The Folly of Supporting the Syrian Rebels

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Recently, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) co-sponsored a non-binding Senate resolution with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) that called for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria and for the US to back the Syrian opposition by “urg[ing] the President to support an effective transition to democracy in Syria by identifying and providing substantial material and technical support, upon request, to Syrian organizations.” Like other resolutions introduced in Congress over the past year, this one falls short of calling for arming the Syrian rebels. However, even limited and targeted support for the opposition is a very bad idea at this juncture. For a wide variety of reasons, supporting the opposition is sure to be a crap shoot — with a good chance the US and the West would roll snake eyes.

The Rubio resolution was also co-sponsored by several other Democrats, including Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), one of the most liberal members of the Senate, along with Johnny Isakson (R-GA), one of the body’s most conservative senators.  The strange legislative bedfellows underscores the belief in Congress that President Obama simply isn’t doing enough to assist the opposition in Syria and staunch the flow of blood from civilians who are agitating for Assad’s ouster. The resolution also condemns Russia and Iran for their support of Assad’s crackdown, and calls upon the State Department to find ways to “encourage defections” from the Syrian military.

Well meaning but flawed resolutions like Rubio’s fail to take into account many important issues, including the extreme disorganization of the opposition — both political and military — as well as the almost total lack of respect for Syrian exiles. Here are some of the major obstacles to making US aid to the opposition serve American interests, and not the interests of the Islamists and our enemies:

Al-Qaeda in Iraq in Syria

Recent bombings, including those in Syria’s two largest cities of Damascus and Aleppo, are the work of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to the US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Clapper also says that AQ in Iraq has “infiltrated” the Syrian opposition and that some of its fighters have slipped into Syria and joined the forces fighting Assad. He added that the opposition, “in many cases may not be aware they are there.”

This is an extremely troubling development. Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri recently released a video message calling on fighters in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon to mobilize and fight the Assad regime. So far, according to Clapper, there has not been a noticeable influx of fighting men into Syria. But the problem with aiding the Syrian opposition — even non-military aid — is that we can’t be sure that aid wouldn’t also facilitate al-Qaeda’s plans. Nor is it clear at this point who, if anyone, in the Syrian opposition might be in league with the terrorists.

Islamists in the Syrian Opposition

There are two main political opposition groups; the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the National Coordination Committee (NCC). The SNC, according to Randi Slim of Foreign Policy, is the broader based group, and is composed of “the Damascus Declaration Group (Syrian reformist intellectuals), the Muslim Brotherhood, representatives of the Istanbul Gathering (a group made up mainly of Islamists and independent technocrats), youth activists, individual Kurdish activists, and Assyrians.” The NCC is mostly made up of leftists and a smattering of individual activists. Both groups prefer a political solution to the crisis with the SNC only willing to talk to Assad if he agrees to step down. The NCC is willing to negotiate political change once the troops are pulled out of the population centers and the bloodshed is halted.

Both groups are terribly disorganized, and factions within the organizations can’t agree on much of anything at all, including the key issue of foreign intervention. To attempt to bring the opposition under a single umbrella, a new organization has recently come into being: the National Bloc for Change. It is made up of “80 prominent opposition figures, lawyers, clerics and activists” to support the revolution. It claims to “welcome any movement” against the Assad regime, and says it is more representative of Syrian society. A member of the newly formed bloc, Waheed Saqar, who is also a prominent opposition figure, said, “Honestly speaking, we do not think that the coordination committee or the National Council [accurately] represent fabric of Syrian society. Our aim is to be one unified body without discrimination or marginalization of any Syrian.”

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  • Brian Donegal

    Christians in Syria prefer the Alawites because they are safer under their rule. We have seen what happened to the Copts with the ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

    • Yoyo

      Christians been living in peace under the Muslim's rule for centenaries MORON !!
      Not only Christians , all minorities as well. Our last prime minster before Alawites took over was Christian. Read the history before making such nonsense comments.
      FYI, We don't care about Muslim brotherhood. To hell to that organization.

      • Brian Donegal

        The nonsense is coming from your brain. It is the radicals like the muslim brotherhood that are taking over. No Christian is safe.

