[McClatchy's] "BEIRUT — A U.S.-supported push to form military councils across Syria to unite the hundreds of groups fighting to topple President Bashar Assad and coordinate the provision of aid to secular rebel groups appears largely to have failed.Rebels said U.S. officials pressed for the creation of the councils in each of Syria’s 14 provinces in response to rebel demands for arms and other support. In December, representatives of various rebel groups met in Turkey and elected a 30-member Supreme Military Council, which then selected defected Syrian Gen. Salim Idriss as its head.
But Syrian activists say the councils have become the subject of derision and mockery inside Syria in the weeks since and that other groups, including the al Qaida-linked Nusra Front, have assumed the central coordinating position that U.S. officials had hoped the military councils would have........
The failure of the military councils to quickly organize and win influence has undercut what U.S. officials had hoped would be a system that would allow the United States and its allies to direct aid toward rebel groups that favor a democratic post-Assad Syria, where the rights of religious and ethnic minorities would be respected, and away from groups such as Nusra that favor a government based on Islamic law...
Syria’s presumed government in exile, the Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, similarly has failed to take hold – another huge reversal for American policy. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been the primary proponent of the coalition, which was cobbled together after Clinton publicly announced that the United States could no longer support a predecessor group, the Syrian National Council.
But after dozens of countries recognized the new group as the successor to Assad’s regime, it, too, has failed to win influence. It missed its own deadline last week to name an interim prime minister, and U.S. engagement with the organization, which reached its height prior to the U.S. presidential election in November, dropped off after the group’s leader, Sheik Mouaz Khatib, criticized the U.S. designation of the Nusra Front as an international terrorist group that is indistinguishable from al Qaida in Iraq....Those battalions, which include Nusra and another Islamist brigade, Ahrar al Sham, have been at the forefront of the fighting across Syria... Nusra is believed to have as many as 5,000 men under arms, and Sham is thought possibly to be larger, making the Islamist-led groups the largest fighting organizations of the multi-faceted Syrian opposition...."
Monday, January 28, 2013
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:40 PM