The Syrian Coalition brushed off President Obama’s assertion that it was difficult to aid untrained opposition forces as yet another excuse from the White House to not follow through on its promises to help.
“I think this notion that somehow there was this ready-made moderate Syrian force that was able to defeat Assad is simply not true,” Obama told CBS in an interview aired Friday, responding to criticism that the administration let the war in Syria go unchecked resulting in the al-Qaeda spillover into Iraq.
“And you know, we have spent a lot of time trying to work with a moderate opposition in Syria. But as I said yesterday, when you get farmers and dentists and folks who have never fought before going up against a ruthless opposition in Assad, the notion that they were in a position suddenly to overturn, you know, not only Assad, but also ruthless, highly trained jihadists, if we just sent a few arms, is a fantasy,” Obama continued. “And I think it’s very important for the American people, but maybe more importantly Washington and the press corps, to understand that.”
But Hadi Al Bahra, secretary of the Syrian Coalition, noted that this generalization of the Free Syrian Army isn’t exactly correct.
In addition to many of the FSA commanders being high-level defectors from the Syrian Army, the Assad regime imposes compulsory military service on all Syrian youth, which means that the majority of Syrian men have received military training.
“The Syrian people possess unshakeable will, which is far more effective than weapons. History has taught us that many revolutions were victorious even with limited capabilities,” Al Bahra said. “The excuse made by President Obama does not exempt him from the responsibility to support the Syrian people politically, legally and diplomatically measures to end the bloodshed in Syria.”
“We call on President Obama to fulfill what has been agreed upon with the Syrian Coalition during its recent visit to the United States, as we are confident that his latest remarks do not mean repudiation of supporting the moderate Syrian opposition in the future,” he said.
Al Bahra stressed that the cross-border expansion of terrorists — including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant physically bulldozing the border of Iraq and Syria to form their caliphate — “is a result of the reluctance of our friendly countries, including the United States, to give sufficient support for the Syrian people and the mainstream rebels to curb the rise of extremist groups and terrorist organizations that are being imported from Syria’s neighboring countries.”
“The latest objection to President Obama’s policies on Syria came from chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Congress, who called on President Obama to either directly intervene in Syria to stop the crimes committed against the Syrian people, or to provide the moderate Syrian rebels with weapons to defend civilians,” he added. “President Obama’s remarks, that moderate Syrian rebels cannot defeat Assad or the extremist groups, highlights the need to support the moderate forces and empowering them to defend the Syrian people and force Bashar al-Assad to seriously engage in a political process.”