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.