There is a new Al Qaeda affiliate, “Jabhat al-Nusra,” gaining power in the Syrian rebellion. Last night, the Washington Post columnist, Jackson Diehl (“A Jihadist Group Prospers in Syria”), wrote:
“It was dismissed at first as a hoax, or maybe as a concoction of Assad’s intelligence service. Now its black flag is recognized, and often cheered, across Syria, and its bearded, baggy-pantalooned fighters are at the forefront of the critical battle for the city of Aleppo.”
So we “now” have Al Qaeda festering among the Syrian rebels. That is the narrative that Diehl gives us. Allegedly, if Obama had ordered air support sooner, then we might have avoided this mess. By allowing too much time, “what began as a peaceful mass opposition movement” has been “hijacked by extremists, including allies of al-Qaeda.”
But when was the rebellion against Assad ever a “peaceful mass opposition movement”? Back in March 2012, the Irish Times, like many other papers reported, “Since late last year, the Syrian revolt has been taken over by armed rebels seeking to replicate the Libyan model by drawing outside powers into the struggle to topple the regime by force.” But since “the Libyan model” did involve air support, we know that such methods would not have stopped the influence of Jihadist. Soldiers on the ground would be required. And since neither Romney nor Obama (nor anyone else) want to put US troops in harm’s way for this cause, that means Jihadists would end up thoroughly infesting Syria just as they infest Libya now.
The fact is that, while the government does handwringing about Jihadists “hijacking” all those secular democrats who are fighting for American-style freedoms, we all know that such people are an insignificant presence in the Middle East. When people get to vote, they vote in the Muslim Brotherhood or some other similar group, as happened in Egypt. Libya was secular in style only because it was kept that way by a ruthless dictator. Assad and Syria are a similar situation.
And yet, as we did for Libya, Obama is funneling weapons through our allies to radical extremists who have the will and experience to fight Assad’s forces. In the case of Syria, the CIA has been using the Muslim Brotherhood to arm rebels. The conservative blog, the American Thinker points out that we can hardly trust them to only arm whatever forces are friendly to the US. It also pointed out, “The civilian opposition – the Syrian National Council – is about 70% Muslim Brotherhood, which is why a lot of secular-oriented Syrians have either refused to join, or resigned in disgust.”
Romney has correctly pointed out that, under Obama, Al Qaeda has grown stronger not weaker. I don’t think it is hard to understand why. When Obama funnels arms and money to rebels to overthrow regimes he is mostly feeding such terrorist groups.
While I don’t agree with all of Diehl’s column, I do think one observation was especially worth a great deal of attention. The terrorist monster in Syria, he writes,
“is, first of all, a creature of Assad’s own regime, blowback from his years of sponsoring terrorist networks in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. For more than a decade, Syrian intelligence allowed al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups to establish bases and logistical networks to support attacks on American troops in Iraq, anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon, and Israel. Now many of those rat lines have been reversed, and the extremists are targeting Assad.”
If that is happening to Assad, then it is a lesson for every nation.
I know Romney has said he wants to support “our friends”—those who “share our values.” I offer the sage advice of Ronald Reagan: “Trust, but verify.”