mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Syria Update: Jihadis Take Center Stage

The Washington Post reports on a phenomenon that Via Meadia and others have long observed: As the civil war drags on in Syria, the brutalized opposition to Butcher Assad is accepting help from increasingly unsavory elements. The al-Qaeda-approved Jabhat al-Nusra has now joined the rebels as a key fighting force in Damascus and Aleppo. Its men “fight without fear,” and some of them are foreign fighters who took aim at Americans in Iraq:

Jabhat al-Nusra’s growing visibility on the streets of Syrian cities highlights one of the reasons the United States and its allies have been reluctant to arm Syrian rebels even as Obama administration officials repeatedly insist that Assad must go. Fears are widespread among Western governments that weapons sent to the rebels could wind up in the hands of extremists and be turned against their benefactors in a region already taut with sectarian and geopolitical rivalries.

There is nothing inevitable about the victory of nasty forces in Syria. Sunnis in Iraq, after all, handed al-Qaeda the bitterest possible humiliation when they made common cause with the U.S. Army.

Without sending ground troops to Syria, there is a lot America can do to help decent people of all faiths in Syria to build better lives for themselves and their children. Hopefully the State Department has already identified constructive partners for the tough road ahead and is helping genuinely forward-looking groups hold their own now and prepare for the work of national reconstruction to come.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Fred

    Jihadis taking center stage in an “Arab Spring” uprising? But…but…but those uprisings are all about freedom and democracy and the rule of law, testaments to the human spirit and the desire in the hearts of all people to be free. Aren’t they?

  • Lorenz Gude

    I think it is a mistake to view what is going on in Syria through the lens of Western Liberalism. While there are liberal elements in Syria, the center of gravity in Syria is as alien to Western modernity as the Spanish Inquisition. While not ignoring Liberal elements this analysis at Rubin Reports of a Friday sermon in Syria makes for sobering reading.

  • Sam L.

    Hopefully, you say. I’m not convinced the State Dept. is that capable. And I suspect “constructive partners” won’t show above the noise level.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service