[Marxism] foreign backers and the marginalization of the FSA

Dennis Brasky dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 19 20:47:40 MST 2016


When the author asked a former member of Harakat Hazm why the USA didn’t
support them when they were attacked, he explained that “by September 2014
the United States started to pressure us to leave the battle field against
Assad and to send all our forces to fight ISIS. We had no problem to go
fight ISIS, but wouldn’t agree to stop fighting Assad. From then on, our
relations with the Americans went from bad to worse and eventually they
stopped backing us. When Jabhat al-Nusra attacked us, we had already lost
all foreign support. We lost because we dared to disobey the Americans.”


While the strategy of selecting factions to pull away from the battlefield
so that they could fight jihadists had proved to be a failure, the
alternative strategy was to impose nationwide truces with the regime. On
two occasions, a Russian-American deal was reached to impose a truce on
belligerent forces. While the truce of February-March 2016 led to a
reduction of fighting for over a month, the one in September 2016 was never
effectively implemented. The Assad regime and Russia clearly had no
intention of respecting their engagements and saw the truces simply as a
way to gain time and to test the determination of the rebellion and its
supposed allies. For the regime, truces are not a first step towards
a political negotiation but rather a step towards the complete surrender of
rebels, as was the case for local truces in Damascus and Homs.

 While almost all of the opposition forces rallied to the principle of a
political solution and de-escalation with the regime, Jabhat al-Nusra/Fateh
al-Sham reclaims the revolutionary discourse and presents itself as the
only force striving for the definitive fall of the Assad regime. Those
accepting compromise with Assad were called defeatists, if not traitors.
The failure of the truces proved the jihadists right. The regime had no
intention to respect them and diplomacy has not could not save Aleppo. Only
the military action led by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in August was successful in
breaking the siege. During the regime’s major offensive in Aleppo since
April 2016, Jabhat al-Nusra/Fateh al-Sham seems to be the only force
capable of facing Assad forces. Within FSA factions, morale was at its
lowest. During the so-called truce of spring 2016, Jabhat al-Nusra
recruited fighters by the hundreds, mainly among die-hard FSA fighters who
were convinced not by the ideology of the group but rather by its will to
fight.


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