The deadly consequences of mislabeling Syria’s revolutionaries

Labib Al Nahhas, head of foreign political relations for Ahrar al-Sham, writes: As has become obvious, the Obama administration’s response to the Syrian conflict is an abject failure. No clear strategy has been determined; the administration’s “red lines” have not been honored. Short-term, stopgap measures informed by the Iraq and Afghanistan experiences, along with the noise generated by a media fixated on the Islamic State, have taken priority over achievable, long-term goals. The result: a death toll commonly estimated at between 200,000 and 300,000 people (though it’s certainly higher), more than 11 million displaced and numerous cities in ruins.

Nowhere is this failure clearer than in the consequence of the misguided way that Syrian revolutionaries are labeled as either “moderate” or “extremist.”

In December, Secretary of State John F. Kerry stated that “Syrians should not have to choose between a tyrant and the terrorists.” There was, Kerry declared, a third option: “the moderate Syrian opposition who are fighting both extremists and [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad every day.” Unfortunately, this commendable view has broken down because the United States has defined the term “moderate” in such a narrow and arbitrary fashion that it excludes the bulk of the mainstream opposition. [Continue reading…]

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