Ashley Frohwein has a terrible idea:
Related to this, outside efforts to strengthen the IF [Islamic Front] vis-à-vis JN [Jabhat al-Nusra] and ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham] should, at least for the time being, be oriented toward discouraging further confrontation between the IF on the one hand and the AQ-affiliated groups on the other [bold mine-DL] (fighting has been raging in recent days between the IF and ISIS), which would divert attention and resources from the fight against Assad. While some might find the temptation of pushing the IF to more directly combat the AQ-linked groups difficult to resist, they should for now keep their eyes on the larger goal of unseating Assad – or of at least denying Assad an outright victory anytime soon – and ought to instead seek to weaken ISIS and JN by increasing the appeal and influence of the IF, by providing it with robust lethal and nonlethal assistance.
If there was little American desire or need to back the “moderate” opposition over the last two years, there is even less political will and even fewer reasons to arm Islamist groups. The justification given for backing the Islamic Front is that it could be used to prevent Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS from becoming even more influential, but by Frohwein’s own admission members of the Islamic Front “often fight alongside Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria.” Furthermore, he insists that the immediate goal of the policy is not to encourage conflict between the Islamic Front and these jihadist groups, which means that the U.S. would be arming a group ostensibly to combat jihadist organizations while working to stop them from combating those organizations for the foreseeable future.
It is hard to see how the U.S. arms and supplies one of these groups without effectively bolstering and aiding the others, especially when their members have fought alongside one another. We are told that the U.S. needs to prevent “a massive Al Qaeda presence across all or part of Syria,” but that for the time being the U.S. should encourage all opposition groups to fight only Assad and thereby ensure that there is “a massive Al Qaeda presence across all or part of Syria.” If the U.S. interest in this conflict is now to limit the power of jihadist groups, arming a group whose members “often fight” on their side is a horrible way to go about it. We should all recognize at this point that the U.S. cannot manipulate the competing groups in Syria’s civil war, and that it shouldn’t look for new ways to entangle itself in the conflict.