Tuesday evening, after President Barack Obama’s speech to the U.N. general assembly, America’s strategy for Syria began to unravel.
At about 4 p.m. ET, 13 of the largest Islamist brigades in Syria formed the “Islamic Coalition,” rejecting the Western-backed Syrian National Council (SNC) and the opposition’s planned exile government.
However, those plans were inherently muddled after ” nearly all armed factions that matter in Syria just issued statement saying [the] political opposition doesn’t represent them, ” as explained by Al Aan TV reporter Jenan Moussa .
Furthermore, the Syrian government also doubts the relevance of SNC leaders — meaning that the two strongest forces on the ground do not recognize the government-in-exile backed by the West, Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
The significance of the new rebel alliance arises from the fact that “swing Islamists” — rebels fighters with good relations with jihadi and moderate groups — appear to have chosen to side with more extremist factions.
Researcher and journalist Aron Lund explains that “i t represents the rebellion of a large part of the ‘mainstream FSA’ against its purported political leadership, and openly aligns these factions with more hardline Islamist forces.”
In his U.N. speech, Obama urged tough consequences for Syria if it doesn’t comply with chemical weapons disarmament, adding that the agreement ” should energize a larger diplomatic effort to reach a political settlement within Syria. ”
Russia, which can veto any resolution, says it won’t support language that would trigger punitive measures if Assad fails to comply with the U.S.-Russian deal. And disregarding the SNC as a viable negotiating partner would be a nonstarter for America and its allies.