Politics
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department in Washington, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, about the situation in Syria. Kerry said chemical weapons were used in Syria, and accused Assad of destroying evidence. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Kerry insists Syrian rebels are secular

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Despite evidence to the contrary, Secretary of State John Kerry told a Senate hearing Tuesday that Syria’s rebel forces are increasingly dominated by secular groups.

“It’s our judgment that — and the judgment of our good friends who actually know a lot of this in many ways better than we do because it’s their region, their neighborhood — … [that] the secular component of Syria will re-emerge” once the Syrian government is deposed, Kerry claimed in the hearing.

Those “good friends” are officials from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, which are all religious and political enemies of Syria’s embattled dictatorship.

“I’m talking about the Saudis, the Emirates, the Qataris, the Turks, the Jordanians,” he said.

The democratic bonafides of Syria’s rebels are important. That’s because President Barack Obama’s planned intervention in Syria — following the Aug. 21 nerve gas attack on Syrians by the government — may weaken the dictatorship enough to help the rebels possibly impose an Islamic dictatorship.

Kerry dismissed numerous media reports from inside Syria that say the rebels are dominated by groups that are fundamentalist, fanatical, well-funded and increasingly entwined with al-Qaeda-style jihadi veterans.

The rebels “have changed significantly — they have improved, and as I said earlier, the fundamentals of Syria are secular, and I believe, will stay that way,” insisted Kerry, who served as a Massachusetts Senator for 28 years until he became Secretary of State.

Kerry’s claim echoes the much-ridiculed Feb. 2010 claim by then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that the multinational Muslim brotherhood is “largely secular.”

That claim was debunked when the brotherhood’s political candidates took full power in Egypt in 2012, and promptly imposed an Islamic constitution that imposed an apartheid-style legal regime on women, Christians and Jews.

There’s much evidence that the Syrian rebel coalition is dominated by the brotherhood and even more radical al-Qaeda groups.

For example, the director of the Syrian rebels’ political office is Louay Safi, a Syrian-American who worked for brotherhood-affiliated groups in the United States, according to his own resume and the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

The rebels’ political coalition is the Syrian National Council, which is now headed by a Saudi-backed Syrian, Ahmad Asi al-Jarba.

At the hearing, Kerry vouched for al-Jarba. “He is prepared to come here as soon as those meetings are over in order to meet with you, and you can have an opportunity to talk to President Jarba and meet with the opposition, have a much better sense of who they are,” Kerry told Senators during the hearing.