Assad plays Kurdish card to divide opposition

Lebanon's NaharNet, citing Syria's official SANA news agency, reports the absolutely maddening claim from Bashar Assad's Information Minister Omran Zohbi that the regime's armed forces have been providing support to the Kurdish fighters defending ISIS-besieged Kobani. "The state with its military forces and planes has been providing military and logistical support, and has supplied ammunition and arms to the town," he said. While not actually claiming the regime is coordinating with the US air-drops of aid to the Kurdish militia, he said Damascus "will continue to give military aid to Kobane at the highest level. From the outset of the battle, the state has not hesitated to play its military, political, social and humanitarian role" because the town is "Syrian territory and its residents are Syrians."

We have no idea whether the claim is true, but the source is utterly dubious, and it smells to us like Assad's attempt to play an Arab-versus-Kurdish divide-and-rule card. We have noted before dubious accusations that the Kurdish YPG militia was collaborating with the Assad regime, leading to tensions between the FSA and Kurdish insurgency in Syria's north. Reviving such claims could be a stratagem to explode the nascent FSA-YPG alliance against ISIS—and, more ambitiously, force the YPG into an alliance with the regime by depriving it of the FSA as an ally, even fomenting war between the two.

We hope such a stratagem utterly fails, and we are heartened that Zohbi's claims seem to have received little other coverage.

Alarmingly, Zohbi also said that the regime's air force had destroyed two of three warplanes that were in the hands of ISIS—confirming reports that the jihadists had seized fighter aircraft from Syrian military bases. Zohbi said ISIS had seized the three planes, believed to be MiG-21 and MiG-23 jets, from bases in the northern governorates of Aleppo and Raqa. "The terrorists were flying three old planes but our aircraft immediately took off and destroyed two of them as they were landing," Zohbi said. "The third plane was hidden."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights meanwhile reported that ISIS jihadists are being trained by Saddam Hussein's former pilots to fly the jets at the military airport of Jarrah, east of the city of Aleppo.

The news comes as the regime has gone on a major bombing spree, carrying out 200 air-strikes in less than two days. The Observatory said many were killed and dozens wounded in the strikes. According to the Observatory, Assad's air force carries out 12 to 20 strikes a day on average, so the 200 that took place over 36 hours represent a rapid increase. BBC News cites unnamed "analysts" saying Assad's "military might be stepping up its air campaign in an effort to weaken rebel groups before they began receiving training and equipment from the US and its allies so that they can take the fight to IS on the ground in Syria."

World War 4 Report had predicted all along that when the US finally intervened in Syria, it would be against the jihadists—not the regime. Now that ISIS has basically forced Obama's hand by threatening the entire region—especially the US client state in Iraq—the White House will have to decide whether to throw in its lot with the revolution or the regime. Which is why we should support the FSA in its demand that the US adopt its revolutionary program—even as we reject the FSA's burgeoning alliance with Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan, enemy of Kurdish self-determination.

Yes to Arab-Kurdish unity for democracy and autonomy.

No to ISIS, Assad and Erdogan.