Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Syria | War on Terrorism | free syria army | alawis

Ex-Ambassador: Free Syrian Army and Alawis Can Defeat ISIS

Image: Ex-Ambassador: Free Syrian Army and Alawis Can Defeat ISIS
Free Syrian Army fighters. (Stringer/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Friday, 05 Sep 2014 05:18 PM

The Islamic State (ISIS) can be beaten without U.S. boots on the ground if the U.S. can broker a deal for a Syrian government that includes both members of the rebelling Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the ruling minority Alawis, a former ambassador to Syria believes.

Robert Ford, who resigned from his post in Syria in 2012, told the Daily Beast that if the U.S. makes aid to the FSA contingent upon their forming an alliance with the Alawis, the minority Syrian Islamic sect which numbers Syrian President Bashar al-Assad among its faithful, Assad's support would be fragmented and the FSA would be powerful enough to defeat ISIS on its own. 

"I don't think hitting particular Islamic State targets in Syria fixes the problem," Ford told the Daily Beast. "In some instances perhaps it helps in a very technical way. But the long-term solution in Syria, as in Iraq, is for there to be a new government that is able to rally a large majority of Syrians to resist, to fight against, and ultimately to contain and reduce the appeal of these extremists."

He noted that the FSA contains 70,000-80,000 fighting men, many more than ISIS's estimated 7,000 fighters, according to Vox. 

"The Syrian opposition has to put forward a program that appeals to a segment of the Alawi," Ford told the Daily Beast. "I think many of them are ready to jump if they had something to jump onto. But if the opposition doesn't put anything forward, then they have nothing to jump onto, and they're just kind of stuck. They're terrified. They don't want the Islamic State to take over Syria, and neither do we. But they're worried they'll be murdered if it does. That's not an unreasonable thing to be worried about.

"So I wouldn't increase assistance to the moderate opposition without it coming forward with a real effort to develop a political initiative and to have meetings with Alawi supporters, which they certainly can do."

Ford told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in June that he resigned his position because, "I was no longer in a position where I felt I could defend the American policy. We have been unable to address either the root causes of the conflict in terms of the fighting on the ground and the balance on the ground and we have a growing extremism threat." 

The recent emergence of opposition to Assad among Alawis through websites like "Scream of the Nation," demonstrates an opportunity, Ford told the Daily Beast, to tell both Assad and the FSA, "If we're going to increase our military assistance, it's not in order to bring down the regime. It's to get elements of the regime to the table and negotiating seriously, because its own people say 'We're sick of dying for the Assad family.'"

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The Islamic State (ISIS) can be beaten without U.S. boots on the ground if the U.S. can broker a deal for a Syrian government that includes both members of the rebelling Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the ruling minority Alawis, a former ambassador to Syria believes.
free syria army, alawis
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2014-18-05
Friday, 05 Sep 2014 05:18 PM
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