US tilt to Assad undermining drive against ISIS
Despite the persistent pseudo-left hallucination of a US campaign to destabilize Bashar Assad, the evidence mostly goes the other way: the US is tilting to Assad in the Syrian war, viewing him as a bulwark against the jihadists. Now Daily Beast offers an interview with Syrian rebels who say they are turning down Washington's offer of training due the predictable strings attached. "We submitted the names of 1,000 fighters for the program, but then we got this request to promise not to use any of our training against Assad," said Mustapha Sejari, a leader of the Revolutionary Command Council. "It was a Department of Defense liaison officer who relayed this condition to us orally, saying we'd have to sign a form. He told us, 'We got this money from Congress for a program to fight ISIS only.' This reason was not convincing for me. So we said no."
The training camps are apparently being established in Turkey, with more planned for Jordan. But the program is likely to go nowhere if Washington persists in imposing these condescending and utterly counter-productive conditions. As we have argued (repeatedly), the failure of the West (or anyone else) to arm the Syrian rebels to fight the genocidal Assad regime is exactly what allowed the jihadists to fill the vacuum, and abetted the rise of ISIS.
And while the Revolutionary Command Council—including both the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and various "moderate" (i.e. not Qaedist) Islamist factions—may be spurning aid, Middle East Eye reports that al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front is trying to remake its image to suck up to the West! In a rare TV interview, Nusra Front chief Abu Mohamed al-Jolani vowed not to use Syria as a springboard to attack the West and said he would be willing to protect minorities. Forgive our skepticism, Mr. Jolani. Charlie Winter of the UK's anti-terrorist Quilliam Foundation is quoted: "It's all part of a normalisation process that al-Qaeda in Syria has been seeking to do for some time now. It wants to appear more palatable to the West... It was kind of like an infomercial for 'Al-Nusra, the moderates'."
Another reason we hate the word "moderate"—all the concern is for the purely hypothetical notion that Syria could be a staging ground for attacks on the West. For both the Beltway boys and the pseudo-left in the West, it's all about "us." But this is not the first time Washington has evidenced a strategy of equivocation aimed at prolonging the Syrian war—to let Assad and the jihadists exhaust each other, and Syrians be damned.
Meanwhile, betrayed by just about everyone, the secular indigenous resistance in Syria continues its war against ISIS and Assad alike. The Kurdish news agency Rudaw reports May 31 that the FSA has joined with the People's Protection Units (YPG) of Syrian Kurdistan to open a new front against ISIS in the northern region of Rojava, dubbed "Euphrates Volcano." Regional councils representing all ethnic groups are being formed in the liberated territories to organize local government and self-defense.
Too maddening that Washington would withhold aid from these forces because they dare to oppose Bashar Assad, while too much of what passes for the "left" in the West simply denies that they even exist, cynically conflating the very forces heroically resisting ISIS with ISIS itself under the broad brush of "Syrian rebels." Are they honestly confused, or consciously spreading disinformation? We don't even care anymore. We urge support for the groups such as the Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria (CISPOS) and Rojava Solidarity NYC, which are rising to the challenge of seeking a progressive position on Syria—that is, one which is actually concerned with the Syrians, and not the Great Power game.