By ignoring Assad, U.S. is empowering the ‘pyromaniac’ to be the ‘fireman,’ says Syrian opposition
By Mick Krever, CNN
By waging war only on ISIS in Syria, and not Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. has an incomplete military strategy that plays into Assad’s hands, Bassma Kodmani, an adviser to the Syrian opposition coalition, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.
“He has basically been the pyromaniac fireman who now comes as the fireman to say I will be the one to help in fighting these groups on the ground.”
“I think he has been waiting for this moment, he has prepared for it.”
U.S President Barack Obama says that Assad long ago lost the legitimacy to rule, but has nonetheless made clear that he is not the priority right now.
America’s war on ISIS in Syria lays bare the Middle East’s complex web of alliances and foes; ISIS is a bitter enemy of Assad’s as well, and as America goes after the group, Assad is able to concentrate on battling non-Islamic opposition groups.
“These strikes are allowing him to come to the other areas where the Free Syrian Army is, where the rebellion is, and to strike there. He has not stopped one day his strikes with barrel bombs and the population continues to die.”
By using only airstrikes against ISIS, she said, the Obama Administration is replicating the same anti-terrorism strategy is has used against militants in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere for years.
“We are killing a few figures, but where is the reconquering of territory here?”
“What needs to happen is a strategy which allows for reconquering territory, and the re-conquerors can only be the Free Syrian Army.”
“It needs to be equipped in order to slow down the progress of ISIS, to be able to set up checkpoints, to prevent ISIS from progressing. And that strategy is just not there at the moment.”
The moderate Syrian opposition and its military wing, the FSA, are still committed to a political solution to the conflict – “with elements of this regime to ensure the continuity of Syria as a state” – despite the dead-end hit by negotiators in Geneva.
“We need the military tool in order to get to the political result that is sought” she said, in order to force the Assad regime and his principle backers – Iran and Russia – to the table.
“The coalition is only providing a military response that is not an adequate response, not an appropriate response.”