Jun 2, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 36 • By LEE SMITH
And this, says the administration, is what Ahmad Jarba and the Syrian opposition should be focusing on—not Assad and his Iranian allies, but Sunni radicals. The White House released a statement after the meeting with Jarba explaining that they “discussed the risks posed by growing extremism in Syria and agreed on the need to counter terrorist groups on all sides of the conflict.” There is no doubt that ISIS, as well as al Qaeda affiliates, is trouble for a post-Assad Syria, and may come to pose a threat to U.S. national security. However, it’s useful to put that threat in context. After all, “the most worrying development” in the region from three and a half decades ago is still around, and likely a soon-to-be nuclear state sponsor of terror—the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Indeed, it may be that characterizing the White House’s policy as a focus on counterterrorism is altogether too generous. Obama has made it clear he’ll do nothing to topple Assad, himself a state sponsor of terror. Perhaps even more telling is that throughout the Levant, the administration has waged its counterterrorism campaign alongside terrorist groups that have American blood on their hands. In Lebanon, the U.S. intelligence community has worked with Hezbollah to fight Sunni extremists, and in Iraq it is aligned with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose allies include groups like Asaib Ahl al-Haq, sponsored by Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, in his battle with a Sunni insurgency.
Both Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq are fighting in Syria, but for the White House the only real terrorists are Sunni. That’s an eccentric view, one that just happens to be shared by the Shiite regime ruling in Tehran. A policy that makes common cause with Iranian-backed terrorist groups that have killed Americans does not really deserve to be termed a counterterrorism policy. It’s a policy designed not to discomfit but to satisfy Tehran. It’s no wonder Americans want their elected representatives to monitor the White House’s negotiations with Iran.
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