Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bad Signs for Rebels in Syria

     I hate to draw your attention away from the Zimmerman Trial but things just got a little worse for the Anti-Assad forces in Syria.

     The assassination of a top Free Syrian Army commander by militants linked to al Qaeda is tantamount to a declaration of war, according to FSA rebels on Friday. It means opening a new front between Western-backed forces and Islamists in Syria's civil war.

     This is the latest sign of disarray in the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has regained the upper hand more than two years into the insurgency that grew out of Arab Spring-inspired pro-democracy protests.

     Members of the Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant, a hard-line Islamist group, killed Kamal Hamami of the FSA Supreme Military Council. He was one of the FSAs top 30 figures.

     Rebel commanders pledged to retaliate.

     "We are going to wipe the floor with them. We will not let them get away with it because they want to target us," a senior rebel commander said on condition of anonymity.

     He said the al Qaeda-linked militants had warned FSA rebels that there was "no place" for them where Hamami was killed in Latakia province, a northern rural region of Syria bordering Turkey where Islamist groups are powerful.

     Other opposition sources said the killing followed a dispute between Hamami's forces and the Islamic State over control of a strategic checkpoint in Latakia and would lead to fighting.

     The FSA has been trying to build a logistics network and reinforce its presence across Syria as the U.S. administration considers sending weapons to the group after concluding that Assad's forces had used chemical weapons against rebel fighters.

     The anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, said the FSA and the Islamic State have had violent exchanges in several areas of Syria over the past few weeks, showing growing antagonism between Assad's foes.

     "Last Friday, the Islamic State killed an FSA rebel in Idlib province and cut his head off. There have been attacks in many provinces," the Observatory's leader Rami Abdelrahman said.

     Syria's conflict turned violent in the face of a crackdown on protests. Civil war ensued with disparate rebel groups taking up arms and the Observatory says more than 100,000 people have been killed.

     U.S. congressional committees are holding up plans to arm the rebels because of fears that such deliveries will not be decisive and the arms might end up in the hands of Islamist militants.

     There are those in the Senate and in the House of Representatives who would like to see the U.S. become more involved. We are already sending logistical support to the rebels and have established a base in Jordan where our Special Warfare units are providing training. 

     I have grave doubts about getting even this involved. The “opposition” is not a single military command. It is a very loose coalition of over 220 separate groups. –And now it appears that this coalition has already started dividing and fighting each other as well as Assad. So, just who the hell are we training in Jordan? Just who would we be sending arms too? What grave national interest are we serving by spending millions or billions of tax dollars to protect?

     On the other side, Assad has his Army, a very large and well trained and well armed one. He also has support in the form of arms and training from Russia. He is getting arms, money and support from Iran (there are at least 4,000 Iranian Army personnel fighting in Syria already). And Hamas has several thousand of their fighters supporting him. 

     Just how does anyone expect the fractured coalition of opposition forces to defeat that? Especially now that it appears they are starting to fight each other as well?

     Whatever they decide to do in Washington, it had better be done very, very cautiously or we will get drawn into another Middle East quagmire again (and probably on the losing side).

Live Long and Prosper...

No comments: