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The Costs of Our Syria Non-Policy

A poster of Bashar al-Assad in the Old City of Damascus. The text on the poster reads "God protects Syria"

Two stories this morning, both from Reuters, provide more evidence of the costs of President Obama’s Syria non-policy.

First, it appears that a sizable exodus of fighters from more moderate organizations to al-Qaeda-affiliated groups like the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is underway in Syria’s north:

“This is a sign the radical groups are still growing in power. This region could fall to the jihadists,” said an activist in the eastern town of Raqqa, who asked not to be identified. “We may see this become a trend.” […]

At least two entire rebel brigades are said to have joined the Nusra Front in the opposition-held province of Raqqa, which borders Turkey. One of the groups, the Raqqa Revolutionaries, has about 750 fighters in total, according to a source close to Islamist forces who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another group, the God’s Victory Brigade, said in a statement on Facebook that all of its leaders and fighters had pledged loyalty to Nusra Front.

Disillusionment with the West must be playing a role. Western-backed rebels are downright despondent, talking about a “slap in the face”:

The agreement, from which the United States hopes a wider political settlement can emerge, has reduced the likelihood of a U.S. strike on Assad’s forces that the opposition had hoped would weaken him militarily and force him to attend a planned new peace conference.

The opposition is therefore furious that Washington suddenly and without its knowledge changed course a week after informing leaders of the main Syrian National Coalition that a strike was imminent, according to coalition members.

In the opposition’s view, the deal with Russia contains a de facto admission of the legitimacy of the Assad government, undermining the goal of Syrian uprising and the likelihood that any peace talks will result in Assad’s removal.

As we wrote yesterday, the West cannot ultimately allow al-Qaeda a secure base in the heart of the Middle East. So no new war in the Middle East may yet force a costly confrontation down the line.

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  • bpuharic

    WRM continues to operate under the delusion that, even in the face of our abject right wing failure in Iraq, we can have an absolute influence in Syria by sending in a few RPG’s to unnamed and unspecified ‘rebel’ fighters.

    We had boots on the ground in Iraq. We spent 2 trillion and 4400 US lives. The outcome was hardly a success, thanks to right wing fantasies. Yet WRM says that somehow, this time will be different if only the president does…something.

    Great.Let’s do it!

  • Alexander Scipio

    Whether the West can or cannot “allow” radical Sunni Islam to establish a base in Syria, it will.

    For those unable to think outside their traditional foreign policy box, Obama has been utterly consistent in his policy in the region: advance Sunni radical Islam. From enabling the overthrow of mubark and the arming of the MB, to his demands the MB be restored when the people demanded the army remove them, to enabling the overthrow & murder of Ghaddafi – turning Libya and Mali into failed radical Sunni States, to abandoning Afghanistan to al Qaeda to trying to degrade Assad’s ability to resist al Qaeda in Syria.

    Obama’s entire foreign policy has as a goal the expansion of radical sunni ism. He has been utterly consistent, nearly completely successful, and the West still has yet to figure this out. Too bad. You can bet Huntington would have grasped this fact already.

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