Shashank Joshi comments on the news that warehouses of the “moderate” Syrian opposition were seized by Islamist fighters:
This week, the US and Britain suspended non-lethal aid – such as communications equipment and trucks – to rebels in northern Syria, after bases belonging to the largely moderate, Western-backed Free Syrian Army were ransacked and their equipment seized by the Islamic Front. This rebel-on-rebel fratricidal orgy sums up so much that has gone wrong with Syria’s revolution.
It’s worth noting that the “rebel-on-rebel fratricidal orgy” is more or less what advocates of arming the “moderate” opposition wanted, except that they wanted the “moderates” to be the ones coming out on top. That this outcome was never very likely didn’t seem to discourage Syria hawks from constantly demanding that the U.S. provide more and more advanced weapons. It is fortunate that most of their demands were ignored, and we can only hope that they will continue to be. Now that there is even less of a plausible excuse that there is an effective “moderate” opposition for the U.S. to support, perhaps we will be able to put the bad idea of “arming the rebels” out of its misery once and for all. The worst thing that the U.S. could do at this point is try to chase after the stronger Islamist opposition groups. It would be senseless to look for a new way to entangle the U.S. more deeply in this conflict. It’s true that the U.S. won’t have influence with these groups in the future, but the pursuit of influence in Syria’s civil war was always a fool’s errand that Washington should never have attempted.