Aleppo and US

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

ALEPPO has be­come the melt­ing pot of the 20month re­bel­lion against the rule of Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad and de­spite ris­ing death toll, US is still un­de­cided to sup­port rebel forces, cit­ing fears that weapons and cash may not go into the hands of Is­lamist fight­ers, which US said many of them from abroad with an anti-US agenda who have joined the fight.

Some are Syr­i­ans look­ing for un­bri­dled re­venge by join­ing Is­lamist units that rou­tinely take on front­line com­bat. Many oth­ers are for­eign fight­ers com­ing from places as di­verse as Chech­nya and Iraq, where they of­ten have had past com­bat ex­pe­ri­ence. Rebels have re­ceived small arms, am­mu­ni­tion, and com­mu­ni­ca­tions gear from the US and other sources. Arm­ing the rebel Free Syr­ian Army (FSA), or not, has be­come a hot US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is­sue. In the fi­nal de­bate last week, Pres­i­dent Obama said the US was do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to help the op­po­si­tion, but warned that to get more en­tan­gled mil­i­tar­ily in Syria is a se­ri­ous step, and that the US had to be ab­so­lutely cer­tain that we know who we are help­ing. Like­wise, Repub­li­can can­di­date Mitt Rom­ney said he would make sure they have the arms nec­es­sary to de­fend them­selves as long as weapons don’t get into the wrong hands.

Those arms could be used to hurt us down the road. But on the ground, many Syr­i­ans say the US re­luc­tance to sup­port their cause is yield­ing more ji­hadists, and more rad­i­cal ones. If the Amer­i­cans do not give us weapons, then the ji­hadists will get them from some­where else. Cur­rent US pol­icy has opened the doors for ji­hadist Is­lam, not for mod­er­ates. An­other re­sult, of­ten voiced in this em­bat­tled city, is that even though the US shares rebel aims, its lim­ited sup­port for the fight it­self has ig­nited wide­spread anger to­ward Wash­ing­ton and even prompted spec­u­la­tion that the US wants the Syr­ian regime to win.

Amer­i­can re­luc­tance to help more in Syria is partly due to un­cer­tainty about Syria’s fu­ture, es­pe­cially be­cause the 2011 regime changes in Tu­nisia, Egypt, and Libya are far from set­tled. The US also sees through the prism of Afghanistan in the 1980s, when the CIA pro­vided Stinger mis­siles and train­ing to anti-Soviet mu­jahideen, only to watch them even­tu­ally changed into anti-Amer­i­can mil­i­tant groups such as Al Qaeda.

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