(By Deutsche Welle) US efforts to recruit moderate rebels are not going well. With “Islamic State” now enemy number one, the White House has tacitly forged an alliance with its old adversary: Bashar al-Assad. Spencer Kimball reports.
America’s rebel army in Syria has instructions not to attack the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The main enemy is the “Islamic State” (IS). Not that the pro-Western militia poses a threat to either. So far, Washington has only trained 60 fighters.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter acknowledged as much this week, telling Congress that the number falls far below the Pentagon’s original expectations. The secretary’s admission triggered consternation among President Barack Obama’s opponents and damage control by his supporters.
“Our means and our current level of effort are not aligned with our ends,” Senator John McCain said during a committee hearing. “That suggests we are not winning, and when you are not winning in war, you are losing.”
Why has the US trained so few rebels? There’s a strict vetting process, which according to Carter ensures that recruits are committed to fighting IS as their first priority and will obey the laws of armed conflict.
According to Syria expert David Lesch, the Obama administration has been cautious because it fears US arms could fall into the hands of Islamist radicals: “which has happened on a consistent basis, including US aligned rebel groups’ weapons depots being overrun by Islamist groups.”