against other similar case studies such as the Irish Republican Army, the Mujahideen in  Afghanistan , the Che chen Rebels in  Grozny .

“The urbanized strategic environment provides a fertile environment for Unconventional Warfare. The battleground where Unconventional Warfare will be conducted is no longer just the inaccessible terrain of rural areas. It is also located within the increasing urban sprawl occurring worldwide. Urbanization may require the development of new skills and core competencies. (DA 2001a, 2-10)”

“The Soviet Army positioned outposts along all major roads and was especially active in pacifying the Northern provinces between Kabuland and Termez. Even so, the Kabul regime faced enormous difficulties in ensuring the personal security of its own officials, who were often subject to attacks within the capital itself. The resistance network in Kabul repeatedly carried out shootings, bombings, and assassinations. (Baumann 1993, 136)”

“The Che chen s were extremely effective during small unit battles with the Russian forces by utilizing methods with which the Russians were either unfamiliar or unable to counter. Using the tactic of “hugging” the rebels would stay close to the Russian units as they moved to avoid indirect fire and keep at close range (Thomas 1999).”

“Where the Russians fought to control and hold the territory, the rebels fought to make controlling and holding the territory as unpleasant as possible—a very different mission, and one far more difficult both to grasp and to counter. (Oliker 2001, 73)”

Personally speaking, in a little while, I believe the Syrian guerrilla warfare will be forced to amalgamate its units, define political goals and firmly establish political responsibilities, and that’s where the big picture of SFA & SNC starts coming together. On that line, Mao Tse-tung defines certain fundamental steps necessary for guerrilla warfare in the realization of policy and political agenda which I find quite applicable to our Syrian scenario as follows

  1. Arousing and organizing the people.
  2. Achieving internal unification politically.
  3. Establishing bases.
  4. Equipping forces.
  5. Recovering national strength.
  6. Destroying enemy’s national strength.
  7. Regaining lost territories.

Finally, I leave you with a quote to the soul of freedom fighters “Che Cuevara” to think and reflect on

“Why does the guerrilla fighter fight? We must come to the inevitable conclusion that the guerrilla fighter is a reformer, that he takes up arms responding to the angry protest of the people against their oppressors, and that he fights in order to change the social system that keeps all his unarmed brothers in ignominy and misery.”

Che Guevara


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