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June 17, 2013

Surprise! The Strongest Rebel Group In Syria Is The One Affiliated With Al Qaeda

John E. made a very good point on last week's podcast...under the terms of the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force, the US has a stronger legal basis for going after the Syrian rebels than it does in helping them.

But help them we will.

Concern about the Syrian al Qaeda-affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front, is at an all-time high, according to the analyst, with as many as 10,000 fighters and supporters inside Syria. The United States has designated al-Nusra Front as a terrorist group with links to al Qaeda in Iraq.

That assessment is shared by some Middle Eastern intelligence agencies that have long believed the United States is underestimating the Sunni-backed al Qaeda movement in the country, according to a Middle East source. It is also believed that Iran is running training camps inside Syria for Hezbollah and that other Iranian militia fighters are coming into the country to fight for the regime.

The analyst has been part of recent discussions with the U.S. intelligence community, which is urgently working to understand what is going on inside the war-ravaged country and is consulting outside experts. The analyst, who declined to be named because of the sensitive nature of the information, stressed that all assessments about Syria are approximate at best because of the lack of U.S. personnel on the ground.

The report also says the rebels are trying to get their own chemical weapons. Fantastic.

Victor Davis Hanson is worried.

U.S. influence in the Middle East and North Africa is at a new postwar low. That Iran supposedly plans to send 4,000 fighters to Syria suggests that it is not too afraid of anyone preempting its nuclear facilities or of the supposedly crushing oil boycott.

There is no guarantee that American air support or close training might not end up in some sort of American ground presence the only sure guarantee that so-called moderates might prevail should Assad fall. Of course, any costly intervention would eventually be orphaned by many in the present chorus of interventionists in a manner that we also know well from Iraq. We are told that dealing a blow to Iran and Hezbollah would be a good thing, and no doubt it would be. But in the callous calculus of Realpolitik, both seem already to be suffering without U.S. intervention.

The last part is key...we should do enough to keep the fight going but not enough to help the rebels win. Let them fight and bleed for another year, two or more. I don't care. Once they are wasted away from killing each other we can figure out what comes next.


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posted by DrewM. at 12:43 PM

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