|An image grab taken from a video uploaded on September 7, 2013 |
by Syria's Islamist Ahrar al-Sham group.
Islamists Dump on Obama
Hell, if Islamists are ripping Obama a new one
then let's give them some ink.
Labib Al Nahhas is head of foreign political relations for Ahrar al-Sham.
As has become obvious, the Obama administration’s response to the Syrian conflict is an abject failure. No clear strategy has been determined; the administration’s “red lines” have not been honored. Short-term, stopgap measures informed by the Iraq and Afghanistan experiences, along with the noise generated by a media fixated on the Islamic State, have taken priority over achievable, long-term goals. The result: a death toll commonly estimated at between 200,000 and 300,000 people (though it’s certainly higher), more than 11 million displaced and numerous cities in ruins.
Nowhere is this failure clearer than in the consequence of the misguided way that Syrian revolutionaries are labeled as either “moderate” or “extremist.”
In December, Secretary of State John F. Kerry stated that “Syrians should not have to choose between a tyrant and the terrorists.” There was, Kerry declared, a third option: “the moderate Syrian opposition who are fighting both extremists and [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad every day.” Unfortunately, this commendable view has broken down because the United States has defined the term “moderate” in such a narrow and arbitrary fashion that it excludes the bulk of the mainstream opposition.
The group to which I belong, Ahrar al-Sham, is one example. Our name means “Free Men of Syria.” We consider ourselves a mainstream Sunni Islamic group that is led by Syrians and fights for Syrians. We are fighting for justice for the Syrian people. Yet we have been falsely accused of having organizational links to al-Qaeda and of espousing al-Qaeda’s ideology.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We believe that Syria needs a national unifying project that cannot be controlled or delivered by a single party or group and should not be bound to a single ideology. We believe in striking a balance that respects the legitimate aspirations of the majority as well as protects minority communities and enables them to play a real and positive role in Syria’s future. We believe in a moderate future for Syria that preserves the state and institutes reforms that benefit all Syrians.
Stuck inside their own bubble, White House policymakers have allocated millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to support failed CIA efforts to support so-called “moderate” forces in Syria. But these “moderate” groups have proved to be a disappointment on nearly every count, not least of all in confronting the Islamic State. Further, the self-defeating policy of regarding the war against the Islamic State as being fundamentally different from, and in some cases diametrically opposed to, efforts to remove Assad from power has brought no end to either battle.