Myriad Syrian Rebel Factions Continue to Puzzle US

Obama Backing Syrian Rebels, But Who Are They?

For the Obama Administration, the question of whether or not to back the Syrian rebels in their ongoing civil war was answered a long time ago. Now comes a much more complex problem for them: who even are the rebels?

Military defectors, exiled politicians and even al-Qaeda wannabes are all present, and each sees themselves as the real mouthpiece of the rebels. The US is set to endorse the rebels as the new regime in Syria, but before they can properly impose that regime on the Syrian people they will need to figure out who they are and more importantly who their leader is.

Its more complicated than it sounds. Both the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have designs on being the “real rebels” in Syria, and even within the FSA there are a number of generals and colonels who consider themselves the “real commander” of the FSA.

Efforts at overseas meetings for the rebel blocs have been exercises in futility, as several refuse to attend and some claim others are secretly conspiring with Assad. Some groups seek negotiations leading to elections, while others spurn the idea, demanding to be immediately installed by the international community.

US diplomats are frustrated by the lack of a credible rebel “leadership” to talk to and, ideally, to buy off. This doesn’t seem to be having any impact on their determination to endorse the rebels, but has them pushing for the rebel blocs to “build bridges” between one another, hoping that someone will eventually emerge who can govern in a way that will satisfy the administration.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of