Radical Islamists taking over Syria?
Over a year ago I wrote Why We Don’t Support Syria and Yemen Freedom Fighters and do Support Them in Libya. When I wrote this article, I did not advocate that we should abandon the Syrians. By not supplying weapons to the moderates, once the massacres start, we ensure that the protesters who start a revolution become marginalized. This is exactly what appears to be happening in both Libya and Syria.
Our lack of resolve gives radical elements the perfect opportunity to take over a revolution. The new radical Islamists in Syria may, or may not be, Jabhat al Nusra. Either way their ranks are growing quickly. The White House has labeled al Nusra as a terrorist group, but the reaction of the Free Syrian Army counters this claim. Col. Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, head of the Free Syrian Army in the province of Aleppo, told Agence France Presse.
Whether al Nusra is a terrorist group, one thing remains certain. They appear to be the most effective fighters the Syrian rebels have. The White House is doing them, and the Free Syrian Army, a great disservice condemning them so quickly. The White House has no problem labeling a group that was unknown 6 months ago, as terrorists. After almost 2 years they still haven’t labeled anyone as moderates. This hypocrisy is already backfiring and is sure to get worse as Obama runs out of time.
In the long term, radical Islamists will become even more dangerous than Assad. Is it too late to help the moderates stop radicalism in Syria, maybe? Will our current policy of watching people die while doing almost nothing for them stop radicalism? NOT A CHANCE!
As is our custom in Middle East hot spots, Obama’s refusal to supply weapons directly has come back to haunt us. His mistake of refusing to supply weapons openly inLibyawas compounded as he went through intermediaries likeQatar,Saudi Arabia, and theUnited Arab Emirates. He is committing the same egregious mistake in the Syrian war.
As is our custom in Middle East hot spots, Obama’s refusal to supply weapons directly has come back to haunt us. His mistake of refusing to supply weapons openly in Libya was compounded as he went through intermediaries like Qatar,Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. He is committing the same egregious mistake in the Syrian war.
Qatar is not helping
Qatar, a tiny nation whose natural gas reserves makes it enormously wealthy, has expanded its influence in the Arab world for years. It is well aware that if it supplies weapons and money to those friendly to the U.S. its influence will be greatly diminished. Qatar gave the lion’s share of its aid to extremists in Libya, and this is why Libya is being over run by al Qaeda sympathizers today. Qatar and our other so-called Middle Eastern allies are using the same tactic in Syria. Even when we supply the weapons ourselves, there is a chance that they get into the wrong hands. When someone else is doing it for us, it is guaranteed to happen.
When concerns in Washington arose about groups Qatar was supporting in Libya, a meeting was held with the Deputies Committee. This committee is an interagency panel, consisting of high ranking officials in major agencies involved with national security. One official recalled, “There was a lot of concern that the Qatar weapons were going to Islamist groups.” The concern that was expressed led nowhere, and is still being ignored.
One group that received aid in Libya was Abdel Hakim Belhadj, who I wrote about in my Rail against Con Coughlin last year. Belhadj was the leader of a small group called the “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group” that broke out with other groups from the Nafusa Mountains in the eastern part of the country. His small group was extremely effective largely due to having been heavily supplied by Qatar, while much larger and more moderate groups were being neglected. He was so successful in fact, that after the war he became head of the Tripoli Military Council. Today he is a respected politician openly claiming full support for al Qaeda.
No evidence has surfaced that any weapons from Qatar went to Ansar al-Sharia, the extremist group blamed for the murder of Chris Stevens in the Benghazi attack on 9/11 of this year. However, just because Qatar is not talking, and there is no evidence, does not mean it didn’t happen. The White House’s continued reliance on Qatar, and other Arab countries in arming rebel freedom fighters, is a sure route to failure. These countries goals do not match ours, nor do their interests.
Extremists and Jihad
Extremists will always be more able to handle unstable situations than most people. When the time comes to fight they are better armed, better trained, better equipped, and many of them are already experienced. They also have better contacts, a network of supporters, and sleeper cells who may have been in place for decades. Those without the experience of their leaders have waited years, and in some cases all their lives for this moment. How many shopkeepers, farmers, and ordinary people can say the same? How can peaceful citizens compete, unless they are quickly armed and trained by a network even more powerful, and just as determined?
When the fighting finally breaks out, radical Islamists are already prepared. Aside from the obvious of fighting for their cause, if they die in battle they are led to believe that all kinds of rewards await them in heaven. The promise of 72 teenage virgins, or whatever the number, is a powerful incentive to a horny jihadist surrounded and egged on by misogynists. They are willing to die because dying allows them to achieve martyrdom. Even those with other beliefs, rarely expect to die in battle. Those who do expect to die have reached a point where life has become too painful, and they just don’t care anymore. Once this stage is passed they gladly die; either in battle or as suicide bombers.
The jihadist training, along with their weapons, will always guarantee some success. A few successes are all it takes to reap the earthly rewards that follow. They get to grab the best loot first, they get recognition for their efforts, and they can take credit for future successes they weren’t even involved in. This ensures a steady stream of people who become radicalized, as they flock to the group known for getting things done, and who supply the very weapons needed to those who are dying to fight. Many of these new members have rarely prayed in their lives, but now do so daily. At the same time they start sporting beards, for appearances sake, so they can fit in.
Each success, real or imagined, therefore has a snowball effect until it finally engulfs everything and everyone in its path. If the world wants to ensure a revolution’s success it must be sure that most successes are won by moderate factions, not the extremist ones. If we fail at this task a new dictator emerges, and the cycle begins anew.
When the war is over the newly recruited jihadist can only go forward. It is too late to go back to who they used to be, even if they wanted to. When you are surrounded by religious fanatics it’s not wise to start talking reasonably, or return to your past life, unless you completely trust those around you.
How can we tell who the moderates are?
This is easier than most people think. We only have to read or listen to what moderates said BEFORE the bullets start flying. In the modern internet world countless numbers of people have expressed feelings that we can agree with, and these feelings are already on file. These are the people we should support. These are the people who have friends and allies who we can support. Is there a guarantee that those who were moderate before the war began can be trusted? Not a chance, but I would put my money on them before putting it on someone whose file already proves they are not moderate, or someone who remained silent until after the bullets are flying. Once a war is raging people say anything, and too often what they say can’t be trusted. The longer we put off helping, as described above, the greater the chances that even the moderates will become extremists.
As a final note: Every war must be won as quickly as possible. Failure to do so only ensures that battle fatigue sets in. If this happens, and peace is declared before it should have, a new war will break out in the not so distant future. While battle fatigue may affect a country and its people differently, there will always be some who have a higher tolerance for it, especially the extremists. They will be the ones willing to start a new war while the rest of the country just wants to get back to normal. What people must realize is normal is not to be had after revolution. It takes years to return, while complacency may ensure that it takes even longer. Complacency is always the enemy, in peacetime and in war. The important thing is to recognize it; before it becomes dangerous.