November 3, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 6206

Former 'Al-Sharq Al-Awsat' Editor Al-Rashed On U.S. Decision To Send Forces To Syria: What Can 50 Americans Do Against 30,000 ISIS Fighters, 100,000 Fighters Under Iranian Direction, And 30,000 Russian Troops?

November 3, 2015
Kuwait | Special Dispatch No. 6206

In his November 2, 2015 column on the Al-Arabiya website, former editor of the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and former Al-Arabiya director 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed wrote about the recent U.S. decision to send some 50 special operations military personnel on a noncombat mission to Syria to support local forces. Under the title "Only 50 U.S. Military Personnel In Syria!" he asked what they would be able to do against the 30,000 fighters from the Islamic State (ISIS) and similar groups, the 100,000 "fighters of different nationalities" under Iranian direction, and the 30,000 Russian troops in Syria. This move, he said, was widely viewed as evidence that the U.S. "is not serious regarding anything it says about Syria," and added that it had been expected to "support the Syrian national opposition with arms, intelligence and diplomacy" in order to arrive at "the only possible solution" - the removal of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.  

The following is his column, in the original English; it originally appeared in Arabic in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, also on November 2, 2015.

Al-Rashed. Source: Al-Arabiya, November 3, 2015.  

"It Would Have Been Better If Washington Had Not Sent Anyone, Instead Of Only 50 Military Personnel"

"The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and similar groups have an army of more than 30,000 fighters in Syria. The Iranians say they are managing 100,000 fighters of different nationalities, while the Russians have around 3,000 troops. Washington has finally decided to send a force... of only 50 military personnel. We do not know [what] they will be able to do, or the political meaning of sending them.

"Everyone views this as an indication that Washington is not serious regarding anything it says about Syria, whether on the level of confronting ISIS, rejecting Russian expansion, or its keenness over a transition of power as part of a plan to end the civil war. It would have been better if Washington had not sent anyone, instead of only 50 military personnel.

"What was expected from it was to support the Syrian national opposition with arms, intelligence and diplomacy in order to impose on ongoing negotiations the only possible solution: a Syria without Bashar al-Assad in power, and the establishment of a transitional authority that consists of figures from the current government and the opposition. Without such a plan, the war and the presence of terrorist groups will be prolonged. 


"Unlike the Americans, the Russians arrived in Syria with a political message that is supported by fighter jets. They are gaining unprecedented influence as a result. However, the Russians must feel now that their air force will not end the siege on the Assad regime. Assad himself is besieged in Damascus. So far, daily Russian shelling of Aleppo governorate has only resulted in displacing tens of thousands of residents to areas controlled by extremist groups.

"Syria has become more dangerous than Afghanistan in terms of threatening world security, as it is the biggest nest of terrorist organizations, and is producing trained fighters and preparing them to return home to start a new journey of violence."

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