The Army of Islam, Jaysh al-Islam, is not interested in a U.N.-led drive to launch peace talks in Geneva as part of a bid to end the Syrian conflict.

Instead, it wants anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down SAA and Russian planes.

According to The Daily Star in Lebanon:

The Army of Islam, part of a newly formed council to oversee the negotiations on the opposition side, said the “best way to force the regime to accept the [political] solution and stick by it” was to allow states that back the opposition to supply rebels with anti-aircraft missiles.

The statement, sent by the group’s spokesman overnight, said it would guarantee the missiles would not reach groups that would use them “illegally.”

Foreign governments including the United States and Saudi Arabia have provided rebels with military support, but have resisted demands for missiles for fear they would end up with hard-line groups such as Daesh (ISIS).

The US and Saudi Arabia have not so far as we know provided anti-aircraft missiles to the Islamists fighting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and install an Islamic principality and implement sharia law, but Qatar has.

The New York Times reported on June 29, 2013:

Since the beginning of the year, according to four American and Middle Eastern officials with knowledge of intelligence reports on the weapons, Qatar has used a shadowy arms network to move at least two shipments of shoulder-fired missiles, one of them a batch of Chinese-made FN-6s, to Syrian rebels who have used them against Mr. Assad’s air force. Deployment of the missiles comes at a time when American officials expect that President Obama’s decision to begin a limited effort to arm the Syrian rebels might be interpreted by Qatar, along with other Arab countries supporting the rebels, as a green light to drastically expand arms shipments.

In addition jihadist commanders told the Voice of America in October they are searching

the black market trying to secure MANPADS with funds provided by wealthy Syrian expatriates. Asked if Fastaqim Kama Umirt, a brigade aligned to the rebel alliance Jaish al-Mujahideen (Army of Holy Warriors), has been trying to get anti-aircraft missiles, Zakaria Malahefji, a spokesman for the militia, nodded his assent, saying, “Sure.”

He said they met military officials last Thursday at the Turkey-based Military Operations Center staffed by Arab and Western intelligence personnel, including CIA officials, and, as well as requesting TOW anti-tank missiles, pressed the importance for the rebels of MANPADS, but it was made clear none would be forthcoming.

Geneva Conferences: Designed for Failure

The Geneva II conference held in Montreux and Geneva in 2014 was sabotaged by demands that president al-Assad step down. Secretary of State John Kerry led the failure of a peace deal by stating there would be “only one option, negotiating a transition government born by mutual consent” and according to the United States “mutual consent” meant “that Bashar Assad will not be part of that transition government.”

Ajamu Baraka wrote at the time:

There is one thing that the so-called peace conference on Syria is guaranteed to achieve and that is that when the last speech is made and the delegates leave the hall, the grotesque bloodletting and devastation will continue for the people of Syria. Why? Because for the Obama Administration, the diplomatic process was never intended to bring about a peaceful resolution to the war. Its main purpose was always to affect their main strategic objective – the removal of President Bashir al-Assad from power and the disappearance of Syria as an independent state.

The latest peace talks will also fail because the demand that al-Assad step down is still in place.

Moreover, Syrian “opposition leaders” are demanding the SAA stop its offense against jihadists groups. In recent weeks, the effort by the SAA and Russia to take back areas of the country has proven successful.

Tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran also weigh heavy on the negotiations.

“The Saudi-Iranian escalation of tension will have effects [on Geneva talks] since they are the two main regional powers … in the Syrian arena,” said Khaled al-Nasser, a member of  the Syrian National Coalition. “I am pessimistic.”

The Syrian National Coalition is recognized by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman, countries also funding the jihadists who demand al-Assad step aside.


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