TOO LATE IN SYRIA? – AT 9:43 A.M. ET: We are getting constant warnings from authoritative sources that our failure to take stronger action in Syria can leave a vacuum for Islamist groups to enter. That now appears to be happening, compounding our already grave problems in the Mideast. From The Wall Street Journal:
Suicide blasts on Monday and a series of other bombings across Syria have renewed concerns that unrest there is giving extremist Islamist groups room to grow, a scenario Western officials fear will make it more difficult to contain the crisis.
The development also complicates efforts to encourage compliance with a United Nations-brokered cease-fire by President Bashar al-Assad—who has long held that the uprising against him is the work of terrorists.
Two suicide bombings ripped through busy districts of the northern city of Idlib early Monday, killing at least nine people and injuring at least 100, the government said. Earlier, rocket-propelled grenades hit the central-bank building in Damascus.
There have been eight suicide attacks reported in Syria since December, including two Monday and a bombing on Friday that killed at least 10 people.
Western and Arab officials and some members of the Syrian opposition say the attacks point to the growing activities of al Qaeda and radical Sunni Islamist groups in operations against the Syrian regime, as the popular uprising against Mr. Assad has developed into armed conflict.
U.S. officials, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have said strikes on security and intelligence buildings in Damascus and Aleppo over the past four months have resembled al Qaeda attacks, and that extremists, mainly al Qaeda insurgents from Iraq, may have infiltrated Syrian opposition groups.
COMMENT: Douglas MacArthur once said that all military disasters begin with two words: too late. We may well be seeing this in Syria. If the extremists take over the opposition, we lose no matter who has power. Iran backs the Assad regime, but the Iranians would probably feel just as comfortable working with a radical Islamist government.
It is estimated that as many as 11,000 have been killed in the revolt so far. President Obama seems little interested, and has restrained the West from taking action more decisive than some ineffective sanctions.
Our position in the Mideast is eroding, but the president expects to sell foreign policy as one of the victories of his administration. I wonder what he thinks defeat looks like.
May 1, 2012