Call this a belated awakening. or more cynically, a case of plausible deniability, but the Obama Administration is breaking with the Syrian National Council which was a Muslim Brotherhood front group for the takeover of Syria.
Obama and Co. doubtlessly knew what the Syrian National Council was when they threw their support behind it. Any claims that they were tricked by Turkey or Qatar won’t fly. But while they expected the SNC to be political Islamists, they may have just been stupid enough to believe that the Muslim Brotherhood would not be aligned with Al Qaeda.
After Benghazi, the honeymoon appears to be over. The first sign of that was the release of information conceding that most of the weapons, funneled through the SNC, were going to Jihadists. Now the other shoe has dropped.
The Obama administration on Wednesday renounced the proclaimed leaders of the Syrian political opposition and said any group seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad must reject attempts by extremists to “hijack” a legitimate revolution.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Syrian National Council, or SNC, should no longer be considered the “visible leader” of the opposition. That made official what has been the increasingly obvious sidelining of an opposition group led mostly by middle-age Syrian expatriates.
The United States has no direct power to anoint the would-be new leaders of Syria, but U.S. backing will be essential for any hopefuls seeking outside financial, diplomatic or possible military assistance. The United States is supporting new opposition leaders who will attend a strategy session in Qatar next week, Clinton said.
Clinton and other U.S. officials are fed up with infighting among the SNC leaders seeking recognition as a shadow government and have become convinced that the group does not represent the interests of all ethnic and religious groups in Syria. It also has little legitimacy among on-the-ground activists and fighters, and has done little to stem the infiltration of Islamist extremists into the opposition forces.
Obama and Co. are still committed to regime change in Syria, but they are suddenly much less committed to the Muslim Brotherhood. Not that this will make much of a difference.
Qatar is behind the Arab Spring and a meeting to choose new opposition leaders in Qatar with the backing of the Qatari government just means a new younger hipper set of Islamists. Or their proxies and fronts.
Hillary Clinton hasn’t really learned anything from Benghazi, except to try and shake things up a little. But that isn’t enough. Not nearly enough.