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SHOCKING ADMISSION: 'Secular' Syrian Rebels Don't Actually Believe in Secular Democracy

A stunning admission last week by a French academic about the true nature of the so-called "secular" elements of the Syrian rebels exposes the lies behind the official media and foreign policy establishment narratives pushing for regime change in Syria.

As first noticed by Professor Max Abrams of Northeastern University, a study published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and authored by French professor Fabrice Balanche on the status and composition of the Syrian "rebels" admits that the vaunted "secular" rebels are anything but.

Discussing the religious composition of the rebels based on estimates provided by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Balanche says:

The ISW usefully classified the various rebel groups into four ideological categories: transnational Salafi-jihadists (i.e., al-Qaeda-linked fighters), national Salafi-jihadists, political Islamists, and secularists. The difference between national jihadists and political Islamists is more or less akin to the difference between Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood -- in simplified terms, the former seek strict application of Islamic law, while many of the latter tend to favor a state with an Islamic civil constitution but protections for religious freedom. As for the "secularists," the term is used very loosely because most of the fighters in this category are conservative Muslims who do not actually want a secular government.

The fact that Balanche admits that the ISW's estimates of so-called "secularists" are built upon the fiction that they are actually secular exposes the false narrative that ISW has long peddled in support of regime change.

This lie about large numbers of "secular" rebels that the U.S. needed to support is one that  the ISW has been pushing for a while.

Rewind to September 2013, when considerable pressure was being placed upon President Obama to directly involve the U.S. in the Syrian war.

At that time the ISW's resident Syria "expert," Elizabeth O'Bagy, was opining in the Wall Street Journal about her travels to Syria and purported discovery that the Syrian "rebels" really weren't bloodthirsty jihadists, but moderates worthy of U.S. financial and military support -- in particular, heavy weapons. Her claims about the Syrian rebels, particularly the FSA, were cited and praised by Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator John McCain.

That view, of course, quickly came crashing down as O'Bagy came under fire for failing to disclose that she was also a paid contractor for a Syrian rebel front. (She had also lied about her academic credentials.) Within two weeks of her op-ed appearing, she was fired from the Institute for the Study of War, though she was hired two weeks later by Senator McCain as a Senate staffer.

At the very same time that O'Bagy's career was taking a hit, the narrative that the Syrian "rebels" were all secular moderates was quickly collapsing. An IHS Jane's study appeared two weeks after O'Bagy's WSJ op-ed saying that nearly half of the Syrian "rebels" were jihadists or hardline Islamists (as if there were a discernible difference). Meanwhile, the FSA was under serious pressure from the very jihadist groups that Ms. O'Bagy had insisted were not a problem.

Which brings us back to Balanche's Washington Institute report looking at ISW's current "rebel" estimates. He continues by saying:

Among the 90,000 "powerbroker" rebels, some 20 percent can be classified as transnational jihadists, 31 percent as national jihadists, 24 percent as political Islamists, and 25 percent as "secularists." When the thousands of rebels in the non-powerbroker categories are added, the "secularists" become the largest grouping, but they are also the most fragmented and therefore the least effective.

But remember, when ISW says "secularists" Balanche admits that they are not actually secular. The highly subjective sliding scale of "moderate" applied to the Syrian "rebels" by their U.S. supporters to enlist U.S. government support has always been fraudulent.

This is also true of the claims that the "moderate" rebels were in conflict with the terrorist elements operating in Syria. But as I observed nearly a year and a half ago here at PJ Media, the multiple reports emerging from Syria regarding cooperation between the so-called "moderates" and "extremists" forced even the most vocal regime-change cheerleaders to admit that the vast majority of "moderate" Syrian rebels were openly working with Al-Qaeda.

As I've noted in the following articles for more than two years, the narratives pushed by the establishment media and the D.C. think tanks about the nature of the Syrian "rebels" have been deliberately false. And as the admission by Balanche shows, the ISW estimates continue to promote that fraud.