  • crackerjack

    The Syrian people's rightfull push for a free and democractic society has been turned into civil war through intervention by the Saudis, Iranians and Turks.

    The Saudis support Sunni domination, Iranians support Shiite domination while the Turks are looking to renew Ottoman style economic and political dominance.

    At the same time we have the "West", running around frantically declaring itself in charge and moraly qualified in nation buliding.

    None of those involved are interested in the welfare nor the prosperity of the Syrian people. The Syrians are doomed.

    • dave

      Sunnis and Shias hate each other because of western foreign policy

      • UCSPanther

        Correction: They hate each other because of their differing views, and have hated each other long before Israel or the "west" even set foot there.

      • john gerard


        Sunni & Shi’ite muslims were killing each other for 1000 years before western foreign policy ever existed. Your statement is made out of ignorance. Educate yourself about Islam. They agree on 60% of Islam. And that 60% is about how to view, treat, subjugate, and wage war against non-muslims. The other 40% is about how many breaths you take when drinking a glass of water, or how to put on and take off a pair of sandals. Or how to enter and exit a bathroom – right foot first. I’m not joking. Does this sound of interest to non-muslims? Of course not, but the 60% IS…

      • ziontruth

        "Sunnis and Shias hate each other because of western foreign policy"

        No, they hate each other because of a war over potato fields that started in the 11th century. /sarc

        I mean, that's just as placing historical events and causes in their right time periods as your suggestion.

        And you are a traitor. Anyone who blames his own side is a traitor.

    • ziontruth

      "The Syrian people…"

      …does not exist. Drawing a border on multiple ethnic groups and religious sects and slapping the label of "Syrian nation" (or "Iraqi," or non-Jewish "Palestinian"…) does not a real nation make.

      For the same reason multiculturalism in general doesn't work. You know, the nation-mixing experiment Marxist traitors like you are pushing for the European nation-states you reside in.

  • Bamaguje

    The West’s do-good politicians never seem to learn from their past mistakes.

    In Iraq Saddam was booted out to among other things establish Iraq as a beacon of democracy in the Middle east.
    Instead Iraq has degenerated to near anarchy with Shiites & Sunnis killing each other, and Iran taking advantage of the power vacuum to increase influence.

    In Libya Obama, Sarkozy et al collobarated with Al-Qaeda linked Islamists to dethrone Gaddafi and ostensibly to establish democracy.
    Instead Sharia mongering Islamists have taken over, and out-of-control armed militias are running amok perpetrating more heinous atrocities than Ghaddafi ever did.

    In Egypt Obama supported the ouster of Mubarak; now repression and harrasment of Coptic Christians have increased and the Muslim Brotherhood is poised to take over.

    So much for democracy in the Middle east!!

  • maghrebchristians

    I am praying for the situation that is still rising in Syria, where people will see the ulitmate lead who is Jesus Christ. Remebering the Moroccan who went to prison for his faith 5 years ago and still in prison for another 10 years, we just pray for a breakthrough.



  • Yeshayahu Goldfeld

    There seemingly does not seem to be a way to assist the people of Syria in their struggle for decent conditions of life: Greedy Arab and Islamist interests are battling there for supremacy and any Western involvement is most probably doomed to facilitate the rise of a rapacious , totalitarian and messianic dictatorship led by Al Qaeda.

  • The Infidel

    Regardless of who wins, the next country on the agenda is Israel. iran only wants assad to win so they can move their troops and weapons closer to Israel so they can get some of the glory, rather than let the mb get all the jihadi points.

  • Amused

    Folly ? What would Mr.Moran have the US do ? The juggernaut of revolt in Syria has occurred independent of any of the aforementioned parties , and is a result of tyrannical rulers ,and the decades long abuse of their own people . NOW Assad , like his father , slaughters his own poeople . What would Mr. Moran have the US say ? At the moment raw humanitarian concerns have the attention of the rest of the world . Regardless of political results , a tyrant is slaughtering his people . Should the rebels prevail, it is THEIR COUNTRY , should the Dictator prevail , the political situation ion the M.E. will remain the same . As it stands today the US as well as Israel , has an enemy called Syria . This enemy has an organized professional miltary replete with air power , and as of yet has not and can not attack Israel or US interests overtly although it has in fact done so covertly as is well known ,and has in fact been a proxy of Iranian interests .
    So stop wringing your hands Mr. Moran , and let the chips fall were they may , for that will be the ultimate reality in Syria anyway .

    • Rick Moran

      You can't take "yes" for an answer can you. I point out the folly of supporting the opposition. How in God's name is that "wringing my hands?"

      On this planet, we call that a warning. And "letting the chips fall where they may" is exactly what I am recommending.

      Perhaps a remedial reading course might help your comprehension. I suggest your local community college.

      • MAD JEWESS

        Who in the hell is Obama, anyway, demanding leaders step down?
        HE is the one that needs to step down.
        Good article.

      • Steeloak

        Rick, I see you have met "Amused", one of FPM's resident Trolls. Like the rest of us, you will find the only thing "Amusing" about him is watching the logical contortions he goes through to justify his positions.

        • ziontruth

          Amused isn't a troll, he only has the flaw of cutting Obama too much slack.

        • Amused

          Steeloak and [admittedly ] Mad Jewess , thank you for making my point , which is the same pavlovian reaction to redmeat thrown into the arena . Therein lies my logic Mr.Moran . "feed for the masses "- toss it out and the ignorant will come . Obama is doing precisely what he or any US President should be doing , given the same situation . Decry the slaughter , on a humanitarian principle , stay out of the fray as far as any aid goes .Call for Assad to step aside . Period . It is more likely than not , if Assad remains , Iran will influence Syrian actions towards the west and Israel at a more critical time , than it would eventually happen if and when the rebel factions manage to uinite into something that would become an existential threat to Israel and the region . Funny how Republicans like Rubeo and McCain [regardless of any Democrat ] publicly calling for stronger actions , escape the scrutiny and criticism of the local denizens here . Instead they revert to the usual rhetoric

          • Amused

            As for your article Mr. Moran , while it is basically correct , given what you write the other 99.9% of the time , one cannot help but to see this one , as just another strawman , meant to evoke an expected response from the sycophants ….and it has .
            And to you Ziontruth , I simply say , I give slac where slac is due , and in this particular case , there is no legitimate criticism due Obama . At the moment so far , he has done excatly the right thing .

          • ziontruth

            "…there is no legitimate criticism due Obama…"

            Given that he's following the same "Islam is the religion of peace" course as Bush Jr., I'll grant there's nothing new to say. Anyhow, most of my criticisms of Obama are over the way he's running the American homeland to the ground with his fiscal policies.

    • Alvaro

      "Regardless of political results , a tyrant is slaughtering his people. Should the rebels prevail, the majority will slaugher religious minorities."

      Fixed that for you.


      You are with the Syrian Jihadists, its as simple as that.

    • crackerjack

      Wrong. The revolt of the Syrian people was mostly peacefull, similar to the Egyptian. The military violence came and still comes from outside in the masquarde of "deserters", "free armys" or "exiles".

  • hashim

    No where in the article do you show what the folly in supporting the rebels is. It is certain that Assad will loose power. He lost all legitimacy internal or external. Not to support the rebels now whatever their shortcomings might be, would be foolish to say the least. Because, at present, not supporting the rebels would be tantamount to supporting the Assad regime. The right thing to do is to call on Assad to give it up and encourage the opposition to increase their numbers. Doing otherwise is beyond folly.

    • curmudgeon

      yes. the shah was sure to lose power. so we supported the ayatollah. great move. it really paid off, didnt it? what would be wrong with declaring both sides to be evil, and round up all our own muslims, both homegrown and imported, and send them to syria? if they are such an asset to our country, surely they would be even more valuable there.

