US Plays Dangerous Islamist Roulette in Syria

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article titled “U.S., Allies Reach Out to Syria’s Islamist Rebels” (which is also blogged here) is a mind numbing article about the Obama Administration caving in to support an Islamic Front opposition group in another desperate move In the volatile Middle East.

The motivation is to unite Saudi and Emirates funding to support a fundamentalist militia, Jaysh al-Islam (Islamic Front) as a Plan B against the two principal Al Qaeda affiliates, the Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). These Al Qaeda affiliates have effectively vanquished the so-called "secular" opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the country’s North and East adjoining Iraq. The al Qaeda affiliates have been bolstered by foreign fighters from Iraq, Chechnya in Southern Russia and an increasing number of Jihadis from EU countries.

These seemingly desperate efforts are directed at presenting a unified opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) at an UN-sponsored round of alleged peace discussions in Geneva in late January 2014. The SNC is backed by the London 11, the nations in a loose coalition opposing the Assad government. 

The objective of the al Qaeda Affiliates is to create mini-Caliphates ruled under Sharia. The fundamentalist Islamic Front is headed by Syrian Zahran Alloush, whose resume indicates that there may be little difference between his form of fundamentalism and that of the Al Qaeda affiliates. 

Tensions have risen dramatically regarding Syria without any substantive resolution of objectives by SNC and the London 11 including the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates. The US and Saudi Arabia partnering in establishment of an Islamic Front composed of fundamentalist fighters adds a degree of risk that the Geneva talks with the Assad Government may break down or be cancelled. That raises the likely prospect that internecine bloodshed will continue in Syria. 

The US is now caught up in a dangerous form of Islamist roulette by siding with fundamentalist opposition in Syria to fight against al Qaeda Affiliates both groups supporting Sharia. This could result in the disintegration of Syria into a failed state divided into warring ethno religious enclaves. Thus fueling massive refugee outflows, causing more problems for adjacent countries like Turkey, Jordan, Iraq.