This image of the Omar al-Farouq brigade was taken from the group’s website; Syrian Sunni rebel Khalid al-Hamad, who mutilated a corpse, is a member of the brigade.
I wrote this piece for Al-Monitor, look forward to your comments.
The recent gruesome video of a Syrian rebel soldier, Khalid al-Hamad, mutilating a corpse has triggered shock and outrage, fueling a tense debate over the wisdom of supporting the armed uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. While some consider the video as the ultimate proof that backing the rebels is a bad idea, others view the radicalization and increasing brutality of the armed opposition as a direct result of the weak Western response and US dithering. This later opinion is based on the assumption that an early and decisive intervention in support of the moderate factions of the Syrian rebels would have marginalized the radicals and reduced their recruiting abilities.
While debating the brutal war in Syria — and the possible solutions and the inherit risks associated with each option — there are a few issues to consider about radical groups, the factors that help increase their power, and, more important, whether early military intervention would have prevented the radicalization of the Syrian opposition.
Collapse of the state
Undoubtedly, the collapse of law and order has had an enormous impact on the rise of non-state players, particularly radical groups. Even the short-term security vacuum has created enough of an opportunity for jihadists to pour in. For example, the January 2011 revolution in Egypt has compromised security and helped jihadists to build their own safe haven in the mountains of Sinai. Syria is no different; in fact, it is easier to get into Syria due to its porous border security, particularly along the borders with Iraq and Lebanon. The lack of intervention in Syria has resulted in a chronic collapse of law and order. Any military intervention, however, would also cause law and order to crumble, and result in a more acute form that would encourage (rather than discourage) radical groups to pour into Syria under the pretext of helping the rebels. Continue reading here