Monday, November 10, 2014

It's great to be a rebel ally of America in Syria these days

One of the leaders of the US backed Syrian rebels says the patience of the Syrian street is running thin with US air strikes. 

The air strikes came in the wake of the defeat inflicted on the US supported rebel groups in the north by Jabhat Al Nusra - the Syrian department of Al Qaeda. The attacks targeted Al Nusra and, for a not very clear reason, a major Islamist rebel group Ahrar Al Sham. There was apparently a collateral damage to the air strikes in the form of Syrian civilians who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

# Telegraph
US air strike on rebel ally is helping Assad, say Syrians () {

By = Ruth Sherlock
Date = 06 Nov 2014

Rebels, including those backed by the US, said the raids were likely to turn local public opinion further against the American intervention and drive more people into the arms of hardline jihadist organisations.

"This only makes things more difficult for the international coalition," said Khaled Saleh, the Secretary General of Harakat Hazm, one of the principle rebel groups to receive US military support.

"The patience of the Syrian street is running out. They wonder why everyone is bombing them, and now, when an attack comes they don't know if it's from the regime or from the US-led coalition."

Source = }

While it would be tempting to conclude that the air strikes have demonstrated the US determination to support its rebel allies, or at least punish Al Nusra (the air strikes came a bit too late), the US Central Command flatly denied that this was the case. The CentCom said the air strikes were directed at an obscure group which was presumably plotting attacks against Western interests.

# U.S. Central Command
News Release #20141105 {

Date = November 6, 2014

These strikes were not in response to the Nusrah Front's clashes with the Syrian moderate opposition, and they did not target the Nusrah Front as a whole. They were directed at the Khorasan Group whose focus is not on overthrowing the Asad regime or helping the Syrian people. These al-Qa'ida operatives are taking advantage of the Syrian conflict to advance attacks against Western interests.

Source = }

In this regard, it's worth mentioning that two weeks ago the US envoy for the global coalition against ISIS, Gen. John Allen, said that the US arming of moderate groups in Syria doesn't aim at helping them to storm into Damascus as much as to help them "earn their spot at the table when the time comes for the political solution" .

# Asharq Al-Awsat
By Mina Al-Oraibi () {

Date = 25 Oct, 2014

Q: But you don’t see the FSA units that are being trained to fight ISIS as being those who will later fight the regime’s armed forces?

No. What we would like to see is for the FSA and the forces that we will ultimately generate, train and equip to become the credible force that the Assad government ultimately has to acknowledge and recognize. There is not going to be a military solution here [in Syria]. We have to create so much credibility within the moderate Syrian opposition at a political level . . . that they earn their spot at the table when the time comes for the political solution.

Source = }

To put it short, being designated as a moderate rebel counterweight to ISIS/Al Qaeda doesn't mean per se that the US is going to intervene in case you have your ass kicked by the mentioned Islamists. Neither the US aid is meant to see you topple Bashar Assad.

Otherwise, these minor technicalities aside, it's great to be a rebel ally of America in Syria these days.

Image = Al Nusra fighter with a sword in Jabal az Zawiya after the group obliterated the US supported SRF in the area