The U.S. May Be Running Out of "Moderate" Rebels to Support in Syria

The World
How It Works
Dec. 12 2013 8:17 AM

U.S. Suspends Aid to Syrian Rebels

A rebel fighter aims his weapon during clashes with Syrian pro-government forces in the Salaheddin neighbourhood of Syria's northern city of Aleppo on Dec. 11, 2013.

Photo by Medo Halab/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. and British governments say they are suspending nonlethal aid to rebels fighting in Northern Syria due to reports that "[f]ighters from a newly formed Islamist group have taken over warehouses” belonging to the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, reports the BBC:

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

Fighters from the Islamic Front, a new alliance of rebel groups, ousted FSA-aligned fighters from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey last week.
The non-lethal aid includes medicine, vehicles and communications equipment.
The US and European countries have been reluctant to supply weapons and ammunition directly to rebel groups in Syria because of concerns that they might end up in the possession of jihadists affiliated to al-Qaeda.

The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that FSA commander Salim Idriss has fled the country, in yet another sign of the group’s waning power.  

Unfortunately, suspending aid may also play into the hands of these groups. As Liz Sly of the Washington Post notes:

A growing number of rebel factions, disillusioned by the low level of Western support, have been aligning themselves with Islamist groups that receive more generous funding from Persian Gulf Arab states.

So either way, the ability of Western governments to influence events on the ground is evaporating quickly ahead of peace talks scheduled for January. U.S. officials say they have recently held meetings with the Islamic Front in an effort to get at least some Islamist support for the talks. 

One U.S. official argues to the Journal that “I wouldn't say this is the end of the SMC and the end of Gen. Idris," but ahead of talks it seems like it’s getting harder to argue that the U.S. and Europe’s favored rebel group is still the one leading the rebellion. 


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?


Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 20 2014 1:50 PM Why We Shouldn’t be Too Sure About the Supposed Deal to Return the Abducted Nigerian Schoolgirls
Oct. 20 2014 2:16 PM Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor
Oct. 20 2014 2:19 PM A Procedural Rule Could Keep Gay Marriage From Ever Reaching SCOTUS Again
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 1:10 PM Women Are Still Losing Jobs for Getting Pregnant
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 2:39 PM Gwen Stefani Does Her Best Rihanna Impression on New Song
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 1:51 PM Will Amazon Lead Us to the Golden Age of Books? A Future Tense Event.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 10:23 AM Where I Was Wrong About the Royals I underestimated the value of building a team that’s just barely better than mediocre.