“For most of the three years of the Syrian conflict, the U.S. ground game hinged on rebel militias that are loosely affiliated under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, or FSA. Their problems were no secret: a lack of cohesion, uneven fighting skills and frequent battlefield coordination with the al Qaida loyalists of the Nusra Front. This time, Allen said, the United States and its allies will work to strengthen the political opposition and make sure it’s tied to “a credible field force” that will have undergone an intense vetting process. “It’s not going to happen immediately,” Allen said……………..”
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) was from the beginning mainly a creation of foreign Arabs. Almost like the various iterations of the Syrian National Coalition (or Council) that hung around the luxury hotels of Istanbul and Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Keeping close to the sources of money, close to the royal forces of absolute counter-revolution and intolerance in the Arab world.
I called it in 2011 the Free Syrian Salafi Army, knowing were the support and the money and eventually the flow of men was coming from. As the Syrian conflict continued, it became clearer what the FSA was, in spite of royal Arab media on the Persian Gulf raising it to the level o a “liberation” army. They celebrated every colonel and sergeant and corporal who “defected” and hung around the Turkish border.
Yet the FSA became a shill for the true goal of the Wahhabis, and that became clearer with every passing month. It was the others that dominated the field with the FSA doing the cheerleading and excusing. The Jabhat Al-Nusra (I called them from the very beginning Jabhat Al-Qaeda) and the Ahrar Al-Sham, and all the Abu Al-WTF, and Jaish Al-Salafi and Ansar Al McCain, among others. FSA was ineffectual in the field. It became more like a Public Relations arm of the Salafis, defending acts of beheading and desecration and kidnappings of civilians.
Of course, the frustrated Saudis tried a ‘reset’ in Syria in 2013, when they attempted to create their very own Army of Islam in Syria, along the (humorless) Jordanian border. Probably something like the old Ikhwan Wahhabi militias of their father
Sultan King Andulaziz Ibn Saud. But it is hard to imagine any Islamist ‘zealots’ anywhere fighting for the glory of the Al Saud princes and princelings, even if they were well-paid. Predictably it did not get anywhere, so they reportedly focused again on a Jordanian (hence also by necessity also humorless) option.
This is apparently the last and final iteration of the FSA. I am doubtful that this new American ‘reset’ can be as effective as needed against ISIS, especially if the Saudis and Emiratis and Qataris are part of the game, the ‘ground’ game. It is like resorting to “a bit of the hair of the dog that bit you” but much less reliable. They will screw it up again, as only they know how to do, speaking militarily.
Logically, strategically, but probably not politically, the best allies to encircle and defeat the Caliphate of ISIS are the Iraqis and the Syrians. I mean the official armed forces. Do I here a collective gasp from Washington to Riyadh?
Imagine, General Whatishisname, formerly of West Point and Army War College, calling up former enemy Brigadier Qassem Suleimani of Al Quds Brigade and discussing campaign strategy in Iraq and Syria! Suleimani, assuming his pious masters are amenable, will also do as his American counterparts will do. He will grimace and take the call.
Enough to give any potentate in Riyadh or Abu Dhabi a royal tribal kleptocratic infarct. Enough to give many in the newly-to-be-elected U.S Congress some lobbyist-financed and inspired palpitations.
It is unlikely to happen, but the sheer amusement of thinking about it……………