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The Counter-Insurgency Role of Syria's "Popular Committ

 
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MensajePublicado: Dom Jun 16, 2013 8:37 am    Título del mensaje: The Counter-Insurgency Role of Syria's "Popular Committ Responder citando

The Counter-Insurgency Role of Syria's "Popular Committees"
http://www.fairobserver.com/article/counter-insurgency-role-syria-popular-committee

Popular Committees, neighborhood defense organizations mobilized to protect pro-government or politically neutral neighborhoods in Syria’s most restive regions, are evolving into locally cohesive divisions of a “National Defense Army.” They have the capacity to present a great challenge to the future military efforts of the armed opposition. [Note: This article was originally published by The Jamestown Foundation.]

As the Syrian Civil War enters its second year, the lijaan sha’abiya (“Popular Committees”), local defense forces supported by the Syrian military, are taking on an increasingly important role in the country’s conflict. The Popular Committees (sometimes referred to as “Peoples’ Committees”), are reported to have been organized initially as neighborhood defense organizations to protect pro-government or politically neutral neighborhoods that were not actively policed by the Syrian military.

...

The Battle for al-Qusayr

Recent fighting in the region was launched by the Syrian military and its allies (allegedly including Hezbollah) with the support of Syrian military airpower in order to seize al-Qusayr from armed opposition forces. Popular Committee fighters are reported to be patrolling the Lebanese-Syrian border around al-Qusayr and al-Qasr and to be fighting fierce defensive and limited offensive engagements against committed opposition fighters. These operations are noteworthy as demonstrations of the willingness of the Popular Committees to confront, clear, and hold pro-Assad government villages retaken from the armed opposition groups.

The evolution of the Popular Committees over the course of the Syrian civil war has important implications for the future of civil society in the country. As the Popular Committees in Syria’s most restive regions evolve into locally cohesive divisions of a “National Defense Army,” they have the capacity to present a great challenge to the future military efforts of the armed opposition. Popular Committees, professionally trained in military doctrine and tactics and battle-tested in communal warfare, are demonstrating in Homs and in Damascus’ southern suburbs a readiness to assume the burden of civil defense that the Syrian army increasingly cedes to them.

Conclusion

In the event that the Assad government would have to contract its area of control into an Alawite-dominated “rump state” with a capital in Damascus connected to a coastal strip of territory in Homs, Tartus, and Lattakia provinces, Popular Committees organized on a local level would provide a source of security and manpower to aid police efforts in confronting the armed opposition. The Popular Committee/NDA units could also provide a pan-sectarian, “Syrian patriotic” political veneer and military front for a state likely to remain politically dominated by Alawites but dependent upon a loyal but minority-dominated base of support. In the event of the total collapse of the Assad government, the Popular Committees and the NDA may face severe retribution from the armed opposition and could become major combatants in communal warfare throughout the country.

Militant Islamist organizations such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the militias of the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front, including Ahrar al-Sham and the Farouq Brigades, are reported to have been involved in some of the bitterest communal fighting in the country. The potential for communal violence in highly diverse, socially complex regions of Syria, such as Homs, the cities of Damascus and Aleppo and the northeastern al-Jazira region in and around the city of Qamishli, poses immense challenges to necessary transitional processes, including demobilization, disarmament, establishment of the rule of law and the re-integration of militarized communities such as the Popular Committees into a wider Syrian body politic.
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