THE BLOG

Al Qaeda Is Helping Al-Assad's Regime

13/01/2014 10:57 GMT | Updated 13/03/2014 09:59 GMT

The Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Thursday 9th January "the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) emerged only when the Syrian opposition groups gained ground in Syria's north". "There is a behind-the-scene partnership between them [ISIL] and the regime," the foreign minister was quoted as saying by state news agency Anadolu in its website.

The relationship between al Qaeda and the Syrian regime is not new.

In September 2007, U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, twelve miles from the Syrian border, discovered computers and a cache of documents that included the records of more than 600 foreign fighters who had infiltrated into Iraq between spring 2006 and summer 2007. The documents show Syrian involvement in facilitating the entry of jihadists/Islamic terrorists into Iraq to frustrate what the Syrian regime dubbed as the "American Project in Iraq".

At the present, there are dozens of armed groups operating in Syria. Some of these groups are secular, and some are moderate Islamists whose agenda is known and who usually fight in the ranks of the secular Free Syrian Army (FSA).

However, others, such as the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), are known affiliates of Al-Qaeda. Presumably, these groups see themselves as fighting for a worldwide jihad, but their agenda in Syria is so bewildering that some now suspect them of taking sides with the regime.

The moderate Islamists fighting in the ranks of the opposition are Syrians, and they do not accept foreign fighters in their ranks. However, the Al-Qaeda affiliates have in their ranks an assortment of non-Syrians, including Arabs, European Muslims and Jihadist from central Asia.

While the leaders of most of the Syrian groups are well known, no one seems to know who is running the Al-Qaeda affiliates. The Islamic groups seem to be well equipped and trained.

Recent developments in Syria have shown that Al-Qaeda, through its offshoot "the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL)" has succeeded in sabotaging the Syrian revolution by assassinating officers and top military commanders of the secular Free Syrian Army. With the help of Tehran and Damascus, the Jihadist groups have targeted the rivals of the two regimes and managed to tarnish the image of the revolution against the Syrian regime.

According to Middle Eastern press reports; the Iraqi Minister of Justice "Hassan al Shammari accused high ranking officials in Iraq of allowing al Qaeda prisoners to escape to Syria to beef up Al Qaeda in Syria, to help the Syrian regime and to frighten the US and UK governments".

It is a known fact that the Syrian regime has been manipulating al Qaeda to its own advantage. During the occupation of Iraq particularly the period 2003 - 2010 Syria had been actively facilitating the entry of Al Qaeda jihadists to destabilize Iraq and kill American soldiers. They had also killed thousands of Iraqis in the process. Later at the behest of Iran and Syria al Qaeda carried out operations in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the USA.

The murder of Syrians by this group leaves no doubt about the intentions behind their creation, their objectives and the agendas they serve, which is confirmed by the nature of their terrorist actions hostile to the Syrian revolution.

The secular opposition has also accused the Islamic groups (ISIL and Nusra) of abandoning the fight against the regime and instead battling other opposition fighters and civilians.

Initially the rag-tag armed opposition welcomed the arrival of jihadist fighters, who were mostly better-equipped and trained but the relations turned sour when the Free Syrian Army discovered that such groups are not interested in fighting the regime. However the regime has strived to paint all opposition with the same brush branding all those fighting against it as "terrorists".

According to the Egyptian Al-Ahram weekly October 29th 2013:

"Many in the Syrian opposition say that the Al-Qaeda affiliates are now in fact doing the regime's bidding by weakening its true adversaries, those led by the FSA, and alienating Syrian civilians and the West and thus giving the regime the opportunity to claim it is fighting terrorists".

The perplexing question is this: Why the regime never bombs areas that are controlled by the Al-Qaeda affiliates? Doesn't this suggest some sort of collusion or understanding between the al-Qaeda and the regime? The Free Syrian Army has identified a curious development over the last few weeks. They say "Whenever the regime is in trouble the Al-Qaeda affiliates start a fight with either the FSA or the Kurds, creating a side show to help the regime".

This suggests that the regime has either infiltrated the al Qaeda affiliates or they work closely with the Syrian intelligence. If the aim of the Syrian regime is to discredit the revolution, it has succeeded in scaring away Washington and London from taking a tougher stance against Bashar al Assad.