US President Barack Obama could have “wiped out Islamic State quickly” if he had acted earlier, but now that the group has spread and strengthened, it will be more difficult, said an Israeli Druse who is in frequent contact with the Syrian opposition.
Mendi Safadi, an Israeli Druse who served as former Likud deputy minister Ayoub Kara’s chief of staff, has independently met with members of the liberal and democratic Syrian opposition who oppose the Islamists and want friendly relations with Israel.
Safadi, who met with senior opposition officials last week, has traveled in the region, met with activists, and relayed messages from them to the Prime Minister’s Office.
He was responsible for relaying the congratulatory letters from the Syrian opposition to then President-elect Reuven Rivlin.
Islamic State should have been dealt with months ago, when it was concentrated in much smaller territory, Safadi told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Sunday.
“Islamic State is a cancer,” and just like the disease, “it needed to be attacked before it spread.”
“Islamic State now controls about a third of Syrian land,” said Rami Abdelrahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, as quoted in the Financial Times on Sunday. It also has made inroads in large swaths of northern and western Iraq.
Islamic State could have been finished off three months ago if the US had acted decisively at that time, said Safadi, but now that the group has spread, it will require a much more robust ground operation to eliminate the group’s hold on territory in Iraq and Syria.
Safadi showed the Post documentation identifying two apparent spies who infiltrated Islamic State and were sending him information about the group in return for cash.
Not all of the fighters affiliated with Islamic State are true believers, he said, noting that some have come to the conclusion on their own that the group is extreme and dangerous.
Safadi also claimed that his sources in Islamic State told him about the group’s upcoming declaration of a caliphate, a month-and-a-half before it was to occur.
Safadi said that he shared the intelligence with Israel and contacts in the United States six months ago, but no action that he is aware of was taken to halt the group at that point.
Asked about the view from the Prime Minister’s Office, Safadi said that it sees the possible long-term danger from radical Islamic groups, but that it cannot do anything about it and that the US is the one that could effectively act.
The current US policy, he asserted, is aiding and arming Muslim-Brotherhood-type rebels, whose views are antithetical to the West and Israel.
There is no chance that the Islamists in Syria could hold on to power, he said, since the population has historically been opposed to them, estimating that less than 25 percent of the population supports them.
If the US would support non-Islamist rebels, the war could be over “in a matter of months,” claimed Safadi.
Full article: Israeli in contact with Syrian Opposition : Obama let ISIS ‘cancer’ metastasize (The Jerusalem Post)