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Congress and White House One Step Behind on Syria Rebels

The White House is pushing Congress to vote on on arming the "moderate" Syrian rebels. Repubicans are getting on board, and a vote may happen Tuesday.
If it’s not the Syrian opposition, trained and equipped by the United States, authorized by Congress and the president … then it’ll have to be U.S. troops,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told “Fox News Sunday.” “The president made a decision on that. We’re not going to do that.” The GOP-led House appears most ready to approve the plan.
Do they read the news? Colonel Riad al-Asaad, the leader of the Free Syrian Army, in interviews yesterday said the group will not join the U.S. in its fight against ISIS unless it receives assurance the U.S. will also take out Syrian President Assad. More here. [More...]

When factoring in the other problems that come with arming Syrian rebels, the answer seems obvious: Do not arm Syrian rebels. As to boots on the ground, the answer should still be "no." Let the Middle Eastern countries sort it out. Our aid should be limited to an advisory position and providing technological assistance and training the Iraqi army.

These rebels don't care about ISIS, they care about overthrowing Assad. They are happy to fight alongside hardline jihadist groups like Jabhat al Nusra when it suits them. Jabhat al Nusra is an affiliate of al Qaida. The Khurasan group in Syria that the AP reported yesterday wants to attack the U.S. has been part of JAN. Why would we arm a group that still has a qasi-working relationship with a terrorist group?

JAN today issued a statement that anyone who helps the U.S. will be considered an apostate (the punishment for which is death.) Suqour al-Sham / Islamic Front commander Abu Ammar (that also fights ISIS) today issued a statement opposing U.S. intervention in Syria and saying Syria cannot withstand another proxy war. (Arabic here, translation here.)

U.S. contractors, meanwhile, are chomping at the bit awaiting their good fortune if the U.S. gets involved. They will pocket oodles of money.

We stuck our toe in the water with the airstrikes and should leave it at that. Not only might it take the target off our back caused by the strikes, but it will be a firm statement that Iraq and Syria are not our problem to solve when there are plenty of countries in the Middle East who stand in a much riskier position than we do and also have the bucks to fight ISIS.

It was the correct decision not to to use our military might to topple Assad last year. Not arming the rebels now, given their mistrust and their different goals, should be a no-brainer.

< Move Over ISIS, The Khorasan Are Waiting in the Wings
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  • Display: Sort:
    Free Syrian Army??? (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Uncle Chip on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 08:31:42 AM EST
    The White House is pushing Congress to vote on on arming the "moderate" Syrian rebels.

    I'm a little confused here???

    Every time I listen to Richard Engel on NBC he says that there is no such thing as a Free Syrian Army aka Moderate Syrian Rebels.

    There is merely ISIS with its dozen or so military branches and the Syrian government army.

    But I'm sure that ISIL leaders are now more than willing to form one, and even have them call themselves the Free Syrian Army, or whatever the White House wants to call it, as long as the US is now willing to arm it.

    Are we fools or what???

    If we arm the ISIL Free Syrian Army (none / 0) (#18)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 11:43:20 AM EST
    we are indeed fools.

    Parent
    The FSA does exist (none / 0) (#19)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 12:19:47 PM EST
    It has been fighting ISIS, it is not part of ISIS. JAN (al Nusra) and ISIS were the ones who were together and are now in a spat. The FSA was weaker a year ago when the issue first came up about arming them. But if your point is that all of these groups can work alongside each other when the situation is mutually beneficial, I think that's correct.

    Parent
    Then we agree (none / 0) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 02:29:13 PM EST
    These groups will join together when it is to their benefit.

    That means we don't arm or help any of them.

    And I have no solution beyond working with the Kurds and the Iraqi army and using Special Forces to direct intense bombing raids where needed. And that includes Syria. No safe havens.

    Parent

    Anybody else think it possible that (none / 0) (#3)
    by ruffian on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 06:38:22 AM EST
    McCain and Graham are talking to their favorite "moderates" and telling them what to hold out for, namely the McGraham approach to Syria?

