US recognizes Free Syrian Army 'except for the terrorists'recognized the Free Syrian Army as the legitimate government of Syria... except for one group that's
Obama announced his decision in an interview with ABC News on the eve of a meeting of Syrian opposition leaders and their international allies in Morocco, but he stopped short of authorizing US arming of rebels fighting to overthrow Assad.
"It's a big step," Obama said in a step that could provide a diplomatic boost to the anti-Assad political cause after nearly two years of fighting.But don't worry. The Americans are still leading from behind.
France, Britain, Turkey and the Gulf states led the way last month in recognizing the opposition coalition. But Washington held off until now, demanding the groups, dogged by splits and rivalries throughout their battle to end the Assad family's long authoritarian rule, do more to coalesce into a unified front.
A formal endorsement by Obama, accused by critics of failing to respond forcefully enough to the bloody Syrian conflict, could mark a new phase in his efforts to isolate Assad, who has defied repeated US calls to step down.
But little in the way of direct military or financial support is expected to be channeled to the coalition at the Morocco meeting on Wednesday, partly because it lacks the ability to act as a provisional government and because Western powers are still wary of backing Islamist fighters in the rebel ranks.And then there's the matter of that
Obama specifically singled out the radical Islamist Syrian group Jabhat al-Nusrah, which the United States on Tuesday designated as a foreign terrorist organization that it said was trying to hijack the rebellion on behalf of al-Qaida in Iraq.
US officials said the al-Nusra group had claimed responsibility for carrying out nearly 600 attacks in major cities that have killed numerous innocent Syrians during the uprising against Assad.
US officials said it was an important signal both to the Syrian opposition and its foreign supporters, particularly in the Gulf, that al-Nusra and its ilk cannot play a part in Syria's eventual political transition.Jabhat al-Nusrah's role sounds kind of like Hezbullah in Lebanon, doesn't it?
What could go wrong?