Though last month he dismissed the whole strategy as a “fantasy,” President Obama has long been bullish on the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the mostly secular rebel faction that they’ve been bankrolling for years in an effort to foster regime change in Syria.
The FSA is irked, however, that they’ve found themselves on the outside looking in as the US begins planning for an escalation of their new ISIS war into Syria. They figured they were in for a bunch of new aid, but they’re not even in the planning meetings.
FSA leaders claim they’ve been marginalized, as the US aid is sent directly to its various fighters without going through the FSA chain of command. The US has responded that the FSA leaders don’t have a good working relationship with them, and that’s why they’re no longer part of the equation.
US disillusionment with the FSA dates back to last December, when the Islamic Front routed the FSA leadership, chased their commander into Turkey, and seized several warehouses full of US-provided aid.
Despite some very public ties between the Islamic Front and al-Qaeda, the US has since been trying to portray the group as the “moderate Islamists” of Syria, and has been arming some of them as well.
The FSA never proved itself a viable opponent for the Syrian military, and often relied on Islamist factions to do the heavy lifting in battle. In that regard, it’s unsurprising that the US isn’t putting its eggs in that particular basket.