It isn’t just that we are intervening on behalf of the rebels in Syria by providing weapons. We are intervening on behalf of a specific faction of rebels, with various Arab states supporting the other faction. Since you can’t tell the players without a program, after the jump we have a guide to who’s fighting who in this complicated proxy war we’ve gotten ourselves into.
Why decide now to announce stepped-up direct support for Gen. Salim Idriss and his rebel forces? It is surely not a coincidence that the Syrian military — with the help of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia backed by Iran — has been pulverizing the rebels in recent weeks and now threatens to recapture Aleppo, the country’s commercial hub.
Hence, a complicated proxy war: The United States supports Idriss. Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are U.S. allies, send money and arms to competing rebel factions that dream of turning Syria into an Islamic republic. Russia, Iran and Hezbollah are supporting Assad with weapons, money and — in the case of Hezbollah — well-trained troops. The rebel side is mostly Sunni; the government side largely Shiite.
As I said, this will not end well.