Western-backed Syrian Islamist rebels are facing a major setback this week that didn’t even happen on their own territory. The coup in Egypt ousted an Islamist president who was outspokenly sympathetic to them, and has left Syria’s own opposition blocs in even more of a shambles than they already were.
Under President Morsi, Egypt’s government permitted its citizens to go a-jihading into Syria, and Morsi even appeared at rallies where they were encouraged to do so. That decision was seen as a factor in the coup, and the new junta is likely to keep fighters from flowing into Syria.
But the bigger problem is the Syrian National Coalition, which is still unable to settle on a leader and now seems even more rudderless, as the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood dominates the coalition, and the group is reeling from the loss of its Egyptian counterpart, whose members are being arrested en masse.
The lack of leadership in the SNC is a long-standing problem, and one that the US has repeatedly cited in not following through with its pledged aid. With the Obama Administration hoping to start throwing arms at the rebels within the next month, this lack of leadership will be an even bigger problem.