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article imageOp-Ed: Free Syrian Army head General Selim Idriss fired

By Ken Hanly     Feb 17, 2014 in Politics
Istanbul - The military council of the Free Syrian Army(FSA) the western-backed umbrella group of rebel fighters announced on Friday (February 14) that it had fired General Idriss as head of the FSA. He had been appointed chief of the group in December of 2012.
In a video that was broadcast on the Internet, Colonel Qassem Saadeddine said that the decision was made due to "paralysis within the military command these past months" and the need to "restructure". The video also said that the replacement was due to "the difficulties faced by the Syrian revolution" in the conflict with the Assad regime. Idriss will be replaced by General Abdel al-Ilah al-Bachir.
An Al Jazeera reporter reporting from Istanbul Turkey claimed that the Supreme Military Council said that Idriss was "ineffective" and "lacked the military experience to run operations on the ground". He was also said to have bad relations with other forces fighting on the ground. The new leader is head of the military council in a southern province. He deserted the Syrian Army back in 2012. Abdullah Nasser al-Ayed a military analyst said: “The time spent by Salim Idriss as FSA chief was characterized by ineffective [leadership], weakness, and strong divisions, particularly in the past few months,”
Idriss was head of the FSA when the militant group ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and Levant) seized his headquarters and warehouses. While the group has since been driven out of the area, Idriss had to flee Syria at the time. The Islamic Front drove out the rival ISIL.
Many rebel groups refuse to accept the authority of the Syrian National Council and its military associate the Free Syrian Army. The FSA is now a much lesser force compared to the Islamic Front and two militant Islamist groups the ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra. The Islamic Front is now the largest rebel force.
The second round of Geneva 2 peace talks ended recently with little progress. The two sides have incompatible agendas with the opposition demanding a transitional government without Assad, and the Syrians insisting on addressing what it calls the problem of terrorism. Assad so far has refused to step down. A date for a third round of talks has yet to be set.
The decline in power of the FSA may have less to do with leadership than the fact that the rebels find that they are getting more support from Arab countries that have an Islamist agenda and most rebels are not interested in serving the western-backed agenda of creating a pluralist, liberal, democratic Syria. They want to replace the Shia minority government of Assad by a Sunni Islamist government that would have the support of other Sunni Middle East states such as Saudi Arabia although some of the more radical al-Qaeda type groups such as ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra want an even more radical Islamist state.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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