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The PJ Tatler

by
Rick Moran

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April 28, 2013 - 11:20 am

If it turns out that the administration decides to intervene in Syria because President Assad’s government has used and is using chemical weapons, they would have to answer one, overriding question.

Just who should we be shooting at?

New York Times:

In Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, rebels aligned with Al Qaeda control the power plant, run the bakeries and head a court that applies Islamic law. Elsewhere, they have seized government oil fields, put employees back to work and now profit from the crude they produce.

Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.

Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.

This is the landscape President Obama confronts as he considers how to respond to growing evidence that Syrian officials have used chemical weapons, crossing a “red line” he had set. More than two years of violence have radicalized the armed opposition fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad, leaving few groups that both share the political vision of the United States and have the military might to push it forward.

Among the most extreme groups is the notorious Al Nusra Front, the Qaeda-aligned force declared a terrorist organization by the United States, but other groups share aspects of its Islamist ideology in varying degrees.

“Some of the more extremist opposition is very scary from an American perspective, and that presents us with all sorts of problems,” said Ari Ratner, a fellow at the Truman National Security Project and former Middle East adviser in the Obama State Department. “We have no illusions about the prospect of engaging with the Assad regime — it must still go — but we are also very reticent to support the more hard-line rebels.”

You might recall hearing about several high profile defections of high ranking officers in the Syrian army over the last two years who invariably brought a number of soldiers with them. At the time, it was thought that these defectors would form the bulk of the Free Syrian Army, the main force fighting to remove Bashar Assad from power.

But it didn’t work out that way. Most of those units have either melted away or been absorbed by the dominant Islamist militias who are receiving arms from sympathizers in the Gulf states.

To give you an idea of just how screwed up our policies have made things, the Times article details what happened to an umnbrella military council we set up as a counterpart to the civilian opposition council:

As extremists rose in the rebel ranks, the United States sought to limit their influence, first by designating Nusra a terrorist organization, and later by pushing for the formation of the Supreme Military Council, which is linked to the exile opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition.

Although led by an army defector, Gen. Salim Idris, the council has taken in the leaders of many overtly Islamist battalions. One called the Syrian Liberation Front has been integrated nearly wholesale into the council; many of its members coordinate closely with the Syrian Islamic Front, a group that includes the extremist Ahrar al-Sham, according to a recent report by Ms. O’Bagy, of the Institute for the Study of War.

A spokesman for the council, Louay Mekdad, said that its members reflected Syrian society and that it had no ties to Nusra or other radical groups. “The character of the Syrian people is Islamic, but it is stupid to think that Syria will turn into Afghanistan,” he said. “That’s just an excuse for those who don’t want to help Syria.”

In effect, the US helped facilitate the concentration of Islamist power in the military.

Blunders aside, there is still a question of intervention. Despite fairly conclusive proof that sarin gas has been employed by the Syrian army, President Obama — quite rightly — is still reluctant to react militarily. Do we really want to provide air support for al-Qaeda backed fighters? Or establish a “no-fly” zone to assist those who, once in power, would become our enemy?

A cynical policy would see to it that the civil war went on and on, so that the Islamists would be denied victory and Assad would be too pre-occupied to cause trouble elsewhere, like Iraq. But with millions of civilians threatened with starvation and thousands dying every month, such a policy would be unworthy of the United States. We must find a way with our allies to end this conflict and then try and pick up the pieces as best we can after Assad has been deposed.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"Just who should we be shooting at?"
No one. Just make sure both sides are equally armed and let them kill each other. There's no good side here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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Just have the UN insist that the Syrian army dress like Marcel Marceau and the al Qaeda rebels dress like Ronald McDonald. Problem solved.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh, wait, better yet -- since this worked so well in the Albigensian Crusade:

Kill them all and let Allahh sort them out.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is all so very unbelievable. Let's say that there is even moral equivalency vis a vis intervening in the Syrian conflict and invading Iraq. For arguement's sake let us posit the two choices as morally equivalent. ... Where is the world wide outrage against the US's even considering getting into it as pre-Iraq?

Argh! What a despicable situation our nation is in.

Under Bush's leadership, though the President surrounded himself with accomplished, intelligent people who, flawed as is humankind's won't, clearly loved America, every decision was decried and caused childlike tantrums, pure brainless spasms of abuse, from the media.

Under Obama's leadership, despite his having surrounded himself with a bizarre panoply of clearly under qualified, and mysteriously unmotivated by love of country, cast of characters who all seem to have a deer in the headlights - lack of intellectual heft look in their eyes, there is but tepid, if any, challenge from the media reacting to a decision on that same footings of moral equivalency.

Disgusting, decadent media sell-outs. Lizard media, I heard them called one time, and I believe it fits.

The sad thing is that conservatives and libertarians sometimes find comfort in saying that the MSM is dying out. Cold comfort, that. The MSM yet has enormous influence in our world. And they are a force for evil.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And also:

I believe I read, somewhere, that Russia may be being misrepresented in this Syrian chaos. More well informed people than I will be positioned to better judge that. Simply because of my profound distrust of both the MSM and of the intentions of the Obama administration, however, I find myself playing out the pros and cons of this highly outrageous theory.

