The Shia and Sunni war has been going on for centuries. The conflict in Syria has gone from being a movement to support the rights of the people to a holy war against the Shia rulers who are seen as oppressing the Sunni population of the country. But that’s not the story.
There isn’t one single rebel opposition in Syria. The major ones (apart from the Kurdish Council) come under the umbrella of the Syrian National Council(SNC). This organization, formed in 2011, operates out of Istanbul and is internationally accepted to be the face of the struggle. The other major opposition force is the Free Syrian Army (FSA), although it is part of the coalition as well, it is one of the major influencers in Syria. A bloody battle ensued between the rebel groups and the army providing a fertile ground for radical Islamist groups to find relevance for themselves again.
What has actually happened is totally different. Instead of cooperation, a side war has begun between the FSA and the jihadists. Both have engaged in fighting each other on one front and fighting the government forces on the other. The latest incident of the fighting is the assassination of a senior FSA officer by a jihadist group on Friday, in return the FSA has threatened a blood feud. To the despair of the western powers and the FSA, large portions of the country is now in control of fringe rebel groups who welcome the support of organizations such as the Al- Qaeda and Taliban. Wealthy Arab sympathizers who had funded the Taliban before look to do the same now in this war, which is being fought on two fronts.
The US and the other western observers now look to actively engage in the Syrian conflict to ensure that radical forces don’t take control. A tricky spot where active participation of the US will lead to an act of war and more reasons for terrorist organizations to enter the war. At the same time, US cannot do with inaction because extremist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, which has publicly pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda and have been the most successful in operations against troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, a trend which is increasingly becoming common. It’s no surprise that President Obama had earlier announced that the US will provide weapons shipment to Syrian rebels which as of today has been approved by the congressional panel giving the final go ahead where the weapons will be routed through the CIA. Meanwhile, the rebels in Syria will look to take all the help they can get to fight Assad forces on one side and the extremist forces on the other.