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(37,305 posts)
Thu Sep 5, 2013, 02:43 AM Sep 2013

Kerry portrait of Syria rebels at odds with intelligence reports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State John Kerry's public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.

At congressional hearings this week, while making the case for President Barack Obama's plan for limited military action in Syria, Kerry asserted that the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership, and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution.

"And the opposition is getting stronger by the day," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

U.S. and allied intelligence sources and private experts on the Syrian conflict suggest that assessment is optimistic.

While the radical Islamists among the rebels may not be numerically superior to more moderate fighters, they say, Islamist groups like the al Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front are better organized, armed and trained.

Kerry's remarks represented a change in tone by the Obama administration, which for more than two years has been wary of sending U.S. arms to the rebels, citing fears they could fall into radical Islamists' hands.


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Kerry portrait of Syria rebels at odds with intelligence reports (Original Post) dkf Sep 2013 OP
This is like saying the Pol Pot revolution was "democratic." David__77 Sep 2013 #1
from the ME editor of the Guardian, G_j Sep 2013 #2


(23,364 posts)
1. This is like saying the Pol Pot revolution was "democratic."
Thu Sep 5, 2013, 02:46 AM
Sep 2013

It's really idiocy at its worst. Every radical revolutionary movement has its moderate fig leaf. In Syria, they have a few ex-Baathist generals (nice guys, I'm sure), and in Cambodia they had the Buddhist King Sihanouk, etc. If the insurgents win in Syria, the country will be destroyed utterly, and the areas ruled by the insurgents will be ruled by an evil, restrictive sharia the country has never known.


(40,366 posts)
2. from the ME editor of the Guardian,
Thu Sep 5, 2013, 02:51 AM
Sep 2013


Tuesday 3 September 2013 09.47 EDT

Did Syrian rebels have sarin gas? Your questions on the crisis answered
Our Middle East editor answers readers' questions on Russia, Syrian opposition groups, al-Qaida and more

(here is one question, more at link)

Ian Black, the Guardian's Middle East editor, answered a selection of your questions about Syria.

AmenophisIV: How many different opposition parties exist in Syria? Which party is representing which interests, what goals do they have, and who are the supporting parties?
herero: To what extent are they infiltrated by al-Qaida or not?

The Syrian opposition is highly fragmented and divided between groups based abroad and inside the country. When protests began in March 2011, the first coherent body to emerge was the Syrian National Council, established in Istanbul. Externally, that was backed by Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and western countries. It included a big Syrian Muslim Brotherhood element as well as liberal and secular figures associated with the Damascus Declaration group. Groups on the ground began to operate under the name of the Free Syrian Army, with different local agenda and backing from different sources, including the Gulf.

Nowadays the main political grouping is the Syrian National Coalition, set up in Qatar in 2012, again with Gulf backing. The main legal internal opposition is the Damascus-based National Co-ordination Body, which calls for a negotiated settlement with the Assad regime.

There are now hundreds and perhaps thousands of armed rebel groups. More moderate outfits such as Liwa al-Tawhid answer to the Supreme Military Command, headed by Selim Idriss, a senior army defector. The SMC is used to channel Gulf, especially Saudi, funds and is thought to have received US and British training in Jordan.

Islamist groups have become stronger and tend to be better armed and financed than others. Two of the strongest are Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq, both of them linked to al-Qaida. JAN insists on a future Syria becoming an Islamic state under sharia law, and has openly pledged its allegiance to the al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Another important group is Ahrar al-Sham. Sectarianism is also becoming more pronounced, with foreign Arab Shia fighters (including Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah) arriving to fight Sunni extremists. Large numbers of liberal and secular opposition figures have left the country. Important work is still done on the ground by the Local Co-ordination Committees.

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