'Syrian civil war' no longer about who runs Syria

The Washington Post reports that "waves" of Egyptian Sunni Muslims are pouring into the Sinai to fight the Hezb'allah/Iran/Assad forces in Syria.

Meanwhile, Shiite preachers in Iraq are urging their young men to join with Assad's army to battle the Sunnis. It is becoming clear that the Syrian civil war is becoming less and less about which butcher is going to take control of Syria, and more about a violent clash between Islam's two main sects.

Waves of Egyptians are now preparing to follow, fired by the virulently sectarian rhetoric of Sunni preachers and encouraged by the newly permissive policies of Egypt's Islamist government. In recent days, this city's ancient mosques have crackled with calls for jihad, as hard-line Sunni Muslim leaders command the faithful to respond to recent escalations in Syria by the Shiite forces of Iran and Hezbollah.

The Sunni backlash has echoed far beyond Egypt, penetrating every corner of the region, where divisions between the rival Muslim sects are hardening fast. At the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest site, the top cleric broke down in tears on pan-Arab television last week as he pleaded with his fellow Muslims to help the Syrian rebels "by all means."

Foreign militants have long played a critical role in the Syrian uprising, but the prospect of a fresh flow of radicalized fighters bent on waging sectarian war threatens to complicate the Obama administration's recently announced strategy to arm the rebellion's moderate factions.

Although the United States and the Sunni jihadists share a common enemy -- the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite sect represents an off-shoot of Shiite Islam -- they have starkly different motivations. The United States is hoping to strengthen the rebels' hand in advance of possible peace talks and to marginalize radical groups. Many foreign fighters, meanwhile, are seeking to defeat what they consider a deviant strain of Islam that they believe has declared war on the religion's true adherents.

"This war is not only against Syrians. It is against the Sunni people all around the world," said Adel Shokry, a 32-year-old lawyer who is contemplating joining the rebels after hearing a stinging denunciation of Assad and his allies at a Cairo mosque.

No, the US and jihadists do not share a common enemy. That's a remarkable thing to write. The jihadists see the US as much an enemy as Assad as we should see the jihadists as a foe on par with the Syrian dictator.

But the conflict is growing and as it grows, it sucks in more and more radicals on both sides. Lebanon appears doomed to suffer a second civil war in a generation. Jordan, assisting the US in training and supplying the rebels, may be overrun with refugees that could threaten the throne of King Abdullah. Iraq could easily fall back into massive sectarian violence, surpassing the nightmare of 2007.

And we want to give arms to these Sunni fanatics? Syria is too far gone for Assad to claim any kind of "victory." Eventually, he will either be deposed or end up running a rump state in the south. Meanwhile, the jihadists will fight over the scraps left behind by Assad - fight with our weapons and probably fight our hand picked provisional government.

The Senate wants a debate on our involvement in this civil war. No time like the present, and if Obama is smart, he will take the "out" that will proably be offered by the Senate and pull back our support for the extremists.


The Washington Post reports that "waves" of Egyptian Sunni Muslims are pouring into the Sinai to fight the Hezb'allah/Iran/Assad forces in Syria.

Meanwhile, Shiite preachers in Iraq are urging their young men to join with Assad's army to battle the Sunnis. It is becoming clear that the Syrian civil war is becoming less and less about which butcher is going to take control of Syria, and more about a violent clash between Islam's two main sects.

Waves of Egyptians are now preparing to follow, fired by the virulently sectarian rhetoric of Sunni preachers and encouraged by the newly permissive policies of Egypt's Islamist government. In recent days, this city's ancient mosques have crackled with calls for jihad, as hard-line Sunni Muslim leaders command the faithful to respond to recent escalations in Syria by the Shiite forces of Iran and Hezbollah.

The Sunni backlash has echoed far beyond Egypt, penetrating every corner of the region, where divisions between the rival Muslim sects are hardening fast. At the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest site, the top cleric broke down in tears on pan-Arab television last week as he pleaded with his fellow Muslims to help the Syrian rebels "by all means."

Foreign militants have long played a critical role in the Syrian uprising, but the prospect of a fresh flow of radicalized fighters bent on waging sectarian war threatens to complicate the Obama administration's recently announced strategy to arm the rebellion's moderate factions.

Although the United States and the Sunni jihadists share a common enemy -- the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite sect represents an off-shoot of Shiite Islam -- they have starkly different motivations. The United States is hoping to strengthen the rebels' hand in advance of possible peace talks and to marginalize radical groups. Many foreign fighters, meanwhile, are seeking to defeat what they consider a deviant strain of Islam that they believe has declared war on the religion's true adherents.

"This war is not only against Syrians. It is against the Sunni people all around the world," said Adel Shokry, a 32-year-old lawyer who is contemplating joining the rebels after hearing a stinging denunciation of Assad and his allies at a Cairo mosque.

No, the US and jihadists do not share a common enemy. That's a remarkable thing to write. The jihadists see the US as much an enemy as Assad as we should see the jihadists as a foe on par with the Syrian dictator.

But the conflict is growing and as it grows, it sucks in more and more radicals on both sides. Lebanon appears doomed to suffer a second civil war in a generation. Jordan, assisting the US in training and supplying the rebels, may be overrun with refugees that could threaten the throne of King Abdullah. Iraq could easily fall back into massive sectarian violence, surpassing the nightmare of 2007.

And we want to give arms to these Sunni fanatics? Syria is too far gone for Assad to claim any kind of "victory." Eventually, he will either be deposed or end up running a rump state in the south. Meanwhile, the jihadists will fight over the scraps left behind by Assad - fight with our weapons and probably fight our hand picked provisional government.

The Senate wants a debate on our involvement in this civil war. No time like the present, and if Obama is smart, he will take the "out" that will proably be offered by the Senate and pull back our support for the extremists.


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