Wednesday, 22 July 2015
Yes, Talk with Syria’s Ahrar al-Sham
By Robert S. Ford and Ali El Yassir
"The administration’s current approach to Syria, however, is helping to ensure the fragmentation of the country; the present trajectory will not produce a future government of a unified Syria. Moreover, lumping Ahrar and Nusra together is intellectually sloppy, especially when they exhibit ideological and political differences. This is not to say that the United States has no differences with Ahrar. There are many, with some, such as respect for human rights and respect for Geneva war conventions, quite serious. Ahrar will have plenty of complaints against the United States as well. Nevertheless, the larger question is whether the United States should open channels for dialogue, however difficult the conversation will be. Talking is most certainly not giving military aid or arming. Our refusal even to talk with groups like Ahrar further reduces the little influence Americans still have in Syria. As the Assad regime steadily weakens, the administration keeps trying to lead the opposition from behind, hoping for an opposition white knight to appear. Instead, because Islamist groups like Ahrar strongly influence decisions about the fate of Syria, Washington will be left behind."