LOYALIST HAASS TALKS COULD BE BLUEPRINT FOR SYRIA
The forthcoming Haass talks to resolve the peace process crisis provide Loyalism with the perfect platform to become a template for a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis. Radical Unionist commentator and former Blanket columnist, DR JOHN COULTER, outlines his controversial thinking.
Not one drop of Ulster military blood must be spilt in Syria!
At first reading, this article may seem as going totally against my stance that the United Kingdom should have used tactical nuclear weapons against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and if the Western powers had needed – used nukes against North Korea.
I am completely against any Allied attack on Syria, not because I have become some kind of trendy, liberal peace campaign, but because it would be a huge tactical error and a complete waste of previous troops, many of whom will have Northern Ireland connections.
Just as the Irish conflict has been a sectarian was within Christianity – Protestants against Catholics – so, too, the Syrian crisis has become a vicious sectarian conflict within Islam, especially between the majority Sunni Muslim faction in Syria, and the Middle Eastern state’s minority Shia Muslim community.
Given this scenario, why would American President Barack Obama want the green light to send in his bombers against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, thereby embroiling some of the Allied powers in what is only a muslim civil war?
If Iraq and Afghanistan are benchmarks, air raids will soon be followed by ground troops and the Yanks will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War by invading yet another nation and butting their noses into a religious conflict.
‘Basher’ Assad is kicking the asses of the radical Muslim Brotherhood-run Free Syrian Army.
Okay, Shia Muslim ‘Basher’ may allegedly be using chemical weapons against the Sunni Muslim rebels, but if Obama’s planes begin bombing, the real people to suffer will be Syria’s 2.5 million Christians, who comprise 10 per cent of the country.
Ironically, ‘Basher’ Assad has a reputation of being more tolerant of Syrian Christians than the fanatical Muslim Brotherhood leaders of the anti-Assad rebels.
Many American and British troops are of Irish and Ulster decent. How many Irish and Ulster families lost loved ones in the needless conflicts in Iraq over Weapons of Mass Destruction which did not exist, and in Afghanistan to eliminate the heroin poppy industry?
We should not forget, that in many global conflicts, Ulster-born or Ulster-related troops have paid a key role. In 2016, the island of Ireland will commemorate the centenary of the opening day of the bloody Battle of the Somme on 1st July, 1916, when the British forces suffered some 56,000 casualties.
The 36th Ulster Division – formed from Lord Edward Carson’s Ulster Volunteer Force – suffered particularly horrific losses with some 5,500 casualties. Indeed, many Catholic nationalists who had signed up for the Crown and fought with the 10th and 16th Irish Divisions also suffered terrible casualties.
As the current Syrian crisis deepens on a daily basis, even with Obama struggling to compile a fledgling alliance to gain support for either bombing raids or missile strikes against Damascus, we should remember the words of the United Kingdom’s famous Second World War Prime Minister Winston Churchill – it is better to jaw jaw than war war.
If the Loyalist delegations at the Haass talks on issues affecting Northern Ireland can bring about an agreed solution which maintains the peace process, then the Loyalists’ Haass solution could become a major template for the Syrian crisis.
If the Haass talk run aground, the peace process will be in serious jeopardy, especially with discontentment in the Loyalist community running at an all-time high.
All the indications point towards the fact that a violent dissident loyalist terrorist network is emerging in the aftermath of the recent Marching Season and Union flag riots.
Indeed, a new dissident loyalist terror movement of three-man cells is being formed to attack the police, Sinn Fein, and Parades Commission members, according to a key loyalist strategist behind the new movement.
Speaking exclusively to me, the loyalist source revealed the cells also planned to attack a future republican parade – preferably a dissident one – with snipers.
In an equally chilling warning, the loyalist strategist behind the planned movement said that some DUP politicians “who have let the loyalist people down” would also be targets.
“Unionism needs strong leadership at this time from the top. We are not getting this from either the DUP or UUP. We need a traditional unionist from the old school of Unionism to lead us.
“We cannot see the point of attacking the Irish Republic as the battle will be in Northern Ireland. There is no point in adopting the republican view that one bomb in London is worth 100 in Belfast. We will get no support if we target places in Great Britain.
“The DUP is heading for a downfall because it has lost the discipline at grassroots level. The PSNI cannot live in Protestant areas without the support of the Unionist people.”
Referring to the recent riots around a contentious anti-internment rally in Belfast by republicans, the loyalist strategist said: “It seemed initially that loyalist tactics were working – flood the centre of Belfast with loyalists and bring the place to a literal standstill.
“But then the police began attacking our people with batons and water cannons. If our snipers have to shoot at the police, they will.
“This is not like the early Drumcree standoffs where many of the police officers were locals and known to people. Many of these riot cops used against the loyalists are from outside Northern Ireland, so we won’t be shooting our own.”
