Posted by Curt on 5 September, 2013 at 7:16 am. 11 comments already!


Ed Morrissey:

John Kerry has come to Capitol Hill to deliver the hard-sell on war against Bashar al-Assad, but Reuters reports that his supporting data is rather suspect. Kerry insists, as does John McCain, that the Free Syrian Army controls the opposition in Syria and that radical Islamist elements comprise only a small percentage of rebel fighting units. However, intelligence from US and European agencies put the radical Islamists near parity in numbers, and far more in control than Kerry and the Obama administration acknowledge:

Secretary of State John Kerry’s public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements. …

U.S. and allied intelligence sources and private experts on the Syrian conflict suggest that assessment is optimistic.

While the radical Islamists among the rebels may not be numerically superior to more moderate fighters, they say, Islamist groups like the al Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front are better organized, armed and trained.

Kerry insists that FSA’s General Salim Idriss has control, and the opposition is even holding elections for its leaders:

Kerry replied: “I just don’t agree that a majority are al Qaeda and the bad guys. That’s not true. There are about 70,000 to 100,000 oppositionists … Maybe 15 percent to 25 percent might be in one group or another who are what we would deem to be bad guys.

“There is a real moderate opposition that exists. General Idriss is running the military arm of that,” Kerry continued, referring to General Salim Idriss, head of the rebel Free Syrian Army. Increasingly, he said, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are funneling assistance through Idriss.

According to Foreign Policy, though — hardly a conservative mouthpiece on foreign affairs — Idriss’ grasp on the opposition is crumbling, and may have been ephemeral all along. Instead, his commanders have suddenly developed a taste for working with the elements that Kerry insists are too small to matter:

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