July 7, 2014: U.S. ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Brigades Surrender Weapons, Pledge Allegiance to Islamic State

Sept. 3, 2014: U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Operating Openly with ISIS, Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra

Sept. 9, 2014: Fighter With ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Tells L.A. Times They Fight Alongside Al-Qaeda

Sept. 10, 2014: ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Commander Admits Alliance with ISIS, Confirms PJ Media Reporting

Sept. 13, 2014: Yet Another U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Makes Peace with ISIS

Sept. 24, 2014: U.S.-Backed Syrian Group Harakat al-Hazm Condemns U.S. Strikes on ISIS as ‘Attack on the Revolution’

Nov. 2, 2014: U.S.-Armed ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Groups Surrender, Defect to Al-Qaeda

Nov. 3, 2014: How Obama Walked Boehner and GOP Leadership Off the Syrian Rebel Cliff

Nov. 24, 2014: More Defections of ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Rebels to ISIS

Dec. 2, 2014: US-Backed Syrian Rebels Ally with al-Qaeda in South, Surrender CIA-Supplied Weapons in the North

Dec. 14, 2014: Report: Al-Qaeda Using CIA-Supplied TOW Anti-Tank Missiles in Northern Syria

Dec. 28, 2014: NY Times Admits: U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Under Effective al-Qaeda Control

March 3, 2015: U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Collapses, U.S.-Supplied Weapons End Up in Al-Qaeda Hands

March 24, 2015: Video Shows Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra Using U.S.-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missiles in Syria

April 16, 2015: U.S. Analyst Admits ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Have Been Working with Al-Qaeda All Along

May 8, 2015: CIA-Backed, "Vetted Moderate" Rebels Now Working Openly With Al-Qaeda

June 27, 2015: ISIS Using U.S. TOW Antitank Missiles In Latest Syrian Offensive

July 9, 2015: Report: 'Vetted Moderate' Free Syrian Army Fighting Alongside Al-Qaeda, Islamic State Against Assad Regime

July 23, 2015: U.S.-Funded Free Syrian Army Unit Shows Off Its Kidnapping Skills in New Training Video

July 27, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels: Obama's 50-Man 'Vetted Moderate' Syrian Rebel Army Vanishes After Training in Turkey

July 29, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels Part 2: Al-Qaeda Arrests 18 U.S.-Trained Rebels On Their First Day in Syria

July 30, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels: Despite Pentagon Denial, Reports Confirm That U.S.-Trained Syrian Rebels Were Kidnapped By Al-Qaeda Almost Immediately

July 31, 2015: Report: Al-Qaeda Kills Five Members of Obama's 54-Man Syrian Rebel Army

July 31, 2015: Chechen Terrorists In Syria Have Obtained U.S.-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missiles

Sept. 22, 2015: Report: U.S.-Trained, 'Vetted Moderate' Syrian Rebel Leader Defects to Al-Qaeda, Turns Weapons Over to Terror Group

Oct. 27, 2016: New Video Shows Al-Qaeda Using Weapons U.S. Gave to 'Vetted Moderates'

Nov. 24, 2015: U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebels Destroy Russian Helicopter with CIA-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missile

July 20, 2016: CIA-Vetted, "Moderate" Syrian Rebels Behead Child Soldier

Sept. 3, 2016: British Journo: Syrian Kidnapper Who Shot Me Twice is Now a CIA-vetted 'Moderate'

Sept. 6, 2016: New ISIS Commander Was Trained by State Department as Recently as 2014

Sept. 16, 2016: SHOCK VIDEO: U.S.-Backed, "Moderate" Free Syrian Army Threatens to Kill U.S. Special Forces

Sept. 29, 2016: U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Allies With Group that State Dept Designated LAST WEEK

Oct. 20, 2016: U.S. "Vetted Moderate" Syrian Rebels Defect to Al-Qaeda Affiliate

Nov. 22, 2016: Video Shows Syrian "Rebel" Group That Beheaded Child Still Using CIA-Provided TOW Missiles