Training the Syrian opposition is a bad idea

syria execution

Obama’s speech on Wednesday night laying out an alleged strategy for dealing with ISIS included a proposal for arming fighters from Syrian opposition groups. This is a longstanding dream of the administration. Many ideas bring with them negatives. Rarely do you confront an idea that is not only bad in concept but one with no good points to offset it. Fortunately, training a surrogate army requires Congressional approval. Congress should decline.

A cautionary tale

There are no moderates in Syria:

Murdered US journalist Steven Sotloff was sold to Islamic State terrorists by “so-called moderate rebels,” and the Obama administration “could have done more” to save him, a family spokesman said Tuesday.

“For the first time, we can say Steven was sold at the [Syrian] border,” spokesman Barak Barfi told CNN.

He said the rebels tipped off ISIS that Sotloff had entered the country, and those terrorists then grabbed him.

“We believe these so-called moderate rebels that people want our administration to support — one of them sold him probably for something between $25,000 and $50,000, and that was the reason he was captured,” Barfi said, citing “sources on the ground.”

We know little about the groups we are arming…. and what we do know is not good

From the beginning we’ve known very little about the Syrian opposition forces. Our contacts with them are at the command level and we have little idea of what they are like in the field. Their conduct in five-star hotels differs markedly with what one finds in the field and until we have Special Forces or CIA paramilitaries embedded in Syrian opposition units we will continue to operate in the dark. All evidence tends to indicate that the “moderate” and “vetted” groups work hand in glove with al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. From the New York Times U.S. Pins Hope on Syrian Rebels With Loyalties All Over the Map:

President Obama’s determination to train Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leaves the United States dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters.

After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad — and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside …read more    

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