Washington & Al-Qaeda, United on Syria
by John Glaser
Mere days after U.S. officials leaked intelligence that al-Qaeda’s branch in Iraq has been infiltrating Syria to conduct terrorism, arm the opposition, and take advantage of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, al-Qaeda’s #1 Ayman al-Zawahiri condemned the Assad regime and urged support for the opposition.
Simultaneously, a growing number of influential members of Congress have openly advocated aiding the rebel Free Syrian Army with weapons and training in order to facilitate the fall of Assad. The Pentagon and U.S. Central Command are currently reviewing possible U.S. military options against the Syrian regime. And now a bipartisan group of Senators has attempted to legislate such action, introducing a resolution on Friday to that end. Excerpt from that resolution:
“The Senate… urges the President to support an effective transition to democracy in Syria by identifying and providing substantial material and technical support, upon request, to Syrian organizations that are representative of the people of Syria, make demonstrable commitments to protect human rights and religious freedom, reject terrorism, cooperate with international counterterrorism and nonproliferation efforts, and abstain from destabilizing neighboring countries.”
Oddly enough, this is not the first time in recent memory that the leadership in the U.S. has explicitly advocated merging U.S. policy with al-Qaeda’s goals. From early on in the NATO mission to aid the Libyan rebels and oust Muammar Gadhafi, it was known that many of those so-called “freedom fighters” had ties to al-Qaeda. In fact, U.S. intelligence found that al-Qaeda fighters had swarmed to Libya and tried to “drum up extremist activities.” After Gadhafi was killed, an al-Qaeda flag was raised in the center the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Following that, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) publicly called themselves the “main beneficiaries” of the instability caused by the NATO war, noting specifically their receipt of weapons.
Aside from all of the terror and abuse the newly empowered National Transitional Council has brought the people of Libya in the form of murder, theft, torture and thuggery, they and their varied militias have also been imposing a harsh brand of militant Islam on Libyans, as opposed to the democratic paradise Obama predicted.
I’m not suggesting a conspiracy theory, just plain stupidity. As I’ve explored elsewhere, while I’m no stranger to Imperial Grand Strategy, I think the system operates in a way such that backward policies are carried out even when many elites recognize they’re against the “national interest.” The real question is how nobody is calling them out on it. Joe Lieberman has just recently called the Syrian rebels “brave freedom fighters” almost synchronous with Ayman al-Zawahiri. How is this not headline news?
Update: What was I thinking: only criticisms of government policy can be described as “enabling al-Qaeda.” That charge of course doesn’t apply to actually advocating the same policies as al-Qaeda. Silly me.
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