U.S. officials saw Syrian extremists as ‘assets’ – analyst

Former U.S. envoy to Syria James Jeffrey and other officials in Washington, saw extremist groups like Hayat Tahrir al Sham (Levant Liberation Committee – HTS) as “assets” for U.S. policy in Syria, analyst Seth Frantzman wrote in the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

In a review of the Fronline PBS interview with HTS leader Mohammad al-Jolani, Frantzman said the extremists represent themselves as not being a threat to the security of Europe and the United States.

“They are selling themselves to the West now”, he said, and warned at the same time that “ISIS also emerged out of this milieu, beginning with local grievances and then going on to commit genocide of minorities and later to terrorize the world.”

Women have no visible public role at rallies or in public office under the HTS and religious minorities have all been removed from an area that was once diverse, according to Frantzman.

“It is unclear why the U.S. would be leading a coalition against ISIS on the one hand and then also view groups that are similar to ISIS as an asset on the other,” he said, and hints to a clash of policy inside different departments of the U.S. government.

Some members of the U.S. State department were close to Turkey, he said, and were “openly contemptuous of the Pentagon and the U.S.-led coalition’s military component at Central Command.”

In the Syrian battlefield this would mean that HTS could be used as an “asset” against the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the analyst said.