This comes from the New York Times and it’s not an opinion piece. The admission of what we knew all along should put to rest any more nonsense about backing “secular” rebel forces in Syria to keep the Islamists from taking over.
There are no secular forces. Even the New York Times has finally admitted it. When the media talks about secular forces, it means the militias controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.
Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.
So why is the New York Times finally admitting what the situation really is? Nobody slipped any truth serum into their tea at the Four Seasons.
If the New York Times admits something damaging to the liberal narrative, it’s only because it’s trying to protect an even bigger piece of the liberal narrative.
The timing of the story lines up with the Red Line being crossed on Syria and Obama’s reluctance to act. So the New York Times, which normally champions intervention, is forced to explain why Obama isn’t intervening. And like good liars, they lie with the truth.
And so, we proceed to the next paragraph where we learn that…
This is the landscape President Obama confronts as he considers how to respond to growing evidence that Syrian officials have used chemical weapons, crossing a “red line” he had set.
But if Obama were really reluctant to back Islamist takeovers, Egypt would look very different today. So would Tunisia. This isn’t about Obama being reluctant to support Islamists, but reluctant to enter a bloody conflict.
The best evidence of that is Obama is supplying military “non-lethal” equipment to the rebels and looking the other way while Qatar provides lethal military equipment.
The issue here isn’t a sudden jab of conscience in Obama’s left shin, it’s cowardice. But to cover the cowardice, the New York Times is finally telling the truth and pretending that it had been telling it all along.
The Islamist character of the opposition reflects the main constituency of the rebellion, which has been led since its start by Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, mostly in conservative, marginalized areas. The descent into brutal civil war has hardened sectarian differences, and the failure of more mainstream rebel groups to secure regular arms supplies has allowed Islamists to fill the void and win supporters.
The religious agenda of the combatants sets them apart from many civilian activists, protesters and aid workers who had hoped the uprising would create a civil, democratic Syria.
When the armed rebellion began, defectors from the government’s staunchly secular army formed the vanguard. The rebel movement has since grown to include fighters with a wide range of views, including Qaeda-aligned jihadis seeking to establish an Islamic emirate, political Islamists inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood and others who want an Islamic-influenced legal code like that found in many Arab states.
“My sense is that there are no seculars,” said Elizabeth O’Bagy, of the Institute for the Study of War, who has made numerous trips to Syria in recent months to interview rebel commanders.
The New York Times is coming dangerously close to admitting that the Syrian civil war is actually a religious conflict between Sunnis and Shiites.
It hasn’t crossed that Rubicon yet. It’s still sticking to the social issues and the tyranny plank, but in fact that’s what this is. A conflict between the Shiite and Sunni world taking place in Syria, the way it has in Iraq and Lebanon and Bahrain.
As extremists rose in the rebel ranks, the United States sought to limit their influence, first by designating Nusra a terrorist organization, and later by pushing for the formation of the Supreme Military Council, which is linked to the exile opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition.
Although led by an army defector, Gen. Salim Idris, the council has taken in the leaders of many overtly Islamist battalions. One called the Syrian Liberation Front has been integrated nearly wholesale into the council; many of its members coordinate closely with the Syrian Islamic Front, a group that includes the extremist Ahrar al-Sham, according to a recent report by Ms. O’Bagy, of the Institute for the Study of War.
The Obama administration has said it needs more conclusive information before it acts on the Syrian government’s reported use of chemical weapons. It remains unclear whether such action would translate to increased support for the rebels.
In the past, United States officials saw the Islamist groups’ abundant resources as the main draw for recruits, said Steven Heydemann, a senior adviser at the United States Institute of Peace, which works with the State Department.
Obama Inc. is stalling for time and the Times is giving it cover. It can’t go too far, because if/when Obama Inc. does take the plunge on a No Fly Zone, the old gray hooker is going to have to defend its paramour’s latest foreign policy swing.
And carefully left out of the picture is the question of where Islamists are getting their weapons and money from. But if the Times actually completes the picture linking the oil-rich monarchies to Islamic terror and to terrorist mosques around the world, then the whole sham will collapse.