A Slight Problem in Syria

Maybe I missed it in a weekend devoted to an estate sale rather than politics, but did you see this little news item from Agence France-Press dominating world media coverage? No, wait, let me guess: you didn’t.

Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State have agreed a non-aggression pact for the first time in a suburb of the capital Damascus, a monitoring group said on Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the ceasefire deal was agreed between IS and moderate and Islamist rebels in Hajar al-Aswad, south of the capital.

Under the deal, “the two parties will respect a truce until a final solution is found and they promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime.”

Nussayri is a pejorative term for the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.

In a separate news story from Saturday, the head of the “moderate” Free Syrian Army categorically refused to join any anti-IS coalition unless it includes a pledge to depose Assad.

Perhaps this was all anticipated by the Obama administration and others–indeed, it does help explain the apparent desire of John McCain and Lindsay Graham to go to war with the entire region. But it doesn’t speak well for the idea that anyone who encounters IS understands immediately the organization must be destroyed at any cost lest or the world will come to an abrupt end.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.