Obama's Syria strategy collapsing - again

President Obama's strategy in Syria of arming and training "moderate" rebels while degarding the ability of Islamic State to target Iraq is "near collapse" according to some experts evaluating the policy.

In fact, the policy is so screwed up that President Assad and IS are ignoring each other an both are attacking what's left of the non-Islamist rebel forces.

Meanwhile, our air strikes against Islamic State are only helping Assad defeat the rebels.

Washington Examiner:

Administration officials have resisted the criticism, saying the strategy of using airstrikes to "degrade" the Islamic State's capabilities in Syria while training and equipping moderate resistance fighters needs time to succeed. President Obama has resisted international pressure from Turkey and many Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia to take a tougher line against Assad, or to create a no-fly zone in northern Syria to protect the rebels.

But time may be running out. The Pentagon has only just begun setting up facilities in Saudi Arabia and Turkey for the yearlong process of training the first group of 5,000 Syrian rebels, and has not vetted a single one as a possible candidate for the program.

"That’s a challenge for us, and we’re only now getting the camps to fruition," said retired Marine Gen. John Allen, the U.S. representative to the anti-Islamic State coalition.

Meanwhile, the situation for the moderate rebels becomes more dire, especially in northern Syria, as Assad regime forces and Islamist extremists close in on them from different directions as they largely ignore each other.

An analysis by IHS Jane's released this week found that 6 percent of 982 Syrian regime counterterrorism operations targeted the Islamic State and only 13 percent of 923 Islamic State attacks in Syria targeted Syrian security forces.

"These figures suggest that the Islamic State and Assad’s security forces have embraced the clever strategy of ignoring each other while focusing on attacking more moderate opposition groups," said Matthew Henman, head of IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center.

"Assad is trying to downplay the Syrian revolution narrative and instead portray it as an Islamist insurgency against his government. This way, he can crack down on it with the indirect support of the West," he said. "The Islamic State is looking to engineer a scenario where it is just them against Assad. Therefore, right now the group’s focus is on marginalizing moderate groups to the point where these groups’ fighters are ‘asked’ to join the Islamic State."

In fact, whole units of the rebel army have defected to Islamic State, not only because of their effectiveness in fighting Assad but out of sheer survival:

The defeats, along with what rebel commanders say is the resulting cutoff of U.S. aid, has led to defections to more radical groups and a reduction in the number of possible trainees once the program gets off the ground. Rebels also see the U.S.-led bombing campaign as aimed at helping Assad. Ford noted that U.S. aircraft have studiously avoided bombing Islamic State forces engaged in fights with moderate rebels while hitting them when they are fighting forces of the Assad regime.

"I do not understand the target selections. It makes no sense to me," he said.

"Making no sense" of our Syria strategy seems to be a regular occurrence. We've already abandoned one failed strategy  in Syria and it looks like this one is doomed as well.

Maybe the third time is the charm.

President Obama's strategy in Syria of arming and training "moderate" rebels while degarding the ability of Islamic State to target Iraq is "near collapse" according to some experts evaluating the policy.

In fact, the policy is so screwed up that President Assad and IS are ignoring each other an both are attacking what's left of the non-Islamist rebel forces.

Meanwhile, our air strikes against Islamic State are only helping Assad defeat the rebels.

Washington Examiner:

Administration officials have resisted the criticism, saying the strategy of using airstrikes to "degrade" the Islamic State's capabilities in Syria while training and equipping moderate resistance fighters needs time to succeed. President Obama has resisted international pressure from Turkey and many Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia to take a tougher line against Assad, or to create a no-fly zone in northern Syria to protect the rebels.

But time may be running out. The Pentagon has only just begun setting up facilities in Saudi Arabia and Turkey for the yearlong process of training the first group of 5,000 Syrian rebels, and has not vetted a single one as a possible candidate for the program.

"That’s a challenge for us, and we’re only now getting the camps to fruition," said retired Marine Gen. John Allen, the U.S. representative to the anti-Islamic State coalition.

Meanwhile, the situation for the moderate rebels becomes more dire, especially in northern Syria, as Assad regime forces and Islamist extremists close in on them from different directions as they largely ignore each other.

An analysis by IHS Jane's released this week found that 6 percent of 982 Syrian regime counterterrorism operations targeted the Islamic State and only 13 percent of 923 Islamic State attacks in Syria targeted Syrian security forces.

"These figures suggest that the Islamic State and Assad’s security forces have embraced the clever strategy of ignoring each other while focusing on attacking more moderate opposition groups," said Matthew Henman, head of IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center.

"Assad is trying to downplay the Syrian revolution narrative and instead portray it as an Islamist insurgency against his government. This way, he can crack down on it with the indirect support of the West," he said. "The Islamic State is looking to engineer a scenario where it is just them against Assad. Therefore, right now the group’s focus is on marginalizing moderate groups to the point where these groups’ fighters are ‘asked’ to join the Islamic State."

In fact, whole units of the rebel army have defected to Islamic State, not only because of their effectiveness in fighting Assad but out of sheer survival:

The defeats, along with what rebel commanders say is the resulting cutoff of U.S. aid, has led to defections to more radical groups and a reduction in the number of possible trainees once the program gets off the ground. Rebels also see the U.S.-led bombing campaign as aimed at helping Assad. Ford noted that U.S. aircraft have studiously avoided bombing Islamic State forces engaged in fights with moderate rebels while hitting them when they are fighting forces of the Assad regime.

"I do not understand the target selections. It makes no sense to me," he said.

"Making no sense" of our Syria strategy seems to be a regular occurrence. We've already abandoned one failed strategy  in Syria and it looks like this one is doomed as well.

Maybe the third time is the charm.