The top Western-supported rebel commander in Syria has been run out of town by Islamist fighters in the latest setback to US policy in the Syrian civil war. General Salam Idris, the commander of the Free Syrian Army, was forced to flee to Turkey after fighters belonging to the Islamic Front overran his offices and took control of warehouses that stored gear sent by the US to help Idris and his men fight the Assad regime. Idris’ flight coincides with the US announcement that it was suspending the non-lethal aid it had been supplying to rebel forces due to fears it was falling into the hands of al Qaeda-allied groups. The WSJ has more on the story:
The takeover and flight of Gen. Salim Idris of the Free Syrian Army shocked the U.S., which along with Britain immediately froze delivery of nonlethal military aid to rebels in northern Syria….The Front took over the warehouses and offices controlled by the Supreme Military Council, the moderate opposition umbrella group that includes the FSA and coordinates U.S. aid distribution, officials said. They also seized the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, near the warehouses in the town of Atmeh.
If anybody was wondering what an ignominious policy failure looks like, this latest development in Syria provides a textbook case. The Islamist rebels are losing to the Iran-enabled forces of a blood-stained tyrant who has lived to laugh at President Obama’s warnings about chemical weapons and his threats to use force if his red lines were crossed. Those rebels are, however, still strong enough to crush naïve forces who thought that support from Washington could help them.In Syria today, the US has no allies, no policy and no options. If the President’s drive to a nuclear deal with Iran fails, it will in large part be due to the way that his Syria policy undermined his standing in the region and damaged his credibility.We are asked to believe that this is “smart diplomacy” at work. If only there were a way to agree.