Fareed speaks with Joshua Landis, director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies, about his proposal for addressing the Syria crisis. Watch the full interview this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.
So let’s understand why you think that the solution that so many people keep urging, which is that the United States supports those rebels in the blue areas and that they will therefore win. They will establish control, create perhaps a democratic Syria. Why is that not going to work?
Well, it’s not going to work because most of the blue area are dominated by the big rebel groups which are al Qaeda and the Islamic Front, which are jihadist, very anti-American groups. The pro-American militias just got wiped out in the northern blue spot, Jabal al-Zawiya. They just got pushed aside by al Qaeda. And so they’re very small. They may own perhaps 1 or 2 percent of Syria today, the rebels that are being backed by the United States.
So to turn those 2 percent into winners, that would not only wipe out ISIS, but taking on al-Assad would be a gargantuan undertaking.
So they have to beat Al-Nusra and al Qaeda and Khorasan. Then they’ve got to beat ISIS. Then they’ve got to beat al-Assad.
Yes, it’s not going to happen. And we’ve only – President Obama has given them half a billion dollars. Now, at the University of Oklahoma we have an endowment of much more than a billion dollars and we can’t even pay the students to go for free.
So they’re not going to build an army for that kind of money. This is just chump change that’s there to satisfy, I presume, people who are criticizing the president.