McClatchy DC quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Fellow Faysal Itani on the Obama administration’s decision-making process in deciding which Syrian rebel militias are acceptable partners:

Faysal Itani, a Syria specialist with the Washington-based Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, says Ahrar al Sham itself is riven by debate over what direction to go.

“Some within the party argue that the group would benefit from outreach to the West, just as some in the West argue that engagement with Ahrar al Sham would be wise,” he said. “At the end of the day, however, they are militant Salafis,” a description that places Ahrar at the conservative end of Muslims.

But Itani said that conclusion may not disqualify Ahrar from acceptance at peace talks. “The real question is whether we can live with them in Syria,” he said. “The answer seems to be, ‘Probably, and we don’t seem to have much choice.”

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