Another loyalist source not connected to this new dissident loyalist network had claimed that gunmen armed with M16 automatic weapons were among the loyalist crowd in Royal Avenue ready to shoot republicans if the anti-internment parade made it to the city centre.
There have been unsubstantiated claimed these gunmen were from the banned UVF. During disturbances following that anti-internment parade, more than 50 officers were injured according to PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott.
The loyalist strategist’s chilling warning sparked memories that the first police officer to die in the past Troubles was 29-year-old Protestant Victor Arbuckle who was shot dead by the UVF in the loyalist Shankill during serious rioting.
My source claimed the key pulses of the new loyalist dissident movement would be East Belfast, the Shankill, Whiterock, Carrickfergus and Coleraine.
“Sinn Fein is trying to create a situation whereby dissident republicans fall into line behind the mainstream republican movement. The effect of our campaign will be to bring British troops back onto the streets of Ulster – which is what Sinn Fein certainly doesn’t want.
“But the gamble we are taking is that if the Army does come back, would they start shooting at us loyalists?
“Loyalism is facing new threats from republicans. Take their Tyrone Volunteers parade. It was always held in a solidly republican area. Now they want to push the barriers that wee bit further by bringing the parade to a Protestant area.
“We have to be very careful how we organise as loyalism – like the dissident republicans – has been totally infiltrated by MI5 and MI6. There are people in loyalism who would sell themselves for a pint of beer.
“The lone wolf tactic of a single terrorist acting alone, which is favour by the extreme Right, is no use as people are not fully trained.
“The dissident republicans use cells of five members, but these can be infiltrated by the security forces, so we will use cells of three. MI5 and MI6 are now so sophisticated that you can no longer use conventional electronic devices.
“We want to base our network on the Greek terrorist structure – teams of three not known to each other. Even if one cell is taken out, it does not mean the end of the organisation.”
This was a reference to the Greek Cypriot terrorist group, EOKA, formed in the 1970s against British rule in Cyprus. EOKA stood for Ethniki Organosis Kipriakou Agnonos, which is Greek for the National Organisation of Cypriot Struggle.
“It’s like the honeycomb effect – just because you empty one comb, doesn’t mean the whole honeycomb is emptied. The smaller the cell, the more effective we become. The weakness will always be on how we train a cell.
“Once an overall training network is set up, that’s when it becomes infiltrated by MI5 and MI6.”
This is not the first time a dissident loyalist terrorist group has been established. In the aftermath of the original loyalist ceasefire in 1994, the leading Mid Ulster UVF terrorist Billy ‘King Rat’ Wright split from the Belfast-controlled terror group to set up his own Loyalist Volunteer Force.
After the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, other dissident loyalist groups emerged including the revamped Orange Volunteers, the Red Hand Defenders, and the Real UFF.
While mainstream loyalists rallied to the banner of the Combined Loyalist Military Command which called the 1994 ceasefires, dissident loyalists formed their own umbrella group called the Protestant Military Alliance.
The challenge, therefore, facing any Loyalist delegations at the Haass talks is to ensure that this emerging dissident Loyalist genie is returned to its bottle and the lid on that bottle firmly sealed.
Even if the Loyalists succeed in restoring peace in Northern Ireland as a result of the Haass initiative, it may not be enough to be a successful negotiated blueprint for the Syrian – and indeed, the wider – Middle Eastern crisis.
The influential Egyptian Society of Northern Ireland has its finger on the pulse of the crisis. In July 2012, there was a cautious welcome for the then Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi, who had overthrown the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak.
But Morsi is out of power and the remnants of the Brotherhood have resorted to a vile terror campaign against the police and army in Egypt. As the Brotherhood has lost its street support, its more militant members have formed a brutally violent dissident Islamic faction, with some linked to the al-Qaeda terror network formed by the late Osama bin Laden.
The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in Egypt in 1928 by an influential religious leader, Hassan al-Banna. Rather than a political movement, al-Banna wanted the Brotherhood to become an Islamic religious organisation which would spread a militant Muslim message well beyond the boundaries of Egypt.
Ironically, just as in 1928, the modern-day Brotherhood aims to put in place an agenda which is attractive to young Muslims. Its leadership wanted the Brotherhood to spread globally under the banner that it was a radical religious movement to combat the spread of atheistic communism.
In Egypt, the Brotherhood was blamed for an unsuccessful assassination bid on one president and the successful murder of another. Under Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood came to power for the first time after years of persecution, but quickly began to mishandle the situation in the country.
Morsi’s major problems stemmed from the fact that he began to release Muslim Brotherhood prisoners similar to the way in which in Northern Ireland, Loyalist and republican inmates were given early release under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. As with Northern Ireland, this created a lot of concern in Egypt.
