Even the very best of infidel liars are no match for the least skillful of the taqqiyah spouters. This is a fascinating report but nothing that surprises those of us who have been watching the tricks played by Turkey and others.
Via the SyriaComment blog comes this report from David Pollock of the FikraForum:
Trip Report: Meeting the Syrian Opposition in Antakya and Istanbul Having recently returned from a European Foundation for Democracy sponsored trip to Antakya and Istanbul, during which a European delegation and I met over 100 Syrian opposition figures, a number of important observations come to mind. First, one of my strongest impressions is that things are not what they seem. It is very difficult on the ground to be sure who it is that you are really talking to and what they represent. Second, Turkish officials maintain a striking degree of control over Syrian opposition forces inside Turkey. Third, the Muslim Brotherhood is pervasive not only within the Syrian National Council (SNC), but among many opposition groups – mostly outside Syria. Lastly, there is a striking cynicism and anger among fighters within Syria toward the outside world for not providing enough practical support.
1. Things Are Not What They Seem
Many times throughout the trip, we experienced people privately telling some of us one thing and others something completely different, and talking about each other in quite derogatory ways behind each other’s backs, while trying to take over meetings from each other.
For example, we met with a Syrian sheikh who runs the Jamiyat al-Shura al-Khairiyah on the Jordanian side of the border, which is supposedly a humanitarian organization. He gave us an extremely long, eloquent, and detailed presentation about the good work he is doing and said that we are all equal and we all believe in the compassionate and merciful prophets. He then asked us to support his good work for the Syrian people. Then after that meeting, he took aside a Palestinian Muslim member of our delegation, and said, “You know, when you talk to these Europeans, you have to be like a fox. You have to say all these nice things, but you know that we don’t really mean any of it.”
I was struck by the pervasiveness of this uncertainty and duplicity. Personally, I support the Syrian opposition, but I think we need to be very clear about the pitfalls when we try to pick and choose. So that is my first conclusion: Don’t jump to conclusions. Even about whom you think you are dealing with.
2. Turkish, Not Syrian, Border Controls
The degree of Turkish control not only over Syrian camps, but also over the extent that Syrian opposition forces are given permission to travel to particular places in and out of Turkey, is quite striking.
For example, we met with the official Free Syrian Army (FSA) spokesman, who lives in a remote village in the hills, approximately 20 kilometers away from camp Apaydin, where most of the FSA in Turkey lives. The reason behind this is that the Turks apparently do not want people to meet those FSA soldiers, and will not allow most people to enter the camp. Inside the camp, however, the FSA commanders and soldiers are confined by the Turks and have only limited contact with the FSA inside Syria.....