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Lack of US, Western intervention in Syria helps jihadists

Hillary Clinton heads to Doha, Qatar next week to push for a shakeup in the Syrian opposition. The West must step up its game by providing advanced weapons to Syrian rebels. Fears of such weapons aiding jihadist fighters are overblown, even as Western hesitancy strengthens jihadists.

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Damaged buildings are seen in the center of Homs, Syria on Oct. 25. Op-ed contributor Daniel Nisman writes: 'Of an estimated 100,000 people involved in hostilities against the Assad regime, only several hundred seek to turn Syria into phase one of a global Islamic caliphate.'

Muhammad Al-Ibraheem/Shaam News Network/handout/Reuters

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Few would argue that US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has her work cut out for her as she heads to Doha, Qatar next week. There, she will push for a reshaping of Syria’s opposition leadership. The once-innocent popular uprising that captivated the world has degenerated into a chaotic mixture of war crimes, growing religious fundamentalism, and political uncertainty. Indeed, Syria’s uprising has become increasingly synonymous with just about everything that’s wrong with the Arab Spring.

Arming the rebels seems the obvious way out of this quagmire, creating an opposition force strong enough to topple the regime of Bashar al-Assad. But the United States is concerned that American-funded weapons would fall into the hands of jihadists fighting among the Syrian opposition. Jordan, meanwhile, recently apprehended 11 members of a Syrian-born jihadist terror cell poised to stage “destabilizing” attacks throughout Jordan.

The jihadist phenomenon in Syria, however, is not only exaggerated, but reversible – at least for now. Indeed, atrocities by the Syrian opposition have been committed by moderate and extremist rebel factions alike. What’s important in the arm-or-not-arm discussion is how the opposition as a whole visualizes the future of Syria.

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