The U.S. is calling on Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to step down and is increasingly persuaded that the uprising against his rule will be victorious. As the world wonders who will replace the regime, an Islamist-dominated group called the Syrian National Council is being embraced by Turkey and the Obama administration State Department. Genuine secular forces, meanwhile, are being left to the wayside as they struggle to save their country from both Assad and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has stated, “We have a desire to coordinate the position of the opposition.” With support from the Turkish government and a naïve U.S. State Department, it can achieve this objective. On September 15, opposition activists formed the Syrian National Council in Istanbul, the latest in a long list of umbrella groups to be formed since the uprising began.
Ammar Abdulhamid, a secular democratic activist based in the U.S., published a list of some of the members. Of the 71 named, 34 are Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood has not officially joined the alliance, but many members of it have. The composition of the Syrian National Council is frightening other opposition groups who do not want Syria to become the next Gaza Strip. A leader of the leftist Kurdish Party said, “Turkey supports the Islamists in Syria and puts them out front. These Syrian opposition meetings in Turkey prevent the creation of a democratic, pluralistic Syria in which the rights of the Kurds are constitutionally protected and they are recognized as the second largest ethnicity in the country.”
Shockingly, the U.S. State Department and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Hamas-tied front for the Muslim Brotherhood, are together supporting the Syrian National Council. On September 24, the Los Angeles chapter of CAIR held a townhall event featuring a member of the SNC and Frederic C. Hof from the State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy for the Middle East. This isn’t the first time the U.S. has supported the Islamist opposition in Syria. Files released by WikiLeaks show that the State Department funded the Movement for Justice and Development. The group split from the Muslim Brotherhood and was described in the files as “liberal, moderate Islamists” who sought to “marginalize” the Brotherhood.
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