Friday, September 18, 2015
Why Putin Wants To Tar All Assad's Enemies With The Same Brush: ‘There Are No 'Moderate' Rebels’
Why Putin Wants To Tar All Assad's Enemies With The Same Brush: ‘There Are No 'Moderate' Rebels’. (rferl).
Russia's conflation of all armed opposition groups with extremist Islamist militants is an integral part of a narrative that has evolved during the Syrian conflict.
Its goals are to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, counter the United States, and maintain influence in the Middle East.
The "IS threat" narrative contains several arguments that Moscow puts forward in support of these aims.
1. ‘There Are No 'Moderate' Rebels’
According to Moscow, the vast majority of groups fighting Assad are foreign-backed terrorists, not "moderate rebels."
"The Free Syrian Army does not exist," Russia's ambassador to international organizations in Geneva, Aleksei Borodavkin, told the United Nations a year ago, referring to the Western-backed umbrella of moderate rebel forces.
This narrative is partly true. In the north and increasingly the center of Syria, rebel factions are mostly Islamist or Islamist-influenced. Some, like the Al-Nusra Front and the foreign fighter groups, are Salafist-jihadist.
U.S. attempts to bolster moderate rebels have gone awry. The first group to receive U.S. weapons collapsed in March and the United States said this week that there are only "four or five" U.S.-trained rebels fighting IS.
But moderate rebels are still influential in some parts of Syria's far south, where Jordan's intelligence services are active. Read the full story here.
2. 'IS Wants To Destroy Syria'
3. 'Assad Has To Be Part Of Fight Against IS'
4. 'Rebels Should Unite With Assad Against IS'
5. 'The West Is Responsible For IS'
6. 'Russia's Military Build Up In Latakia Is To Fight IS'