Obama, in his stupidity, doubles down on the Arab Spring.
(NPR) President Obama said Tuesday that his administration now formally recognizes the Syrian rebels who are fighting President Bashar Assad.
"We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime," the president said in an interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters.
The president called the move "a big step," but added that with this comes the responsibility to make sure the rebel coalition organizes itself properly and is inclusive of all parties, including women.And what do you know? The rebels declare allegiance to the very same group, Jabhat al-Nusra, that Obama administration designated as a terrorist organization.
Tuesday's announcement comes just a day after the U.S. added a Syrian rebel group to its list of terrorist organizations. Obama acknowledged the presence of Islamist groups amid the coalition:
"Not everybody who's participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people who we are comfortable with," he said. "There are some who, I think, have adopted an extremist agenda, an anti-U.S. agenda, and we are going to make clear to distinguish between those elements."
(Telegraph) A total of 29 opposition groups, including fighting "brigades" and civilian committees, have signed a petition calling for mass demonstrations in support of Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamist group which the White House believes is an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
The petition is promoting the slogan "No to American intervention, for we are all Jabhat al-Nusra" and urges supporters to "raise the Jabhat al-Nusra flag" as a "thank you".
"These are the men for the people of Syria, these are the heroes who belong to us in religion, in blood and in revolution," read a statement widely circulated on Syrian opposition Facebook pages.
Jabhat al-Nusra made its mark early this year with a string of suicide bombings, a tactic it continues to use. Aided by fighters from abroad and Syrians who have returned from other wars in the Middle East, it has also led battles for a number of military bases and has secured a string of recent victories. Along with allied jihadist groups, it captured the Sheikh Suleiman base west of Aleppo yesterday morning, and has also dented the infrastructure of the regime in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Although Jabhat al-Nusra remains separate from the Free Syrian Army, many FSA leaders now recognise its strength and order their forces to cooperate with it.
The decision to blacklist the group, which according to the Washington Post will be announced today, raises the prospect of a drawn-out, anti-American insurgency if and when the rebels succeed in forcing out President Bashar al-Assad.