Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continued aerial bombardment of rebels tossing a fragile ceasefire to the wind. Faced with outside support of Sunni rebel groups inside his country, especially from Saudi Arabia, al-Assad fights for his survival bombing rebel strongholds around Damascus. “The ceasefire is practically over. Damascus has been under brutal air raids since day one and hundreds of people have been arrested,” said veteran opposition campaigner Fawaz Tello. Rebel leaders identified with the Free Syrian Army have waged a year-and-a-half-long civil war against al-Assad’s regime, winning the backing of U.S. politicians, like Sen. John McCain and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, European Union and U.N. officials. Only Russia and China have stood by al-Assad, believing that whatever regime replaces him would be more radical and less amenable to global trade.
Syria’s uprising started March 15, 2011 in the wake of revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and eventually Libya. Radical Sunni groups—including Palestinians—have seized the opportunity to get rid of al-Assad’s Alawite Shiite minority currently running the country. As Islamists in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament battle for strict, Taliban-like Shariah law, the same Islamist forces seek to oust al-Assad and set up another radical Islamic theocracy in Syria. “Assad has been trying to use the truce to seize back control of areas of Damascus,” said Tello. Syria’s rebels stem from multiple, incompatible groups, including Palestinians, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and various Wahhabist Sunni groups seeking a new Taliban-like government in Syria. When al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahri throws his support to ousting al-Assad, you know you’re on the wrong side of the fence.
Al-Zawahri, who, like the late Bin Laden, lives incognito, continues to sponsor and support Muslim rebellions that result in radical regimes. “I urge Muslims everywhere—to rise up to support brothers in Syria—to get rid of the cancerous criminal regime,” said Zawahri. “Syrian people have a right to defend themselves with all means,” undermining any kind of political stability. Al-Zawahri, who with the one-eyed Taliban’s Mullah Mohammed Omar, are on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, seeks Islamic revolution anywhere possible. No radical Islamic group is more dangerous and violent than al-Qaeda. They’ve operated an unparalleled criminal enterprise trying to destabilize Western and Middle Eastern governments. U.S., EU and U.N officials should acknowledge al-Assad’s attempt to keep radical Islam out of Syria, something confirmed by Zawahri’s recent public statements.
Hitting rebels with everything at his disposal, al-Assad has no intent of surrendering to radical Islam. Al-Zawahiri called openly for kidnapping Western targets of “countries waging war on Muslims,” hoping to free “our captives, and Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman,” the Eyptian cleric held by the U.S. “This is the only language which they understand,” said al-Zawahri. “We will keep seizing more—until we free our captives,” showing the true nature of al-Qaeda. Zawahri’s living proof that al-Qaeda lives on, despite the relentless U.S. war that finally got Bin Laden May 1, 2011. U.N. peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi hoped his truce lasted during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Like prior efforts by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, al-Assad can’t support any plan that yields ground to radical Islam. No matter what the death toll, Western officials must understand the battle.
When fighting broke out with rebels in the Kurdish Ashrafieh district of Aleppo, it became clear that there was no rebel solidarity. Joining forces loyal to al-Assad, Syria’s Peshmerga fighters of the Kurdish Workers Party [PKK] clashed with opposition forces, proving that there’s no coherency to Syria’s rebel forces. Al-Assad battles unknown groups of terrorists seeking to install a Taliban-like government to replace his Baathist regime. Given that al-Zawahri supports the rebellion against al-Assad, it’s a good bet Western powers should do the opposite. Al-Qaeda has only one goal of worldwide Islamic revolution, destabilizing any regime that gets in its way. Whatever one thinks of al-Assad’s regime, following al-Zawahri would be a serious blunder. Syria needs reform but doesn’t need radical Islam to takeover and create a new Taliban-like state.
President Barack Obama has been appropriately cautious staying out of Syria’s civil war. Russia and China know that al-Assad is a far better partner than any regime likely to replace him in Syria. Western powers lose sight of the bigger picture when they side with rebels claiming to want more freedom. Al-Zawahri’s strong backing of Syrian rebels suggests that whatever regime follows would be far less friendly to Western governments. Ordering the kidnapping of Western targets, al-Zawahri continues his terrorist ways. While al-Zawahri points fingers at al-Assad, no group has been more criminal than al-Qaeda. Al-Zawahri would like nothing more than to see Muslim Brotherhood turn Egypt into the next Taliban. “Shariah must be the source of legislation—this must be stated,” said al-Zawahri, pushing Islamic radicals to prevail in writing Egypt’s new constitution.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.