Syrian rebels declare war on … each other

posted at 8:41 am on July 12, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Good news: John McCain will finally get his wish about being able to tell the good guys from the bad guys in Syria’s civil war.  Bad news: They’ll be the guys in the crossfire.  After playing footsie with al-Qaeda affiliates for more than two years in their attempt to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, the so-called secularists have discovered that terrorist networks tend to be unreliable partners:

Syrian rebels said on Friday the assassination of one of their top commanders by al Qaeda-linked militants was tantamount to a declaration of war, opening a new front for the Western-backed fighters struggling against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Rivalries have been growing between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Islamists, whose smaller but more effective forces control most of the rebel-held parts of northern Syria more than two years after pro-democracy protests became an uprising.

“We will not let them get away with it because they want to target us,” a senior FSA commander said on condition of anonymity after members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant killed Kamal Hamami on Thursday.

“We are going to wipe the floor with them,” he said.

It’s a little late for that now.  After having bedded down with terrorist dogs for more than two years, the FSA has the world’s worst flea infestation.  They don’t control significant ground on their own, and they’re the third-best armed group in a war of three. The only group with any momentum against Assad at the moment is Jabhat al-Nusra, and Assad is slowly grinding them down, perhaps in part because of the civil war among the rebels.

FSA is going to have trouble competing with that, especially with our friends the Kuwaitis funding the extremists:

Syrian rebels have a new source of weapons and cash from inside Kuwait, and their benefactors in the oil-rich state are sending the aid to the most militant and anti-West factions involved in the fight to topple Bashar al-Assad.

The role of Saudi and Qatari governments and individuals in the funding and arming of Islamist fighters in Syria has been well known since the civil war began more than two years ago. But now, guns and money are flowing from private sources and Salafist-controlled NGOs based in Kuwait, and they are going to rebel factions aligned with Al Qaeda.

“We are collecting money to buy all these weapons, so that our brothers will be victorious,” hard-core Sunni Islamist Sheikh Shafi’ Al-Ajami announced on Kuwaiti television last month, listing the black-market prices of weapons, including heat-seeking missiles, anti-aircraft guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Days later, Al-Ajami addressed a small throng outside the Lebanese Embassy in Kuwait and gleefully described slitting the throat of a Shiite Muslim in Syria.

“We slaughtered him with knives,” Al-Ajami said to shouts of “God is Great.”

Now might be a good time to start arming the secularists if they plan to stand alone, but it’s not exactly brilliant strategy to back the losing side in a civil war.  It also doesn’t help when those weapons routinely show up with Assad’s army.  The FSA doesn’t control enough ground to secure those weapons; in fact, they can’t even secure their own command and control, as this assassination demonstrates.

With the deteriorating situation among the rebels in mind, it’s no surprise to see Israel shifting significant resources to the Syrian border and Golan Heights:

Israel is bolstering its forces on the once-quiet frontier with Syria where it believes Lebanese Hezbollah militants are preparing for the day when they could fight Israel.

Syria’s civil war has brought an end to decades of calm on the Golan Heights, a strip of land which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. Battles between rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syrian villages nearby are being watched intensely by Israel’s military.

Hezbollah, which is also backed by Iran, has sent thousands of its own fighters to combat Syrian rebels, according to Israeli and Western estimates.

Israel last fought Hezbollah in a 2006 Lebanon war and still closely monitors the Lebanese border. Israel says Hezbollah has tens of thousands of rockets in its south Lebanon stronghold.

The Jewish state is worried Hezbollah is making initial preparations for future confrontation with it on a new front with Syria and is accruing valuable combat experience on the Syrian battlefield.

That would be a concern no matter which side won in the Syrian civil war.  It’s telling that Israel is more concerned about Hezbollah than al-Qaeda at this point in time.


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Jihadis unexpectedly quarelling amongst themselves…

workingclass artist on July 12, 2013 at 8:44 AM

Good. Let the killing continue. They save us the trouble.

Bmore on July 12, 2013 at 8:45 AM

Cesspool.

Sherman1864 on July 12, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Is it wrong to wish that both sides can lose?

And Obama, too?

turfmann on July 12, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Syrian rebels declare war on … each other

Friendly fire?

McCain…please clarify…

Electrongod on July 12, 2013 at 8:48 AM

Now might be a good time to start arming the secularists if they plan to stand alone, but it’s not exactly brilliant strategy to back the losing side in a civil war.

I don’t want a winning side. I want this to grind into a set of fiefdom statelets. Let them continue to kill each other, and not bother Israel.

rbj on July 12, 2013 at 8:50 AM

We’re coming up on the thirtieth anniversary of the worst day in Ronald Reagan’s Beirut, Lebanon debacle – another three-way conflict we thought we could get in the middle of and have it turn out ok.

