Syria doesn’t even know who the enemy is, but McCully knows who the non-ISIS refugees are

It seems that it’s such a mess in Syria that even those who are doing the fighting can’t quite understand what side everyone is actually on.

The fresh clashes in Syria’s Idlib region between a dozen important Islamist and extremist rebel movements are battles for turf and authority on the ground – but they also mirror northern Syria’s ever-changing complexities, as local, regional and international actors change policies and tactics.   

These actors and their aims fluctuate almost on a monthly basis, which helps explain last week’s face-off between former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), on one side, and the independent Islamist movement Ahrar al-Sham and half a dozen smaller allies, on the other.

The core battle between JFS and Ahrar al-Sham (AS) flared last week after JFS attacked some smaller Islamist groups that were close to AS, notably Jaish el-Mujahideen. JFS accused them of selling out the revolution against the Syrian government by attending the Russian-Turkish-Iranian-sponsored political talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. It also suspected rebels of passing on JFS locations and coordinates to foreign parties that have recently been bombing JFS.

Confused?  Well they are.

Consequently, dozens of small and increasingly vulnerable rebel groups, whether secular or Islamist, face their inevitable moment of reckoning: will they side with the hardline JFS and work towards creating a mini-Islamic state or an emirate, while continuing to fight the Bashar al-Assad regime?

Or would they remain as part of the secular-nationalist Free Syrian Army coalition and move closer to AS, the powerful Islamist rebel group that projects itself as more pragmatic and locally anchored than JFS?

So who are the good guys?   Who can tell?

Murray McCully can.

Trump isn’t so sure.  He wants a review of Syrian refugee vetting.

Murray is happy with things as they stand.  Says he would “never” contemplate an extreme measure such as a 90 day moratorium on Syrian refugees – something he rather oddly refers to as a “Muslim ban”.

Even though people inside Syria have lost track of who’s on which side, fighting for what.

 

Al Jazeera

 


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