Syrian endgame could begin with Aleppo - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East: This column has warned for more than two years of the campaign to mainstream radical jihadi groups under the rubric of the “moderate” Syria opposition. This trend has done a disservice to the true secular, democratic opposition that rose against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2011. In November 2015, we advocated keeping Ahrar al-Sham out of the Syrian political process, despite the group’s purported influence “on the ground,” which is at least in part due to its collaboration with the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group. Unfortunately, Syrian democrats can’t rely on the largesse of regional patrons who don’t mind a sectarian edge to the anti-Assad military campaign. Even prominent former American diplomats are ready to welcome Ahrar al-Sham and their fellow jihadi travelers into the peace fold, as long as there is some tactical divergence with Jabhat al-Nusra and these groups are willing to “engage” with the West.