    Graham is demanding combat boots (5.00 / 5) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 07:54:34 AM EST
    To be sent back into Iraq. I personally think the situation needs two sets of combat boots in  Iraq - Graham's and McCain's.

    Parent
    Fox News needs to be their (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 08:18:09 AM EST
    Logistics as well....their tiny cat's paws :)

    Parent
    I'll vote for that (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 08:32:43 AM EST
    Maybe Hannity could become part of that group and enlist Limpball and Beck.

    Parent
    Could we just send (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 08:46:46 AM EST
    A truck load of boots?

    Parent
    Or Better Yet (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by squeaky on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 08:55:18 AM EST
    Considering that we are in poststructuralist and postmodern times, metonym is all that is needed, physical reality is passé.

    Just send text, Boots On The Ground...  10Million or so.

    that should do it.

    And if we really want to get fancy, send it in Arabic as well.

    Parent

    Tropes, not Troops (none / 0) (#13)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 09:18:22 AM EST
    Seriously (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 09:10:17 AM EST
    Someone should start a nationwide drive for " boots for the Middle East "

    Collect a million or so and ship them over, put them on the ground.    Bada bing.
    Everybody's happy.

    Parent

    Someone should deliver a truckload of (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 09:34:04 AM EST
    Boots to The Senate floor for Graham.

    Parent
    Collect boots from soldiers disabled from (5.00 / 3) (#20)
    by ruffian on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 02:08:42 PM EST
    the 12 years of combat operations already endured. That would be a powerful statement.

    Parent
    A very powerful statement (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 02:40:41 PM EST
    The best suggestion yet.

    Parent
    "Do they read the news? " (none / 0) (#4)
    by lentinel on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 07:02:32 AM EST
    Of course they don't.
    Reality doesn't matter.

    By the way, ain't these "moderates", our pals, our buddies, the ones who sold Steven Sotloff to ISIS?

    Great.
    Let's give them money, weapons and training.

    What a farce.

    A deadly farce.

    OMG..the President is not sending (none / 0) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 08:25:02 AM EST
    Bumbling muderous freakouts like Academi LLC.  Why do faux journalists make this stuff up, and then why do other goofballs bite off on it?

    This President has never been that sort of idiot, just falsely accused over and over and over again.

    I've got an idea. (none / 0) (#14)
    by NYShooter on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 09:18:36 AM EST
    Why don't we come out from behind the bushes, put our pea shooters away, cancel the snark contest, and, try to, intelligently, analyze the rapidly changing situation in the M.E, and debate/discuss what realistic options are available to the U.S.

    A couple of months ago most of us hadn't heard of this group, ISIS/ISIL. The simple fact that they've been able to capture/dominate half of Iraq, and, a third of Syria in such a short time means they're a serious player in the region, and, ignoring them is just untenable.

    I disagree with Jeralyn, just slightly, as to what sort of danger they represent to us at this moment. While I agree that they're not considering engaging us now, and, even possibly, never, hoping that they won't come after us in the future is not a strategy a superpower should adopt.

    The President has an unbelievably complicated, and, difficult strategic development facing him. I don't see any steps he could be making other than the slow, methodical ones he seems to have adopted. All the moves have to be made simultaneously: militarily, politically, intelligence gathering, and, smart, coordinated, planning.

    I have not been an Obama "Fan boy".....ever. But, I think, this late in his administration, he may, finally, be getting the hang of "Presidenting." He's not facing WW2, a "simple war." And, after Viet Nam, the disastrous Reagan years, and, the, arguably worst Administration in history with Bush 2, I'm liking what I've seen so far in Obama's handling of the Middle East Snake Pit.


