ISIS Is Only One Piece of Syria's Extremist Puzzle

(Wall Street Journal) Aaron David Miller - According to a report from the UK Centre on Religion and Geopolitics, 60% of the major Syrian rebel groups are Islamic extremists. About a third identify with ideologies similar to those claimed by ISIS. Unless Assad goes, the war in Syria will continue and escalate, since 90% see ousting Assad as the key goal. These findings suggest that the Russian policy of supporting Assad is at odds with sentiments on the ground. It's hard to draw a line between radical and moderate rebel groups. Across Syria, Islamists of varying persuasions fight alongside non-ideological groups against Assad and ISIS. Defeating ISIS will leave Islamists in charge. Groups with extremist orientations and ideologies are waiting to inherit Syria if ISIS falls. Defeating ISIS won't address the problem of the jihadis, the report found, unless "it is accompanied by an intellectual and theological defeat of the pernicious ideology that drives it." The writer is a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.

2015-12-24 00:00:00

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