Obama administration considering support for Islamists in Syria?

posted at 9:41 am on December 13, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

It’s bad enough watching the US’ main secular ally in the Syrian civil war — the man who was supposed to control the rebellion on behalf of the West — get chased out of his own country by the Islamists critics warned would take over the anti-Bashar Assad effort.  Chuck Hagel called it “a big problem.” Now, faced with few options to salvage its position in Syria, the White House has floated the idea of providing backing to the Islamists in Syria instead:

The Obama administration is willing to consider supporting an expanded Syrian rebel coalition that would include Islamist groups, provided the groups are not allied with al-Qaeda and agree to support upcoming peace talks in Geneva, a senior U.S. official said Thursday. …

The emergence last month of the Islamic Front has presented the administration with a dilemma as it seeks to maintain military pressure on the Syrian government before an opposition-government peace conference next month that it hopes will lead to the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad and the installation of a transitional government.

The SMC, whose Free Syrian Army is the only opposition armed force the United States backs in Syria, has lost both strength and influence to anti-
Assad Islamic groups. Among them is the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the al-Nusra Front, both of which have been labeled terrorist groups by Washington.

But the increasingly powerful Islamic Front, while it includes many Salafists seeking an Islamic state in Syria, is not affiliated with al-Qaeda. Talks between U.S. envoy Robert Ford and Islamic Front figures held in Turkey last month were inconclusive, said the senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the developing policy.

Er, just how “not affiliated with al-Qaeda” do they have to be?  Both groups want to establish an Islamist state in Syria, based presumablty on shari’a law. While that would keep Iranian-style mullahcracy out of Syria — maybe — it’s still going to establish yet another radical government that imposes Taliban-like totalitarianism on what had been a multicultural nation, even if ruled by a hereditary despot.  And while the Islamic Front isn’t officially allied with al-Qaeda — maybe — this sounds like having an al-Qaeda-run state without the direct influence of Ayman al-Zawahiri.

That sounds like a bad outcome for the US, not one we’d actively help develop.

Meanwhile, Gen. Salim Idris wants everyone to know that the Islamists didn’t drive him out of Syria — he wasn’t there to begin with. And he’s still not there:

On Wednesday, some senior U.S. officials said they believed that Gen. Idris, the commander of the Free Syrian Army, had fled northern Syria to Turkey after Islamist rebels seized his headquarters and some warehouses storing international aid.

However on Thursday, the State Department said updated information showed Gen. Idris was in Turkey at the time of the incursion and had not fled Syria. Mr. Idris said the same thing in an interview with CNN, denying he had fled.

State Department officials said Gen. Idris has a house just across the border in Turkey, not far from the headquarters in northern Syria.

Gen. Idris then flew from Turkey to Qatar, U.S. officials said. He has since returned to Turkey and SMC officials said he met Thursday with other commanders from his group.

“I am back. I am with my officers,” Gen. Idris told CNN. “We are trying to stop the fight between the revolutionary forces and to go back to fight against the regime.”

The Christian Science Monitor declares Obama’s Syria policy dead:

Today, the exiled politicians in the Syrian National Council, a US-backed civilian group, claimed that the Islamic Front had actually come to the FSA’s rescue. The US has sought since last year to put this council forward as the “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people.  Its spokesman, Khaled Saleh, said that the FSA’s base was overrun by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a rival Islamist group to the Islamic Front that sprung out of Al Qaeda in Iraq,Reuters reports. The Islamic Front was then invited in by the FSA, and drove out ISIS, Saleh said. Are we clear so far?

Maybe that’s the way it happened, but the dramatically different stories told by the US and the US-favored Syrian opposition are not very reassuring. The disputed events near the Turkish border were said to have taken place over the weekend.

The Syrian National Council has often been touted as an umbrella for most of the Syrian rebellion’s fighting strength (for instance by Elizabeth O’Bagy, a paid advocate for US intervention in Syria who lost her job earlier this after she was found to have lied about her academic credentials). However, in practice it has represented the FSA and little else – and not very effectively. …

Furthermore, the claim today that the FSA teamed up with the Islamic Front to stand up to the Al Qaeda-affiliated ISIS won’t exactly give US officials the warm and fuzzies. The front’s units have engaged in hyper-sectarian rhetoric and are opposed to any kind of political settlement that would leave in place Syria’s current power structure – the only real hope for a negotiated end to the war at this point.

A negotiated end is what Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama have insisted is the only way out of the war, but the marginalization of men like Idris makes any grounds for meaningful talks even shakier than they’d been all along.

What are the options going forward for a real US strategy in Syria – where the conflict continues to cast a shadow of destabilization over Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and to some extent Turkey? None particularly obvious.

There are no good options — and there never were any from the start of the civil war, as Dan Murphy concludes. All we have is a choice between radical Islamists of varying stripes, or the current despot backed by Persian Islamists. We shouldn’t back any of them.

Note: I’m still on leave until Monday, and I want to thank Hot Air readers for their many messages of support as we settle arrangements for my sister-in-law Mary’s passing.