  • W. C. Taqiyya

    Rick, the Syrian upheaval is a great opportunity for the U.S. to diminish the power and prestige of her enemies. With Russia and Iran backing the Bashar regime in Syria, we can easily inflict damage on our enemies at little cost to us. Through Turkey, the Arab League and the U.N. we can paint the Russians and Iranians as supporters of genocide on the diplomatic front and 'encourage' other interested parties to funnel supplies and arms to the 'freedom' fighters. If the Turks grab a slice for themselves, who cares? Hopefully, the Syrian nation will emerge in several pieces, or severely weakened, and no longer pose a substantial threat to its neighbors. Rick, your arguments that the opposition is fractured or that terrorism will spread are hollow. I saw no reference in your article to Hezbollah and wonder if you overlooked the fact that Hezbollah is perhaps the best trained, equipped and financed terrorist organization in the world. Thanks to Syria and Iran, Hezbollah now rules much of Lebanon and is an existential threat to Israel. Without Iranian access to Syrian ports or Syrian political and military support, Hezbollah may wither on the vine and certainly wouldn't be able to sustain a war with Israel. So, since Syria and Iran are already leading sponsors of terrorists, concern about future conditions for terrorists are misplaced. With some deft diplomatic moves and a few well placed bribes we can soon have certain interested parties supplying the freedom fighters with food, medical supplies and cheap surplus Soviet weapons. No matter what the exact outcome, Syria and Iran will be weaker and Russia will suffer a diplomatic black eye. I call that a win win.

  • g_jochnowitz

    Sunnis, O Sunnis, you’ve just got to kill.
    If you have faith, you must find the will.
    Shiites, O Shiites, you’ve just got to slay.
    The mercy of Islam says: Jihad’s the way.

    Shiites and Sunnis, you both hate the Jews.
    Yet you must battle, despite your shared views.
    Killing a Muslim is certainly sad,
    But refraining from killing is sinfully bad.

  • Amused

    Addressing the expressed ignorance in the above posts regarding Shia /Sunni violence :
    It started in 632 at mohammed's death .. Abu Bakr is chosen as caliph, his successor. A minority favored Ali. These become known as Shiat Ali, or the supporters of Ali Those who supported abu Bakr became the Sunni . Neither the west or "potato fields" nor ANYTHING else is the cause for the split .The argument over choosing the successor, keeping in Mohammed's family line or one who is most apt to be caliph ,continues unabated to this day .Thry've been killing each other ever since with intermitten periods of relative quiet , as each considers the other APOSTATE , thus making both worthy of death in the eyes of the other .

  • Amused

    ….and yes , the only thing they both can agree on is , the elimination of Jews and The Goal of the Prophet , which is world subjugation to islam .

  • Flowerknife_us

    We really need to thank Russia and China for throwing a monkey wrench in Obamas plan to unite the region under MB rule. Neither side in this conflict bodes well for the West. Both have openly displayed their hostility towards us. Nothing good has come from the other revolts either. Cold as it may be, letting them fight it out on their own is really in our own best intrest.

    By all accounts, they all would not so much as blush over the mass murder of every Jew they could get their hands on. They all celebrated 9/11. So we should worry over the humanity they show each other, over the settling of differences amoung themselves?

  • theleastthreat

    They are not going to become Westerners no matter what we do. Afghanistan was trickier that we thought. So was Iraq. So was Egypt. Libya too. We can't fix this.

  • Jerry

    Democracy isn’t the great event everyone assumes it is. The great event was when our founding fathers determined that the government could not dictate a state religion – the so called “separation of church & state”. Today that has been misinterpreted to mean that religion should not be in government which was never the original intent, but only that the government could not impose a religion – something that the Islamic governments know nothing about. It seems that the liberals in their intent to oppose any inclusion of the Christian religion in government has caused them to be so deceived that they now think that democracy is the answer, even when that democracy has the intolerance of everything other than the state sponsored religion, the very thing that had led to the most horrible atrocities from pagan Rome to the inquisitions of the Roman Catholic Church. They are supporting the very thing that our founding fathers were attempting to escape.

  • curmudgeon

    no matter how evil a dictator in an islamic-majority country is, you can bet that islam can replace him with something worse, and you can also safely bet that leftist loons in the west will applaud the change.

  • mcwrath

    Whats the hurry in western countries in rushing to sort out the sitution in syria. (it is as someone mentioned as though their memories or reason are failing. the results of the 'arab spring' are a caotic disaster of islamic rule of persecution and opperession) Imagine thinking of supplying weapons to your enemies… Hinesight should tell you that american special forces and arms gave the mujahadeen too much support in their war with the ussr. Let them shoot eachother. But if there is something more real and more strategic and more crucial to the security of this world its to go after iran and thebomb.