Home/Daniel Larison/The Utter Folly of Arming the Syrian Opposition

The Utter Folly of Arming the Syrian Opposition

Here is the latest report confirming just how foolish it was to arm “moderate” rebels in Syria:

Pentagon-trained rebels are reported to have betrayed US and handed weapons over to an al-Qaeda affiliate immediately after entering Syria.

Fighters with Division 30 surrendered and handed over “all its weapons” to Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, sources alleged on Monday.

This is entirely unsurprising, and it drives home how irresponsible demands to “arm the rebels” in Syria have always been. Of course these weapons are ending up in the hands of jihadists. Jihadists and their allies make up the forces fighting against the Syrian regime, and any other anti-regime group is going to cooperate with them or be attacked and have their weapons plundered by them. That was always likely to be true from the start, and it has been obvious now for years. Whether U.S.-armed groups are defeated, co-opted, or absorbed by jihadists, the weapons that the U.S. provides to its would-be proxies reliably wind up in the hands of people that the U.S. rightly considers to be terrorists.

Syria hawks have promoted the fantasy that there are “moderates” that can be turned into an effective U.S. proxy in order to get the U.S. sucked into a conflict in which it had and still has no stake and no allies worth having. By indulging that fantasy even a little, the administration’s policy in Syria has effectively provided material support to jihadists. Nothing could better demonstrate the utter folly of arming any part of the Syrian opposition, but it will probably just make Syria hawks that much more determined to keep trying.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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