The Syrian conflict is a complicated mess, with multiple sects forming local militias and fighting against the government of Bashar Al-Assad, not always in concert. The U.S. and its allies should not get involved in a sectarian war in Syria that could lead to Sunni extremists with anti-American leanings running the country. As Ruth Sherlock and Richard Spencer write for The Daily Telegraph, the Muslim Brotherhood has already established its own militia inside Syria.
The Muslim Brotherhood has established its own militia inside Syria as the country’s rebels fracture between radical Islamists and their rivals, commanders and gun-runners have told The Daily Telegraph.
Calling itself the “Armed Men of the Muslim Brotherhood”, the militia has a presence in Damascus as well as opposition hot spots like Homs and Idlib. One of their organisers, who called himself Abu Hamza, said that he started the movement along with a member of the Syrian National Council (SNC), the opposition alliance.
“We saw there were civilians with weapons inside, so we decided to co-operate with them and put them under one umbrella,” he said.
Hossam Abu Habel, whose late father was in Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s, said that he raised $40-50,000 (£25,000-£32,000) a month to supply Islamist militias in Homs province with weapons and other aid.
The militias he funded were not affiliated to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main rebel movement, added Mr Abu Habel.
The Wall Street Journal’s Ellen Knickmeyer explained that even the Saudis, eager to depose Assad, are wary of supporting certain groups of rebels in Syria, lest the revolution spill over into Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia, the heart of Sunni Islam, is taking a lead in helping the predominantly Sunni Muslim opposition in Syria fight to overthrow the minority regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The kingdom also is openly supporting the arming of Syria’s rebels, though it hasn’t confirmed widespread news accounts that it is giving them money for arms.
But the monarchy has also drawn a crucial line. Saudi’s rulers are signaling to its people that the government, not the country’s fundamentalist religious clerics, has the monopoly on aid.
The kingdom, which sees Islamist extremism as one of its biggest threats, has kept an increasingly tight grip on charitable fundraising since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks—which were carried out predominantly by Saudis—to prevent religious movements from using donations to build their influence and to curb the flow of cash to extremist groups, U.S. and Saudi officials say.
In trying to rally but control Saudi public sentiment for Syria, the kingdom seeks to avoid repeating a history in which its allies today in the fight against Mr. Assad’s regime become tomorrow’s enemies. That scenario occurred during the 1979-89 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when Saudi Arabia and the U.S. backed Islamists that they are now battling in the form of al Qaeda and affiliated movements.
The threat of blowback should preclude the U.S. from sticking its nose into the affairs of other countries to support relatively unknown rebel groups, especially those prone to starting violent holy wars.