In two windowless offices just one block away from the White House, Mouaz Moustafa is working to persuade Congress and the executive branch to put the weight of American power behind the Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.
The 28-year-old leads the Syrian Emergency Task Force, the group that famously snuck Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain into Syria in May to meet with leaders of the Syrian opposition. McCain calls Moustafa a “patriot” and says he is “a tireless champion for the cause of freedom for Syria.”
Robert Zarate of the Foreign Policy Initiative, a think tank that supports greater American intervention in Syria, says that Moustafa’s group has been “indispensable” in fight to get American power more involved in the Syrian conflict.
“The Syrian Emergency Task Force, along with the Syrian Support Group, both have played indispensable roles in helping U.S. policymakers and lawmakers not only to better understand, but also to respond more effectively to, the escalating crisis in Syria,” he told TheDC.
When TheDC met Moustafa in late June, he looked as if the weight of Aleppo was on his shoulders. He had just returned from one of his regular trips to Syria, where the over two year long revolution-turned-civil war has not been going particularly well for the rebels. Estimates have put the death toll of the conflict at over 100,000 since March 2011.
Moustafa argues that if the U.S. doesn’t act soon to help the opposition forces succeed, the consequences could be dire for Syria — and bloody for America.
Among the parade of horribles Moustafa foresees is a decade-long civil war that tears the “social fabric of Syria apart,” that destroys the institutions that exist in Syria, that empowers Iran and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah, that breaks up Syria into various fiefdoms controlled by different factions, that destabilizes Jordan and that allows Syria’s chemical weapons to spread to terrorist groups. And this, he warned ominously, could come back to bite America.
“The Syrian people are smart and they know the United States has the power to depose their regime tomorrow if they wanted,” he said. “They expected much more.”
“I think there would be a lot of people who would want revenge from the people who allowed this to happen to them,” he added, seemingly evoking a future in which a disconcerted group of rebels violently lash out against Americans if the U.S. doesn’t do more to bring down the Assad regime.