Even though Gen. Salim Idriss’ actual influence on the civil war in Syria was virtually gone after December, when the Islamic Front seized all his warehouses full of US goods and his office, the formal dismissal of Idriss from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) leadership position has the US scrambling to find a new “face of the revolution.”
The defector general was the nice, moderate, Western-friendly face of a military dominated rebellion that realistically no longer exists, as the FSA’s relevance is near nil and the civil war is increasingly dominated by al-Qaeda factions.
To make matters even more difficult for the Obama Administration, Idriss’ replacement, Brig. Gen. Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir has few international ties and seems much less inclined to be “America’s man in Syria.”
As a practical matter, the fighting on the ground is all done by Islamist factions now anyhow, but the US ability to spin their support for the rebels in general as shoring up a moderate faction led by Idriss is seriously compromised now, and the Obama Administration will struggle to sell its ongoing military aid to rebels as anything but de facto backing for radical Islamist factions.