Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Obama doesn't want Assad to collapse too soon"

"...Obama doesn't want the rebels to overrun Damascus if the jihadists are the strongest faction. As he said in his interview broadcast Monday with PBS' Charlie Rose, "One of the challenges that we have is that some of the most effective fighters within the opposition have been those who frankly are not particularly [friendly] towards the United States." To counter the jihadists' influence, Obama has been trying to build up Idriss, so far with limited success.The public rationale for Obama's decision to arm the rebels was Assad's use of chemical weapons. But the basic evidence to support this charge had been available for weeks. The real trigger was a new uptick in the Sunni-Shiite regional war that is driving the Syrian conflict......
Obama's announcement that the U.S. would arm the rebels was an attempt to draw the Saudis and Qataris back in the fold. A new meeting of the "Friends of Syria" is likely soon, where the U.S. hopes for a renewed public commitment by all the Arabs to channel aid through Idriss, rather than the extremists....
It's telling that even after last week's announcement of military aid to the rebels, U.S. officials were still studying the fine print of the June 2012 Geneva agreement with Russia, China and other leading nations for a Syrian-led transition. This document calls for a "neutral environment in which the transition can take place," which U.S. officials see as code for the Assad clan's departure.
The Obama policy on Syria isn't quite as feckless as it may look. But it has the fundamental flaw of past covert-action programs, which is that the U.S. is seeking a decisive political change through proxy forces that have limited power and popular support -- and could easily be overwhelmed by others who have a stronger ideological or religious motivation. It's not an accident that the jihadists have been the best fighters among the rebels: They're the most passionate about their cause. ..."

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