Friday, January 31, 2014

Two Out of Three is Bad

If you think of the Syria civil war as a struggle between three parties, the only one not prepared to fight a long war is the side we want to win.

Very broadly speaking, the war in Syria has the government, jihadi rebels, and non-jihadi rebels trying to win control of Syria.

The Kurds don't fit into that. While non-jihadi, they are just hunkering down and hoping to protect themselves. But if you think of the situation very broadly, I'd put them in the non-jihadi rebel camp.

Of these groups, the government has access to Iranian and Russian financial assistance to keep fighting and keep their supporters loyal.

It is to our shame that we have increased Iran's ability to pay for the Assad war machine by easing sanctions on Iran with the interim nuclear deal with Iran.

The jihadis, too, have resources. Not only to jihadi fanboys in the Islamist world send aid, the jihadis have access to energy sources:

Islamist rebels and extremist groups have seized control of most of Syria’s oil and gas resources, a rare generator of cash in the country’s war-battered economy, and are now using the proceeds to underwrite their fights against one another as well as President Bashar al-Assad, American officials say.

While the oil and gas fields are in serious decline, control of them has bolstered the fortunes of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and the Nusra Front, both of which are offshoots of Al Qaeda. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is even selling fuel to the Assad government, lending weight to allegations by opposition leaders that it is secretly working with Damascus to weaken the other rebel groups and discourage international support for their cause.

The trade with Assad isn't that big of an allegation. That's common in war. There was trade between the Union and Confederacy during our Civil War. And there was trade with Britain during the War of 1812. You don't have to like it or refrain from interfering with it to accept that this is normal stuff.

Mind you, we should be trumpeting how Assad buys jihadi oil and how Assad focuses air strikes on the non-jihadi rebel groups. Do what we can to make as many of the Syrian supporters of the jihadi groups defect to the non-jihadi rebels as possible.

The important thing is that the jihadis have a source of money to buy arms.

So of the three main groupings in the fight, only the non-jihadi rebels that would be the least-bad rulers of Syria have the resources to fight a long war.

Why aren't we helping them more?

And why are we helping Iran afford to help Syria (aside from greasing the skids to a nuclear Iran) and why are we treating Assad as some type of partner?