According to a February 12 report from Al Arabiya, the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham is actually in cahoots with the Assad regime, and is part of a plot to undermine the Syrian resistance.

The report goes on to say that the Syrian National Coalition has revealed documents showing that several ISIS commanders are former Syrian Army officers, and claims that while the FSA has gotten pounded by the Syrian Air Force while larger, and according to the SNC, more conspicuous ISIS camps have gone unscathed.  They also claim that raids by the FSA on ISIS camps have turned up similar weapons and equipment to the Syrian Army’s, and that they have found signs of Iranian documents and government passports.

Given the fact that the FSA and the SNC have become increasingly sidelined by the jihadist groups that have taken the lead in the fight against the Iranian-backed Assad regime, these claims shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Conspiracy theories have long been a staple in Arab discourse, and not on the fringe side like they are in the West.  Often these theories have been put forward as truth by official Arabic state information sources.  For instance, it was claimed by several Arab governments and news sources that the 9/11 attacks were undertaken by the Mossad.

The FSA might have been the leading rebel group at the beginning of the civil war, but that is no longer the case, by a long shot.  The recent Islamist alliances, including the recent Jabhaat Islamiya, have rendered the mostly secular group increasingly irrelevant, as more and more units defect from the FSA to join the Salafist organizations.  Under heavy pressure from the government and bleeding strength to more hard-line Islamic rebel groups, the FSA has to be getting desperate.  What better way to try to regain some footing with the other rebel groups than to accuse another, more powerful group (one that is already unpopular with the rest of the opposition) of being in cahoots with the government?

Now, it is not outside the realm of possibility that some ISIS personnel did defect from the government forces, and even worked with the Iranians.  During the American occupation of Iraq, Iran was working with any group that wanted to kill Americans.  There was considerable cross-pollination between Tehran and AQI; Zarqawi was actually working out of Tehran for some time even before the war, and the remnants of Ansar al Islam in the North fled across the border into Iran, where some elements are still hiding out.  Recent years have seen almost as much cooperation between Shi’a and Sunni Islamists as conflict, so finding some evidence of that cooperation should come as no surprise.

However, admitting to that wouldn’t suit the FSA’s propaganda purposes, particularly in the situation the organization now finds itself in.  This can probably be put down to desperation more than anything else, and speaks to the FSA’s increasingly untenable position.  It certainly isn’t in a leadership position anymore.

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