Wednesday, December 19, 2012
A Game Change In Syria
The situation in the Syrian insurgency has changed in an interesting way.
We started out with the Obama administration actually supporting Bashir Assad - remember Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referring to Assad as a 'reformer' and Senator John Kerry shilling for U.S. aid to him?
The next twist in the road was the Obama administration supporting the insurgents, consisting of the Syrian National Council(SNC) and the Syrian Free Army, a group put together at the insistence of President Obama's closest friend among foreign leaders, Tayyip Erdogan and the Islamist Turkish government. The U.S. government has been supplying them with arms and some training via Turkey and Jordan while Qatar and the Saudis have been supplying most of the funding.
Of course, the problem is that the SNC and the Syrian Free Army are controlled in their entirety by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Salafists, some of them outright al-Qaeda affiliates like Jabhat al-Nusra. Apparently this troubling fact just came to light in Washington.
So the next step was to put together yet another insurgent group of Syrian 'moderates' to back, the Syrian Opposition Coalition,(SOC)and the associated Joint Military Council because, in President Obama's words, it was "now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime."
Except that there are just a few problems. Mere details.
This new coalition, formed in Qatar is only two thirds composed of members of the Muslim Brotherhood or their affiliates.
The leader of the SOC is one Ahmed Mouaz al-Khatib, former imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, and - wait for it - a religious cleric closely allied to the Damascus branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Another troubling detail is that the SOC and their affiliated Joint Military Council are mostly located outside Syria, and it has few boots on the ground if any, let alone weapons. Thanks to the Obama Administration,it is the Syrian National Council and the Syrian Free Army who have the fighters and the weaponry, some of it reportedly taken from deposed Libyan leader Moamar Khaddaffi's armories, although that part of the sordid Libyan story has yet to be proven conclusively. If that's what actually went down, I suppose we could call it Fast and Furious, Middle East style.
As you might guess, the SNC and the Syrian Free Army aren't taking kindly to a bunch of ferenghi in DC and the EU dumping them and telling them whom represents the resistance and whom doesn't, especially when it's been them doing the fighting and dying against Assad's forces.
The ace in the hole for the newly formed and recognized Syrian Opposition Coalition is that they're going to be the main recipient and control point of Western economic aid. That ought to buy them a seat at the table.
But let's not make the mistake that this is going to end up with a moderate, pro-western government.
The SOC is just as anti-western, just as anti-Israel and almost as Islamist as the SNC.They will almost certainly come together and deal to put together a sharia go0verned Islamist state.
It's the Muslim Brotherhood who has the clear agenda, a disciplined corps of followers subject to an organized hierarchy and the ruthlessness to take over in Syria. The Brotherhood has Qatar and Turkey backing it, and they are ultimately the best bet to be Syria's next government.
What's left of Syria's Christians are already fleeing, mostly to Lebanon, the only Arab country that still has a sizable Christian population.
If the Russians cut Assad loose (and there are some signs that they may now be leaning that way), Assad would be unable to put together a northwestern redoubt as I discussed here. The Shi'ites and Alawites, those that stay, can look forward, at best, to being marginalized if not ethnically cleansed.
The Kurds, meanwhile, are keeping to themselves and consolidating their strength in the northeast, the area adjacent to Iraqi Kurdistan. The odds are good that they may merge in a de facto union with their fellow Kurds just over the border as a precursor to a free Kurdistan.It is the one positive development out of this entire mess.
Syria, like Iraq is an artificial country, some lines in the sand created out of the debris of the Ottoman Empire after WWI. And like Iraq, it was a seething mass of ethnicities ruled over by an iron fisted dictator, until we kicked it over.
Given the coming showdown between the Sunnis and the Muslim Brotherhood versus the Shi'ite Iranian bloc, it's fascinating that in Iraq we midwifed a transition from a Sunni-ruled dictatorship to a Shi'ite one that is essentially becoming an Iranian colony, while in Syria, we're engaged in doing the exact opposite, transforming an Alawite Shi'ite dictatorship into a Sunni one.
The Obama Administration goal, to all intents and purposes is to establish yet another Muslim Brotherhood regime in the Middle East.Or to put it more bluntly, The U.S. is now backing what is essentially an anti-western, Islamist takeover of Syria
And not just in Syria, of course. President Obama and his team believe that the solution to our conflicts with the Muslim world is 'daylight' between the U.S. and its ally Israel ( the president's own words) while we encourage Islamist regimes to take over, as they have in Egypt and Gaza, and may soon take over in Libya, Syria, the Palestinian occupied areas of Judea and Samaria and Jordan.
This is the start of the Caliphate Hassan al-Banna dreamt of, when he started the Muslim Brotherhood back in the 1920's.
In later years, we're going to find out exactly what a huge act of folly this was.