News / Middle East

Syrian Opposition Fighters Have Varying Motives

Syrian Opposition Fighters Have Varying Motivesi
September 13, 2013 10:50 PM
As international diplomacy continues on the Syria crisis, the battle in the country between various rebel groups and the Syrian government rages. Rebels are varied and divided among several factions with differing agendas. But as VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports, all have the goal of ousting the government of Bashar al-Assad.
Syrian Opposition Fighters Have Varying Motives
Meredith Buel
As international diplomacy continues on the Syria crisis, the battle in the country between various rebel groups and the Syrian government rages. Rebels are varied and divided among several factions with differing agendas. All have the goal, however, of ousting the government of Bashar al-Assad.

They have sworn allegiance to al-Qaida.

The fighters of Jabhat al-Nusra are among the best trained and armed in Syria.

The U.S. says they are terrorists.

Many fought against American soldiers in neighboring Iraq.

A commander goes by the alias Sheikh Abu Ahmed “People like me used to pray in the mosque five times a day, and before the revolution, the Syrian regime considered this as a crime. Because of this we were arrested, captured many times and tortured by the regime’s branches. For this reason we are against the regime from the bottom of our hearts,” he said.

Some al-Qaida links

Jihadi fighters like those from al-Nusra are one of the reasons the U.S. has been reluctant to send weapons to Syria.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, “This is an imperfect situation. There are no good options here. This is complicated. There is no clarity.”

U.S. officials say there are up to 100,000 Syrian rebels trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.  

Between 15 and 25 percent are linked to al-Qaida.

But U.S. officials say moderates make up the largest share of Assad's opposition.

U.S. President Barack Obama said, "The majority of the Syrian people - and the Syrian opposition we work with - just want to live in peace, with dignity and freedom."

Free Syrian Army

Many rebels who fight under the banner of the Free Syrian Army have defected from the Syrian military.

An unnamed commander said, “I was a sergeant-major before I defected. After witnessing tyranny of Assad’s gang, I wanted to defend this country until the last drop of my blood, God willing.”

The use of chemical weapons in the conflict seemingly outweighs the U.S. concern about extremists. It's the major reason Obama initially proposed a military strike.

“It’s true that some of Assad’s opponents are extremists. But al-Qaida will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death,” said the president.

Islamists in picture

Some jihadi groups, like Ahrar al-Sham, have staged spectacular attacks - usually with car bombs.

But analysts say most Syrians have no desire to live in a country ruled by Islamic law.

Former CIA officer turned analyst Reuel Marc Gerecht said that is unlikely. “I deeply doubt that small jihadi organizations, even numbering 10 or 20 thousand, are sufficient to dominate in a post-Assad Syria.”

So while diplomats discuss what to do about Syria’s chemical weapons,

The deadly and complicated civil war continues.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 14, 2013 10:00 AM
In other words somebody is laying the blame on the US who supported the ousting of Bashar al Assad in the first place. With the impression that though a dictator, Assad was more accommodating than an islamist group - Egypt and Libya are too fresh to forget - to topple him was going to create a power vacuum that might be difficult to fill. Is that scenario playing out to be true? Why then did the US ignore the voice of reason and allowed the country to land in the quagmire that defies every solution - while the US ruefully sounds confused as to the way forward.

The statement that 'most Syrians have no desire to live in a country ruled by Islamic law' must be true as it is in every other islamic country, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran, but the staggering reality is that even a group of 5000 jihadists with murderous intentions will intimidate the rest of the people and force them to live in subjective islamist rule. That is how the whole of the region became Islamic, not by choice or will but by force or coercion. The question then is, what is the solution? Should the people be left in that chaotic situation? Assad has been spoilt by the unwarranted intimidation, has become timidly hostile to Israel and other western allies in the region, and therefore no longer useful as a neighbor. He cannot be allowed to continue to rule a people he intends to wipe out by poison gas. Nor is the opposition made up of terrorists through and through.

Possible solution is a re-colonization of Syria that will see to the fine-tuning of democracy, freedoms and choices in the country before leaving the people to rule themselves. From every indication they are not matured for self rule and should not be forced to do it. Otherwise the few miscreants leaning on religion will continue to dominate the people in the name of sharia or Islamic democracy.

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