Think Tank: Most Syrian Rebel Groups Ideologically Similar To ISIS

FSA fighters take cover from incoming Syrian Army fire in the Izaa district in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. (AP/Manu Brabo)

Syrian rebel fighters take cover from incoming Syrian Army fire in the Izaa district in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. (AP/Manu Brabo)

A new report from the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics, a think tank that is part of the “Tony Blair Faith Foundation,” is warning that the military defeat of ISIS, while nominally desirable in and of itself, will do materially nothing to stop the Islamist takeover of the region.

The report says a third of the rebel factions, representing roughly 60% of rebel fighters, are ideologically similar to ISIS, and that 15 different rebel factions would eagerly step in and fill the vacuum if ISIS was defeated militarily.

Exactly how broadly they define “ideologically similar” is unclear, but the report appears to focus on Salafist movements, which would include several major rebel factions, including al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra and the Saudi-backed Ahrar al-Sham.

Ironically, at times a lot of these Salafist groups have been presented by Western officials as “moderates,” and as the allies who could be used to defeat ISIS. While that may be technically true, the think tank warns the defeat of ISIS doesn’t really end anything, but simply props up another, ideologically compatible faction in their place.

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