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April 17, 2013 12:33 pm

Report: Obama Administration Not Keen On Syrian Rebel Victory Right Now

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Members of the Free Syrian Army. Photo: World Defence News.

The Obama administration has modified its approach to the conflict in Syria in recent weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reports “they don’t want an outright rebel military victory right now because they believe, in the words of one senior official, that the ‘good guys’ may not come out on top.”

The change has been precipitated by al Qaeda’s emboldened maneuvers in the country. A top al Qaeda figure from Pakistan recently traveled to Syria and al Qaeda in Iraq, the network’s branch in Iraq, announced it was merging with the Nusra Front in Syria.

According to the Journal, officials fear that the increasing Islamist influence means a victory would undercut hopes for finding a diplomatic solution. It would also shatter national institutions along with what remains of civil order, increasing the danger that Syrian chemical weapons will be used or transferred to terrorists.

The White House has drawn up elaborate plans for a post-Assad Syria that includes an orderly political transition that keeps the country together and preserves Western interests, administration officials tell the Journal.

The U.S. fears the plans could be jeopardized if rebels overrun key institutions such as “unit 450,” the Syrian military branch that U.S. officials say oversees Syria’s chemical-weapons stockpile.

The administration goal, according to people briefed on the effort, is to provide enough aid to strengthen U.S.-vetted fighters without tipping the balance so far that Islamists who dominate rebel ranks will be able to overrun the regime and its institutions.

“We all want Assad to fall tomorrow, but a wholesale institutional turnover overnight doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” a senior U.S. official said. “The end game requires a very careful calibration that doesn’t tip the meter in an unintended way toward groups that could produce the kind of post-Assad Syria that we aren’t looking for.”

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  • artcohn

    I fully agree : We should not want an outright rebel military victory right now because the rebels include Islamist terrorists. These are more likely than not to take full command if the rebels win.
    The best is that the two sides should keep fighting and killing each other. On the other hand,We should strongly try to halt Assad’s cooperation with Iran.

  • Isaac Barr MD

    Editor, With 80.000 dead removal of Basher al-Assad seems reasonable, but the killed were not necessarily Assad regime sole responsibility. Many were killed by the rebels themselves. Basher al Assad kept Syria out of radical Islam and the border of Israel is quiet since 1974. While Assad accumulated chemical weapons, allowed Iranians into his country and supported Hizballah terror group Syria was not involved directly in 2006 Lebanon war. Syria “Free Syrian Army” is made of many diverse groups, radical Shiite and Sunni, fermented by money and support from outside. Many are not Syrians. The Syrian “freedom fighters” declared allegiance to Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization whose leader, Osama bin Laden, was killed by US seals. The militants demand Shariah law and war against Israel to recapture the Golan heights. This will make the front of Syria and Israel a war zone which is presently quiet. Should Assad fall these militant groups will fight for hegemony and death and destruction seen so far will be dwarfed by a terrible Syrian Nakba. In Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algiers the “Arab spring” allowed radical Islam to emerge. The model for Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda bound Syrian militants is not democracy but a theocracy Iran style. The devil that we do not know will be much worse than the devil the one we know. Syrian theocracy will result with slaughter of Alawites and Christians and worse, will spill into Lebanon and Jordan and threaten stability in Iraq. An immense refugee problem, a million Syrians, is the forgotten front. They live in the desert of Jordan and in Turkey subject to violence such as kidnapping of Syrian girls for wives and worse, for sex. The Syrian refugee problem needs to be resolved quickly. They cannot return to their homes unless a stable regime is established. Bashar al Assad regime is the only option. Syria without Assad means continuous civil war for years and a permanent Syrian refugee problem. We have history of blind support of “freedom fighters”: We supported the Taliban in Afghanistan when they fought the Russians. The Taliban that we supported became our main enemy in Afghanistan. US needs to support the devil that we know, Bashar al-Assad.