Insanity: Obama admin considering closer ties with Syrian jihadists

Note:

The Islamic Front, previously known as the Syrian Islamic Front, is an umbrella organization of Islamist rebel groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria. Its ideology is characterized by Salafism, Jihadism, and Sunni Islamism. Salafism is often described as related to, including, or synonymous with Wahhabism — the Islamic ideology of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. The Islamic Front’s allies include the Free Syrian Army.

Islamic Front foundingPic taken at the founding of the Islamic Front. Symbol above speaker’s head is the Front’s logo.

John Hudson writes for Foreign Policy, Dec. 17, 2013:

As the moderate faction of the Syrian rebellion implodes under the strain of vicious infighting and diminished resources, the United States is increasingly looking to hardline Islamists in its efforts to gain leverage in Syria’s civil war. The development has alarmed U.S. observers concerned that the radical Salafists do not share U.S. values and has dismayed supporters of the Free Syrian Army who believe the moderates were set up to fail.

On Monday, the State Department confirmed its openness to engaging with the Islamic Front following the group’s seizure of a Free Syrian Army headquarters last week containing U.S.-supplied small arms and food. “We wouldn’t rule out the possibility of meeting with the Islamic Front,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday. “We can engage with the Islamic Front, of course, because they’re not designated terrorists …  We’re always open to meeting with a wide range of opposition groups. Obviously, it may make sense to do so at some point soon, and if we have something to announce, we will.”

How soon the U.S. might engage with the powerful rebel faction, if it chooses to,  is uncertain. On Saturday, Reuters reported that Syrian rebel commanders in the Islamic Front were due to meet U.S. officials in Turkey in the coming days to discuss U.S. support for the group. A Syrian opposition source speaking with The Cable said that efforts were in place to unite the Western-backed Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front under the same coalition. “There are negotiations planned for very soon between the [Free Syrian Army’s] SMC and the Islamic Front to determine what the relationship will be,” said the source. America’s role in coordinating the talks remains unclear.

Though the Islamic Front is not a U.S.-designated terrorist group, many of its members hold intensely anti-American beliefs and have no intention of establishing a secular democracy in Syria. U.S. interest in the group reflects the bedraggled state of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) and the desire to keep military pressure on President Bashar al-Assad ahead of next month’s planned peace conference in Geneva. “The SMC is being reduced to an exile group and the jihadists are taking over,” said a senior congressional aide.

The creation of the Islamic Front was announced on Nov. 22 with the purpose of uniting the strength of prominent Islamist militias across the country. Seven Islamist groups, with a total estimated strength of 45,000 to 60,000 fighters, signed on to the merger.

Soon after its creation, the Islamic Front signed a charter that made it clear the group aimed to create a Sunni theocracy, not a Western-style democracy. The document rejected the prospect of any sort of representative government, arguing that in Islam, only “God is the sovereign.” It explicitly rejects secularism as “contradictory to Islam,” and argues that Syria’s ethnic and religious minorities can be protected on the basis of Islamic law.

Some of the comments from the Islamic Front’s top leaders support the contention that the group’s ideology comes dangerously close to that of al Qaeda though the front is not aligned with the terrorist network. Zahran Alloush, the Islamic Front’s military chief, has demonized Syria’s Alawite minority and called for them to be cleansed from Damascus. As he put it in a recent video: “The jihadists will wash the filth of the rafida [a slur used to describe Shia] from Greater Syria, they will wash it forever, if Allah wills it.”

Though the coalition’s beliefs are troubling, their military strength can’t be denied. By some estimates, it’s the single largest rebel command. With an inventory of heavy weaponry, tanks and artillery, experts say it’s both disciplined and generously funded by Gulf sources.

Washington isn’t simply looking for a place for the front. The U.S. also wants the Salafists to return the goods it took from the SMC’s warehouses in Bab al Hawa in northern Syria. In an unexpected takeover, the SMC lost its headquarters to the front last week while its top commander, Gen. Salim Idriss, was out of the country. “Obviously if there would be a meeting with the Islamic Front, it would be in the context, certainly, of the taking over of the SMC headquarters,” Harf said.

Any decision to engage or provide support to the Islamic Front risks angering non-interventionists in Congress. Senators such as Kentucky Republican Rand Paul have repeatedly warned the Obama administration against forging such alliances. “You will be funding allies of al Qaeda.”

At the same time, some interventionists in the U.S have given up hope that the U.S. can pick the right winner in Syria. “The Islamic Front entrenching power is the culmination of what we worried about,” said one hawkish Congressional aide. “By slow-rolling support to the SMC, only a fool would think they could survive on their own.”

Others fear that without U.S. coordination with the Islamic Front, the stalemate in Syria will persist and Assad will continue to exploit divisions between the rebels.

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18 responses to “Insanity: Obama admin considering closer ties with Syrian jihadists

  1. How did Germany morph from the cultured and sophisticated northern European society of Rembrandt, Beethoven, Durer and Brueghel, to the demonic Nazi kabuki theater of the late 1930s?!!!!!!!

    No kidding. I’m really asking. I’ve never understood it.

    But one thing I am certain of is…

    It’s happening again, in another great nation, our own. If malleable segments of our military are being used to support the war efforts of jihadists in Syria, then we have not only lost sight of the real enemy…

    We have become the enemy of all man kind.

    When the 9/11 attacks happened, I went into prayer, seeking help and wisdom from our Lord. During that time, I realized that the enemy had set his sights on gaining control of the most powerful warrior tribe in the history of this world. With control over America, he could menace every innocent man, woman or child on this planet. The revelation was very disturbing, but it was nothing compared to the experience of watching this very thing play out before our eyes.

