– “The new council is headed by Brigadier Selim Idriss, who is described as a non-ideological military man. But his deputies, Abdel-basset Tawil of Idleb and Abdel-Qader Saleh of Aleppo governate are associated with the Salafi trend.” In other words, there’s a non-Islamist front man for what will be an Islamist-controlled army.
– “The domination by the Muslim Brotherhood of the new military council mirrors the movement’s leading position in the new civilian leadership body — the Syrian National Coalition. The leader of this coalition is Ahmed Mouaz al-Khatib, former Imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.
“Khatib is closely associated with the Damascus Branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The leader of the new coalition has a long history of anti-Semitic, anti-Western, and anti-Shia remarks. (He praised Saddam Hussein, for example, for “terrifying the Jews” and wrote an article asking if Facebook was an “American-Israeli intelligence website.”) He is also an admirer of the Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood preacher Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
– “Within the body headed by Khatib, the Muslim Brotherhood dominated Syrian National Council controls around 27 of the 65 seats on the executive body of the new coalition. There are also Islamists and fellow travelers among the non-SNC delegates. The Brotherhood is by far the best organized single body within the coalition. One secular delegate at the first full meeting of the coalition accused the MB of `pushing more of its hawks into the coalition, although it already has half of the seats.’”
Let me add two other points:
– The U.S. government backed the previous opposition “leadership,” the Syrian National Council, which was formed as a result of American initiative operating through Islamist Turkey. The fact that this council had a Muslim Brotherhood majority in the leadership did not deter the Obama administration from proclaiming it to be the address for support. Only when the council had clearly failed — and despite the fact that months earlier several moderates had resigned complaining about Brotherhood domination — did the U.S. government change strategy to organizing a new, yet also Muslim Brotherhood-dominated group.
– American intelligence agents in southern Turkey supervise the handover of weapons to the rebels. They make no attempt to stop arms from going to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists while they make no attempt to funnel the guns to moderates. The only restriction is that they not go to al-Qaeda-affiliated Salafists.
One day, those guns will be used to commit unspeakable atrocities against Christians and other minority groups just as they will be used to install an Islamist regime and to kill or intimidate its opponents.
How has the United States handled this threat?
Well, it declared one Salafi group off-limits, because it is linked to al-Qaeda. That’s it.
As Spyer points out, there has been and still is an alternative: for the West to back non-Islamist leaders, including liberals, Arab nationalists, and Kurdish nationalist forces. Such a strategy was not pursued either in Egypt or in Tunisia.
So when Syria gets an anti-Western, anti-Semitic, and anti-democratic (aside from holding elections) regime, don’t be surprised. You can read it in the surprised and grudging admissions of the Western mass media a year or two after this regime takes power, or you can know about it right now.