Brian Michael Jenkins, autorità internazionale in questo settore, traccia una breve analisi dei gruppi terroristici sunniti e sciiti operanti in Siria: “The Role of Terrorism and Terror in Syria’s Civil War“.
Il documento è tutto molto interessante ma vi segnalo, in particolare, le conclusioni e le previsioni:
The rebels cannot seem to make the transition from a resistance movement to a field force capable of challenging the government’s forces on the battlefield. For the time being, the rebels are able to take and hold smaller towns. They can infiltrate the periphery of larger cities, forcing the government to use its airpower and heavy weapons to drive them out, thereby causing heavy civilian casualties and collateral damage. The rebels can carry out spectacular terrorist attacks, principally large-scale bombings, to gain attention and demonstrate that the government cannot guarantee security, hoping that these actions will create an untenable situation that eventually brings about a change of regime from within or provokes intervention from abroad. With less concern about tactics that offend Western sensitivities, jihadists thrive in this kind of warfare.
On the other side, the Syrian government’s approach to counterinsurgency is informed by its own historical experience in suppressing Muslim revolts and by Soviet/Russian doctrine as displayed in the wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya. It is a strategy of terror characterized by the static defense of major population centers and strategic lines of communication in Syria; this will translate into the defense of Damascus, Aleppo, and other large cities, ethnically friendly enclaves, and the major highways that connect them.
Offensive operations are marked by intensive aerial and artillery bombardment, razing entire neighborhoods and towns, the deliberate targeting of bakeries (an important component of food production) and hospitals, and the destruction of commerce in rebel-held zones. These brutal tactics serve the dual purpose of terrorizing supporters of the rebels and binding Assad’s forces to the regime by making them accomplices in actions that foreclose any other future for them.
Local militias, backed by airpower and armored units, root out rebel fighters and carry out ethnic cleansing. They are the now Syria’s “weapons of mass destruction.” These tactics generate civilian casualties and vast numbers of refugees. Over time, the Syrian army will cease to be a national institution, while militias will become the primary protectors and enforcers of the regime.
This has implications for any future foreign military intervention. Neutralizing Syria’s armed forces will not end the fighting. Nor will there be any national army to subsequently maintain order—war crimes will make what remnants survive undesirable allies. Instead, the occupying forces will have to confront a host of autonomous military formations and criminal groups, defeating and disarming them piecemeal while providing protection to local communities until new security institutions are created.
What began as a rebellion against the regime of Bashar al-Assad has become a sectarian civil war. The same underlying tensions were on display during the war in Iraq, but Syria represents a much more complex mosaic of Sunnis, Shias, Alawites (a Shia sect), Christians, Druze, Kurds, and others. As national institutions are worn away, self-defense and survival are increasingly based on ethnic and sectarian identities.
These fault lines cut across the lines in the sand drawn by colonial powers nearly a century ago.
Syria’s civil war already has exacerbated sectarian tensions in Iraq and Lebanon, and it increases the likelihood of a wider regional conflict, with growing sectarianism affecting diaspora communities as well. As in Syria, a wider regional conflict will have many layers—Sunni versus Shia; Jihadists versus existing regimes, whether secular, Shia, or conservative monarchies; Iran versus Jordan, Turkey, the Gulf kingdoms; even a renewal of Cold War competition. In one way or another, we will be dealing with the effluent of Syria’s conflict for years to come.