Latest update: May 30th, 2013
Predictably, the PA reaction was that Israel would have to give still more concessions before it would do Israel and the United States the favor of returning to negotiations so that it could obtain a state, even though it is so weak that these two have to prop it up and it only controls half the territory it is bargaining for. No matter how much time and money Kerry takes to restart the “peace process” nothing is going to happen. It is remarkable that the West still doesn’t understand this. Or perhaps it does and is putting in all this effort for show?
2. Syria, the Bashar al-Assad Regime
For two years, during the first half of the Obama Administration, the United States tried to buy Syria out of its alliance with Iran by dangling trade and other financial inducements. We were assured that the Syrians would eagerly “sell out.” But of course this never happened.
3. Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood
After the civil war began, when the United States tried to isolate the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra) in December 2012 by designating it as a terrorist group, even the Free Syrian Army, supposedly the moderates, denounced the move as did more than 30 Syrian Salafist rebel groups. This was despite the offers of weapons and money. U.S. officials dealing with the Islamist rebel groups knew that they could not get them to do anything the United States wanted. Nevertheless, at the recent meeting of the Syrian opposition, the State Department spokesman explained:
We have recognized the coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, and we will work with Prime Minister Hitto. Our assistance will be channeled in large part through him and his team into these towns in liberated parts of Syria.
Translation: One among several opposition groups–the one controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood–is recognized by the United States as the legitimate representative (even though many groups are boycotting it); the Muslim Brotherhood’s guy is the “prime minister;” and the U.S. government intends to disburse a total of $1 billion raised internationally through the Muslim Brotherhood. How much patronage will that buy for the Brotherhood?
Kerry also announced that $250 million in U.S. taxpayer money is going to go directly to a group directed by the Muslim Brotherhood to spend as it wishes, presumably to go mainly to local Brotherhood groups and militias. But what was the Brotherhood-dominated in the so-called National Coalition which is the U.S. recognized opposition group doing at the same time? Answer: refusing to broaden its membership. Even proposals that the Brotherhood be left with two-thirds of the seats were ultimately rejected by the Brotherhood. And who were the proposed new members? Michel Kilo and his allies, courageous moderates who the West should have been supporting all along!
After playing games on adding these people the Brotherhood leadership turned it down. Kilo’s moderate group by the way was not the one recognized by the United States as the “legitimate representative of the Syrian people.” The National Coalition also leaves out the Kurds whose leadership is secular and, except for tokens, the Alawites, Druze, and Christians, too. It basically represents the roughly 25 or 30 percent who support the various Islamist rebel groups.
They also came up with a new scheme to empower the Brotherhood’s local councils within Syria as a basis for an internal opposition government that would disburse any funds. The situation is not good in rebel-controlled Syria as there is no source of money. Would the West raise funds that would be handed out by the Muslim Brotherhood to its supporters?
Turkey and Qatar, supposed U.S. partners, are doing everything possible to support the Brotherhood. Even the Saudis now see through these schemes and reportedly realize that their helping the Salafists is suicidal to their interests.
Why is it that the “official” Syrian opposition group refuses to broaden its base to non-Islamists but still gets U.S. support? Isn’t money and weaponry supposed to provide U.S. leverage?
Meanwhile, President Obama stated recently that the United States has spent $1 trillion–a considerable part of the deficit–on anti-terrorism measures.Barry Rubin
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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