Published On: Thu, Sep 19th, 2013

John McCain disputes claim by IHS Jane’s to CFR audience

Earlier this week, the defense consultants at IHS Jane’s noted that the majority of Syrian rebels are jihadis.

As was reported in the UK Telegraph, Jane’s says the approximately 100,000 rebels are splintered into about 1,000 factions to include 10,000 al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) , another 30,000 to 35,000 are hardline Islamists who share much of the outlook of the jihadists and at least a further 30,000 moderates belonging to groups that have an Islamic character, meaning only a small minority of the rebels are linked to secular or purely nationalist groups.

Caricature by donkeyhotey, donkeyhotey.wordpress.com (cropped)

Caricature by donkeyhotey, donkeyhotey.wordpress.com (cropped)

However, at least one US Senator, who is a strong supporter of the Free Syrian Army, came out to dispute Jane’s assessment.

In a session with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Tuesday, Arizona Senator John McCain disputed such claims.

The Senator was asked by Kevin Sheehan at Multiplier Capital about the Jane’s numbers and this was the back-and-forth:

QUESTION: Kevin Sheehan at Multiplier Capital.

Senator, you’re known to be a supporter of lethal assistance to the Free Syrian Army. But of course the opposition currently consists of about 100,000 people, 1,000 to 1,200 groups — maybe 50 percent of them are moderate. How is General Idris going to…

MCCAIN: That is not true. Not true. Not true. We disagree.

QUESTION: Excuse me.

MCCAIN: We disagree on the percentage. Go ahead.

QUESTION: I’m quoting the IHS Jane’s report. But it’s clear there’s lots of jihadists and there’s lots of groups.

How will General Idris achieve unity of command within the moderate factions? And will that call for any level of cooperation with any of the factions on the religious side?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, two years ago there was none of them. I think no matter what organizations you talk to, that was the case.

Second of all, frankly I just disagree. There’s about 70 percent still who are the Free Syrian Army. But there are jihadists going in, not just from the Middle East, but the French ambassador told me there’s a couple hundred French citizens that have gone to Syria to fight on behalf of the jihadists — 5,000 Hezbollah, 5,000 Hezbollah.

The point I think that you and others are missing, Syria is a moderate nation. Syria has the highest literacy rate of any nation in the Middle East. They are not going to submit to a jihadist or Al Qaida group governing them. They will not.

Right now in some areas where Al Qaida is they’re demonstrating against them because Al Qaida is trying to impose sharia law. And that’s really a convenient cop-out to say oh we don’t know who they are. I know who they are. I was in Syria and I met them. I know who they are.

And to somehow say that there’s this group out there and it’s so disorganized, yes, there’s 1,200 units. There’s about 1,200 battalions in the United States Army. Does that mean that they’re not connected to each other? Of course not.

So, it is — if you don’t want to intervene you can always find reasons to do so. Is it a done deal? Is it easy? Was it a lot easier two years ago? Yes. But it’s very, very difficult. ,

But I guess my answer back to you I say with respect is the status quo. Satisfactory is the status quo? Satisfactory where the people are being massacred and the jihadists are flowing in, and the weapons are being flown in and the 5,000 Hezbollah. Good fighters. Good fighters these Hezbollah are. They’re not afraid to die.

There’s 5,000 that came from southern Lebanon. Doesn’t that give us some kind of pause as to what the connection here is between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah? And the — what happens if Bashar Assad stays in power? What’s the message throughout the Middle East?




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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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