Radwan Ziadeh is not helping his case:
The Free Syria Army, for its part, invites parallels to the Kosovo Liberation Army. Like Milosevic once did with the KLA, Bashar has tried to label the FSA a terrorist group. The United States should have the foresight, as it did then, to resist such propaganda.
One of the many problems with mythologizing the Kosovo intervention is that it keeps blinding interventionists to the profound flaws of the KLA. Not only was the KLA a terrorist group by any reasonable definition, but Clinton’s special envoy to the region at the time said that they were “without any questions, a terrorist group.” The U.S. endorsed the “propaganda” in Kosovo because the KLA committed terrorist acts. So far, there is no proof that the FSA has done the same.
It’s true that regarding the KLA as a terrorist group didn’t stop the U.S. and NATO from effectively taking their side a year later, but if I were trying to drum up sympathy for Syrian rebels the KLA would be the one of the last groups to which I would compare them. Ted Galen Carpenter briefly summarizes some of the awful record of the KLA:
In reality, the KLA (and much of the subsequent Kosovar government) helped make Kosovo the center of drug trafficking and prostitution in Southeastern Europe. The most nauseating revelation occurred in late 2010, when a European Union investigation found credible evidence that KLA leaders, including Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, had been guilty of murdering Serb prisoners and harvesting their organs for sale on the black market.
This is not how interventionists want skeptics to think about the Syrian rebels. The one thing that the Free Syrian Army and the KLA would seem to have in common is that neither is very strong militarily. The KLA was not very effective against Serb units during the 1999 NATO campaign. The KLA benefited from NATO’s intervention, but it did not make much of a contribution to the outcome. Micah Zenko explained this last year in his article on the mythology of intervention:
Furthermore, the KLA failed to mount a credible and sustained opposition to the disciplined, ruthless, and better-armed Serbian ground forces. Ultimately, it was NATO’s escalation of air strikes against the Serbian military and the civilian infrastructure in Serbia proper — combined with Russia’s withdrawal of its support for Serbia — that caused Milosevic to capitulate.
Ziadeh seems not to understand what a Kosovo-like intervention would mean for Syria. He also doesn’t seem to realize how harmful it is to his own cause to liken armed Syrian rebels to the KLA. He should probably just dispense with making direct comparisons with Kosovo all together.