    Agreed. (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by KeysDan on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 09:42:41 AM EST
    I believe the Administration should come out from behind the bushes, put the pea shooters away and cancel the snark contest for those who see a creeping quagmire.  It would be well too,  for the Administration to try to intelligently analyze the rapidly changing situation in the middle east, and debate and discuss what realistic options are available to the U. S.

    in addition to engaging the citizenry with other than one major ambiguous speech suggesting a "three year war", a debate would be nice--in the Congress and with hearings.   Using AUMF 200l  (9/ll) and AUMF 2001 (get Saddam before he gets us, mushroom cloud etc), is at best, a stretch that is subject to the only tool available to those who have tried to intelligently evaluate the pros and cons--ridicule and pea shooters.

    The only voices being heard are the usual war mongers.  Syrian moderates?  Really which ones, there are about 1500 such groups. Will this support Assad?  Have we, in fact, changed our real position on him?  Will the Arab countries provide some of those boots, or just some airstrikes by trusted pilots?   This is an opportunity to set the stage to work with Iran, but this, obvious and basic consideration, is ruled out because--well it is Iran.  Is all this just to "do something," to calm down the hyperventilating of terrorists coming to Topeka?  

    I used to feel that the best advice for young people is to enter a career in weather, since it was the only job in which you could make so many mistakes and still keep your job.  But,  I would add to my advice, a career as a proponent of war as the answer to middle east problems.

    Parent

    As astounding bit from B.O. (none / 0) (#17)
    by lentinel on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 10:43:21 AM EST
    "As Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead."

    Why in the world is it "our responsibility"?
    And who "welcomes" this responsibility?
    You? Me?
    Obama?
    McCain?
    "Welcome" it?

    What is the world is he talking about?

    And who is the "our"in "our responsibility"?
    The American taxpayer?

    Have we been consulted - except by suspect polling organizations to tell us that we are fine with whatever they want us to be fine with?

    It's not our responsibility.

    It is the responsibility of the people in the region.

    They could, if they were foolish enough, ask us to join some coalition they are eagerly forming.  Not the other way around.

    And, if the "people in the region" (none / 0) (#23)
    by NYShooter on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 03:57:42 PM EST
    are, simply, too weak to defend themselves?

    Parent
    Leaving aside (none / 0) (#24)
    by lentinel on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 04:46:53 PM EST
    States in the region that have loads of cash, like Saudi Arabia...

    What the thrust of my comment was meant to convey is that Obama is speaking as if he were monarch. It's like W. redux.

    He does not have a right to say that we, the people, "welcome" our "responsibility" to "lead".

    He does not have a right to say that it is "our" responsibility.

    Neither is it appropriate to say that it is "our" role to "lead".
    Gag.

    I agree with Jeralyn's assessment:

    We stuck our toe in the water with the airstrikes and should leave it at that. Not only might it take the target off our back caused by the strikes, but it will be a firm statement that Iraq and Syria are not our problem to solve when there are plenty of countries in the Middle East who stand in a much riskier position than we do and also have the bucks to fight ISIS.

    It was the correct decision not to to use our military might to topple Assad last year. Not arming the rebels now, given their mistrust and their different goals, should be a no-brainer.

    I also agree with her statement:

    When factoring in the other problems that come with arming Syrian rebels, the answer seems obvious: Do not arm Syrian rebels. As to boots on the ground, the answer should still be "no." Let the Middle Eastern countries sort it out. Our aid should be limited to an advisory position and providing technological assistance and training the Iraqi army.

    Our function should be to aid, if we know what and whom we are "aiding" - certainly not the "rebels" who sold Steven Stoloff to ISIS.

    The administration seems absolutely clueless to me.

    And if it is not clueless, it has some agenda that it is not sharing with us.

    Parent

    rebels aren't dumb (none / 0) (#25)
    by thomas rogan on Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 06:12:08 PM EST
    Why should the rebels throw their lives away in a proxy war for the Americans when what they have been sacrificing their lives for has been to overthrow Assad?  Especially when the Americans will just discard them when it is convenient.
    The rebels have zero loyality and trust to an American president who drew false red lines.  And who can blame them?