Former Syrian Rebel Chief: Islamists Should Be Included

Recently Resigned President Pushed for Nusra to Attend Meetings

by Jason Ditz, May 08, 2013

Former Syrian National Coalition (SNC) President Moaz al-Khatib, who resigned in March, is critical of efforts to split the rebels into two camps, a moderate and an Islamist camp, and insists the Islamists should be included in the rebellion.

“We refuse any radical thinking but this does not mean we can exclude them,” insisted Khatib. Aides to the former president added that he had invited Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda linked rebel faction, to attend SNC meetings and coordinate militarily with them.

Efforts by Khatib to invite Nusra to establish formal contacts were eventually vetoed by other SNC officials, and may well have played a role in Khatib’s sudden resignation, which he attributed to growing infighting and lack of international support.

The US has reportedly been pushing the secular rebels to focus primarily on fighting Jabhat al-Nusra, and the host for US trainers, Jordan, has cited undermining the Islamist rebels as a primary goal for hosting the training program. In the long run, however, the secular rebels don’t seem to be anywhere near capable of winning the war on their own, nor do they seem inclined to ditch the Islamists for promises of more Western aid.

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