The one arresting idea that this theory has going for it, that I just cannot shake out of my head, is the question of whether or not Russia is trying to urge the warring parties towards the table for talks.

That idea took hold.

Now, i am brought up short. And I realize that I have not heard any reports of the US making efforts in that direction. Never have I heard reports of the Obama administration at least attempting to settle the conflict. Nor have I heard the MSM exhorting the administration in the direction of peacemaking. Reports i've seen and heard revolve around red-lines and trying to decide how to aid the opposition and indeed how to identify the least worst opposition party to aid.

It is almost as if the media, to include Fox, is softening up the populace into accepting more US involvement in the hostilities. Another overseas contingency, if you will.

As if we are to believe the charade that America isn't already involved in a pipeline of weaponry that keeps the opposition fighting. As if reports of chemical weapons aren't possibly the big lie that will grease the skids for the leftist media to support further American involvement.

If that is true, if the Russians are approaching the conflict with an eye towards settlement and the US is, instead, ratcheting up the anti-Assad rhetoric rather than looking towards possibilities of resolution? How bad are we?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The U.S. does not act in a vacumm! Foreign relations and matter of armed conflict are not conducted in a partian political vacuum. In ALL presidencies external and internal policy makers consult and advise. In every situation there are the typical more public efforts carried out for public consumption and then there is the far more important policies of closed back door communications and negotiations taking place.

The Russians, who are one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and who have decades of 'direct' interests in the ME and even more directly with Syria and Iran, have been constant players in the Syrian situation. Russia even signed the UN resolution calling for Assad to step down. Beyond that, Russia can agree to help defuse the conflict but but it will not give up its alliance pact with Syria nor its military interests in Syria, just as it won't do with Iran. So we have the Russian 'directly' involved in ways that greatly complicate U.S. and allied diplomatic strategies and military resolve tactics. Anybody you know of want to play stupid military blustering with Russia, Syria and Iran right now? Most thingas are not nearly as simplistic as zelot political activists want to make it seem.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama made the same mistake Bush did. Bush included WMD as a part of his argument for invasion of Iraq. We found the stuff, but the need for secrecy meant he could not say we'd found it, and the opposition made hay.

When Obama declared a "red line", he essentially committed himself to intervention in the event of use of WMD. It made him seem principled... until they actually used WMD. Then, he looked feckless. His big damned mouth keeps getting him into trouble.

If they want to use chem weapons on each other, I am totally okay with that, as long as they do not let such get out of the country. That country needs quarantining as a response to the use of chem weapons. That's all.

Of course, I would be okay with providing a small refuge area for the Christians, but I doubt our country would support that. Besides, once we go in, we would get sucked in further. And how would we keep out the Muzzies? Shoot them? Not workable.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"In effect, the US helped facilitate the concentration of Islamist power in the military."

This raises a key question: was this the result of deliberate traitorous action high within the Obama administration or was it the result of incompetence within the Obama administration. Either way, heads should roll and policies should be modified.

"Blunders aside, there is still a question of intervention. Despite fairly conclusive proof that sarin gas has been employed by the Syrian army, President Obama — quite rightly — is still reluctant to react militarily. Do we really want to provide air support for al-Qaeda backed fighters? Or establish a “no-fly” zone to assist those who, once in power, would become our enemy?"

I'm really getting tired of helping Islamists into power. We've already done it in Tunisia and Egypt at the very least. They aren't turning into our friends and none of this has helped our allies, quite the contrary.

The only military action that MIGHT make sense is to enforce a brief ceasefire to enable non-combatants to flee the combat zone. But where would they go and how could we ensure that these ostensible non-combatants don't just form a fifth column within the countries where they are resettled? But if we can resolve those points satisfactorily, I'd like to see us help the innocent escape Syria. Then let the remaining combatants slug it out, as long as they stay within Syria's borders.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Maybe it has something to do with Russia and Iran 'directly' involved more than who are the bad guys vs. good guy and claimed WMDs. Both are allies with Syria and Russia has a naval port there in addition. Sometimes its best to eat crow than take a giant blind emotional leap forward that could conclude with something nobody in the west wants to have happen -- especially now.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Who would we shoot at?"

Not a problem! There is no shortage of armchair militia generals with lots of guns here on PJM that we could send over there to conduct a military intervention and be out of there in 72-hours or less. Then we could send them (the PJMIM) to Afghanistan and have that matter all cleaned up well before the 2014 scheduled withdrawal while our troops go on a well desered long R&R back here at home. :)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Where's T.E. Lawrence when you need him? That guy could name off Bedouin tribes without missing a beat. Suddenly Syria's a lost world? Sounds like they haven't really gone anywhere in a hundred years. Exceptionalism: learn it, accept it, breath it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What's that old saying?

Oh, now I remember. Too little, too late.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Just who should we be shooting at?"
No one. Just make sure both sides are equally armed and let them kill each other. There's no good side here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And make sure it is contained within their borders. Or maybe just carve off a small piece, if worthwhile.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
On second thought, no small piece. That would end as a refugee camp, and we would have to feed them all... and police them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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