U.S. Ditches Free Syrian Army Rebels: Iraq Comes First

Ret. Gen. John Allen, who is in charge of the U.S. response to ISIS, confirmed today that the U.S. will not be training and equipping the Free Syrian Army rebels. He said the U.S. will start from scratch, vetting and then training Syrian opposition fighters. He also made it clear Iraq comes first.

The Syrian arena is important, Allen said, but to the U.S., “the emergency in Iraq right now is foremost in our thinking.” There will be a simultaneous training-and-equipping campaign for Iraq, where the U.S.-trained military collapsed during the Islamic State’s summer offensive.

Allen said the new training program is “for those elements of the Iraqi national security forces that will have to be refurbished and then put back into the field,” with the ultimate goal of reclaiming Iraqi territories seized by the Islamic State. [More...]

The FSA has suspected as much for months. The FSA is interested in overthrowing Assad, not fighting ISIS. It has teamed up with Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaida in Syria) when it suits them, and fighters switch allegiances. In addition, the FSA is angry about the U.S. airstrikes and its targeting of al Nusrah leaders. [More...]

So who are these "moderate rebels" the U.S. thinks it will find in Syria to fight ISIS? It seems like they are an illusion.

With Syria on the back burner, who's going after the ISIS hostage holders and executioners near Raqqa? It's been weeks since the FBI confidently announced it knows the identity of the black clad killer. The pleas to ISIS from the parents of American aid worker Peter Kassig, who is scheduled to be executed next, have not been acknowledged.

The U.S. strategy against ISIS does not seem coherent at this point. Iraq is probably beyond saving, and ISIS is not only making big gains in Iraq and Syria, but forging new alliances in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and elsewhere. From every angle, this war seems like nothing but a losing proposition.

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  • Display: Sort:
    A step in the right direction (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Jack203 on Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 10:24:24 PM EST
    Anything we give to FSA would end up in ISIS hands anyway.  

    Judging by the last couple days, it seems protecting the Kurds from Sunni invasion is our priority.  That is what I think our priority should be.

    And if the Sunnis pledge to stop attacking their neighbors we should stop attacking them.

    A still classified report (none / 0) (#2)
    by KeysDan on Thu Oct 16, 2014 at 12:18:42 PM EST
    conducted by the CIA, has found that arming rebels rarely works. And, such efforts are clearly ineffective when the rebel militias fought without any direct American support on the ground in conflict zones.   The big exception was the aid given to insurgents in Afghanistan in the 1980s against the Soviets.

    This case of arming the rebels was successful without CIA officers on the ground because Pakistani officers were there giving assistance.  However, that success morphed into something less than great when those "moderates" became al Qaeda (cf. Osama bin Laden).  

    This report must have been kept from former CIA Director Leon Panetta's eyes, in light of his latter day criticism of President Obama for not taking his advise to arm the "moderate" rebels in Syrian eons ago.  

    Beside the military strategy in Iraq, the other leg of this two-legged stool is the political--even in the face of serious threats from ISIS, the government in Baghdad is unsettled and unsettling.  Prime Minister Abadi is fending off internecine Shia fighting aided and abetted by former Prime Minister Maliki, who thinks his new vice presidential post is not so ceremonial.  He even refuses to leave his grand office in the former Saddam's former palace.  Abadi does seem to be trying to broaden the make-up of the government and some Sunnis are encouraged, but it is going to be touch and go for awhile, in my view--just like the military leg.

    Act now! (none / 0) (#3)
    by lentinel on Thu Oct 16, 2014 at 07:17:59 PM EST
    The pleas to ISIS from the parents of American aid worker Peter Kassig, who is scheduled to be executed next, have not been acknowledged.

    This would be the time for Obama, the President and Commander in Chief, to come out from wherever he has been and starting talking about Peter Kassig. Daily. Every day.
    On the news. On the White House lawn.

    Mobilize world opinion.
    Try to save this guy.
    Turn the spotlight on the worst of ISIS.

    But, if he follows precedent, he will say little or nothing until yet another hostage whom we have abandoned is beheaded. Killed dead.

    And then, tsk tsk tsk.
    And promises of revenge.

    A lot of good that does.

    Hundreds of ISIS fighters dead (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jack203 on Thu Oct 16, 2014 at 09:54:07 PM EST
    Battle of Kobani not going well for ISIS.

    Maybe ISIS will be willing to listen to dialogue.  But what are we offering?  I don't even think Obama knows what we want to achieve over there.  I hope he does, but just not saying it publicly because of politics.  But that might be wishful thinking.

    "Defeating" ISIS appears to me extremely unlikely to succeed without a huge investment to buy off the other Sunni tribes and/or significant ground troops.

    The real danger ISIS poses us is not terrorist attacks in the US, but a prolonged, unnecessary, costly, and ultimately failure of a war.