This is why we need to stay out of Syria:
Senator John McCain’s office is pushing back against reports that while visiting Syria this week he posed in a photo with rebels who kidnapped 11 Lebanese Shi’ite pilgrims.
The photo, released by McCain’s office, shows McCain with a group of rebels. Among them are two men identified in the Lebanese press as Mohamed Nour and Abu Ibrahim, two of the kidnappers of the group from Lebanon.
A McCain spokesman said that no one who met with McCain identified themselves by either of those names.
“In coordination with the Syrian Emergency Task Force, Senator John McCain traveled to and from Syria with General Salim Idris, the chief of staff of the Supreme Military Council of the Syrian opposition, to meet with two senior Free Syrian Army commanders,” said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers on Wednesday in an email to BuzzFeed. “None of the individuals the senator planned to meet with was named Mohamad Nour or Abu Ibrahim. A number of other Syrian commanders joined the meeting, but none of them identified himself as Mohamad Nour or Abu Ibrahim.”
“As the Syrian Emergency Task Force has said: ‘Senator McCain did not go to Syria to meet with anyone named Mohamad Nour or Abu Ibrahim. Two members of our organization were present in the meeting, and no one called himself by either name.’”
Rogers said that if the man in the photo turns out to actually be Mohamed Nour, that is “regrettable.”
Pop Quiz: Name all the political factions in Syria.
Do you know who’s who over there? I sure don’t. But I’ll bet you money that there are lots of people in and around Syria who would love to get our help in taking over control. But just because they want our help don’t make them our friends.
Bashar Hafez al-Assad is not a very nice guy. Israel certainly doesn’t care for him. But if he gets knocked off or chased out, who will take his place? All the options are bad or worse, none of them has much control over the others and we can’t trust any of them.
Here’s an example:
The Syrian men who sat radially around the beige couch in the Turkish hotel were keen to get their hands on some of that batch of weapons. But first, the Libyans wanted to know who the Syrians were exactly and which rebel group each represented. There was a representative from Jund-Allah (Soldiers of God), which operates in and around the capital Damascus; a commander from Ansar al-din (Supporters of the Faith) in Lattakia province; and most significantly a man who is one of the seven members of the political office of Jabhat Syria il-Islamiya (the Syrian Islamic Front), one of the country’s largest, most cohesive and strongest Islamist militant coalitions, led by the Salafi Ahrar al-Sham Brigades. (The extremist al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra is not part of this alliance.)
Coffee was ordered — Turkish coffee for the Syrians and cappuccinos for the Libyans. The Libyan from Zintan, wearing faded black jeans, a cream-colored shirt stretched taut across his waist and a gray sports jacket, did most of the talking. He fingered black worry beads, while his colleague from Benghazi listened. His first question was about whether the men around him recognized the FSA and its 14 provincial military councils. All said they did not. “Their commanders are failures, they are corrupt,” the Syrian from Ansar al-Din said.
“There is not even one battalion, in all honesty, that they can control,” the Islamic Front representative said. “These people [senior defectors in the FSA like the one the Libyans had met the night before] were placed as facades, in the beginning, as media personalities, but as real commanders on the ground? Not at all.”
As far as I am concerned our best option is to stay on the sidelines and let this drama play out without our help. If we do anything at all it should be to quietly encourage the various factions to exhaust themselves in a long and bloody war. But that option would be hard on the innocent bystanders, most of whom are women and children.
This is real life, not Hollywood. Sometimes there are no happy endings.