By Clare Lopez:
As the Syrian civil war continues to tear that country apart, with possible use of chemical weapons (by somebody) reported and certain commission of atrocities on all sides, calls for Western and especially U.S. intervention are mounting.
Some want a “no fly zone” so that Bashar al-Assad’s forces can be prevented from aerial bombardment of his people, civilians and rebels alike. Some want the Obama administration to arm the rebels directly (or at least more directly than it already has been for the last year or more). Some, like U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), want both a no-fly zone and more weapons for the rebels. Sen. Graham has even pushed for the insertion of U.S. ground forces into the Syrian conflict.
The trouble is that most U.S. lawmakers realize there just aren’t a lot of good candidates among the rebels whose victory would actually advance core U.S. national security interests in the region. Where in Syria is there a capable, credible rebel force openly dedicated to anything but Sunni Islam and Islamic Law?
Aside from some out-funded, outgunned and outmanned militias among the umbrella Syrian Free Army (SFA) that have been identified and met by Major General Paul Vallely, USA (ret.), thanks to decades of inaction and neglect of pro-Western voices by U.S. leadership, the most powerful forces now opposing the Assad regime are Islamic jihadis, sponsored by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other theocratic regimes.
The loss of SFA commander Col. Riad al-Assad in March 2013 to a bomb that left him seriously injured and out of the fight was a critical blow to opposition forces not aligned with either the al-Qa’eda militia, Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Muslim Brotherhood.
Since at least October 2012, when it first warned that most of the weapons being shipped to the rebels by Qatar and Saudi Arabia were going to “hard-line Islamic jihadists,” even the New York Times has been sounding some well-considered notes of caution about calls for deeper U.S. involvement. Following up in April 2013, Times journalist Ben Hubbard reported that “nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of” but rather that “[a]cross Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists.”
So, acknowledged hard-line Salafis like al-Qa’eda and Saudi Arabia aside, what might be expected in Syrian territory seized by Qatari-backed (i.e., Muslim Brotherhood-aligned) fighters?
While ostensibly a U.S. ally, Qatar in fact shares little with American core principles such as gender, ethnic and faith equality, genuine pluralism, tolerance, individual liberty or liberal secular democracy.
For starters, Qatar is an authoritarian monarchy whose legal system is dominated by sharia (Islamic) law. Article I of the 1972 Qatari constitution declares with finality that “its religion is Islam and the Islamic Shari’a is the main source of legislation.” Qatari judges are graduates of Saudi schools of Islamic jurisprudence or Egypt’s al-Azhar University. Qatar’s sharia courts have full jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters over both Qatari nationals and resident or visiting Muslims from other countries.
Read more at The Clarion Project
- How Qatar seized control of the Syrian revolution (ft.com)
- Qatar and CIA tighten coordination of arms flows to Syria (phantomreport.com)
The Brotherhood’s Man in London - Syrian Muslim Brotherhood spokesman (majalla.com)