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February 19, 2015

The Myth Of The "Moderate Syrian Opposition"

Yesterday I compared the idea of "moderate Syrian opposition" to “Unicorns and friendly pixies” in that neither one exists in the real world. Unfortunately, belief in the mythical "moderate Syrian opposition" has real world consequences and could lead to us trying to topple the Assad regime.

Well, don't take my word for what a fairy tale this is, listen to former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford's stunning take on the Syrian opposition.

In recent weeks, however, Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria who made news when he left government service a year ago with an angry critique of Obama administration policy, has dropped his call to provide weapons to the rebels. Instead, he’s become increasingly critical of them as disjointed and untrustworthy because they collaborate with jihadists.

...

Ford today sounds like a different person from the optimist who only six months ago wrote an essay in Foreign Policy that began: “Don’t believe everything you read in the media: The moderate rebels of Syria are not finished. They have gained ground in different parts of the country and have broken publicly with both the al Qaida affiliate operating there and the jihadists of the Islamic State.”

Now, however, on panels and in speeches, Ford has accused the rebels of collaborating with the Nusra Front, the al Qaida affiliate in Syria that the U.S. declared a terrorist organization more than two years ago. He says opposition infighting has worsened and he laments the fact that extremist groups now rule in most territories outside the Syrian regime’s control.

Ford said part of the problem was that too many rebels – and their patrons in Turkey and Qatar – insisted that Nusra was a homegrown, anti-Assad force when in fact it was an al Qaida affiliate whose ideology was virtually indistinguishable from the Islamic State’s. The Obama administration already has suffered a string of embarrassments involving supplies it’s donated to the rebels ending up in the hands of U.S.-designated terrorist groups.

“Nusra Front is just as dangerous, and yet they keep pretending they’re nice guys, they’re Syrians,” Ford said. “The second problem is, some of our stuff has leaked to them.”

Ford still thinks it's possible to topple the Assad regime with either US or a coalition of regional forces but to him the ad-hoc rebel model we are currently employing is dead.

The interventionists don't want to talk about this because it's a key flaw in their belief about the healing power of American action in the Mideast...Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Libya have shown there are no real good guys to turn these places over to.

This is important stuff to keep in mind as we get more directly involved in the fight against ISIS. That fight simply can't be disconnected from what happens in Syria. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool.

So, if we go after ISIS, what's our plan for Assad? Do we work with the Devil or try and replace him even if it means we get stuck running Hell for years on end? We better have an answer to that before we send in thousands of American combat troops.


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posted by DrewM. at 08:55 AM

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