You have probably heard that the US is (once again) considering to boost the support for the „moderate“ rebels in Syria. These rebels are supposed to fight at once the Syrian Army and its affiliate forces (the NDF, the lebanese Hezbollah) and the „Islamic State“ militia.
Very often when the phrase „moderate rebels“ is used by western politicians and media it occurs in verbal connection with the „Free Syrian Army“, but what/who exactly is this moderate „Army“?
If one bothers to read through battlefield news all over Syria it becomes clear that the major anti-government forces are all radical sectarian Islamists, mostly Salafis. At best you can distinguish between Pro Saudi and „less Pro Saudi“ Salafis, but what does this have to do with „moderate“?
In particular the major rebel forces are:
The „Islamic State“ (former ISIS or ISIL)
The al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front or „Jabhat al Nusra“ (JAN), designated as terrorist organization by the US
The „Islamic Front“ (IF)
The IF is an umbrella group featuring as its major factions the „Ahrar al Sham“ (which just lost its entire leadership), the „Liwa al Tauheed“ (whose leader was killed a few months ago) and Jaish al Islam (Army of Islam).
Another umbrella organization is the „Syrian Revolutionary Front“ (SRF) headed by (another) Saudi favourite called Jamal Maarouf. In addition to Maarouf being labeled „highway robber“ by some other rebel factions, he openly declares support for and coordination with the Salafis of JAN, so again there is no way to view the SRF as „moderate“.
But never underestimate the „creativity“ of Syrias rebels and their US- and (mostly Wahhabi) GCC-Backers: In order to confuse the international audience and create the impression that there are indeed rebels other than the above mentioned three which were exposed as clearly non-moderate, yet more rebel organization names were created.
One which was meant to give itself the pretense of being Syrian nationalist, liberal and non-sectarian is the „Southern Front“. The Southern Front is said to consist of 49 different factions and 30.000 fighters. At the second look however it becomes clear that the two major factions of this Front are the above mentioned SRF of Jamal Maarouf who praises the Nusra Front and the Yarmouk Brigade that took Unifil peacekeepers as hostages. Plus, the Yarmouk brigade strongly cooperates with JAN:
Interestingly the Southern Front was sidelined by the Nusra and many of its fighters joined the latter:
This is finally how Aron Lund comments the „honesty“ behind the Southern Fronts non-extremism/non-sectarianism:
„Rather than an initiative from the rebels themselves, word is that it was foreign officials that called on rebel commanders to sign a statement declaring their opposition to extremism, saying it was a precondition for getting more guns and money. Since beggars can’t be choosers, the commanders then collectively shrugged their shoulders and signed—but not so much to declare a new alliance as to help U.S. officials tick all the right boxes in their reports back home, hoping that this would unlock another crate of guns.“
Finally, the newest „unified“ rebel umbrella organization is the „Revolutionary Command Council„, featuring 18 rebel factions, but it suffices to read the names of SRF and „Jaish al Islam“ (Army of Islam) to know that outright Salafis and those who proudly declare to cooperate with them are definitely not qualified to be called moderates.
Summarizing, we see that there are six major rebel „joint ventures“: ISIS, JAN, Islamic Front, SRF, Southern Front and the Revolutionary Command Council. And we see that none of them is moderate. So, what exactly is the „Free Syrian Army“? Who are it´s leading commanders?
It seems the FSA has ceased to exist if it ever really existed as a clearly defined army with commando structure and clear battlefield agenda.
There was for instance General Salim Idriss, the former head of the allegedly moderate FSA, but it came out his „good“ rebels were involved in the massacre of pro-government villagers in Lattakia.
Then there was top ranking FSA Commander al-Okaidi who thanked ISIS and JAN for their crucial role in capturing Syrias Mennagh airbase.
It´s time to stop fooling ourselves, fabricate fairy tales and spread them dishonestly. A moderate FSA does not exist. Full stop. Many of those rebels deemed reliable and moderate by US, UK and France and trained and armed in Turkey and Jordan have either defected to ISIS and co. or sold/handed over their US and Saudi/Qatari supplied weapons to ISIS and Nusra. Here is a good document of shame for Obama and McCain who continue to speak about the moderates who should be further armed:
And here another one:
„Of most interest was the capture of two M-79 rockets that were identical to a batch of such weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia to rebels in southern Syria in January 2013. “
Obama wants to attack IS in Syria without a UN mandate and without the approval of the Syrian government. One major reason is the recent beheading of journalist Steven Sotloff. Obama wants to support the moderate rebels against IS (and Assad), but how „funny“ that – according to Sotloffs family – it were the MODERATE REBELS who sold him to ISIS:
Finally I like to quote Rand Paul, son of former US presidential candidate Ron Paul:
“They say there are some pro-Western people and we’re going to vet them. Well, apparently we’ve got a senator over there who got his picture taken with some kidnappers, so I don’t know how good a job we’re going to do vetting those who are going to get the arms.”