Watch the bouncing ball as it hops along the bars the Obama administration sings. We should, they say, trust their intelligence when it says that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on August 21, the anniversary of the “red line” that Barack Obama now denies drawing. But we should not, they say, trust their intelligence when it says that Syria’s rebels are predominantly jihadists.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State John Kerry’s public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.
At congressional hearings this week, while making the case for President Barack Obama’s plan for limited military action in Syria, Kerry asserted that the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership, and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution.
“And the opposition is getting stronger by the day,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
U.S. and allied intelligence sources and private experts on the Syrian conflict suggest that assessment is optimistic.
While the radical Islamists among the rebels may not be numerically superior to more moderate fighters, they say, Islamist groups like the al Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front are better organized, armed and trained.
But wait…there’s more.
U.S. intelligence sources do not dispute that Islamic extremists are in the minority on the battlefield.
“Most of the groups battling against Assad are composed of Islamist fighters, but only a small minority could accurately be characterized as extremist,” one U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
But a second official, who also asked not to be named, said moderate rebels may have lost strength rather than gained it in recent months. Due to their relative lack of weapons and organization, they are beginning to make alliances with better-armed Islamic radicals, whom they see pursuing more effective actions against Assad’s forces, the official said.
Who was it who said something profound about strong and weak horses…?
A European security official with experience in the region said that extremist rebel factions were so strong and well-organized in the north and west of Syria that they were setting up their own public services and trying to create an Islamic ministate along the Iraqi border.
Setting up their own public services…say, that’s what Hamas, Hizballah and the Democratic Party do to gain power.
By contrast, the official said, more moderate rebel factions predominate in the east of Syria and along its southern border with Jordan but have largely devolved into “gangs” whose leaders are more interested in operating local rackets and enriching themselves than in forming a larger alliance that could more effectively oppose Assad’s government.
So, there’s your “moderates.” If you like the Crips and the Bloods, you’ll love these guys.