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‘US thinks it can use Al-Qaeda temporarily in Syria’

Published time: February 18, 2012 02:39
Edited time: February 20, 2012 02:03

An armed Free Syrian Army rebel stands inside a house in the north Syrian city of Binnish on February 15, 2012 (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

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The US and Al-Qaeda are using each other to topple President Assad, believes Camille Otrakji, editor of online magazine Syria Comment.

­US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said Al-Qaeda is working alongside Syria’s armed opposition, while Washington considers extending support to the rebels.

Otrakji told RT that both sides think they are using the other, hoping to control them later.

“For example, the Islamists and Al-Qaeda think, 'We can have an alliance with the Americans or with any secular opposition forces, but later we will be in power,' and 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.”

The journalist added that it is important to understand how decision-making takes place in Washington D.C.

“Some people really do not care about what will happen in Syria after. For example, there are factions that just want to punish the Syrian regime – I’ve heard this from someone in Washington – for their help in 1982, when Hezbollah attacked US troops in Lebanon.”

And others, Otrakji said, are optimistic, thinking that there will be elections and that Syria is secular enough that Al-Qaeda factions or other Islamists will not win.

“So, they just want to be hopeful for now, all they want to focus on now is to get rid of the regime – then, they think, they will manage somehow.”

And journalist and peace activist Don Debar said the US have already become some allies with Al-Qaeda in Libya.

“First of all, the US is bedfellows with Al-Qaeda in Libya already. Secondly, if you look at the history of al-Qaeda, actually they are a successive group to the allies the US had in Afghanistan when it was fighting the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and early 1980s.”

Debar also remembered a recent comment by Al-Qaeda that they were backing the Syrian rebels, which he said is “the same group the US is not only backing, but has been arming and training.”

“So it’s not whether it will happen or not – it’s really been happening,” the activist concluded.

Watch RT's interview with Don Debar


­Political activist Amal Wahdan told RT that the US doesn't mind Al-Qaeda's harsh tactics in Syria, including the violent explosions that kill civilians, as long as they create chaos in the country and lead to the toppling of the Assad government.

Of the US, Wahdan says that “on the record they try to avoid any linkage between themselves and Al-Qaeda.”“I think they are … sending militias into Syria from surrounding countries.”

­'Intervention in Syria would cause Libya-style disaster’

­Jason Ditz, editor of Antiwar.com, believes that a number of countries, such as the US and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), are merely looking for an excuse to intervene in Syria. However, intervention may have the unintended result of bringing Islamic fundamentalists the likes of Al-Qaeda to power in Syria.

We don’t really know who’s going to come out on top in this sort of fight for the control of the opposition, but it seems pretty clear that the pro-democracy forces in Syria, the original protesters, probably will not be a major part of the picture in a future government if Assad does fall,” Ditz explained to RT.

He compared the situation to that of Libya.

Much as we saw in Libya, foreign intervention is not a cure-all. If anything, it complicates matters and creates new power bases where there were none before.

Ditz noted that the National Transitional Council and some of NATO-backed militias ended up going on extremely bloody rampages following the collapse of the Gaddafi regime.

The American political leadership seeks any opportunity to start an intervention in Syria, Ditz said, despite a lack of public support for the initiative and the numerous negative consequences it may bring.

I think both the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress have a strong interest in starting a war no matter how opposed it would be by the public.

He remarked that the US and its allies would continue armed intervention no matter what reforms the Assad regime adapts. The Syrian opposition is also not very keen on finding a peaceful resolution to the crisis, according to Ditz.  

Certainly they don’t want to see this resolved, because a resolution means they’re no longer necessary.


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