Defeating al-Qaeda in Syria, Not Assad

From the Guardian:

Jordan has agreed to spearhead a Saudi-led push to arm rebel groups through its borders into southern Syria, in a move that coincides with the transfer from Riyadh to Amman of more than $1bn (£650m).

It marks a significant change for Jordan, from a policy of trying to contain the spillover threat posed by the civil war across its border to one of actively aiming to end it before it engulfs the cash-strapped kingdom.

Jordan’s role as a conduit for arms has emerged in the past two months as Saudi Arabia, some Gulf states, Britain and the US have sharply increased their backing of some rebels to try to stop the advances of al-Qaida-linked groups among them.

A push to defeat al-Qaida, rather than an outright bid to oust Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad, is Jordan’s driving force.

This news coincides with my argument that Obama’s policy in Syria long ago abandoned any effort to oust the Assad regime and is instead geared toward containing and undermining the rise of al-Qaeda militants among the rebel opposition.

Non-interventionists have decried the administration’s pretense of aiding the rebels, and rightly so. But many are also wedded to the belief that Washington is engaged in an effort to impose regime change and establish a client state in Syria, simultaneously eliminating Iran’s major ally. As I’ve written, however, this is not the reality.

That said, the efforts of Jordan, the Gulf states, and the Obama administration to arm and train moderate elements of the Syrian rebels is an exercise in futility. As has been reported for months, al-Qaeda offshoots in the Syrian opposition like Jabhat al-Nusra are the rebels’ main fighting force. The major gains of the rebel fighters in the past year can largely be attributed to these jihadists: they are the best armed, most well trained, and fiercest battalions around. This partly explains why the bulk of the rebels, jihadists or not, have repeatedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic extremists.

So, an effort to undermine the rebels’ main source of strategic and military utility will not result in an end to the conflict or to the Assad regime. The aid will not be “decisive,” as the wonks say. That is, it will not come in the form of tanks and anti-aircraft weapons and therefore will not stand against the Syrian military. And anyways, the so-called “vetting process” used to distinguish moderates from extremists is basically a farce.

In addition, the policy of aiding proxy rebels is at least part of what has sustained the conflict for so long, worsening the humanitarian crisis and aiding al-Qaeda’s rise in Syria. Aid that is redirected away from extremists will still be doing damage, never mind the fact that the Saudi Arabian and Jordanian regimes can’t exactly be trusted to actually aid “moderates” fighting for “democracy” post-Assad.

11 thoughts on “Defeating al-Qaeda in Syria, Not Assad”

  1. [The more one studies the actions of the United States and its allies throughout this crisis, the more they seem to have been designed only to lead to ever-escalating violence. This raises the inescapable question whether, in fact, the slaughter and chaos taking place in Syria are in fact the intended result of U.S. policy rather than the tragic but unintended result of its failure, as Western propaganda would have us believe.

    In stark contrast to cautious statements by U.S. officials, their actual policy appears to have consistently fostered the militarization and escalation of the crisis and to have undermined every peace initiative. …

    To paraphrase an old riddle: "Are we governed by clever people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it?" In this case, did the United States mean to open the gates of Hell in Syria, or did it just blunder into this mess?

    Unfortunately U.S. policymakers have a dismal record of combining the worst elements of both.]

    Read the rest @

  2. Glaser wrote:

    "This news coincides with my argument that Obama’s policy in Syria long ago abandoned any effort to oust the Assad regime and is instead geared toward containing and undermining the rise of al-Qaeda militants among the rebel opposition."


    This is just over the top ridiculous. Not only does your "argument" fly in the face of actual 'facts' (such as: coordinating over an estimated 3000 tons of weapons transfers in the past 4 or 5 months alone); it also contradicts Mr. Obama's own 'official' policy statements.

    But hey…you don't need take my 'word' for it…

    The following is the video and transcript of President Obama and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan's remarks during their joint press conference in Amman, Jordan on March 22, 2013–which took place between: 8:23 P.M. EEST and 9:02 P.M. EEST. This is posted on the White House's own website and posted by the Obama Administration itself–no doubt:

    This is what President Obama himself said:

    "PRESIDENT OBAMA: …And we spent a significant amount of time consulting on Syria.
    …His Majesty was the first Arab leader to publicly call on Assad to step down…Jordan has played a leading role in trying to begin a political transition toward a new government. We're working together to strengthen a credible Syrian opposition….