Not exactly breeding confidence via precedent.

allanbourdius on July 12, 2013 at 8:52 AM

Did the “victim” or the “perpetrators” or BOTH, receive US arms and aid? I’m easily confused.

JFKY on July 12, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Keep sending small arms ammo…we don’t want them to run out.

trs on July 12, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Kill them all. Let God sort them out?

DAT60A3 on July 12, 2013 at 9:07 AM

This is what happens when proper background checks are not done before transferring weapons.

DAT60A3 on July 12, 2013 at 9:08 AM

So, if I can get this straight…Obama wants to back the AQ guys, and McCain wants to back the guys whose top leader just got zapped, and the one Morsi down in Egypt was backing…and meanwhile, there is a legitimate government in Damascus behaving badly, to be sure, with which we still maintain full diplomatic relations, and still have our embassy open in Damascus.

Correct me if I am wrong here, but wasn’t this Obama guy supposed to be the smartest President evah, and the smartest guy in the room, and he would make all the nations of the world just loves us…and he got a Nobel Peace Prize, and was going to turn back the tides…

You know, I am more than a tad disappointed in this Administration.

Was all Hopechangey and stuff…

coldwarrior on July 12, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Someday Israel is going to say smack it and start doing them all.The ME countries don’t have the guts to attack Israel or they would merge and do it.

docflash on July 12, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Hmm. Egypt overthrows its king in 1951; Nasser goes from “secular democrat” to military dictator with Islamist pretensions.

Libya throws out its king in 1969; Qaddafi becomes Muslim radical with a penchant for terrorist attacks worldwide, while meditating on “what Allah commands” in a tent in the desert.

Iran overthrows the Shah in 1979; Leftists and “democrats” are a major force in toppling him, then Khomeini and the radical Shiites massacre them, and create an “Islamic republic”.

Lebanon overthrows its democratic government in 1981, and Islamic factions turn the country into a free-fire zone. They continue to murder anyone they define as “not us” today, with the full support of Assad in Damascus.

Somalia; Mohammed Siad-Barre skips the country (with the treasury in his luggage) in 1989, and it turns into…another Lebanon, except with even more ammunition expended.

Egypt (again) in 2011-13; One dictator overthrown by another, and the second overthrown by people who are incensed that he isn’t attacking Israel.

And now Syria. Groups trying to overthrow the dictator are now being taken out by their own Islamist “allies”, who want- what else? To take over and go to war against Israel and the West.

Gee. Anybody else see a f**kin’ pattern here??

clear ether

eon

eon on July 12, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Someday Israel is going to say smack it and start doing them all.The ME countries don’t have the guts to attack Israel or they would merge and do it.

docflash on July 12, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Not a chance. Why unite your enemies? All 3 factions in Syria become best buddies INSTANTLY if anyone finds an Israeli fingerprint.

It’s been inbred into them for 70 years.

WryTrvllr on July 12, 2013 at 9:25 AM

If the FSA and Islamists are killing each other, doesn’t this help Assad maintain the status quo?

Days later, Al-Ajami addressed a small throng outside the Lebanese Embassy in Kuwait and gleefully described slitting the throat of a Shiite Muslim in Syria.

“We slaughtered him with knives,” Al-Ajami said to shouts of “God is Great.”

Is God of the Sunnis greater than God of the Shiites? What if “they” were the same God? Like the God who told Moses “Thou shalt not kill”?

A wonderful religion of peace you’ve got there, guys!!! /sarc

Steve Z on July 12, 2013 at 9:26 AM

“Now might be a good time to start arming the secularists if they plan to stand alone”

I think now might be a good time stay the stay the frig out of Syria’s Civil War.

there it is on July 12, 2013 at 9:26 AM

It’s telling that Israel is more concerned about Hezbollah than al-Qaeda at this point in time.

It’s good to see someone is paying close attention to Israel in all this because when the thugs finally end their game of king of the mountain, they’ll turn their guns on her.

Cleombrotus on July 12, 2013 at 9:28 AM

docflash on July 12, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Patience, doc. Patience.

Cleombrotus on July 12, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Gee. Anybody else see a f**kin’ pattern here??

eon on July 12, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Years ending in either a 1 or a 9 are bad years in the region?

Flange on July 12, 2013 at 9:38 AM

I see Al Qaeda is still trying to figure out that “winning the hearts and minds” of the locals thing. You would think at some point people would realize that all Al Qaeda brings with them is death and destruction.

BohicaTwentyTwo on July 12, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Steve Z on July 12, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Is God of the Sunnis greater than God of the Shiites? What if “they” were the same God? Like the God who told Moses “Thou shalt not kill”?

