The US spy chief has admitted Al-Qaeda might be behind recent suicide bombings in Syria. While rebels threaten they will have to make an alliance with jihadists if they don’t see more help from the West.
The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, while testifying before the Senate Armed Services, has acknowledged that blasts in Syrian cities since last December “had all the earmarks of an Al-Qaeda-like attack”.
"We believe Al-Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria," Clapper told the Senate.
The Iraqi government confirmed ealier that Al Qaeda has been crossing from Iraq into Syria to carry out attacks on government forces.
At the beginning of the Syrian internal conflict the rebels relied primarily on small arms but over the months they have become increasingly more sophisticated in bomb-making.
Wednesday’s bombing in Damascus, meters from the UN mission headquarters, put the international jihadists into the media spotlight. Syrian rebels have openly admitted they were behind the attack, but the extensive use of explosives they have been using lately might point at more experienced jihadists from other countries, probably Iraq, where they mastered their terror tactics and bomb-making skills on civilians and US soldiers.
In the Free Syrian Army there are entire brigades that are being armed, paid and commanded by the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an organization considered an Al Qaeda affiliate by the UN. The US State Department and the UK Home Office both regard it as a terrorist organization as well.
The Free Syrian Army insurgents stick to the demand that western support for them is insufficient. The rebels point out they have to deal with the regular Syrian army which has anything from mortars and tanks to fighter jets and assault helicopters at its disposal – and does not hesitate to use them.
So the rebels demand more arms and more western support. Theoretically, they might be satisfied with establishing a no-fly zone over Syria. That would enable them to repeat the Libyan scenario, where special forces from various countries were doing the job of ousting Muammar Gaddafi while local rebels were starring on western media as “true victors over an evil regime”.
But since the US leadership remains ponderous over how to introduce a no-fly zone over Syria as America is engrossed in the presidential campaign, the Syrian rebels’ feelings have been seriously hurt.
"We don't want Al-Qaeda here, but if nobody else helps us, we will make an alliance with them," suggests Abu Ammar, a rebel commander in the city of Aleppo.
"And you can bet if Al-Qaeda comes here, they will brainwash the people,” Ammar told AFP. “If Al-Qaeda enters Aleppo, the city will become their base within three months.”
While the West pretends to wage war on global terrorism, most politicians would not mind if the Syrian opposition united with al-Qaeda, believes Marcus Papadopoulos, a political analyst from online magazine Britain's Politics First.
“If you know the history, you will see that the West and Islamic extremism, though they do not get on with each other, they certainly get into bed with each other when there is a common foe,” he told RT. “Though this won’t come as a surprise to Western politicians, as they are quite aware of it, it will of course come as a surprise to domestic audiences in the West who are largely being fed a story that the Assad government is this genocidal mass murdering machine and the opposition are innocent bystanders.”
Despite the obvious signs of international terrorist organizations battling the regime of President Bashar Assad, the Syrian government finds itself further isolated as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has suspended Syria's membership. The move is supposed to send a 'strong message' to Damascus, which the group sees as the only culprit behind hostilities in Syria.
Another international body, the Arab League, expelled Syria from its ranks last year.
The Arab countries are showing a united front in dealing with the “apostate” Alawi regime in Syria, yet the money and arms they pump into Syrian rebels might end up in the hands of radical Islamist movements that appear to be working to steal the thunder in the Syrian conflict.
What many in the west fail to recognize is that Islamic terrorism is not necessarily a derogative term, it is a descriptive term to denote a guerrilla warfare tactic that justifies the use of terror and violence for achieving political goals.
The Syrian rebels are already starting to fear the political agenda of extreme jihadists that flock into their country. The aggressive tactics the intruders effectively use might soon give the Syrian rebels the choice of either joining foreign extremists in ousting the regime and building an Islamists state in Syria, or confronting them to build a “better Syria without Assad”. The example of a “better Libya without Gaddafi”, where tribal wars have become routine amid a drop in living standards, might be standing straight and tall in front of their eyes.