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Since the start of the situation in Syria, we have stepped up, as not just a superpower, as you phrased it, but also because of basic humanity, to say that Assad needed to go. We haven’t just led with words, but we’ve also led with deeds…We have worked diligently in cooperation with the international community to help organize and mobilize a political opposition that is credible…

    So we are going to continue to use every lever and every bit of influence that we have to effect the situation inside of Syria.

    And I'm confident that Assad will go. It's not a question of if, it's when.

    Something has been broken in Syria, and it’s not going to be put back together perfectly, immediately, anytime soon — even after Assad leaves. But we can begin the process of moving it in a better direction. And having a cohesive political opposition I think is critical to that."


    If you have trouble finding the 'transcript', just click the "Read the Transcript" link in the lower right-hand box next to the video….

    There's also Mr. Obama's own words spoken during his prepared speech in Jerusalem, Israel just the day before (March 21, 2013):

    "Assad must go so that Syria’s future can begin, because true stability in Syria depends upon establishing a government that is responsible to its people, one that protects all communities within its borders, while making peace with countries beyond them. These are the things I think about when I think about Israel’s security. "

    –President Barack Obama (March 21, 2013 / Jerusalem, Israel)

    So, again Glaser, your:

    "argument that Obama’s policy in Syria long ago abandoned any effort to oust the Assad regime and is instead geared toward containing and undermining the rise of al-Qaeda militants among the rebel opposition."

    …is simply absurd and detached from all 'facts' and 'reality'. It's a nice 'story' though…and I'm sure it makes many Obama supporters 'feel better' about the whole thing…

    Obama can't make "Assad go" by whining…and Mr. Obama is well aware of this–I can assure you…

  3. "This news coincides with my argument that Obama’s policy in Syria long ago abandoned any effort to oust the Assad regime and is instead geared toward containing and undermining the rise of al-Qaeda militants among the rebel opposition."

    This is out right BS…, the white house and state department knew what they were getting themselves involved in and still engaged in Syrian matter.., this is a blame game by state department in one hand and white house in the other showing the fact that there is no government governing the USA but rather there are several department and several governing body acting or having a free hand in doing whatever and wherever without whit house knowing or wanting to be involved yet they report to Obama.., If obama or for that matter USA is not nor was involved in planing this war ordered by Saudi Arabia, for Saudi Arabia and other tyrant regimes, if the Syrian war was not about the USA and EU interests in middle east orchestrating and organizing this war then why would USA even wanting to be involved and from day one supporting muslim brotherhood in Egypt and those barbarians that were imported to Syria from Turkey and Europe and etc. to fight the Syrian people.., why Assad must go.., why not Saudis tyrant regimes or for that matter the Qatari or Jordanian king are not demanded by USA or EU governments to GO.., while these regime still in power the US government demanding only for Assad to go., yet living dictatorial as well as apartheid regime of Israel in tact and protecting them by starting "their" proxy war in Syria.

  4. unfotunately exactly the opposite story was leaked in London over a year ago.

    Namely on Saudi advice Obama had reactivated the Sunni Jihadist network as the only way he could overthrow the Syrian government.

    As said, there would then be problems with getting themto go away.

  5. Obama is not, at-heart, an interventionist. Hillary dragged him into the attack on Libya. Since then he has basically become a half-hearted interventionist but an interventionist never-the-less.

    You don't have to directly arm the rebels to intervene. The immense political support the USA has given to the rebel political wing has a huge impact on the events in Syria. This is intervention. When the rebels feel confident that their "revolution" has been insured by the US and other great Western powers they are a lot less likely to accept any negotiated solution. The insurrection has been given the US or West's seal of approval. And the Obama administration's tone regarding Assad personally is so complete villifying and dismissive that it again set a very obvious cue for the rebels to pick up on. So, again the message sent was "no negotiation. Assad must go". And with Libya still smoking from NATO"s deposing of Gad – I mean – protection of civilians, the FSA had all the signs to put the pedal to the metal: all the NATO countries that matter have got your back. [Comment completed in next post]

  6. So even without all our conniving with the Gulf Arabs, Turkey, etc to supply the rebels with weapons our government has been intervening. They have pulled the plug on any possible talks between Assad and the rebels and completely pulled the rug out from under the more moderate factions of the Syrian opposition who were willing to consider a political solution. It's incompetent, underhanded intervention that doesn't really understand what its effects are and it has served only to foment and prolong the bloodshed.

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