Monday, November 03, 2014

Become the Strong Horse

Instead of whining about the difficulty of finding acceptable rebels in Syria, we can create more non-Islamist rebels in Syria if we'd just start seriously arming and supporting them.

Moderate rebels continue to lose ground to the ISIL and al Qaeda types in Syria:

The Obama administration’s Syria strategy suffered a major setback Sunday after fighters linked to al-Qaeda routed U.S.-backed rebels from their main northern strongholds, capturing significant quantities of weaponry, triggering widespread defections and ending hopes that Washington will readily find Syrian partners in its war against the Islamic State.

Moderate rebels who had been armed and trained by the United States either surrendered or defected to the extremists as the Jabhat al-Nusra group, affiliated with al-Qaeda, swept through the towns and villages the moderates controlled in the northern province of Idlib, in what appeared to be a concerted push to vanquish the moderate Free Syrian Army, according to rebel commanders, activists and analysts.

All the talk of the futility of arming moderate Syrian rebels fails to consider that many of the so-called jihadis have joined the al Qaeda and ISIL groups because the jihadis are so strong. The jihadis get recruits not only from true believers but from those who want to join the rebels that prove they can fight Assad or from those who fear being killed by the jihadis if they don't join.

When we are half-hearted in our aid to moderate rebels, and make it clear that we aren't even trying to help them defeat Assad, what the Hell do we expect Syrian's opposed to Assad to do?

While Britain stood alone with only their Commonwealth and empire with them, Churchill once said that if Hitler invaded Hell, that he'd at least make a positive mention of the Devil in Parliament. Do we really expect Syrian rebels to reject the Islamists when they are the only ones who seem to have a chance of defeating Assad? Losing the rebellion means that Assad's goons will hunt them down long after the rebellion is defeated.

Pound the jihadis in Syria and support the non-jihadi rebels enough to make them look like the strong horse, and the jihadi ranks will shrink as the jihadis-of-the-moment defect from the jihadis.

We are not--or should not be--hand-wringing observers in this issue.