The one-year anniversary of a chemical weapons strike near Damascus, which killed hundreds of civilians and is widely blamed on the Syrian regime, is a good time to take stock of the sagging fortunes of Syria’s anti-regime opposition.
One year after the horrific event, the world’s headlines are dominated by the ultra-extremists of ISIS, which is exactly the kind of scenario that Damascus has sought all along. The regime of President Bashar Assad is not in great shape, but it must be overjoyed to find itself being talked about in the same breath as ISIS, while the mainstream opposition and the Free Syrian Army are virtually nowhere to be seen.
The truth is that the political and military opposition to Assad exist, but seem incapable of getting their houses in order, as the death toll rises and outrageous crimes continue to pile up. The National Coalition has issued statement after statement talking about its intention to relocate to inside the war-torn country, but to no avail.
The rebels, meanwhile, are fond of talking about the need for a truly unified military force – especially since they are confronting both the regime and ISIS – but again, with no tangible results.
And with the world’s attention now focused squarely on the threat posed by ISIS, it is no time for the anti-regime camp to pursue the same old, failed policies. Millions of Syrians have been displaced, wounded, traumatized or killed in the conflict, which continues to grind on. The task of the political and military opposition is not to document these crimes, but to contribute to a solution – or give way to those who can.