Who Do You THINK Will End Up With the Ball?
Lebanon’s Daily Star reports that so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels support ISIS terrorists:
“We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front [another extremist and hard-line Islamic terrorist group] by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in … Qalamoun,” said Bassel Idriss, the commander of an FSA-aligned rebel brigade.
The New York Times writes:
President Obama’s determination to train Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leaves the United States dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters.
After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad — and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
Analysts who track the rebel movement say that the concept of the Free Syrian Army as a unified force with an effective command structure is a myth.
The Syrian rebels are a scattered archipelago of mostly local forces with ideologies that range from nationalist to jihadist. Their rank-and-file fighters are largely from the rural underclass, with few having clear political visions beyond a general interest in greater rights or the dream of an Islamic state.
Some European allies remain skeptical about the efficacy of arming the Syrian rebels. Germany, for instance, has been arming and training Kurdish pesh merga forces in Iraq, but has resisted doing the same for any groups in Syria — partly out of fear that the weapons could end up in the hands of ISIS or other radical groups.
“We can’t really control the final destination of these arms,” said Peter Wittig, the German ambassador to the United States.
The fluidity of battlefield alliances in Syria means that even mainline rebels often end up fighting alongside the Nusra Front, whose suicide bombers are relied on by other groups to soften up government targets.
“Even the groups that the U.S. has trained tend to show up in the same trenches as the Nusra Front eventually, because they need them and they are fighting the same battles,” Mr. Lund said.
Current and former American officials acknowledge the government’s lack of deep knowledge about the rebels. “We need to do everything we can to figure out who the non-ISIS opposition is,” said Ryan C. Crocker, a former United States ambassador to Iraq and Syria. “Frankly, we don’t have a clue.”
This is – of course – another example of the “facts being fixed around the policy”, just as in Iraq. In Iraq, we wanted regime change, so we made up the “weapons of mass destruction” and “Saddam backed Al Qaeda” myths.
Similarly, Washington wants regime change in Syria, so it’s making up a myth of the “moderate Syrian rebel” who hates Assad and ISIS. But they “don’t have a clue” as to whether such a mythical unicorn actually exists (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).
The New York Times reported over a year ago that virtually all of the rebel fighters in Syria are hardline Islamic terrorists. Things have gotten much worse since then … as the few remaining moderates have been lured away by ISIS’ arms, cash and influence.
Saudi Arabia – one of the main sources of Islamic terrorism, and one of ISIS’ main backers – is also going to train “moderate” Syrian rebels.
Of course, arming the “moderate” Syrian rebels is what created ISIS – and was the source of their weapons – in the first place. Our prior policy of arming “moderate Syrian rebels is what allowed ISIS to take over much of Iraq and Syria.
The U.S. and our closest allies in the region – like Jordan – have also been training Islamic jihadists in Syria for years. And see this, this, this and this. (And – underneath the partisan hackery – arming the Syrian rebels is what Benghazi was really about.)
Michael Shank – Adjunct Faculty and Board Member at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and director of foreign policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation – warned a year ago:
The Senate and House Intelligence committees’ about-face decision last week to arm the rebels in Syria is dangerous and disconcerting. The weapons will assuredly end up in the wrong hands and will only escalate the slaughter in Syria. Regardless of the vetting procedures in place, the sheer factionalized nature of the opposition guarantees that the arms will end up in some unsavory hands. The same militant fighters who have committed gross atrocities are among the best-positioned of the rebel groups to seize the weapons that the United States sends to Syria.
Arming one side of Syria’s multi-sided and bloody civil war will come back to haunt us. Past decisions by the U.S. to arm insurgencies in Libya, Angola, Central America and Afghanistan helped sustain brutal conflicts in those regions for decades. In the case of Afghanistan, arming the mujahideen in the 1980s created the instability that emboldened extreme militant groups and gave rise to the Taliban, which ultimately created an environment for al Qaeda to thrive.
Arming the enemies of our enemies hasn’t made the U.S. more friends; it has made the U.S. more enemies.
Some armed opposition factions, including powerful Islamist coalitions, reject negotiation altogether. Yet these are the same groups that will likely seize control of U.S.-supplied weapons, just as they’ve already seized control of the bulk of the rebels’ weaponry.
When you lift the curtain on the armed groups with the most formidable military presence on the ground in Syria, you find the Al Nusra Front and Al Farough Brigades. Both groups are closely aligned with Al Qaeda and have directly perpetrated barbaric atrocities. The Al Nusra Front has been charged with beheadings of civilians, while a commander from the Al Farough Brigades reportedly ate the heart of a pro-Assad soldier.
Shank’s warning was ignored, and his worst fears came to pass. And since the Obama administration is doubling-down on the same moronic policy, it will happen again …
Obama’s policy is like throwing weapons into a crowd of enemies … and hoping some good comes out of it.
It’s like throwing the ball to a midget surrounded by an entire team of 7-foot basketball players.
Who do you think will end up with the ball?