On the political level, U.S. pressure failed to force the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated exile leadership to add the real political moderates! Even as financial aid is being (temporarily?) withheld, the “official” opposition won’t expand its base. How about withholding all money and aid until they yield or choosing a new official leadership? If the United States can’t stop–or doesn’t want to stop–the Brotherhood from dominating an exile leadership, how is it ever going to do so after a victory in the civil war?
So that’s not a solution either. Because the FSA is closely aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood forces. Many of its soldiers are Brotherhood, Salafist, or even al-Qaeda sympathizers. Some have even been defecting to al-Qaeda, presumably with their weapons. The FSA is not ideologically moderate, consistent, or—except for its officers—anti-Islamist. And it is very weak, weaker even then the al-Qaeda supporters.
Yet that’s not all. Given the mixing up of the groups and their strategic requirements, a weapons system that is given to the FSA may easily end up in the hands of the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front, Syrian Islamic Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra. That may happen due to the necessities of war or sheer bribery or defections.
And when the war is over or deadlocked, those arms are going to flow out of Syria to every terrorist group in the world. Here is a story about how al-Qaeda is training with weapons to shoot down civilian airliners which the rebels already possess in Syria.
Finally, how many arms will be needed to bring a rebel victory? You can predict what will happen: more and more will be demanded; if just a bigger force is supplied the rebels will promise victory. It’s a slippery slope. And then will the need for direct intervention be demanded since just the supply of weapons alone isn’t sufficient? How directly is the United States willing to confront Russia, Iran, and Hizballah? Is it prepared to do so? Maybe it should be, but it’s not.
So the supposedly simple concept—alas, two years too late—of “let’s support the moderates” doesn’t mean much anymore. Granted, if you want to find the least bad solution, backing the FSA sounds good. In the end, though, what will actually happen?
Ethnic massacres? How is the United States going to stop them? The Alawites, Shia (there are a few) Muslims, and Christians are in the greatest danger; so is anyone not sufficiently a pious Sunni Muslim, and perhaps also Kurds and Druze. The FSA cannot or will not prevent massive killings.