by Ezra Van Auken
Syria’s two-year long war is seeing somewhat of a new turn as opposition forces work to create a power structure in the regions that Assad forces have compromised. Part of the struggle between rebel groups is agreeing on how society will be run, either by an elected civil government or an Islamic religious state. As most foreign policy analyst could predict, these feuds over beliefs end in bloodshed.
Last week, a secularist rebel group known as the Farouq Battalions fought with a hard-liner jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra, which has been tagged as a “terrorist organization” by the U.S. State Department. Fighting took place in the Raqqa Province, specifically the city of Tal Abyad and was over border crossing. Four people were killed during the firefight. A member of the Farouq council in Tal Abyad said, “They want to control the border crossing here,” a growing problem with factions.
The small battles by al-Nusra to capture the cities of Tal Abyad and Bab al Hawa from Farouq is an example of what the big picture will become as rebels seek influence in the political process. Division also shows the inaccurate reporting by mainstream pundits that portrayed anti-Assad forces as an umbrella group. McClatchy reported, “The rivalry between the groups has become increasingly apparent as Nusra raises the volume of its calls for Islamic law.”
Another report on Monday revealed even more division. Foreign policy pundit Jason Ditz wrote, “They aren’t quite as severe as the open fighting between Jabhat al-Nusra and other rebel fighters, but the divisions within even the “mainstream” of Syria’s rebel seem to be widening, with Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters condemning the Muslim Brotherhood.” The Brotherhood, which is affiliated with the Syrian National Coalition, has supported Texas’ Ghassan Hitto, and Free Syrian Army members are not favoring this choice.
“We hold you responsible for delaying victory of the revolution and the fragmentation of the opposition,” the Joint Commander of the FSA published to the Brotherhood. Groups within the FSA are even completely taking away their support for resigned rebel President Moaz al-Khatib. All of these divisions have obviously worn on rebels in general and their primary goal; to overthrow Assad’s regime.
SLN has reported on multiple occasions that as Islamic extremists work to enhance their play in Syria, U.S. and Western governments covertly back secularists. Even though it’s abundantly clear that foreign governments are training and aiding rebels, Sec. of State John Kerry told Iraq’s Prime Minister last week anyone helping Assad is problematic. “I made it very clear that for those of us who are engaged in an effort to see President Assad step down…anything that supports President Assad is problematic,” Kerry explained, showing his decisive hypocrisy.
Despite division, a year of funneling of weapons into Syria has produced hazy results in terms of the intended factions. SLN detailed the McClatchy publication that showed a tight bond when it comes to sharing weapons, “However, Enders then noted that the group that is working closely with the Victory Brigade is Ahrar al Sham, which happens to be in close friendship with al-Nusra. What do you know? The same types of weapons Victory Brigade was showing off to other rebels were the same ones Sham had obtained.” The arms listed specifically in McClatchy’s story apparently came from Saudi Arabia’s government as well as Qatar.
Combining the long-lasting division among secularists and extremists, with the somewhat bond when it comes to sharing weapons between other rebel factions – it seems best to just stay out of entangling alliances. Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul provided support towards that idea this week during his “Podcast Nation”. Paul explained, “This is why the non-interventionists foreign policy that the founders of this country advocated is so attractive; because it’s virtually impossible to pick out the good guys and the bad guys. And you take the rebels in Syria, there’s dozens and dozens of groups.”
Former Rep. Paul said, “So what’s happening today, I mean we are now threatening Iraq. Our government that we installed and that we protect right now, and saying, ‘Hey don’t ever let the Iranians fly an airplane over Iraq into Syria’. So it goes on and on.” Paul also pointed out that the U.S.-installment in Iraq now seems to be supporting the Syrian government, which we’re funding a proxy war against.
“It just amazes me that individuals, the group that’s called the “neo-conversatives” are just pumping up for another war. They’re saying we have to do more and more, of course, I would like to do less and less.”