When you step back these developments are truly breathtaking. What does it say about the clarity of the strategic thinking behind the current “war on terror” that the perpetrators of 9-11 may morph from enemies into allies? One would think that after decades of blowback from supporting the Mujahidin forefathers of al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the eighties, that our allies and the U.S. foreign policy elite would learn their lesson. Unfortunately, the willingness to advance goals through a short-sighted military support of unsavory characters still holds firm in Washington. Coupled with a desire to mollify Saudi Arabia’s suspicion of the recent diplomatic initiatives in the region, US officials may be acquiescing to the Kingdom’s plan to see a Sunni state replace the Alawite regime of Bashar Assad. Considering the disastrous results of a similar strategy in Libya against Gaddafi in 2011, policy makers should sound the alarm immediately and push back against this obvious recipe for disaster, before it spins out of control. Again.
For 14 years the US has waged a global war on terror with a stated goal of denying al Qaeda a safe haven anywhere in the world. Now several of our regional partners in the Middle East, hell-bent on removing Assad from power, are backing a coalition of Syrian rebel groups that include the local al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra as a prominent member – and at least one high ranking former US military official thinks working with al Qaeda is justified. The rebel coalition, backed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is calling itself the Army of Conquest, and has recently made gains against Assad consolidating territory in Idlib province.
Reporting on al Nusra’s recent victories in Idlib, Charles Lister at Brookings reported:
“Several commanders involved in leading recent Idlib operations confirmed to this author that the U.S.-led operations room in southern Turkey, which coordinates the provision of…
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