Obama’s military allies in Syria get busy killing each other
The Washington Post editorial board takes President Obama to task for his “feckless” Syria policy:
IT HAS been a month since the White House informed journalists that President Obama had decided to supply Syrian rebels with light arms. Since then, the regime has launched a bloody new offensive in the city of Homs, using heavy artillery and rockets to attack residential areas held by the rebels. Thousands of people have been killed, adding to a death toll approaching 100,000. President Bashar al-Assad has been boasting of his military successes and of the failure of outside powers to bring down his regime. Meanwhile, the United States has failed to deliver any of the promised munitions to beleaguered rebel forces — “not even a single bullet,” one source told The Post’s David Ignatius.
The delay can be attributed in part to congressional resistance: According to reporting by The Post’s Karen DeYoung, the administration’s plan has drawn objections from members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, which are responsible for reviewing covert operations. But the larger problem is an extraordinary failure of leadership by Mr. Obama. While deciding on intervention in a fateful Middle East war, the president has chosen a minimalist option likely to fail while declining to publicly explain or justify his actions.
In all fairness to President Obama, he’s been busy watching his Egypt policy, ObamaCare, and the full-time American workforce disintegrate, while fending off a sharknado of scandals and working in another record-breaking year of golf. There hasn’t been a lot of time for Syria since the big announcement that our Nobel Peace Prize-winning President was getting into another war.
And maybe it’s a good thing we haven’t delivered a single bullet to those rebel forces, because they’d probably have used it to shoot each other. Reuters reports that the rift between rebel forces has widened into a three-way civil war:
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.
Hamami, also known by his nom de guerre, Abu Bassir al-Ladkani, is one of the top 30 figures on the FSA’s Supreme Military Command.
His killing highlights how the West’s vision of a future, democratic Syria is unraveling.
The Assad regime has been turning things around over the past year and gaining the upper hand against the rebels, who have begun a messy process of sorting things out in anticipation of the weapons Obama promised them. Unfortunately, the Islamists are already receiving plenty of support from both inside and outside Syria. The public generally regards the people Obama wants to arm as thieves, and their lack of organization will make it easy for the al-Qaeda savages to overpower them and grab that sweet American hardware when it arrives. Today’s assassination of a top FSA leader wasn’t the first time the black-banner crowd has slammed them up against the lockers and taken their lunch money:
The FSA — a mixture of loosely-affiliated brigades — is accused by locals of looting and has not been able to present a unified front to sideline hardline units who favor an Islamic caliphate over pluralist democracy.
Some frustrated FSA fighters say they have joined Islamist groups and moderate and hardline fighters sometimes buy and sell weapons from each other.
The anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, said the FSA and the Islamic State have had violent exchanges in several areas of Syria over the past few weeks, showing growing antagonism between Assad’s foes.
“Last Friday, the Islamic State killed an FSA rebel in Idlib province and cut his head off. There have been attacks in many provinces,” the Observatory’s leader Rami Abdelrahman said.
Given the unholy disaster Obama and Hillary Clinton made of Libya, maybe fecklessness is the best we can hope for in Syria. The last thing we need is for the top-down incompetence of this Administration to arm a new al-Qaeda state with American weapons.