US Strategy in Syria in Tatters With Moderates’ Collapse

CIA-Armed Faction's Dissolution Has US Scrambling for New Allies

The US war against ISIS isn’t going very well in Iraq, but those struggles pale in comparison to the war in Syria, where the US strategy is in outright tatters, and its few allies falling apart.

The decision to attack al-Qaeda along with ISIS at the start of the war is looking like a serious blunder, as al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front turned on US-armed “moderate” factions, and has routed them almost entirely out of the north.

The Hazm Movement, one of the bigger CIA-armed rebel factions, officially dissolved this past week after losing the last of their bases to Nusra in Aleppo Province.

Though the US still has some allies along the Jordan border, these too are entirely at the mercy of al-Qaeda, and would likely be wiped out quickly if Nusra turned on them as well.

Having made an enemy of ISIS, Nusra, and the Assad Government, the US is essentially at war with all meaningful factions, while the smaller groups, to the extent they even still exist, continue to tear each other apart.

That leaves the Pentagon hoping to create a new “ally” in a year or two, and other officials openly talking about trying to spin al-Qaeda as a relatively moderate faction just so they have somebody meaningful to arm.

Neither seems likely to work, and so the US war in Syria is likely to just mean intermittent airstrikes to benefit Kurdish factions that the US can’t officially deal with because they’re listed as terrorist organizations, and no progress anywhere.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.