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provided the groups are not allied with al-Qaeda and agree to support upcoming peace talks in Geneva, a senior U.S. official said Thursday. …

What is he going to make them pinkie swear they aren’t Al-Qaeda?

Johnnyreb on December 13, 2013 at 9:44 AM

If you like your terrorist you can………….

hmmmmmmmmmm

What could go wrong?

RealMc on December 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Serious question. Can we survive another three years of this filthy stupid shiftless Christ-hating lying monster?

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Serious question. Can we survive another three years of this filthy stupid shiftless Christ-hating lying monster?

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Maybe he will be ousted as Speaker of the House before that.

Wait…were you talking about…ohhhhhhhh….dude, these days you need to specify.

Bishop on December 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM

Yeah… Ok… Why not? Worked for us in the 80s, no?! *thumbs up*

BigGator5 on December 13, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Worst. President. Ever.

NotCoach on December 13, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

yes, and man will there heck to pay

not sure about the other states but I notice this budget vote came within days of the filing deadline closing for the primaries here in Texas, I think we have huge problems in the GOP. Look closely at your incumbent.

DanMan on December 13, 2013 at 9:53 AM

good catch Bishop

DanMan on December 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Obama foreign policy Doctrine: Embrace the Suck

forest on December 13, 2013 at 9:57 AM

yes, and man will there heck to pay

not sure about the other states but I notice this budget vote came within days of the filing deadline closing for the primaries here in Texas, I think we have huge problems in the GOP. Look closely at your incumbent.

DanMan on December 13, 2013 at 9:53 AM

I think that the orange dictator has been around liberals too long. Hopefully he and all the others strutting this morning pleased with the favorable press coverage about the way the “sane” Republicans took the radicals to the woodshed get an earful on their Christmas vacation.

I am certain that “victory” here will cause Boehner, Cantor, and the rest to go full-force toward amnesty with the same attacks on any sort of right-wing dissent.

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2013 at 9:58 AM

The Gulf states send out their Christmas influence cheques early to its American friends in high places? Jumping between Sunnis and Shites will get you no where. Now you’re being played by all of Islam. Pathetic.

BL@KBIRD on December 13, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Isn’t the part where our leftist trolls start complaining about another Republican president allying with despots, and murderers?

NotCoach on December 13, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Serious question. Can we survive another three years of this filthy stupid shiftless Christ-hating lying monster?

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Maybe he will be ousted as Speaker of the House before that.

Wait…were you talking about…ohhhhhhhh….dude, these days you need to specify.

Bishop on December 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM

My bad. I remember a time when you could keep track of the teams without a roster.

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

We are so screwed…

OmahaConservative on December 13, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Serious question. Can we survive another three years of this filthy stupid shiftless Christ-hating lying monster?

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Yes, if we can win the Senate and keep the House. While they won’t be perfect and we will still have some RINOs in both chambers, the alternative is unthinkable.

TXUS on December 13, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Isn’t the part where our leftist trolls start complaining about another Republican president allying with despots, and murderers?

NotCoach on December 13, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Which future Republican candidate owned by Islam are you referring to?

BL@KBIRD on December 13, 2013 at 10:03 AM

“Come on Islam. Aren’t you impressed that I gelded myself? Let me on the team.”

– President Barry Jugears

platypus on December 13, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Joe Biden isn’t going to like this. More precisely, Biden’s friends in Tehran aren’t going to like this.

Steve Eggleston on December 13, 2013 at 10:06 AM

My bad. I remember a time when you could keep track of the teams without a roster.

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

You still can – because they’re all bad guys.

Steve Eggleston on December 13, 2013 at 10:08 AM

If you like your Moderate Islamists,you can keep your Moderate Islamists. Period.

percysunshine on December 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM

If you like your Moderate Islamists,you can keep your Moderate Islamists. Period.

percysunshine on December 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Everybody not named Period gets the radical Islamists.

Steve Eggleston on December 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM

“Syrian Cleric Urges Children To “Slaughter All Christians For Being Infidels”…

A video recently appeared of an Islamic Sunni cleric in Syria inciting Muslim schoolboys, most of whom appear to be between the ages of five-twelve, to hate and kill Christians and others.

According to a report in Arabic (scroll down for video), among other things, the sheikh calls on the children to “slaughter all Christians for being infidels” and that he boasted that “the Christians of Syria are under continuous attack and their churches and monasteries subject to violence.”

In the video, the sheikh first talks of Islam’s egalitarianism—that it does not consider the race, nationality, or language of people, only whether they have submitted to Islam by becoming Muslims or not—adding, “because the entire world is for Allah.”

He then tells the children that “Islam uplifts the Muslims and debases the non-Muslims,” while raising one hand, symbolic of Islam, and lowering the other, symbolic of all non-Islam, to drive the point home to his young audience.

Next the sheikh asked the children, “Now, the crusaders, that is, the Christians, are they Muslims or infidels?” A few boys answer, “infidels.”

http://weaselzippers.us/

workingclass artist on December 13, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Maybe he will be ousted as Speaker of the House before that.

Wait…were you talking about…ohhhhhhhh….dude, these days you need to specify.

