Exactly one year after the chemical attack in Syria which prompted calls from U.S. politicians from both sides of the aisle to launch air strikes on Bashar al-Assad, the two countries are fighting exactly the same enemy. Despite the increasingly obvious reality that ISIS makes up the opposition, some interesting figures are choosing to downplay ISIS and in some cases, still advocate for the ‘moderate’ opposition. The mainstream media continues to provide a platform for those who seek to push that narrative.
As the U.S. military strikes ISIS militants in Iraq, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces have significantly stepped up their own campaign against militant strongholds in Syria, carrying out dozens of airstrikes against the group’s headquarters in the past two days.
While the government in Damascus has long turned a blind eye to the expansion of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, which now calls itself simply the “Islamic State,” in Syria — in some cases even facilitating its offensive against mainstream, U.S.-backed rebels — the group’s rapid march on towns and villages in northern and eastern Syria is now threatening to overturn recent gains by government forces.
While ISIS militants have so far concentrated their attacks against the Western-backed fighters seeking to topple Assad, they have in the past month carried out a major onslaught against Syrian army facilities in northeastern Syria, capturing and slaughtering hundreds of Syrian soldiers and pro-government militiamen in the process.
Of course, there are major problems with the logic that says ISIS wouldn’t have come to power if the U.S. had backed the FSA sooner. Chief among them is the fact that FSA elements have joined ISIS. Furthermore, look at Libya. Wasn’t the arming of ‘moderate’ rebels supposed to give birth to Democracy in that country?
The lie is that aiding the FSA earlier would have led to a much better condition in Syria with an ousted Assad.
The CBS story picked an interesting figure to quote in its report. Oubai Shahbandar has been the Vice President for Middle East Operations at the Syrian Support Group (SSG). As Shoebat.com has reported, SSG – like the controversial Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) – each lobbied the U.S. Congress hard to get support for the Syrian opposition.
Joining Shahbandar at SSG was none other than Mazen Asbahi as Chairman. In 2008, Asbahi resigned as the Barack Obama campaign’s Muslim outreach coordinator when it was discovered that he sat on a board with Imam Jamal Said, a man steeped in Hamas affiliations.
Oubai Shahbandar, a Washington-based senior strategist for the Western-backed opposition Syrian National Coalition group, called Assad’s airstrikes against ISIS superficial, saying the Western-backed rebels were the only force truly confronting the jihadis.
He shrugged off any suggestion that Assad and the West share a common enemy in ISIS.
“The choice for the West is clear,” he said. “Assad turned Syria into a springboard for terror, while the opposition leads the anti-Islamic State resistance.”
It sounds like Shahbandar is still wanting to implement a failed strategy that involves arming the Syrian opposition. Arming and training Iraqis is what has helped to make ISIS there so strong.
Just this past April, Shahbandar was talking down the success of Assad against the Syrian opposition. By that time, it had been widely conceded that the opposition was essentially made up of ISIS. Why would Shahbandar still be talking up the Syrian opposition so late in the game?
Last year, Shahbandar penned a piece for Foreign Policy in which he lamented the refusal of the U.S. to launch those air strikes on Assad in response to a chemical attack:
Bombs are yet again being dropped on bakeries in rebel-held regions and residents in Damascus have noted the thunderous bombardments from Assad’s batteries as they target the eastern Ghouta district — the district hit in the horrific chemical attack of August 21.
As Shoebat.com has demonstrated, evidence increasingly suggests, last year’s chemical attack came at the hands of rebel forces – with assistance from Turkey.
As for Shahbandar’s colleague Asbahi at SSG, below is an exchange between Bill O’Reilly and Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago. As a representative of CAIR, Rehab represents a Muslim Brotherhood front group. He defended both the Pro-Hamas Said and Asbahi. ISIS is also Muslim Brotherhood so any advocacy on the part of Shahbandar to support the Syrian opposition should be processed with skepticism: