U.S. Support for Al Qaeda-Linked Rebels Undermines Syrian Ceasefire -Huffington Post

Standard
  • “State Department spokesperson John Kirby expressed concerns that U.S.-backed Syrian opposition factions such as Ahrar al-Sham have been cohabitating with the Nusra Front.”
  • “Ahrar al-Sham along with Jaysh al-Islam, another Western-sponsored faction, not only have zero inclination to respect the ceasefire, they have aspirations that completely contradict the U.S. stated goal of ushering in a Jeffersonian democracy to replace Syrian President Bashar Assad.”
  • “Which prompts a fair question that goes beyond simply upholding a fragile ceasefire: How in the world does the U.S. government believe for a second that a post-Assad regime in Syria will be secular to any degree based on the current makeup of the opposition’s negotiating team, whose members by and large have openly proclaimed that they want to establish an Islamist state? The unfortunate answer is that the U.S. government has never absorbed the lessons of previous policies based on the credo, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

 

The point being made in this article is nothing new. Since the US was pulled into Syria by the rise of ISIS, it has had to maintain a balance between a group of partners (allies is perhaps too strong a word) that are incompatible with each other, and in some cases, hostile toward the United States. The problem cropped up before when Turkey began bombing the PKK and Russia began bombing the FSA. It was also evident right from the start that Iran and Saudi Arabia were not going to be on the same page.

Nevertheless, the article over simplifies the US dilemma, and in particular, Washington’s goals. The author is correct that the US desire for a “whole, unified, pluralistic, nonsectarian Syria,” is incompatible with its present policies. However Washington’s most pressing goal is to isolate and defeat ISIS, preferably in a way that does not undermine what can only be described as a coalition of the wary. That means beating ISIS without ceding Syria to Iran or the Kurds. Only then will Washington set its sights on Jeffersonian democracy. Therefore, as long as ISIS still controls large tracks of Syria and Iraq, the logic of “the enemy of my enemy” will continue to dominate American planning, even if it becomes increasingly complex and in the long term, will likely prove unworkable. The problem is not that Washington does not see this, it is that there does not appear to be much alternative.

For the full article, see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-hughes/us-support-for-al-qaeda-l_b_10089410.html