    A number of years ago, while visiting my brother, while watching F-15 fighter jets roar out of Otis Air Base on Cape Cod, I remarked, “Thank God they’re on our side.” These machines have never been defeated in battle. And that’s just what’s in the air. Our boomers, submarines parked off the coast of every potential enemy, are only good news if we remain good. If we become perverted, then the whole world is in peril.

    Well, the dark and unthinkable possibility has happened. The “commander in chief” of our armed forces has become drunk with his new toys. Forgetting his responsibilities, he has been heard boasting, “I’m good at killing people.” And his secret commitments to the muslim money brokers who paid for his education and rise to power, have been called in. He is now obligated to help his masters spread jihad all over the world.

    The only people who can stand up to him are his own people, like you and me. We must resist him at every turn. We must argue and persuade his followers wherever we meet them. We must run for, and gain, offices on all strata of society. We must occupy this land again.

    And above all, we must pray for mercy from the Lord, to rescue our people from the wickedness of this hour. The only real victory is in repentance.

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    • Thank you, Trail Dust. Your crie de coeur is a “lighting of the beacons” that should be published, not as a mere comment, but as a stand-alone opinion editorial.

      Like

  2. You’re doing well, coming through the furnace of trials with wisdom and insights. Don’t be too hard on yourself, because knowledge of the truth is good at whatever age we are!

    Like

  3. This is true insanity, at best. There are no winners here, no side to back.
    As to Assad, yes he is horrible but so are the rebels and quote “freedom fighters”. If they win, radical Islam and repressive sharia based law will be put in place and the bloodbath will be much worse than Assad, much worse. There is no way to ride the Islamic tiger and I say let them fight each other, kill each other. As this is already a proxy war with Russia and Putin took Obama to school and outplayed him, made him look like the milk toast wussie that he is, why risk more involvement in Syria. I have studied Islam, sharia law, waging Jihad since 1979. Over 270 million innocents dead from the hands of Muslims and Islam over the last 1400 plus years. There is nothing peaceful within the qur’an, a hadith and sura.
    Many Muslims may be peaceful but the political ideology they have been brainwashed by is violent, oppressive, persecution based and Islam is where the real war on women is. Almost all other ‘true’ religions have evolved with time, Islam has not. Afghanistan is looking at re-introducing stoning to death as punishment for certain crimes, That is real progress?

    This is a civil war. We have enough concerns abroad and here at home. The money wasted in much of the ME could be to much better use here at home. How about taking care of veterans better and those who are serving now? Obama is a power drunk man-child.

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    • Good day, PatriotUSA!

      Of course I have no idea who you are, nor yr age, et c., but my reading of yr comments creates the most extraordinary feelings in me. It’s as if someone –an eerie doppelgänger of analysis– got inside myself while I slept, wrote this for me, and then sent it off while I was sleeping. I get up, decide to look in here, and… there I am!

      So, there’s no need for me to add a single letter to the above, but if you decide to share anything further of yrself, pls feel free to do so to me @ jefasciani@shaw.ca. This is truly uncanny: letter for letter, the syntax, care to ‘get it right’, and so on, this IS my statement as much as anything I’ve written in fifty years!

      In our spirit of collegiality, I’ll say “Keep up the good work!”, although I feel as if I’m talking to myself….

      Gadzooks, I trust this is not a premonition of my death, as per Shelley or Lincoln, as I haven’t made some last changes to my Will! I don’t mind dying, but as a Friend/Quaker it is incumbent upon me to get my final affairs in order, which I haven’t done in the aforementioned particulars.

      Like

  4. A. James Gregor, Ph.D. & Professor

    Outsiders have never found it easy to navigate the waters of Middle Eastern politics. But the recent efforts by the Obama administration are notably inept. In the wake of the “Arab Spring” we have the wreckage of Libya and the massive confusion in Egypt. Swept up in our enthusiasm with the promise of some sort of Arab or Islamic democracy, for example, we cast our lot with the rebels against the Assad regime in Syria–as we did in the case of Mubarak in Egypt and Gaddafi in Libya–to the consternation of our strongest allies in the region–the Saudis and the Israelis making tentative overtures to the Russians, and the anti-Muslim Brotherhood Egyptians driven to despair by our regional politics. It is not at all clear what our policy in the region should or will be. The only confident prediction one might venture on is that the entire territory will remain threatened and threatening until an alternative is inaugurated.

    Like

    • Dear Dr Gregor:

      The tenor of your writing is the same as that of Dr George Carver, the renown Mid-East expert whose life and last major analysis were the occasion for my ‘swan song’ essay, ‘The Ghost of Dr George Carver is Haunting Bush 43’, as your insights and conclusions parallel his. It was and still is deeply regrettable that Bush 43 did not follow Dr Carver’s astute counsel, as Bush 41 had notably done.

      As for your final thoughts that “It is not at all clear what our policy in the region should or will be. The only confident prediction one might venture on is that the entire territory will remain threatened and threatening until an alternative is inaugurated”,
      perhaps we’d be best to return to George Washington’s cautions as well as those of other Founders, to avoid foreign intrigues and treaties until such time as all who take part in them can demonstrate the honour of their intentions [means] and their ends as well.

      Like

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  6. Thank you StMA for this most thoughtful post. It is no wonder that the king continues to sleep with the enemy. I believe this is his deliberate agenda. He has every intention of destroying this country. Look at his Marxist mentors, notwithstanding that this destruction at the hands of his efforts has demonstrated its existence in every aspect of our society.

    Like

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