United States troops have entered Syria. The 50-odd troops will battle alongside rebel forces trying to oust Syrian leader Assad.
Obama’s new Syria effort comes after the president received criticism for insisting “Assad must go” while failing to send any United States troops to battle against the Syrian leader alongside rebels on the ground. The deployment of the new troops — who are United States “special operations forces” — is part of “a multi-faceted strategy [by United States president Barack Obama] to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS.”
ISIS troops are among the rebels fighting in Syria against Assad, and the United States will be aiming to obliterate the ISIS cohort — or at least to undermine them — while ousting Assad through cooperation with the more favorable rebel cohort, about whom little is actually known.
“Who are these people who the United States favors over not just ISIS but Assad and Vladimir Putin’s Russia?” many are asking, as Putin and Obama clash in their approaches to the crisis.
In 2013, the BBC provided a “Guide to The Syrian Rebels,” which gives an idea of the sheer number of groups that are fighting to try to gain power in Syria. The groups range from jihadist militants (note that ISIS is just one of these) to moderate cohorts to the chillingly-named “Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade” (the name recalls the slew of Jihadist suicide bombers who have martyred themselves in the name of Allah in the last decade — reassuringly, this particular group is reported to be “moderate”). Some of the groups also carry out cyber-attacks, some have united briefly in the past only to splinter off again, some claim to have ample civilian support and work with civilians to administer large areas (almost like a mini-state within Syria) and some are accused of being mere Assad proxies. They vary in their willingness to accept support or guidance from outside entities, and many adhere to a “charter” that outlines the group’s principles and goals.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Obama’s United States special forces troops will be sent in not as fighters but as “advisors” to coordinate these rebels, raising the question: how straightforward will it be to tie together and coordinate the activities of such a motley group, only a small number of whom are open to cooperating with anyone?
“The United States has announced it will station its first ground troops in Syria for the war against Islamic State, saying dozens of United States soldiers would be sent as advisers to groups fighting the militants….The United States said it would deploy fewer than 50 troops to northern Syria beginning in the coming weeks in an open-ended mission. Officials said the forces were not meant for front-line combat.”
The ABC reported today on the new United States deployment to Syria, quoting an Obama administration senior official.
“[The United States special forces] will help coordinate local ground forces and coalition efforts to counter ISIL,” senior administration official Josh Earnest said. He said the special forces’ mission would be to “train, advise and assist” local “moderate rebel” groups to fight IS.
While Obama will reportedly be cooperating only with “moderate groups,” USA Today states that the only way to win the conflict will be to secure a ceasefire between “all groups other than ISIS,” and to work towards partitioning Syria.
The rebel groups in Syria have (if anything) multiplied and splintered further since the BBC produced its breakdown of the conflict two years ago. The crisis has escalated in recent months. Even Vladimir Putin has moved in, complicating the situation further. Some claim the Russian president wants to bomb ISIS, and others insist he is targeting any rebels trying to oust Russian ally Assad, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
Is this a new United States war in the Middle East? Not quite, according to the president. Obama has made it clear that the deployment of United States special forces personnel is not a “military solution” to the conflict, but rather the “military component of a [broader] diplomatic solution.”
“The president has been quite clear that there is no military solution to the problems plaguing Iraq and Syria. There is a diplomatic one.”
An additional $100 million in United States assistance was promised to Syrian rebels on Saturday, as reported by the Washington Post.
“[United States special forces] will help coordinate local ground forces and coalition efforts to counter ISIL,” states United States press secretary Josh Earnest.
Donald Trump has already weighed in on the new development, deriding the small number of “fifty” United States personnel and accusing Barack Obama of making a half-hearted effort. The real estate mogul and would-be president of the United States declared “you either you do it [commit strongly to a full intervention] or you don’t do it.”
“I think we have an American president who doesn’t know what he’s doing. You either do it or you don’t do it. Fifty people! He puts fifty people…”
Will the new United States military intervention buck previous trends and proceed smoothly? Does president Barack Obama know what he is doing in Syria? Let us know.
[Image by Getty Images]