Islam says it clearly…with their Shahada, or proclamation of “faith.”

“There is no God…”

But, what if their God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us? Just a stranger on the bus, trying to make His way home?

The best thing that could ever happen to Islam is for it to self-destruct, perish, become one of those historical old ancient cults, we sometimes read about in history books, never to rise again.

Let’s try to name one Islamic society, Islamic Republic, Islamic Theocracy, Islamic anything, in the past 200 years that has actually improved the lot of its people, improved the condition of its women, children, or has engendered true education and learning and curiosity, invention and science, created actual wealth, improved the worth of its people, its land, fostered honorable and open good relations with other non-Islamic states, and worked to improve the global community…other than merely taking oil out of holes in the ground…which they seem to have to rely on non-Moslem foreigners to do for them?

Me, neither…can’t think of a one.

coldwarrior on July 12, 2013 at 9:43 AM

When Muslims aren’t killing infidels, they’re killing each other. I look upon the latter as progress. Since I do not want this progress to stop, perhaps we should arm both sides in direct proportion to their needs.

1 A reduction in total Muslim population is never a bad thing.
2 When Muslims are concentrating on each other, there is less time to direct on infidels.
3 There are profits to be gleaned from simultaneous weaponry sales.

MaiDee on July 12, 2013 at 9:54 AM

We need to get out of the way and let them kill each other.

Philly on July 12, 2013 at 10:07 AM

So that’s essentially it for the civil war, isn’t it? The rebels weren’t winning before this all came apart. I don’t see how they’re going to overcome Assad and his Iranian/Chinese/Russian support when they’re killing each other as well. Barring a miracle or overwhelming western intervention, the Syrian rebels have lost the war.

pendell2 on July 12, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Syria is THE prime example of a situation the U.S. does NOT belong in…EXCEPT for the fact that Syria’s WMD should/must NOT fall into the hands of Al Qaeda or other terrorists/Jihadists. Should that be a U.S.-only matter? No! When there is a potential of a nation’s government falling & its WMD falling into the hands of terrorists who could use those weapons against any other nation in the world it is the perfect example of a problem that should be addressed by the U.N. … if the U.N. was worth a d@mn.

If Obama insists the US step in to help the ‘rebels’ now, which rebels will we be helping (and why)? Will it be the Al Qaeda-based/backed rebels, like the ones he backed in Libya, or will it be the Secularists?

Anyone remember the vow George Bush made after 9/11, that we would target terrorism everywhere in the world and ensure there is no Safe Haven for them? So far this President has handed over a nation – one big Safe Haven – to Al Qaeda in Libya. He also handed over Egypt to the terrorist group The Muslim Brotherhood…except Egyptians & the Egyptian Military finally stepped in to resolve that problem because unlike Obama they did not want Terrorists running their country. If he stays true to his habit so far he will cast his lot with the al Qaeda-backed rebels in Syria. If he is intelligent, he would stay out of it.

easyt65 on July 12, 2013 at 10:36 AM

As many of us have repeatedly repeated – stay out of it and let them kill each other.

dentarthurdent on July 12, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Kerry and McCain and obummer. A triple threat in foreign policy. Dumb, dumber, and dumbest.

jake49 on July 12, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Can’t we stop
Killing each other
Gotta stop
Killing each other
Making each other cry
Bleeding each other dry
Blowing each other apaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaart…

Marcola on July 12, 2013 at 12:05 PM

MaiDee on July 12, 2013 at 9:54 AM

I’m more in favor of staying out of it – but I like the way you think…..

dentarthurdent on July 12, 2013 at 12:25 PM

EXCEPT for the fact that Syria’s WMD should/must NOT fall into the hands of Al Qaeda or other terrorists/Jihadists.

easyt65 on July 12, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Don’t you mean Saddam Hussein’s WMDs?

James on July 12, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Reminds me of when Sopranos, when the Hassidic Jew made a deal with Tony Soprano and then regretted it.

Life is tough, tougher when you’re stupid.

NoDonkey on July 12, 2013 at 1:52 PM

The first Iraq war to, kick them out of Kuwait, was, as some of us thought at the time, stupid and led to most of our problems in the Mideast since then.

burt on July 12, 2013 at 3:09 PM

They’ve been killing each other since the beginning of time. Other than giving them a lobotomy, it’s best to leave them alone & let them thin out the herd.

RdLake on July 12, 2013 at 7:43 PM

Eh; given that it was Assad’s regime who kickstarted this by trying to use Islamism to retain power in the first place, I guess it shouldn’t be much of a surprise

The problem with riding a wave of Islamism is there’s no real way to get off without the wave dumping you.

Reaps on July 12, 2013 at 9:30 PM