Romney’s Syria Problem
His support for “opposition groups” is misplaced.

Mitt Romney campaigns in Warwick, R.I., May 31, 2012.


Andrew C. McCarthy

Congratulations to Mitt Romney. In calling for “opposition groups” to be armed and trained for their ongoing jihad against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, the GOP’s presidential contender has managed to align himself with al-Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahiri and Muslim Brotherhood icon Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Like the legacy media, the McCain wing of the Republican party, and the rest of Washington’s progressive, Islamophilic clerisy, Governor Romney is reacting to a regime-engineered massacre last week. Assad’s forces reportedly killed 108 Syrians in Houla, a rural enclave outside the “opposition” city of Homs. Victims included women and children shot at close range, in summary-execution style.

There is no gainsaying that Assad is despicable or that the Houla episode was barbaric. Neither can it be denied, however, that Romney and his advisers have had little to say about the similarly barbaric attacks carried out by the “opposition.” About two weeks before Houla, for example, a car bomb killed 55 people in Damascus — targeting a regime intelligence building, but detonated at rush hour, in the al-Qaeda fashion, for maximum civilian carnage. A few days later, nine more people were killed when a suicide bomber exploded his device in a parking lot near a military compound in Deir ez-Zor, a notorious jihadist hub from which thousands of terrorists crossed into Iraq to fight against Western forces.

Yes, Assad’s minority Alawite Muslim regime is a key ally of Iran’s revolutionary Shiite-supremacist government. That does not alter the stubborn fact that the anti-Assad “opposition groups” are dominated by Sunni supremacists. Stubborn facts cannot be evaded by clever labeling — “opposition groups” in Syria having become the euphemism du jour that “rebels” was in Libya, “peaceful protesters” in Egypt, “uprisings” in Tunisia, and so on. Nor can we confidently assert any longer that what is bad for Iran must be good for us. Threats are dynamic, and much has changed in the last decade. The Iranian regime is not the only virulently anti-American revolutionary movement realistically threatening to enslave the Middle East in its version of totalitarian sharia and implacable anti-Semitism.  

The Muslim Brotherhood, leader of the Sunni supremacists, has a hammer-lock on the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition group the Obama administration has been courting — with the McCain wing cheering from the sidelines. Meanwhile, as trumpeted on the Brotherhood’s website, Sheikh Qaradawi has been organizing Syria’s Islamist revolt for months, reprising the starring role he is playing in Egypt. Al-Qaeda — whose help the Brotherhood is happy to have when it is expedient, as it was in Libya — put its muscle into the Syrian revolt months ago. As the invaluable John Rosenthal reported here at NRO, Obama’s national intelligence director, James Clapper, has acknowledged al-Qaeda’s infiltration of the Syrian opposition. The terror network’s hand in the recent string of bombings is obvious, even to the Associated Press. Its presence and influence at opposition rallies are also patent.

Washington can idealize the Syrian “opposition” into liberty-loving freedom-fighters; to Syrian Christians, they are the jihad. With churches being torched, families being terrorized by kidnappings and murders, and thousands of believers being put to flight, Christian are now suffering the same fate “Islamic democracy” held for the Christians of Egypt and Iraq. (Jews face no such problem; after decades of humiliating dhimmitude, they have long since been driven out of Syria.)