When Would the American Administration Initiate Talks with Islamists

Either the FBI's information was false regarding the extremists percentage, or the extremists possessed superior weapons, which enabled them to conquer their moderate rivals

By Omar Kaddour


"The Islamic Front refused to meet him in Istanbul", Robert Ford, the American ambassador says, in a statement to "Alarabia" news channel, without shutting the door for another chance for a meeting in case the Front changes its mind.  Robert Ford's statement reflects a sudden change in his administration's behavior, since it became known that the American administration, had stopped the "nonlethal" aids to FSA after the Islamic Front captured FSA's warehouses in Bab Alhawa, near borders with Turkey, claiming that those aids had fallen in the hands of some extremists groups.


If it was possible to tackle this transformation as some sort of a political realism, especially with the  "Geneva 2" forthcoming date, which stresses on the necessity of dealing with the major force on ground. This would be an outcome preceded by a number of  miscalculations, which the American administration does not seem willing to admit in the near future.


About two years ago, Robert Ford affirmed his thorough knowledge of the Syrian opposition, he confirmed its moderate nature. Even though such affirmation is becoming a shadow from the past, few months only separate us from  the statements issued by the Head of U.S. diplomacy during the Hearings in the Senates. These statements came during the ongoing threats of an American strike. Almost three months ago, John Kerry declared that the number of  extremists who are listed within administration's database makes only a 10% of the opposition's bulk of fighters.


He talked about an alleged plan to support the moderate groups in order to outweigh their rivals, this came in time with the anticipated limited strike. In an interview aired couple of days ago on the American ABC network, Kerry reputed the growth of the extremist groups, simply, to the ongoing battles between the opposition fractions, without explaining the reasons that made it possible for a few extremists to capture  vast areas that have been under the control of the moderates!


If we believe that all of the previous statements are reflecting reality, the summary would be that this year's fall have witnessed a severe transition in favor of  extremists in Syria, and there would be two options to explain this: either the FBI's information was false regarding the extremists percentage, or the extremists  possessed superior weapons, which enabled them to conquer their moderate rivals.


Not so fast, there is a third likelihood, an immense number of moderates have gone into  extremism, in this case, we should investigate the motives that led to such shift, which the American doesn't seem willing to explore.


A clear political message lies behind stopping those trickling aids to FSA, since this step means that the American administration has gave up on the chief of staff position, under the general Saleem Edris's leadership, who was considered as America's man in previous times. This also means a disengagement of any commitment toward the regime fighting groups. However, the administration is keeping the door open for dialogue with all players, or yet trying to get them into the U.S. political side. What can be read from this message is that the administration has utterly excluded the pressure on the regime by keeping the door open for the military option. This means that the chemical deal has not only excluded the American strike, but it has also excluded, first and foremost, the choice of putting an end to the regime by force in the absence of an agreed roadmap to remove the regime by the political solution. This course of action may be the one behind the Islamic Front objection on the meeting with Ford, especially with the obvious contradictions between the American administration's attitude and the Front's regional supporters, and here, the administration has lost a round for the previously mentioned, because they own the major force on ground now.


The administration could have promoted the chemical deal as a free victory, since it paid  the price from the pocket of its allies in the region, the opposition, and also from the Syrian people's blood, who are still under genocide. However, continuing with these tactics in an attempt to gather free achievements, yet lacking a real share of power on the Syrian ground, is the reason behind losing the ability to control the facts. Anyway, this passive behavior in dealing with issues is far from being a policy. On the other hand, putting the blame on the opposition, yet they deserve a different type of blame, is merely an exit used by the administration to renounce the responsibilities that it committed itself to by the beginning of the revolution. In a addition to that, the administration's delayed attempt to deal with the de facto forces instead of the genuine support to the moderate forces, leads us to raise this question: what would stop the Administration from engaging in talks with "al-Nusra Front" or "ISIS" in the future?


Speaking from a realistic point of view, in an analogy to the declared transitions: nothing can prevent a dialogue if it was a necessity. Obviously, the previous question and its answer could state an absurd simplification of the U.S. realistic policies. Unfortunately, both the FSA abandonment and the urge to talk with the Islamic Front pour in the same direction, and they reassert the old accusations related to the fluctuated American policy and its failure to overcome the Islamic extremism in general. Islamists are not Syria's alternative destiny, at least they were not, before the world tolerated the chemical crime. Though the international active forces, and foremost, the American administration, should be responsible of giving rational reading to the growing influence of the Islamists.


The way that the administration deals with a part of the result by war logic, and by the logic of dialogue with the other part, does not reform what is already ruined by the administration itself, unless the division between extremists and less radical groups at the expense of the young and vulnerable democratic forces, is appealing to the administration.


Interpreting the American strategy, since it gives no political gains among the public, is very appealing for those who believe in the conspiracy theory, those old and those new. The way that the Syrian case was managed and all the illusion that accompanied, sat the mood for the conspiracy theory, and the talks about switching the American interests toward the Far East are not enough to explain the negative outcomes of such limited participation in the Syrian affairs.


Maybe, only the superpower legacy is what makes a lot of people search for  false theories and excuses for the recent U.S. fragile foreign policies in the Middle East, even though it does not mask its desires of returning  to the "Stability" which was the dominant status,  three years ago. Talks with the "moderate" Islamists is only in the context of merging them into the previous stability…


Ironically, threatening to keep the Assad's regime is the only source of power that Obama's administration has.    


Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer




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