The Americans seem to have shifted their focus, at least for the time-being, from Afghanistan to Syria. And its has enlisted new allies. According to reports, Al Qaeda and the US are fighting a battle to topple their common foe; Bashar al Assad regime in Syria. Shocked anyone? Al Qaeda is America’s Enemy Number One because it launched the worst attacks on American soil on 9/11. The US has spent a whopping sum of more than a trillion dollars of American taxpayers’ money to fight and eliminate al Qaeda and yet this terrorist outfit has proved to be a formidable force. And it is now proving to be a useful entity to fight Syrian regime. Americans, in the hope to use al Qaeda for the US interests, is secretly and indirectly funding and arming it enemy to fight another enemy.
On the other hand, the opposition to Bashar al Assad, mostly Islamists and Al-Qaeda, find it quite expedient to have an alliance with the Americans or with any secular opposition forces to come to power. Once they are in power, they can deal with the Americans on their own terms. The Americans think they can use Al-Qaeda temporarily, if they have to, to get rid of the Syrian regime, and they will somehow manage to get rid of them. So, unfortunately they are apparently working together.
Apparently, al Qaeda is not a lone fighter; it is fighting alongside Sunni militants, like elsewhere. Almost everywhere that al-Qaida has been active throughout the world, its strategy has been to embed their fighters in existing local forces. Essentially, al-Qaida members who have had previous combat experience are offering to help the local forces be more effective — and that may be too good an offer for Syrian rebels to refuse as they battle the well-armed Assad regime. But the U.S. officials worry that al-Qaida will be able to take advantage. If Assad falls, al-Qaida may be able to leverage its willingness to fight now into something bigger — like attacks against the West — later on.
Al Qaeda’s leadership has put out a call to jihadis around the world to drop what they are doing and come to Syria to fight. The growing sectarian nature of the battle in Syria has turned out to be tailor made for al-Qaida’s followers. The U.S. State Department‘s top counterterrorism official, Daniel Benjamin, said that in many ways al-Qaida’s possible move into Syria is no surprise. Syria is in chaos — and al-Qaida gravitates toward chaos.
On the other hand, Kofi Annan, the Joint Special Envoy for the UN and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, announced his decision to resign in frustration over the failure of the United Nations Security Council to pass a strong resolution that would enforce compliance with his six point Syrian peace plan. Arab League members led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar went to the UN General Assembly for a symbolic vote on a resolution strongly condemning the Assad regime. Surprisingly, the resolution said nothing about al Qaeda and other Islamist jihadists who are hijacking the armed opposition and committing their own atrocities.
The final draft resolution passed on August 3rd, with 133 in favor, 31 abstaining and 12 against. In order to secure more votes in favor of the resolution, its Arab League sponsors had to water down its text. They agreed to remove a demand that President Assad resign. They also agreed to water down a call for other nations to impose sanctions on Syria. Without such dilution, the resolution would most likely have failed to gain a supporting majority.
This is probably all what a toothless body like the UN could do. The present Syria fighting is essentially a proxy war, with regional and international players arming one side or the other. Presently, there are at least four inter-related layers of geo-political-religious elements at work beyond the fighting among the Syrians themselves.
According to NPR, , there is the religious and political battle being played out between Shiite Iran and the Sunni Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Iran is eager to maintain its sphere of influence in Syria through its alliance with Assad (who is affiliated with a Shiite minority sect known as the Alawites ruling Syria). Saudi Arabia and Qatar aim to roll back Iran’s ambitions for hegemony in the region and are supporting the Sunni majority in Syria in their revolt against Assad and the Alawites. Hence, Iran is beefing up Assad’s regime with arms and the support of its Revolutionary Guard. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding and providing arms for the opposition.
Second, al Qaeda is using the chaos in Syria to establish another Islamic jihadist beachhead. As the New York Times recently reported, al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists are doing their best to hijack the Syrian revolution…The evidence is mounting that Syria has become a magnet for Sunni extremists, including those operating under the banner of Al Qaeda.
Third, Turkey, under the Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is serving as a transit point for the flow of arms to the opposition, including shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles known as MANPADs. Erdoğan is evidently trying to revive Turkey’s Ottoman caliphate heritage by offering a seemingly “moderate” alternative to al Qaeda and other fundamentalist groups in leading the regional Sunni battle against the increasingly isolated Assad regime.
Fourth, there is the revival of U.S.-Russian Cold War-like rivalries. President Obama’s policy of trying to push a re-set button in the relationship between the two countries has backfired. As evidenced by its intransigence at the United Nations, Russia is protecting the Assad regime to thwart the West and its NATO ally Turkey in their efforts to extend their reach through regime change in a region where Russia believes it has vital strategic interests.
Is a New World Order being formulated in the Syrian crisis? Most probably, yes. Just a few days ago, it was reported that President Obama had signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to get rid of Assad. Apparently, the United States has been collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies. All of this is being done without any real idea as to whom Americans are supporting. In fact, their money and equipment could well end up in the hands of our sworn enemy, al Qaeda.
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