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  • Syria’s Growing Islamist Extremist Presence

    President Obama reportedly has signed an intelligence finding that authorizes U.S. support for Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship.  It remains unclear what is included in this “covert” aid, publicized in what looks like another leak, or when the finding was signed.

    But the United States must be very careful in picking Syrian opposition groups to support.  As Syria melts down in an intensifying civil war, al-Qaeda’s black flags have been planted in growing numbers inside Syria.

    Islamist extremists in eastern Syria, many of whom had flocked to fight U.S. troops inside Iraq or provided logistical support to Al-Qaeda in Iraq, have been exercising a growing influence inside the armed opposition to the Assad regime. Many foreign militants, including radical Libyan Islamists, have also joined the fighting in Syria. The Guardian reported the unease of one Syrian rebel who noted that the al-Qaeda-affiliated groups often have greater financial support, better weapons, and more military expertise than the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the umbrella group that links many of the local rebel forces:

    “They have better financing than the FSA and we have to admit they are here.… They are stealing the revolution from us and they are working for the day that comes after.”

    Concern about what happens “the day after” is a major reason that the United States should be extremely careful about how it helps Syria’s splintered opposition. Washington should calibrate its efforts to bring down Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship in a manner that does not inadvertently contribute to the rise of an Islamist extremist dictatorship that becomes a base for international terrorism.

    The U.S. has so far provided non-lethal supplies, such as communications gear, to the opposition but apparently has refrained from transferring arms. But Syria’s opposition forces have obtained a growing arsenal of weapons from the black market, defected or captured soldiers, and foreign sources. Rebels in northern Syria have reportedly acquired nearly two dozen MANPADS (man-portable air defense systems) that were transferred to them in Turkey, probably supplied by Saudi Arabia or Qatar, the leading Arab supporters of the Syrian opposition.

    The MANPADS, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, will undoubtedly come in handy in countering the Assad’s regime’s increased use of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, particularly in Aleppo, where the rebels have staged an offensive to gain control of Syria’s largest city.

    If the opposition can consolidate its control over Aleppo, Syria’s commercial hub, then Syria could reach an important turning point. But the question of what form of government ultimately replaces the hated Assad regime remains very much in doubt.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Syria’s Growing Islamist Extremist Presence

    1. Bobbie says:

      How could he do this to the world? Look what he's done to his ability to reason! He's destroyed it if he's ever used it!

      I'm sure whatever the President makes unclear is nothing to worry about……………………………..

    2. melvin polatnick says:

      Freedom to a true Muslim means an open path to the Mosque. There shall be no leader but Allah; the will of the people will be expressed by Sharia Law. Satanic rulers must be removed; Islamic anarchy will become the holy order.

    3. Lloyd Scallan says:

      The question must be asked: "has any amount of American blood or treasure brought about Democracy to any part of the Middle East"? When Bush sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, there was a purpose. But it wasn't to build a democratic society. It was to oust a bad guy that threatened his neightbors or in retaliation for 9/11. Once Hussien was dead, our mission should have ended. The Middle East has been at war for hundreds of years without change. If Obama gets us involved in Syria (October suprise) it's for one reason, the same reason he got involved in Egypt and Libia, to make himself appear a tough president. Sorry Obama, that ship has sailed a long time ago.

    4. Dan Poole says:

      "But the United States must be very careful in picking Syrian opposition groups to support."

      I've been subscribed to The Morning Bell since October 2008, and it's the best source of information that I know of. Over the last year, The Morning Bell has provided links to hundreds of articles that clearly take an anti-Assad position. It's obvious that The Heritage Foundation wants to see al-Assad overthrown, and indeed, he is a nasty tyrant.

      However, until just now, I didn't see the Morning Bell publish ANY articles which wondered who would replace al-Assad if he is indeed overthrown. As much as I love the Heritage Foundation, it's anti-Assad crusade has lacked proper context. Why should we be against al-Assad when whoever replaces him might be worse, ala the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? Nobody is arguing that al-Assad is a good guy, but this vociferous opposition to him is dangerous, and as much as I oppose Ron Paul and the anti-American rhetoric of the Paul bots, I also oppose interventionism, as do most other conservative Americans.

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