Morsi was also hit with a petition signed by 22 million Egyptians calling for him to call a referendum if he should serve his full term as President, or should be call elections and step aside immediately. Morsi’s refusal to grant a referendum sparked the second student-dominated revolution which overthrew both Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood would never accept offers of talks, demanding that Morsi be re-installed as President before any negotiations for a new Egyptian constitution could begin – a demand the majority of Egyptian people rejected.
The Muslim Brotherhood still see Morsi as the rightful President. Initially, the Brotherhood’s sit-ins were peaceful, but soon guns were produced at the ensuing riots. The Egyptian army took decisive action to dissolve the Brotherhood sit-ins, but the Brotherhood began arson attacks against police stations in retaliation.
With the arrests of the Brotherhood leaders, the organisation is becoming more hard core and more violent. Essentially, the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to convert the political situation into a religious crisis.
In Syria, the people of the Free Syrian Army don’t want to talk politics – they want to talk about the situation as if it is a religious conflict among Muslims.
Two Cairo university students, brother and sister Bassem and Nouran Fawzy, told me how they risked their lives to take part in the two Egyptian revolutions, firstly against Mubarak and then against Morsi.
They want the liberal politician Mustafha Hegezy to become president as he is a big hit with Egypt’s youth. Just as we have the scourge of the ‘brain drain’ in Ireland where thousands are leaving the island, so the common chant of many Egyptian young people is – ‘happiness is leaving Egypt’.
While the Egyptian and Syrian conflicts are internal, Northern Ireland should not tumble into the pitfall of dismissing them as a Middle Eastern problem. Like both world wars of the 20th century, there is the real danger Syria could escalate into a global conflict.
Many in the anti-Morsi camp suspect the Brotherhood has been funded to the tune of eight BILLION dollars by Obama, who basically wants to use the Brotherhood to control as many states around Iran as possible.
Obama has been left with egg on his face because the Brotherhood has lost power in Egypt.
Many Egyptians draw a comparison with the Americans trying to run the Brotherhood with the way in which the British manipulated Sinn Fein through agents, informers and funding to eventually run a partitionist parliament at Stormont.
Allied involvement in Syria is only a springboard for the real offensive – the invasion of Iran. The US wants to use its manipulation of the Muslim Brotherhood to control the Middle East.
The Brotherhood now has significant grip in Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen, with links to the al-Qaeda movement.
Obama’s billions were to be used by the Brotherhood to placate Israel by expanding Gaza and the Sinai area for the Palestinians.
The Syrian conflict is an inter-muslim civil war between the Yank-funded Brotherhood and its pals in Hamas, and ‘Basher’ Assad with his Shia mates in Iran and the radical Hezbollah terror group.
To bring real peace to Syria, if the Assad regime is toppled, it would be best if a moderate Sunni Muslim became the new democratically elected President. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – because it is closely aligned to the Muslim Brotherhood in the Free Syrian Army – wants the US to strike in Syria.
Liberal Egyptians activists who do not support the Muslim Brotherhood warn that the Brotherhood has been attacking Christian churches, cathedrals, shops and homes when it was in power in Egypt. The same fate awaits Syria’s Christian population if the US and UK backed Free Army wins in Syria.
Throw into this mix that the US can use Syria to attack Iran. American forces may even use its NATO bases in Turkey to attack Syria.
Iraq is already descending into an Islamic civil war, and Afghanistan is going the same way. While an Egyptian royal family exists in exile, young anti-Muslim Brotherhood activists insist any return of the monarchy is a non-starter.
Clearly, too, some of the Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia, are worried by the spread of the Muslim Brotherhood and especially at Obama’s perceived support for this radical Islamic movement.
Let’s hope Obama has a Biblical-style Road to Damascus conversion about bombing Syria, because like many wars over past centuries, it will be people from Northern Ireland who will do the fighting and dying.
Could hope be on the horizon? If the Loyalists can use the Haass initiative to bring an end to the sectarian strife in Northern Ireland around parades, flags and emblems and the street protest, then just maybe more Ulster lives can be saved if that template can be applied to Syria.
It does seem very strange, however, that supposedly Christian Western leaders are backing the vehemently anti-Christian Muslim Brotherhood in the Syrian crisis. The bottom line is, Syria is really only a training exercise for the real agenda – the full-scale invasion of Iran. Then again, at what point does Israel decide to enter the conflict?
And just because the Haass talks yield results in Northern Ireland, does not mean success in Syria.
Our caption shows Radical Unionist commentator, Dr John Coulter, (centre) with Cairo university student activists who took part in both Egyptian revolutions, brother and sister Bassem (left) and Nouran Fawzy.