C.J. Chivers reports: Majed al-Muhammad, the commander of a Syrian antigovernment fighting group, slammed his hand on his desk. “Doesn’t America have satellites?” he asked, almost shouting. “Can’t it see what is happening?”
A retired Syrian Army medic, Mr. Muhammad had reached the rank of sergeant major in the military he now fights against. He said he had never been a member of a party, and loathed jihadists and terrorists.
But he offered a warning to the West now commonly heard among fighters seeking the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad: The Syrian people are being radicalized by a combination of a grinding conflict and their belief that they have been abandoned by a watching world.
If the West continues to turn its back on Syria’s suffering, he said, Syrians will turn their backs in return, and this may imperil Western interests and security at one of the crossroads of the Middle East.
This is a theme that has resonated in recent days, not just in Syria, but in Turkey, where the government fired artillery shells into northern Syria this week after a Syrian mortar round hit a Turkish town and killed five civilians. In Turkey, there is a growing sense of frustration shared by the Syrian rebels that the West, the United States in particular, called for Mr. Assad to leave power, only to sit quietly on the sidelines as the crisis transformed into a bloody civil war.
“We are now at a very critical juncture,” wrote Melih Asik in the Turkish newspaper Milliyet. “We are not only facing Syria, but Iran, Iraq, Russia and China behind it as well. Behind us, we have nothing but the provocative stance and empty promises of the U.S.” [Continue reading…]