As was reported several days ago, the latest embarrassment for US foreign policy in Syria took place when the US-backed commander of the Free Syrian Army was forced to flee the country to Qatar after "Islamist fighters ran the top Western-backed rebel commander out of his headquarters." In other words, the Islamic Front, which is a more palatable name for the six major groups among Syria's religious extremist rebels, or as some call them, Al Qaeda, is now the only entity "fighting" the regime of Assad (funded with Qatari and Saudi financial generosity), which as recently as September was a very theatrically sworn enemy of John Kerry. So what is an isolated America to do in a country in which ambitions for Qatari nat gas pipelines will almost certainly rear their heads as soon as the spring of 2014? Why engage directly with Al Qaeda, pardon, the Islamic Front of course. Because the enemy of my enemy, who obstinately refuses to throw Putin under the bus or allow a Qatari gas pipeline under their territory, is my friend.
U.S. officials may meet commanders from Syria's Islamic Front this week, the State Department said, after the grouping took control of weapon depots belonging to the Western-backed opposition.
Over the weekend, Reuters reported that these talks were expected to take place but U.S. representatives based in Turkey were unable to give details about a visit from U.S. Syria envoy Robert Ford.
"State Department officials might be meeting with representatives of the Islamic Front this week," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday. She said that did not signify a change in U.S. support for the Syrian National Coalition, the moderate political opposition.
One wonders just what weapons will the US promise to various Al Qaeda members of the Islamic Front, and how it will safeguard and prevent the use of said weapons against the US?
As for what is next for the extremist "negotiators"? A trip to Geneva, preferably first class.
The State Department spokeswoman said in her email that Syria's political opposition had started to seek contact with the Islamic Front, a step that "we welcome as the opposition prepares for the Geneva 2 conference".
Monzer Akbik, chief of staff in the Syrian National Coalition, said the Islamic Front would be welcome to take part in Geneva, even though it has so far rejected participation.
"We would love it if the Islamic Front went to Geneva 2," said another coalition leader on condition of anonymity.
"We haven't offered them any seats but if they want to go we can figure out an arrangement with them. Geneva 2 can only be meaningful if it is supported by fighters in Syria which includes the Islamic Front."
Or, as all of the above will be summarized by the US State Department: success.