Where are the good guys?
December 21st 2013 | BEIRUT AND CAIRO
WHAT to do when the party you have been backing loses sway?
That is the question facing Western supporters of the Syrian National Coalition. The rise of jihadists and the worsening sectarian strife in Syria is now putting Western backers of the rebel opposition in some kind of a quandary. As the jihadists are gaining in strength, some Western officials are now starting to advocate some form of political re-engagement with Bashar Assad, while others think the only course left is to work with devout Islamists who reject the extremists but who nonetheless refuse to be part of the coalition previously backed by the West. With negotiations forecasted to start on January 22nd, Western governments are still puzzling over which military factions to back on the ground.
The direct cause of this political mess is the actual growth of al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Greater Syria), known as ISIS, the most ruthless of the groups, has spread across northern and eastern Syria, while another al-Qaeda group, Jabhat al-Nusra, still thrives. This has caused and still is causing alarm in Western capitals and among Syrians who mutter that the extremists may be even worse than a regime that has used fighter jets, barrel-bombs and chemical warfare against civilians. With Russia and Iran doggedly behind him, al-Assad has stood and still is holding firm.
Without any form of structured opposition, with all factions fighting one against the other, al-Assad will maintain power as long as he wants and there is nothing the western world can do about it.
To learn more about the situation:
To be continued…