The Daily Beast reports: In the past several months, many of the Syrian rebel groups previously favored by the CIA have had their money and supplies cut off or substantially reduced, even as President Obama touted the strategic importance of American support for the rebels in his State of the Union address.
The once-favored fighters are operating under a pall of confusion. In some cases, they were not even informed that money would stop flowing. In others, aid was reduced due to poor battlefield performance, compounding already miserable morale on the ground.
From afar, the U.S.-approved and partially American-armed Syrian “opposition” seems to be a single large, if rather amorphous, organization. But in fact it’s a collection of “brigades” of varying sizes and potentially shifting loyalties that have grown up around local leaders, or, if you will, local warlords. And while Washington talks about the Syrian “opposition” in general terms, the critical question for the fighters in the field and those supporting them is, “opposition to whom?” To Syrian President Assad? To the so-called Islamic State, widely known as ISIS or ISIL? To the al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra?
That lack of clarity is crippling the whole effort, not least because of profound suspicions among rebel groups that Washington is ready to cut some sort of deal with Assad in the short or medium term if, indeed, it has not done so already. [Continue reading…]