Bishop on December 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM

You said something very profound there. We are supremely screwed.

dogsoldier on December 13, 2013 at 10:18 AM

This popcorn is delicious!
 
lostmotherland on December 12, 2013 at 7:17 PM

rogerb on December 13, 2013 at 10:19 AM

You still can – because they’re all bad guys.

Steve Eggleston on December 13, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Not according to the media! Boehner/Ryan opened up a new era of bipartisanship by essentially telling those tea baggers to shut up………….

I guess I’m pretty much making your point. Embrace the suck.

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Arming 10th century human trash and kissing Iran’s bloodstained boots, yep this is going to be a fun cruise with Dog Eater running the ship.

Bishop on December 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Arming 10th century human trash and kissing Iran’s bloodstained boots, yep this is going to be a fun cruise with Dog Eater running the ship.

Bishop on December 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Tanner Foust’s Turboat or Adam Ferrara’s Air Jeep?

Steve Eggleston on December 13, 2013 at 10:31 AM

All we have is a choice between radical Islamists of varying stripes, or the current despot backed by Persian Islamists. We shouldn’t back any of them.

Amen, Ed!!!

If two armed groups who are both enemies of the United States and its allies are killing each other, let them continue! When one of them wins or they get tired of fighting, we’ll have fewer enemies…

Steve Z on December 13, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Meanwhile, Gen. Salim Idris wants everyone to know that the Islamists didn’t drive him out of Syria

You can’t fire me, I quit!

Yet another example of the anti-Midas effect Dear Liar possesses.

rbj on December 13, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Obama foreign policy Doctrine: Embrace the Suck

forest on December 13, 2013 at 9:57 AM

A little O/T, but what did Pelosi mean by that? Did she kiss a vacuum cleaner, or something else?

Steve Z on December 13, 2013 at 10:38 AM

I say this, with all the respect i have for HotArians.. you renew my faith on human nature, daily

However, it should be stated, that with that,
You americans are bat$hit crazy :)

Supporting Islamists, wow….

end of comment
Take care

JMG

Gauthijm on December 13, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Who saw that coming?!

“The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.”

“The sweetest sound I know is the Muslim call to prayer.”

“We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country.”

“As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam.”

“Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.”

“Islam has always been part of America.”

“we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities.”

“America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

“I made clear that America is not –and never will be– at war with Islam.”

“Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.”

“In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.”

“Throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.”

(All quotes by Sheik Abu Barack Hussein ibn Obama ibn Soetoro al Kenyi al Indoni al Amriki.)

Akzed on December 13, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Serious question. Can we survive another three years of this filthy stupid shiftless Christ-Jew hating lying monster?

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Yes, but it will not be easy.

DDay on December 13, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Obama loves Islam (the more militant, the better)and hates Christianity.

bw222 on December 13, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Putin claimed ‘moral authority’ for Russia, a few days ago.

Yes, he can!

Schadenfreude on December 13, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Serious question. Can we survive another three years of this filthy stupid shiftless Christ-hating lying monster?

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

I, for one, do not believe we are limited to only three more years.

The 22nd Amendment limits how many times a person may be “elected” President of the U.S.

No President, including this one, has ever been “elected” President.

The 12th Amendment defines the process by which a person is “chosen” to be President.

There are no limits to how many times a person may be “chosen” to be President.

And since the general population, when they vote, neither “elect” nor “choose” a President, nothing stops the D party from placing the Obama name on the ballot.

You can be sure that the WH and the DOJ are well aware of the semantical differences and are preparing to argue that case.

Carnac on December 13, 2013 at 12:02 PM

There are no good options — and there never were any from the start of the civil war, as Dan Murphy concludes. All we have is a choice between radical Islamists of varying stripes, or the current despot backed by Persian Islamists. We shouldn’t back any of them.

We should be arming Israel to the eye teeth and informing the neighborhood that a single sortie against Israel, no matter what form it takes, will result in a brand new glass parking lot. But we are talking about Ogabe the anti-Semite, so that’s not going to happen.

At this point, the best we can do is hope that Armageddon holds off long enough for an adult to be installed in the White House, an adult who will consult with people with real experience in the Middle East, not a pack of faculty lounge theoreticians who inhaled once too often in the 60s.

catsandbooks on December 13, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Obama administration considering support for Islamists in Syria?

Why not? They’re natural allies.

Sacramento on December 13, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Hey Ed, you’re a little ‘late to the party’, pal!

Ever heard of something called ‘Benghazi’? Ever remember hearing about how the CIA were in Benghazi running weapons to Jihadists in Syria? That Ops was exposed when Obama allowed Al Qaeda to slaughter our Ambassador and three others in Benghazi on 9/11.

So why the h#LL are you just NOW writing that ‘Obama is THINKING about helping Islamists in Syria’?! He’s BEEN DOING that!

easyt65 on December 13, 2013 at 1:33 PM

It’s where his loyalties like. They obviously don’t lie with America.

sadatoni on December 13, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Carnac on December 13, 2013 at 12:02 PM

On July 20, 2008, 0bamalinsky told Lara logan on Face the Nation that he expects to be President for the next eight to ten years.

Gene Hunt on December 13, 2013 at 2:56 PM